It’s a boy! I could be wrong, but I imagine that’s the first the the doctor said to my parents when I was born. And I’m sure my parents didn’t find this at all unusual – especially since I am, in fact, a boy. But if you think about it for a moment, why is this always the first thing we think about when a new baby is born? Surely, my sexual genitalia were not my most notable features. The doctor could have made equally objective observations about the size of my head or the tone of my skin. Why does gender get so much attention?
And the same is true for non-doctors. Tell someone you’re pregnant, and just count the seconds until they ask if it’s going to be a boy or a girl. Look at the baby shower presents and notice how the anticipated gender shaped everyone’s purchases. Dress your new baby in green and watch all the frustrated people try to figure out which gender category to put it in. Before we have even opened our eyes to see the strange new world that lies beyond the safety of our mothers’ wombs, our sexuality has already started to shape who we are and how we relate to the people around us.
As Robert Jewett said,
Sexuality permeates one’s individual being to its very depth; it conditions every facet of one’s life as a person….Our self-knowledge is indissolubly bound up not simply with our human being but with our sexual being.
So, as we continue our discussion of the image of God, it should come as no surprise that some have considered the possibility that sexuality lies at the heart of the image of God just as the image of God lies at the heart of what it means to be human. But they mean more than just the fact that we were born with certain biological features. For these thinkers, sexuality is really about being in relationship. “Male” and “female” are essentially relational terms–i.e. you can’t really have one without the other. So, by creating humans as gendered creatures, God established us as those who identity is always constituted in relationship to someone else. And it is through these relationships that we we reflect God’s being in the world. The imago is relational.