Monday, November 18, 2013

Sex and the Trinity (an exercise in practical theology)

"Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.... So God created man in His own image. In His image He created him; male and female He created them." Gen. 1:26-27

Q: How did God create man?
A: God created man male and female, after His own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.

There is consistency and diversity in God, and humanity bears the same double-stamp. We are one creature, a human being made in God's image. Yet we are also two separate creatures, male and female, both in God's image. When we read this in Genesis, it is so quickly stated and then left behind that it feels like an absent-minded contradiction: "In His image He created him; male and female He created them." The switch from "him" to "them" is instantaneous, almost nonchalant, as if it should be obvious that what God makes as singular cannot help but also be plural. And why not? When the Holy "Us" makes after His own image, should we expect less rather than more?

We should not glaze over how nitty-gritty the trinitarian implications of our creation are. The basic idea of the Trinity (as if this will explain it) is that God as a Being is a diversity that is so absolutely harmonious in their unity that "they" are "He". The "three" are "One". Even that shallow sketch seems to skirt heresy, but here's one ting that doesn't: the "image of God" is the image of the Trinity, and it is in that likeness we are made. Thus, we are "him" and "them," one and two, two becoming one when they "cleave" to each other and become "one flesh" (Gen. 2:24). This is a great mystery, one easily misunderstood. The point for now is that the Trinity, far from being a theological abstraction, is in fact a divine reality whose image is revealed in us, even (and especially) in our moments of the most intimate physical contact.

Again, why not? Only love creates real unity, and the name of the Trinity is "love" (I John 4:7-8). Thus, the love between friends and "like minds," the love between a man and a woman, the love of Christ for His Church---all these things are reflections and refractions of the One Great Love, the Trinitarian Dance. The Trinity is the higher reality infusing all of existence. It is the watermark of creation, the touchstone of all that is, and therefore it is practical theology, for without it we cannot even begin to understand God, or the world, or ourselves.

All other ground is sinking sand.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2013

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