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Practical Theology: Male and Female

  • March 2021 Issue
Practical Theology

“Sin has confused contemporary thinking about male and female categories so that many today feel that these distinctions should be done away with.”

When Adam and Eve were created, God made them male and female(Gen. 1:27). This differentiation is not unique to humans but is shared with most of the animal kingdom (Gen. 6:19; 7:8–9). This physiological detail is linked to God’s determination to create humanity in His own image but is not itself that image. Instead, it is more likely that creating Adam and Eve as male and female points forward to their calling of dominion over the earth and stewards of God’s creation. To accomplish this vocation, they were commanded to “be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28).

God had a unique method of creating the first humans. He formed Adam from the dust of the ground and Eve from Adam’s rib. This method of creation points both to a shared image and their mutual dependency. Unlike all the other creatures, who were formed out of the ground as Adam was, Eve was bone of Adam’s bones and flesh of his flesh (Gen. 2:23). Out of all that God had made, only Eve was comparable to Adam. She alone was capable of sharing the task of dominion with him.

In the New Testament, Paul points to Eve’s unique origin “from man,” and the fact that every subsequent male has been “born of woman,” as proof that neither sex can exist independent of the other (1 Cor. 11:8, 11–12). Both are required not only for humanity’s physical survival but also for executing their unique calling as bearers of the divine image. The entrance of sin damaged this mutual dependence, infusing it with selfishness, but it has not obliterated it. Sin has also confused contemporary thinking about male and female categories so that many today feel that these distinctions should be done away with altogether. The cultural landscape of human sexuality may seem complicated to us with its myriad of alternative lifestyles. Yet the Bible’s perspective is clear. God created male and female. There are only two sexes. Both are necessary for fulfilling God’s purpose for humanity. Each depends upon the other, “but everything from God” (1 Cor. 11:12).

For Further Study

To learn more about the divine image, read The Liberating Image by Richard Middleton (Brazos).

BY Dr. John Koessler

John Koessler is Professor Emeritus of Applied Theology and Church Ministries at Moody Bible Institute. John authors the “Practical Theology” column for Today in the Word of which he is also a contributing writer and theological editor. An award-winning author, John’s newest title is When God is Silent: Let the Bible Teach You to Pray (Kirkdale). Prior to joining the Moody faculty, he served as a pastor of Valley Chapel in Green Valley, Illinois, for nine years. He and his wife, Jane, now enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan.

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