From Prentice Sprinkle's Christian book, Embodied: Transgender Identities, the Church, and What the Bible Has to Say.


In the Bible’s opening moments, Genesis 1 declares the most fundamental truth about human identity: we are created in God’s image. God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Gen. 1:27)

Theologians have wrestled for years with what it means to bear “God’s image.” Is the image of God tied to our rational minds? Our capacity for relationships? Our elevated status? Some combination of these three, or something entirely different?

Whatever the image of God points to, one thing is rather clear: our bodies are essential to bearing God’s image. The Hebrew word for “image” is tselem, and it almost always refers to “idols” throughout the Old Testament. What are idols? They’re visible representations of an invisible deity. The term basically means the physical “carved or hewn statue or copy” of a nonphysical being. In Genesis 1, this “statue or copy” is humanity, and the nonphysical being is Yahweh.

 “Visibility and bodiliness” are central to the meaning of the phrase “image of God.” I love how theologian Marc Cortez puts it: the image of God is “a declaration that God intended to create human persons to be the physical means through which he would manifest his own divine presence in the world.”  Or as Old Testament scholars Karl Löning and Erich Zenger write, “According to the meaning of the Hebrew word tselem, which stands for ‘image,’ humans are to be in the world as a kind of living image or statue of God.”  We are God’s idols—visible representations of God on earth. Now, humans aren’t just material bodies. Genesis 2:7 says that God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” God’s life-giving spirit is also essential for personhood. But the term image precisely highlights human physicality, which means the most fundamental statement about human nature (we bear “God’s image [tselem]”) highlights our embodied nature. And not just embodied nature, but our sexed embodied nature. We bear God’s image as male and female."

End of quote.

In the notes Sprinkle writes that Demut is the Hebrew word “God” uses for likeness. He says it “overlaps with the meaning of selem but typically highlights the appearance or form of something that resembles something else. The terms are probably meant to be used interchangeably, since they are used in tandem in Genesis 1:26: ‘Let us make mankind in our image (selem), in our likeness (demut).’ They appear again in tandem but in reverse order in Genesis 5:3, ‘he had a son in his own likeness (demut), in his own image (selem).’”

Why then twice? That is for emphasis. It stresses that the body is to be treated the way it is made.

Genesis 5:3 is saying that Adam had a son in his own image and likeness. God making Adam in his image and likeness and Adam having a son in his image and likeness is different. Adam did not design his son.  But we are told to think of Adam as if he were the actual son of God even if he were not.  Adam is what would appear if God had a wife.

Now the Bible never says God has a body.  Putting the God making in his image text alongside Adam having a son in his image would make you think it implies it.  If God has a body then the message is that we should accept our bodies as they are and use them the way they were designed.  If God does not have a body we should think of him as if he has for he is so personal to us and our friend.  He comes to us like a man.  Again we are to accept our bodies and use them the way they are designed.  The text is clear that a man is a man and a woman is a woman and sex can only happen between a man and a woman.  This is not a rule here.  It is bigger than that.  It is presented as a fact.

Adam in Genesis has a translation problem. In Genesis 2-3 it is not a name but a noun, human kind. It does not appear as a name until Genesis 4:25. So what God says about Adam is about every man and woman.

The Bible says that God made them male and female in his own image and likeness. That is a poetic way of saying God planned only for male and only for female and made them need each other to be complete.  God is harmony.  The traditional doctrine is that you you are your body and the soul is embodied.  Body and soul make a man.  Body and soul make a woman.  This is seen as harmony too so religion says there is no such thing as a male soul in a female body or a female soul in a male body.

The Bible says that man and woman are different from each other so that when they come together these differences make them complement each other.  Gender roles are very pronounced in the Bible.  Marriage which is upheld as sacred would have then described a rite where the man takes the girl.  It is more his choice than hers if it is hers at all.  It is superficial to worry ONLY about what texts say when the ethos and example given is a teacher as well.

Today that pattern has to go. We know better.  Gender and sex are different.  Gender is how you know who you are as a man or woman or neither and you just know and it's not about what a God or doctor or a Jesus or a religion says.  Gender expression is how you behave.  A woman may prefer fixing cars to dressmaking.  So it's one way she lives her gender.  It does not make her any less of female as in sex or gender.

Jesus' bigoted teaching that God made humanity male and female from the beginning and designed that a man must leave his parents and live with and be one body - a reference to body fitting body - with one woman, his wife, for life has a lot to answer for.  Jesus the bigot said: Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? [Genesis 2:24] So they are no longer two, but one flesh. (Matt. 19:4–6)." The statement of Leviticus that a man must not lie with a man as with a woman says that men are men and women are women. A man cannot be a woman. It is a sort of parallel with Genesis. The two texts definitely are in the same vein.  The teaching is best summarised as, "The argument that when it comes to love and sex that the kind of body you have does not matter is wrong.  It matters that you are a biological man or woman."

Jesus referred approvingly for the evil Genesis text and used it to argue that the plan that it is one man and one woman for life in marriage must not be altered and divorce is invalid for nobody can really end a marriage.  He then said that the rule applies to all except to eunuchs who were born that way, eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men and so on.  This bans marriage for those who do not have their testes.  This is relevant for trans people.

The Bible speaking of before the fall and after says that God made man and woman in his image and male and female created he them in Genesis 1:27.  Jesus alluded to that and affirmed it and stated that is why marriage is one man and one woman and so even divorce is a sin.  Liberals tell all sorts of lies, "Jesus had to say that for women were being abused by the divorce system".  It is not known if that mattered  in the context Jesus was talking in.  It was not what he was talking about.  If it had why did he not tell women to get together and challenge?  If he was fearing the abuse of divorce why did he not say so?  He says in fact that divorce is the abuse!  That is an entirely different argument based on how a man and woman are tied together in justice until death.

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