And Elohim created the man in His image, in the image of Elohim He created him – male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27 (SRI)
Male and Female – Why do you suppose the Scriptures reiterate the fact that God created human beings male and female? I mean, isn’t it obvious? Wouldn’t it be sufficient to simply say that God created human beings (which is what it does say in the first half of the verse)? You might answer, “Well, it’s about the cultural environment of the author.” You would be partially correct. Most of the cultures that surrounded Israel practiced some form of fertility cults. These cults believed that the sex act was a spiritual replication of divine procreation. In other words, they thought of their gods as male and female. They believed that sexual activity among the gods produced the fundamental constituents of the world and therefore, human sexuality mimicked divine intercourse. That’s why fertility cults engaged in temple prostitution and orgies. Sex was a very big deal. It was part of the magic of the gods, a little slice of creative power bequeathed to humans.
But notice the implications of the Hebrew view. God creates sexuality. Sexuality is not resident in the divine being. Sex is something new on the scene. Contrary to the fertility religions, God did not bring the world into existence through copulation with a female divinity. Human beings are made male and female for other purposes. Their sexuality does not imitate a divine original.
There’s something else about the Hebrew view that is too often obscured in an attempt to apply our cultural values to sexuality. The Bible puts an enormous emphasis on sex. Just think about it. Creation of the entire universe occupies a few terse verses in the opening chapter, but creation of sexual distinction between human beings is a much bigger deal. The story of the creation of woman, found only in the Hebrew ancient literature, stands at the pinnacle of the entire creative activity of God. Furthermore, sexuality in both positive and negative demonstration is woven throughout the entire biblical text. Marriage dominates the metaphorical landscape as a symbol of our relationship with God. Sexual misbehavior is front and center in descriptions of idolatry and disobedience. And the covenant mark for males is located on the instrument of sexual performance. There is no doubt about it. The God of the Bible is the God of sex.
Fertility cults continue to oppose God’s playing field. We might not have temple prostitution or believe that we are reenacting divine orgasms, but the culture is saturated with the idea that sex is divine and we are demigods in its performance. Nearly everything is laced with sexuality, but it is sexuality in the wilderness, outside of God’s fences. The Bible is not prudish. God is not Victorian. He just knows a bit more about sex than we do, and He knows sexuality was created for Garden experiences. Next time you see a commercial, magazine cover, television show or MTV video, ask yourself if you’re being persuaded to believe that sex is about your slice of divine power. God’s view of sexuality is about Garden play. There’s a very big difference.
Topical Index: sex, male, female, Genesis 1:27, fertility cult