A theological reflection on gender: All are created in God’s image
Article by USPG Theological Adviser Evie Vernon.
The Bible begins with the story how people were created in God’s own image (Gen 1:27). This means every human being is a person of worth who reflects the divine.
It means each human being deserves to be treated with respect and to be given the opportunity to develop to her or his fullest potential.
The Genesis story implies that, in the beginning, people were in alignment with God, and everything was good.
Unfortunately, the third chapter of Genesis goes on to describe how human beings fell out of conformity with the divine, and came into conflict with God, with each other and with the rest of Creation.
However these stories are interpreted, they reflect a world in which people yearn for paradise.
Instead, we have found ourselves in a world of division in which human societies ignore the divine nature that sits within us all – and too often we find excuses to subjugate particular groups of people.
People are relegated, from the moment of their birth, to inferior roles according to arbitrary traits such as sex, gender, class, caste or ethnic group.
However, as Christian we believe this disharmony is not the end of the story but that Creation will be restored to its proper state of alignment with God.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul poetically describes how human beings can regain the consciousness of being God’s children and be restored (Rom 8).
As God’s children, we are called to recognise God’s Spirit in all of Creation and to play our part in restoring all people and all of Creation to the fullness of their potential dignity.
We must seek to understand and overcome the forces that undermine and undervalue people and the natural world.
Gender injustice is universal
Every act of discrimination represents a failure to recognise God in that person and is an affront to the divine – with gender being a particular issue that is used universally to perpetuate discrimination and abuse.
Given the ubiquity and extender of gender injustice in our communities, special efforts need to be made to ensure that women and girl children can realise their potential.
The church must work to transform attitudes which relegate persons to second class citizenship because of their gender.
The church must continually re-examine theologies to ensure they uphold the recognition of God’s image in every person regardless of gender.