Mankind: created in the image of God
In the last edition of community, readers were informed about the findings of the District Apostle Meeting with regard to the matter of gender equality. The second part of this doctrinal article in the latest edition of community will explore what it means to say that mankind has been created in the image of God.
The doctrinal article of the latest issue of community explores the fact that both man and woman are equally created in the image of God. It begins with a brief summary of the first part of the doctrinal article, and then a short digression goes on to explain that it is not the woman alone—but both man and woman—who are to blame for sin, just as both of them were also punished for it.
The perfect image of God
The fact that man has been created in the image of God does not mean that one could derive any conclusions about God from human beings. There is an endless qualitative difference between God and human beings. Nevertheless, there is one whose likeness to God is perfect, namely Jesus Christ. He is the standard for the manner in which our likeness to God is to be realised.
In Romans 5: 12–15, Adam—the first human being—is contrasted with Jesus Christ. Adam represents sin, punishment, and death, while Jesus stands for righteousness, grace, and love.
Just as Jesus resurrected from the dead, human beings no longer need to perish like Adam. All those who belong to Christ will receive a resurrection body, and attain perfect fellowship with God.
Likeness to God in history
Throughout the course of history, human beings have succeeded in realising their likeness to God to varying degrees.
- In prehistory, man was part of God’s perfect creation and was thus a true and unimpaired image of God in his original state.
- After the fall into sin, man was no longer able to exist in the image of God in perfect measure. Through sin, he became deficient.
- Believing human beings strive to become more and more like Jesus. In the future, man’s likeness to God will be perfectly manifest with the resurrection body of the new creation. Beyond that, biological gender will no longer play a role at that point (cf. Mark 12: 25).
Likeness to God in community
God is never alone. He consists of three divine persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This image is also reflected in human beings.
- God is communicative in that He creates reality through language, and that He addresses His creation. It is when God addresses a person as “you” that the person becomes “I”.
- Man is designed for interpersonal fellowship. The fact that God creates a “helper comparable to him“ (Genesis 2: 18) does not mean that the woman is to relieve the man of work. It means that a human being—irrespective of gender—can only be himself or herself if he or she has a counterpart.
- This fellowship for which mankind is intended applies to the fellowship of human beings in general. It is for this reason that partnerships, families, clans, tribes, nations, and societies emerge, all of which are characterised by congress and communication.
Likeness to God in having dominion
Both woman and man have received emotional and intellectual abilities from God, which enable them to execute the divine mission to have dominion over the creation, and to represent God within it. According to the Catechism , however, this dominion cannot be reckless.
Woman and man have the same mandate to have dominion over the earth. The creation can only be protected and shaped in a collective manner and in solidarity with the it.
This mandate to protect and shape the creation is realised both on a small scope—for example, in matrimonial and family life—and on a larger scope, for example when women and men take on responsibility in the state, the church, and in society. Both the mandate to protect and shape the creation and the commandment to love one’s neighbour incorporate the fact that woman and man assume equal responsibility for the creation.
Photo: C. Schüßler - stock.adobe.com