Am I reading this wrong?

So I read and re-read the Bible, slowly, usually over about 18 months at a time.  I like to consider the Word, post the Word on social media, discuss the Word, argue about the Word, read commentaries about the Word– and see if I understood the great Father God Creator who has written our owner’s manual for life.  This morning I came upon — as I have thousands of times before — this passage in the very first chapter of Genesis..

“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth..”

When you really ponder this — there is so much to be considered.

  • After creating a world that is wholly “good,” a place where the creator God calls light and dark and seas and land and plants and animals “very good,”
  • He then creates “male and female” in His own image.
  • He blesses them
  • He commands them to “be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth.”
  • He announces that these image-bearers of God, men and women, will have rulership over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky, over livestock and every creeping thing.

Consider how much of His kingdom He shares with us in just this opening scene.  He could have spoken one hundred billion human souls into existence simply by the power of His word, but He shares some of His creative stewardship with us.  He could have organized creation with His own central authority, but He delegates that authority. He allows us to “rule” and to be “fruitful.”  His very first command is: “have sex” and fill this earth!

Most of us, to one degree or another, apologize for our sexual selves.  This shame goes mysteriously with the fall, but we were made, originally, “naked and unashamed.”  If you have any religious pietism in your background, it feels oddly scandalous to consider a God who made us naked, unashamed, and apparently designed for the pleasure of touch, embrace, and creation.  And even if you were raised a secular humanist savage, you still guard your privacy, you still see your sexual self as sacred.  You would “lawyer up” if someone exposed you in a moment of intimacy.  It doesn’t matter if you read the Bible or not, the Bible describes you.  It has your number.

But when I consider the ragged divisions in our current body politic, on one level I’m tempted to dismiss any worry about some 6’8″ nut who thinks he’s now a woman, who should be able to play women’s basketball.  Why worry, in the post-modern world, about what people do with their sexuality?  Why fight about divorce, traditional marriage, gender confusion, and sexual identity?

The answer is that God wants us to have pleasure in creation, in actual creation, not pretended creation.   He gloried in making us male and female, in giving us a royal charge, in allowing us to “fill the earth.”

I was watching a very fundamentalist Baptist television drama the other day, Ted Lasso, on Apple TV. In one of the team-travel scenes, a fetching female member of the management team effectively offers herself to one of the team’s aging star players.  He gives her a big kiss and then goes off to his own room alone.  They both agree that one night stands leave them feeling cheap.

No, of course, this wasn’t a Baptist production, but it demonstrated a truth so powerfully written in our hearts that no one has any excuse for ignoring it.   We were meant to come together in order to advance the kingdom, not to mock it. We were meant to have pleasure in the cause of making babies, “filling the earth,” open to both the blessings of the physical love itself and the blessings such love might bring.

Anything else — any mockery of God’s order, which is powerfully beautiful and sensual and creative — is both an evil and a costly farce.  When we abandon orphans, when we pretend a fake female looks like the real thing, when we kill human life in the womb, when fragile, beautiful women have their skulls broken by “male turned female” wrestlers, we are eye-witnesses to powerful judgment.  We are looking at a beautiful creation and mocking the divine gift.  We are looking back at Eden and laughing it to scorn.  We are violating the very first command.