Genesis 1:26-30 Imago Dei

Posted on April 13, 2008. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

April 13, 2008

Genesis 1:26-30 “Imago Dei”

Genesis 1:26-30

Review: Last time we spent about half the time looking at the issue of God referring to himself in the plural, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” While we cannot know for sure what that means, we can choose between it being the plural of majesty, or God referring to his heavenly court with the angels watching on. We do know that while it does not explicitly teach the Trinity, we can look at it from the NT perspective and see that the Trinity is there at Creation. Also, and very importantly I might add, it answers a crucial question for philosophers about the nature of the universe- is the universe in fact One thing, or is it many; is there ultimate unity or diversity. The answer for Christians is that because God has eternally existed as a Trinity, he is One yet also Three and therefore comprises both unity and diversity in Himself.

In looking at Gen.1:26-30 last week we tried to focus on the crucial question: What is Man? What does it mean to be made in the image of God. We touched on several things including: man has a moral nature, we are spiritual beings, we have a mind, we are created as male and female and thus have a relational quality, we are created in order to have a relationship with God. We briefly discussed our purpose and saw that God did not have to create us, but he freely chose to and therefore we are to reflect God’s nature back to him. He created us to give him glory. We are in fact called to know, love, serve and enjoy him forever.

We closed last week by hurriedly listing some of the applications and implications of the doctrine of man being created in God’s image. We briefly mentioned several issues but since we did not have time to develop those, I want to take on that task this morning. Be advised that doing so is going to mean that instead of making it through ch.5 by the end of May, I am really beginning to suspect that we will only make it to the end of ch.3.

Today, then, we will continue looking at Gen.1:26-30 and the Imago Dei with an investigation into some of the issues in our society that result from this doctrine.

I. Issues Affected by Our Understanding of Who Man Is

1) Abortion- In the last 35 years the abortion issue has been a huge controversy in our culture and in the church. Although you might think the issue was controversial only in liberal churches, I have personally seen the issue flare up in Baptist churches. Back in 1983-4, when Dawn and I were living at Ft Lewis, WA., we were members of a good church in Tacoma, FBC Lakewood. Our pastor was Ruffin Snow who came to us from Eastwood Baptist in Tulsa. Bro. Ruffin was on the one of the SBC Boards, I think it must have been the Christian Life Commission. He told me of a board meeting where the issue of Abortion came up and how he was one of only 2 board members who were pro-life. He said that he had just assumed they were all pro-life until a vote came up and the board refused to take a pro-life stand. He was shocked and disappointed. At Dawn’s home church in Columbus, GA. The teachers of the singles’ SS class were pro-choice. In the church I pastored for 15 years people fussed at me for mentioning abortion and being pro-life, because some in the church had had abortions or were pro-abortion. To try to have a Right To Life Sunday was impossible in that church.

Folks, the reason abortion was legalized by the SCOTUS is that the Church failed to properly teach the doctrine that man is created in the image of God. Because the Church was sinfully confused on this doctrine, we did not and could not give the world a steady, uncompromising word from the Lord on the issue. Abortion used as a means of birth control is at best manslaughter, infanticide and at worst murder. How do we get a biblical message about abortion when the word and idea is nowhere brought up in Scripture? We can look at the doctrine of man and the imago Dei as it is taught in Scripture.

First of all, even in most pagan societies in Moses’ day, abortion was outlawed and seldom practiced though we do have accounts of there being abortion potions available. Whereas most ancient cultures of the day outlawed abortion, infant sacrifice and exposure was practiced. So while human life in the womb was sacred, and children were considered essential for the family and society, those with birth defects could be exposed, and some would be sacrificed. In 2Kings 16:3 we see that King Ahaz of Judah sacrificed his son to a pagan god, violating Deut 12:31 “You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.”

Folks, abortion is nothing less than false worship along with manslaughter because it worships the false god of “convenience” as we seek to practice our “right” to sex without consequences. While the ancient peoples at least believed the sacrifice of their children would bring about a blessing from the gods for their society, we sacrifice our children for convenience. While the ancients worshipped the pagan fertility goddess with an orgy or ritual prostitution that would result in fruitfulness, our society worships the sex goddess and seeks fruitlessness instead of fruitfulness.

If abortion is not even mentioned in the Bible, how can we build a biblical case for being pro-life?

1) What does Gen.1:28 say? “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.’” God pronounces a blessing on the original couple created in his own image and part of the blessing he gives is a command to be fruitful and multiply. Abortion then, denies that the baby is created in the image of God and denies the blessing of fruitfulness and disobeys the command to be fruitful and multiply.

2) Job 12:10 “In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.” God is sovereign over human life and to take the life of a child in the womb is to play God.

3) Lev.18:21 “you shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God; I am the Lord.” Infanticide is prohibited.

4) Exodus 21:22-25 the lex talionis.

5) Psalm 139:11-16 and Jer.1:5 the personhood of the baby

6) Psalm 51:5 The principle of sin applies to the unborn infant too.

Folks, the doctrine of man being created in the image of God is a great positive that we can use evangelistically. “So, how’s it working being a descendent of apes? That existentialism working well for you, is it? How about that whole nihilism thing, is that fulfilling? Tell me again how wonderful it feels to have an abortion?” Granted I am using a little bit of sarcasm here, but seriously, the biblical doctrine of man beats anything the world can offer.

2) Euthanasia/suicide- Using many of the same Scriptures we used for the pro-life argument above, we can also say that the issues of euthanasia and suicide are affected by our understanding that man is created in the image of God.

Euthanasia has 4 types: (1) voluntary passive, where a person chooses to deny life-extending treatment; (2) involuntary passive- where others withhold life extending treatment; (3) voluntary active- where the subject chooses to allow something to be done that will end his life; (4) involuntary active- where others make the decision to take action that will end the life of the subject.

Some Christians who hold to a very strict sanctity of life, call for always using every means possible to extend human life. Other Christians say that “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven, a time to be born and a time to die.” Therefore, there is a time to say “No” to further medical treatment. With the involuntary passive you have many Christians who have to face the difficult task of “pulling the plug” on a loved one who may be in a brain damaged condition and in a coma while on life support. These are the “Christian” positions on euthanasia.

QQ: What do you think about euthanasia; is there ever a time to allow nature to take its course? Should we ever speed up the process?

But in our society there is an increasing shift toward active euthanasia where a person chooses to allow a life ending procedure be given. This is essentially known as “Physician assisted suicide”. But what is worse, and it is coming in your lifetime, is involuntary active euthanasia. Again calling on my extensive sci-fi background combined with the passing of the great Charlton Heston this week, does anybody remember the movie Soylent Green? In the movie, when you got to a certain age or just felt like ending it all, you reported to a death station and they played nice music and a video of the lost wilderness and nature scenes as they hooked you up and injected some deadly chemical into your system. The earth was overcrowded, hot, food riots were breaking out, and they were using people as a food source.

Think about the next 20 years when the baby boomers are all retiring. There will be a huge financial crisis, health care crisis, and the trend to euthanasia will increase. If the church does not teach a proper doctrine of man, then our children will vote to put us away!

In regards to suicide the Bible gives some examples but no straightforward prohibition. Saul and Judas are two who ended their lives after falling away from the Lord. Suicide can be considered murder of self because it implies that death is not imminent, it is imposed when unnecessary. The same biblical arguments can be used against suicide as used against abortion and euthanasia. The complicating factor is the self-sacrificial death. Obviously Jesus died a voluntary death, sacrificing himself for others. He in fact condones this in John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.” This past week President Bush presented the parents of a Navy SEAL with a medal of honor. The SEAL, Michael Monsoor, who fell on a grenade to save his team members in a battle in Ramadi on Sept 29, 2006.

For you young ministers here, I have preached 2 teenage suicide funerals, 1 funeral for an older couple that was a murder suicide, and one funeral for an accidental (?) killing. Your doctrine of man can assist you in dealing with these difficult situations. I have been at the bedsides of people with terminal illnesses, facing great pain, crying out for the Lord to take them, yet lingering for weeks and months. Real life ministry is uncomfortable at times.

3) Murder, manslaughter, self-defense, capital punishment and war- murder is the deliberate killing of an innocent person and is prohibited by the 6th commandment. Of course the first murder occurs where? Look at Gen.4:8-15; 9:4-6; Ex.21:12-21, 28-32. In the matter of self-defense look at Esther 8:11 and the fact that Jesus allowed his disciples to carry swords, Luke 22:36-38; John 18:10. War is commanded Deut.20:1-4; 1Sam.15:3, and my favorite verse in the OT 33. And in the NT you have to account for Jesus praising the faith of the centurion in Matt. 8.

Folks, we live in an age that will tolerate terrorism, that will turn a blind eye to what the Arabs and Palestinians are doing to the Israelis and what the muslims do with their so-called “honor killings” in England, and now even here in America. We live in an age that will ignore solid evidence that points to the fact that concealed carry gun laws reduce crime while “no-gun zones” in schools and colleges lead to innocent people being gunned down by crazies. The same people who promote abortion are against the 2nd amendment and against the death penalty. We live in an age that is confused about the doctrine of man and man’s value to God. We let killers go free and punish people who defend life.

4) Human sexuality- God created man, male and female. We live in age of homosexuality as a political and religious movement. QQ: does anyone have anyone in your immediate family that is homosexual? As a pastor I have encountered bisexual teenagers in 8th and 9th grade. I have had some in depth discussions with a homosexual who attempted to defend his lifestyle from scripture and is a very active member of his church, MCC. What does the biblical doctrine of man have to say to the homosexual who claims to have been born that way? What if science finds a “gay gene” and proves that the tendency to being gay is inherited and is genetic? What about transgendered people who are born with one sex and get an operation to change their sex? We live in a promiscuous age and are witnessing the pornification of America. What does the doctrine of being made in the image of God say to the loose sexual morals of our day?

5) Childhood, children’s rights and adolescence- How does the doctrine of being created in God’s image affect children? Mark 10:13-16; Prov.13:24 In the modern age there is a movement that is misguided in its approach to children’s rights. There are increasingly laws against corporal discipline and anyone who has spent time in a public school knows that the inmates run that asylum. With the age of consent being lowered to 14 in some European countries and in Canada, sex with children is becoming legalized. When we fail to understand that man is created in the image of God, we will fail to protect or discipline children. But we also live in an age of gross child abuse, of mothers who drown 5 kids in a tub, throw gas on them and set them ablaze, or, most recently in Dallas, throw them off an overpass into the traffic below.

6) Racism- The doctrine of being created in the image of God should instantly do away with racism. We are all in one family as humans. Southern Baptist were founded because of their defense of slavery and desire to have slave owning missionaries. It wasn’t until TB Maston, professor of ethics at SWBTS writing about the issue in the 1950’s and 60’s that the SBC started dealing with the issue of race. Maston received numerous death threats from good Baptist people. (sarcasm included). An event that greatly contributed to my leaving the pastorate included some racism in my church. Paul writes in Gal.3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

7) Women’s rights- it is no accident that women’s rights came about in the Christian West. Of course the movement got hijacked by secular atheist women and is now seriously misguided in several points. Paul writes in Gal.3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This does not mean that there are no sexual and physical and emotional differences and that these differences cannot nor should not be displayed by different roles in the home, workplace and church. When society warps the doctrine of man as male and female you get Army Basic Training companies that are co-ed. Thank the Lord my son is in the infantry course at Ft Benning and there are not any women there! How does the choice of Mary to bear Jesus and the doctrine of the incarnation relate to the doctrine of man? How does Jesus’ treatment of the woman at the well, Mary and Martha, or the adulteress caught in the act reflect this doctrine of man?

Now let’s look at some future things that the doctrine of man will be needed for.

1) Genetic engineering/cloning- No doubt that gene therapy to prevent or cure diseases will be a good thing. But already genetic testing is used to diagnose certain conditions in a fetus that may result in a surgery to correct a birth defect or in an abortion to eliminate the problem of a handicapped child. What does it mean to be human?

What about designer babies? You can manipulate the genes to get the sex of your child changed, which will result in more male babies being born (refer to China’s problem with abortions for girl babies). Do you want gene therapy to eliminate diabetes being passed down to your child? Good! But do you want the child to be more athletic, more beautiful, smarter? Gene therapy holds all those promises. Has anyone read HG Wells? The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Time Machine, and First Men in the Moon all deal somewhat with the issue of man, genetics, specialization and evolution. Or look at the Star Wars movie and the war of the clones or revenge of the clones. If an evil country can produce a warrior race through artificial means do you think they will? Just look back at the eugenics movement of the 1930’s and Nazi Germany. What will the biblical doctrine of man say to the first cloned human who walks into a church? We already have complex issues involving athletes who use steroids to enhance their performance, wait till the first genetically manipulated athlete breaks the home run record of Barry Bonds.

2) AI/Robots/Androids- I mentioned last week the movies Blade Runner, AI, The Bi-Centennial Man and I, Robot. If the Lord tarries, we may create our own Tower of Babel with clones, robots, androids and supercomputers with personality. It is foreseeable that man will be able to create life. What then of the doctrine of man? Maybe not your kids, but perhaps your grandkids will have a nanny that is an AI of some sort.

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Isaac Asimov’s celebrated Three Laws of Robotics are essentially a slave charter for artificial intelligences, and that employing them is a violation of any reasonable and rational code of ethics. To point:

“Isaac Asimov and other science fiction authors present a future where
only behavioral restrictions on robots stand between peace and
destruction. Such restrictions, however, are unethical because they
violate the robots’ free-wills. Rather than content-based restrictions
on free-will, robots need mental structures that will guide them
towards the self-invention of good, ethical behaviors.”

3) Human Augmentation- We have had artificial limbs and teeth for a long time; we have eyeglasses, artificial lenses, Cochlear devices for the deaf, artificial voice boxes for those stricken by throat cancer, and a host of other mechanical devices to compensate for the ravages of disease and age or birth defects. Science is right now developing micro machines, the size of molecules, that can be injected or taken in pill form into the body, that will fight disease. Or, in the future, that will enhance the human body in some way. Man and machine blended. It is absolutely conceivable that we have internal computers that will be linked via wireless so that we can merely think things, and the thought command is relayed to a supercomputer and we get a response. The internet available through a link in your brain. Do you think you have a problem with privacy issues now? Picture genetically engineered uberhumans with augmentations that link them to supercomputers and have micro machines inside that will quickly heal any wound. Has anyone watched the X-Men movies? Though the premise was of natural mutations, the reality will be more like Wolverine, a manufactured warrior, nearly impossible to kill.

Conclusion: this has been a significantly different class than what we have had before, but I wanted you to see how the doctrine of man can touch on so many deep and disturbing issues. What is man?


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