Come, Let Us Reason Together Part 2
By Ron and Joanne Highley
“Was Eve present in Adam before God created her from the rib?”
“Are we all both masculine and feminine in God’s image?”
These are not just “ivory tower” questions that would interest only theologians. In this series we are dealing with the Biblical issues that affect ministry to people with homosexual problems. Examining them is essential because, in this case, some Christian leaders believe that Adam contained Eve within himself when he was created and was therefore androgynous (having both masculine and feminine aspects). This idea is very appealing to persons with gender confusion who doubt that they can achieve real manhood or womanhood and who may long to be, or be like, someone of the opposite sex. It also appeals to those who are rebelling against their parents and society’s norms because it releases them from the accepted boundaries and responsibilities of male and female. In today’s culture, with rock music stars and New Age adherents promoting androgyny, the traditional gender roles and identity of man and woman are disputed and those who want to “put something over on society” are encouraged.
The concept that God has feminine aspects is also very attractive to some people caught up in homosexuality who have felt that God is harsh and judging and that His “feminine side” would be more tender and understanding. Some women in lesbianism think they cannot approach or relate to a masculine God, and welcome the theory that He has feminine aspects. For those traumatized by their fathers, this teaching hinders their working through their emotions so that they could forgive their fathers and realize that God is a perfectly loving father who does no wrong.
Here are two pertinent Scriptures to examine:
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27
“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’ …so, the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and He brought her to the man.” Genesis 2:18, 21, 22
The commentators are in general agreement that creating Eve in this way showed that she was of the same nature in all respects, having equal powers, faculties, and rights. The writers we read say nothing about Eve being already present in Adam, and they choose not to speculate in this manner from the simple Scripture account.
The other source of Adam’s supposed “androgyny” is the false premise that the words, “in his image, male and female he created them” imply that each person is both masculine and feminine. The scholars, on the other hand, assert that the simple meaning is, “God made mankind, and He made them; male and female” (see Genesis 5:1 & 2). There seems to be agreement that the challenging phrase, “in his image’ means that we are like God: in our souls – in understanding, will, and active power; in place and authority; and, in the new creation as Christians = in potential knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:24, Colossians 3:10). These are the ways we “resemble” God’s image, not in an idea of gender.
In the case for androgyny, the author and teacher, Leanne Payne, says:
“In the traditional and best sense of the word, bisexual, ‘man in his fullness is bisexual’ (Karl Stern, Flight From Woman, pg. 38). That is, man contains within himself at least the vestigial elements of both the masculine and feminine. The Judaic creation account states that before Eve was taken from Adam’s body, Adam was created both male and female in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). The two, taken together, compose God’s image. (The marriage state, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, is a symbolic restitution of this, the bipolar nature of man)”. Crisis in Masculinity, pg. 19)
It seems to us (and to others, we hope) that these are enormous assumptions about the meaning of the text. She accepts Karl Stern’s faulty interpretation of the creation account, and his references to the Kabbala, a mystical system of interpreting Scripture developed by rabbis in medieval times, and other occult sources.
For a different perspective, Stephen B. Clark says in his Man and Woman in Christ (Servant Books), pg. 18:
“The rabbis, probably after the time of Jesus, interpreted the original Adam as androgynous. They said that the original created being was both man and woman together. Then to provide for the human race, woman was taken out of man and made into a separate being. It is unlikely that this view was in the mind of the writer of the Genesis account. This is a rabbinic interpretation (not a Christian one) and developed late, probably under the influence of Greek thought (as exemplified in Plato’s account in the Symposium of the origin of man and woman in sex).”
In Miss Payne’s book, Crisis in Masculinity, she teaches that all people are in actuality both masculine and feminine, in that “men everywhere are separated from… the ‘feminine’ within them”, and these feminine “sides” or “minds” must be acknowledged and cultivated to achieve wholeness.
To find our full humanity is a valuable endeavor, but to speculate on the nature of gender and to label certain traits as masculine or feminine (“it is masculine to will, feminine to nurture”) seems unwise to us. Should we say that the Lord has feminine characteristics because He is tender and nurturing? When men choose to respond to God’s will and nurture someone, are they expressing their “feminine side” or are they just being godly men? When a woman initiates a business venture or protects her children, is she showing her “masculine side” or is she just being a full, godly woman? (Proverbs 31:10-31) Miss Payne says the feminine side of a man is “that part that can see, hear, and respond to God” (pg. 101). This is controlling the dialogue – she re-classifies every trait to fit her premise, i.e., showing a trait associated with a gender verifies that one has that gender inside somewhere. Though her stated goal is wholeness, there is no justification for such categorizing.
The Lord most certainly has all the virtues that mankind needs and the more we yield to Him and let Him express Himself through us, (the path to true identity, by the way), the more godlike and authentic we become. We believe the labeling of virtues by gender is an unwise and misleading practice.
In endorsing androgyny, Miss Payne offers the following conjectures:
There is a “divorce between the masculine and the feminine minds”.
The premise that there are at least the vestigial elements of both masculine and feminine in each of us.
The idea that “in the traditional and best sense of the word, bisexual”, man in his fullness is bisexual.
That in the Judeo-Christian tradition, the marriage state is a symbolic restitution of the “bi-polar nature” of man.
That man and woman taken together compose God’s image.
The concept of “polarity in union” or androgyny existing in the Godhead.
(Crisis in Masculinity, pg. 84, 19, 98)
We claim that, not only are all of these insupportable Scripturally and a result of faulty exegesis, they will affect the quality of counsel. Building on the false interpretation that man was created both male and female (before Eve was “removed” from the body of Adam), Miss Payne concludes that Adam was androgynous. Since he was made in the image of God, she asserts that the Godhead is also androgynous! She states, Masculinity and femininity are attributes of God, and we, in His image, are most surely – in our spiritual, psychological, and physical beings – bipolar creatures. Our Creator, holding all that is true and real within Himself, reflects both the masculine and the feminine, and so do we.”
(Crisis in Masculinity, pg. 98)
It is obvious that this is “creating God in our image” and fortifies the present-day error of concocting a God that we can manage. God has chosen to present Himself consistently as masculine for very important reasons. As many have observed, the relation of man to woman reflects the relationship of God and humanity and, more so, Jesus Christ and the Church. We find no Biblical basis for seeing the “feminine” in the Godhead. All three persons of the Trinity are characterized in the Bible as masculine – what freedom do we have to say otherwise? Miss Payne endorses Stern’s idea that “polarity in union” (opposing forces) is found in the Trinity! On the contrary, who could be in more unity and harmony than the Trinity?
We believe these objections must be stated because Crisis in Masculinity is one of the best-selling books to persons seeking freedom from homosexuality.
We are persuaded that in ministry to people who have been confused and hindered from emotional maturity, it is vital to state truth carefully as it is revealed in the Bible regarding the nature of man, woman, and sexuality. Therefore, we consider both Karl Stern’s and the rabbinic accounts of creation to be erroneous, and Miss Payne’s premise to be unfounded. It is difficult for some people to achieve their true gender identity, and we believe the androgyny concept confuses the matter considerably, and is false at its base.