Traditional Marriage: In the Image of God
- Tuesday, October 12, 2004
To place in context the debate over same-sex unions, consider the story of creation. Contemplate for a moment the wonders of the created world. Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon, the sight is surreal. Between one edge and the other side snakes a jagged scar in the depths of the earth a mile wide. The breadth of the landscape as you survey the horizon is too large to comprehend. The majesty of the Grand Canyon is awesome.
In a completely different environment, at forty feet under crystal blue water off the coast of Grand Cayman, are the most brilliantly colored coral painted in red, yellow, blue, and green. Surrounding this magnificent structure are thousands of fish. Some are yellow. Others are shiny as they speed through the water. Other fish are multicolored and spotted with black, yellow, or blue. Some are completely red. A moray eel slithers into the coral with its bright green skin. At one hundred feet under, literally on the edge of a tectonic plate, you stare downward into a black abyss.
Whether gazing at the Swiss Alps with their towering mountains, a field of drooping trees covered with freshly fallen snow, a magnificent sunrise on the east coast or a breathtaking sunset on the west, the stars on a clear night, multicolored birds or the animals in the plain, there is only one creation bestowed with God's highest appellation, that of being created in the image of God -- the creation of man and woman.
The creation story tells it this way: "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the ground.' So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them" (Gen 1:26-27).
The Hebrew word used for "man" in Genesis 1:26 is the generic noun adham or Adam, which means "mankind." Genesis 1:27 states that God created "mankind" in his own image as "male" and "female."
Creating man and woman was God's crowning act of creation. Elevating the union of man and woman above every other created thing in the universe, God declared man and woman to be made in his own image. Nothing else in creation reflects the image of God except man and woman, and nothing is more central to the created order than the union of one man and one woman.
There is something fundamentally important about man and woman in God's creation. An image is a counterpart or a model. While an image may connote physical resemblance, an image may also connote characteristics. A son who is the image of his father may reflect characteristics of his father other than physical resemblance. Stating that someone is the image of good health refers to more than just physical characteristics; it refers to a state of being.2 The model or image of God is unique and only found in the creation of, and the relationship between, a man and a woman. The creation story continues with the declaration that "a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." (Gen 2:24).
Jesus spoke of the relationship of husband and wife when he declared to the Pharisees: "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'?" (Matt. 19:4-5).
The apostle Paul, in the book of Ephesians, also talks about the union of husband and wife as one. "'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh" (Eph. 5:31).
Writing about sexual immorality, Paul warned that sexual relations united two human beings into one. Speaking of this unity, he wrote:
"Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, 'The two will become one flesh.' But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body" (1Cor. 6: 15-20).
There is a significant difference between being sexually intimate with a person of the opposite sex and being emotionally close platonic friends. Sexuality between a man and a woman forms the basis for the survival of future generations. God created sexual intimacy between a husband and a wife as a means of strengthening the human bond of two people into one. Premarital or extramarital sex fractures this bond because sex unites two people into one and thereby drives a wedge between the relationship of a husband and wife by inserting a third party into that union.
Of all the known passions, human sexuality is closely analogous to radioactive material. Confining sex in the union of a man and a woman as husband and wife produces power, energy, unity, and lays the groundwork for the survival of future generations. A husband-and-wife model is akin to the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. Like radioactive material, if the sexual urge is allowed to seep outside of the human reactor of husband and wife, then instead of producing power and posterity, it produces destruction and death. This is true whether sexual activity occurs before marriage (premarital sex), during marriage (adultery), or in alternative relationships (homosexuality or bestiality).
The reason the issue of same-sex marriage is so critical to our culture and religious freedom is that it contorts the very image of God and is contrary to the natural order. When the image of God is broken or the natural order rearranged, then we experience cultural, moral, physical, and psychological consequences. Among teens who have sex, eight thousand will contract sexually transmitted diseases every day. That is one every ten seconds. Of the approximately 1.5 million abortions that occur each year, 20 percent involve teenagers.
Sexual abuse of a minor, whether homosexual or heterosexual, fractures the image of God and the created order. Walk through the corridors of any prison and speak with those who are incarcerated for violent crimes. You will find an alarming number of inmates who have been sexually abused during their infant or adolescent years. I have encountered many people trapped in the clutches of the homosexual lifestyle who have experienced sexual abuse from a parent or close relative.
Sex during marriage with someone other than one's spouse is one of the primary causes for divorce. Well-known political and religious leaders have had their careers ruined because they came in contact with the radioactive sexual drive outside of marriage. Presidential candidate Gary Hart had to withdraw from his presidential race after the national media revealed he had a sexual affair. The ministry of Jimmy Swaggart has never been the same since it became known that he had slept with prostitutes. The flourishing religious empire of Jim and Tammy Faye Baker fell apart when Jim Baker had sex in a hotel room with a woman who was not his wife.
Homosexuality is out of sync with God's creation, and it is contrary to the natural order. A homosexual relationship is exactly the opposite of what God ordained. Take anything that was created or designed to operate one way and reverse the sequence of operation, and the inevitable result is destruction. Same-sex unions strike at the very image of God and the natural order.
One doesn't need to believe in the Bible or subscribe to Judeo-Christian theology to conclude that human sexuality is like radioactive material, that it has the potential to produce as much as good as it can be destructive, and that sex between a man and a woman is self-evident in the natural order. Whether you believe in a Creator God or a humanistic evolutionary model, the fact remains that human sexuality is best suited to occur between a man and a woman. To ignore this obvious fact is nonsensical. To sanction the opposite through same-sex marriage is cultural suicide.
Excerpted from Same-Sex Marriage: Putting Every Household at Risk by Mathew D. Staver, © 2004, pps. 100-102. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman Publishers, http://www.broadmanholman.com/.
Mathew D. Staver is the President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit litigation, education, and public policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life, and the traditional family. He has written ten books and hundreds of popular and professional articles. Mat is considered one of the nation's top constitutional litigation experts. He has argued before the United States Supreme Court and hosts the television show Law & Justice. Mat Staver and Liberty Counsel have been on the front lines of virtually every legal challenge to traditional marriage.
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