Dr. Ray E. Heiple, Jr.
The Dignity of Man
You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, and set him over the works of Your hands. Hebrews 2:7NKJV
Question 17 of the Larger Catechism asks, “How did God create man?” It gives the answer, “After God had made all other creatures, he created man male and female; formed the body of the man of the dust of the ground, and the woman of the rib of the man, endued them with living, reasonable, and immortal souls; made them after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness; having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfil it, and dominion over the creatures; yet subject to fall.”
As we saw last time, man was created in God’s image in two ways: broadly, with reasonable and immortal souls; and narrowly, in knowledge, righteousness and holiness. In the Fall man entirely lost the narrow aspects of God’s image. Though we can still think, speak, and act as we could before sin—as humans—we can no longer do so without sin. So that all that comes from us: every thought, desire, and deed is corrupt and offensive to our perfect God. Fallen man, retaining God’s image in the broad sense is thus still accountable to God for his successive transgressions. As God’s continued, though corrupt image-bearer, man the sinner is living blasphemy, bearing false witness to the universe what of God is like. For we were created like God, and our purpose was and is to rule over God’s creation like God and for God: holy and righteous in all our actions, but now we are unholy and unrighteous in all of our actions.
This is one reason why our sin is such a serious offense to God. Because of who we are—whom God created us to be—all that we do necessarily reflects back on who God is. Our job is to bear the holy image of the God who is not physical in and to a physical world. Nothing higher or more noble could be conceived or assigned to a creature. God created a realm and He entrusted it to mankind. “Rule over this for Me” God said. “Do it as a race. Be fruitful and multiply and fill this whole earth as you subdue it and exercise My dominion over it.” And God gave man all that He needed to do it. He made them male and female for the multiplying and filling. He gave them the green herb for food to sustain them. He even planted His own glorious garden, giving all of its fruit to man, save that of one single tree, for an even more wonderful source of food. Moreover, the garden would have served as a model for man to begin to make the rest of the earth blossom and bloom for the glory of his Creator.
In the way God made man we also see the unity of the race, for all people came from one man. Here is the true brotherhood and equality of mankind. If evolution were true this would not be the case and there would be valid reasons for the more evolved to have greater rights than the less evolved. But evolution is an absurd and demonstrable falsehood. The true account of our origin teaches us that all humans are related, we are all family. We should love and respect all. Likewise, seeing that God made Eve from one of Adam’s ribs, we must acknowledge the full equality of male and female. Woman is from man and must be his equal in being, glory, dignity, and worth. Yet they are not the same but different in their maleness and femaleness. Today we can see this even at the level of the cell where; apart from rare genetic defects and abnormalities, which would not have occurred before the Fall and only rarely occur today, each man has XY chromosomes and each woman has XX chromosomes. This maleness and femaleness is unchangeable and part of our bearing God’s image. The fact that now maleness and femaleness is held to be fluid based upon one’s feelings is a great act of rebellion against God at one of the most basic levels. The only way we could more fundamentally rebel would be to deny our humanness itself. Fallen man so despises His maker that he strives to suppress all knowledge and reminders of Him in the world. He intuitively knows that maleness and femaleness bears witness to God’s image. Therefore, maleness and femaleness must be denied by a collective lie that is more and more being forced upon all. For if you refuse to accept whatever the current and obviously false view of gender is, you are branded a hater and risk facing social and economic oppression. What our world does not acknowledge but is increasingly experiencing is that the more we turn away from whom we actually are, the more we bring destruction to ourselves and our society. May God grant that we would walk in the dignity and nobility of our creation.