“He created them male and female”

If you publicly address the topic of “identity as man and woman”, i.e. the identity of the sexes, today, you will sting into a wasps’ nest. The gender debate [1] which seeks to dissolve the biological and social differences between men and women and redefine the human being, is a much-discussed topic in Europe and America, permeating all areas of life. The traditional marriage between man and woman is no longer protected. On the contrary, it is increasingly being dismantled because it is rooted in the biblical, Judeo-Christian view of mankind and its understanding and values. But there is an anchoring of life, which is rooted in the difference and mutual complementarity of man and woman, and which cannot be undermined or overcome by any ideology, because it was not created by man but by God.

If we want to understand who man is, we must look to God, the author and origin of man. Already in Genesis 1:27 the Bible makes a very important statement about man. For there it says: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” This means that only as man and woman together do human beings correspond to the image of God. This statement is very central. God created man in his own image, so he alone can give us an answer about man’s identity and destiny. If we want to know something about the image of “man”, we must first deal with the original “God”. Therefore it is important to hear what the Word of God says about God and his order for man, whom he created in his image.

Our image of God

What do we know about God? What image of God do we carry in our hearts? Who or what has shaped this image? What triggers it in us? Trust? Security? Protection? Peace? Or fear? Anger? Insecurity? Being at the mercy of others? Disappointment? Let no one say that he has no image of God. Each of us carries some image of God within us. The question is only what kind. If we want to know something about God, the most reliable source is the Bible, his own word. The shortest description the Bible gives us about God is: God is love! He is the source of life, light, joy, peace, justice and mercy, freedom and beauty, and he created man in his own image.

God’s order

As God as Creator has given nature laws that ensure its harmonious development and preservation, so he has also given man an order that makes possible for him a harmonious development of life and brings forth God’s image and essence in him, if it is obeyed. To this basic order for man belongs the fact that God has created man as man and woman, so that they create, develop and maintain life in their mutual complementarity.

Just as the biological nature of a woman is different from that of a man, so is the nature of a woman different from that of a man. Both, however, are created in the image of God and are therefore absolutely equal in dignity and value. Thus it says also in 1 Corinthians: „Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God..“ As far as God is concerned, the circumstances are clear: for all their differences, women and men have the same value and the same dignity. God has made woman a participant in the creation of life, in the care, nursing and loving attention. This is motherhood, without which no human be- ing can develop harmoniously and healthily. Man is called to protect, nourish and introduce the life in the making into the world so that it can develop a true personality and identity as a man or woman. This is called fatherhood. Without the existence of motherhood and fatherhood, which together form the space in which a person can grow healthily into his identity as a man or woman, the person experiences aberration and crippling of his personality. When men turn away from God and his order, shirk their calling as fathers, and violate and deny the responsibility that is given to them through abuse of power, they destroy the viability of a growing human being. If women reject God’s life-creating order, neglect or reject their motherhood, they pre- vent a healthy development of the relationship skills that are existential for the grow- ing human being. God has placed the creation of healthy life equally in the hands of man and woman. He will one day hold them accountable for this.

Created to complement

As far as their nature is concerned, men and women are – as already mentioned – very different and therefore complement each other well when it comes to the development of the relationship and identity of the growing human being. This is what the Creator wants in his love for man. He wants that through the community of man and woman, who complement each other well in their nature, his love, his care and his being become visible. This applies not only to marriage, but also to unmarried people, i.e. to man and woman in general. I know that when I briefly describe the nature and the gifts of man and woman here, it sounds like a cemented distribution of roles, which is met with resistance and rejection in the church as well as in the world, be- cause abuse is suspected behind it. However, the abuse and conflicts that characterize a relationship between man and woman, and which make it degenerate into a struggle for influence and power, have their roots in the fact that both men and women no longer identify with the gifts and calling that God has given them. They have left the God-given place of development and fertility, thus opening the door to the aberration and destruction of the life that is being created. The result is that life is dehumanized and degraded to a product that can be disposed of at will. Women and men thus become murderers, destroyers and slaveholders of the growing life, because they exploit it for their selfish self-realization. But God’s order was given to us to enable, protect and develop life.

The woman, close to the mystery of life

The woman was endowed by God with the gift of being close to the mystery of life and through her intuition to be more receptive to the mysteries of God as the creator of life. She can sense and grasp the soul of man beyond facts and logic. Therefore comfort, care and the creation of security are important gifts of her being.

God, in his incarnation, entrusted himself to the care of a woman, Mary, who was able to keep his secret in her heart. With the exception of one man, it was women who stood by Jesus at his last hour on the cross and were close to him. Likewise, women were the first to learn of the resurrection of Jesus and were the first to be sent out as witnesses with the secret of the resurrection. God entrusted himself to the woman, so that through her his being and his yes to life might be made visible and become flesh. The woman is not created in and for herself, but by God and for God. Her being and her basic vocation as mother of the developing life is a trait of God, who is the source of life. Motherhood is not limited to one’s own family, to bodily children and to one’s own marriage, but it is an attitude of the woman’s heart towards all living things, given and willed by God. It is not about being banished behind the stove and household duties, but rather about the ability to create places of security through loving care and availability, where people experience acceptance, understanding, comfort and the anchoring of their relationship skills. Whether in the family or at work, a woman will shape her environment through her nature, whether as a blessing by unfolding life as a mother, or to prevent and hurt life by rejecting her calling. This has nothing to do with the performance of the woman. A woman can very well perform great achievements in many areas, but her achievements will never replace her basic vocation as a mother.

The man, protector of life

Man, in turn, has been endowed by God with the gift of making the essence of his fatherhood visible and incarnate. Fatherhood means to give protection, to recognize the nature of the child and to help the child to unfold, to show him his place in life, to introduce him to the context and reality of life and thereby enable him to build a healthy identity. It is no coincidence that in almost all cultures the child carries the name of the father in its name. It is the task of the father to ensure that the growing child belongs to and is integrated into the human community. Integrity, reliability and a sense of responsibility are essential when it comes to investing in the growing child. Most men, however, behave as they did when they fell into sin. They shirk their responsibilities, hide behind their own plans, their career and the realization of their own dreams. By shirking their vocation to fatherhood, they prevent their children from developing a healthy identity and leave behind a fatherless, disoriented generation, which leads a hopeless struggle for self-discovery and rebels against non-existent fathers and mothers who have blocked their path in life. The day will come when God will call the fathers to account for the rejection of their calling and task.

It is no wonder that many families (including unfortunately Christian families) are a place of abuse, distrust and violence and end up falling apart. Where the order of God is not followed, healthy family conditions fall apart, leaving injured and destroyed lives behind. God created man in his own image in order to give him the fullness of life according to his order. No other image of man can lead man into his real humanity and to self-discovery. And yet man has created for himself a new image of man, detached from God.

The godless image of man

This process began in the 1960s with an imperceptible turning away from the Judeo- Christian conception of man and the values resulting from it. Man’s confrontation with his self-image, his identity, how he defines himself in his gender, in his conscious- ness, in his social, societal and political claims and rights, has created a new, today’s image of man, whose values and foundations are meanwhile decidedly no longer oriented to the Judeo-Christian image of man. This turning away from the Judeo- Christian view of humanity has paved the way for the gender discussion, which aims to dissolve biological and social differences between men and women and redefine the human being. The gender discussion is not simply a personal or social matter, but for the Western world a fundamental issue that permeates all areas of life. Its postulated values and image of man have already been reflected in the revision and redefinition of laws and affect and shape the life and thinking of all. What was unthinkable only 20 years ago has now become a reality: same-sex relationships (homosexuality) have been legally equated by the state and in most state churches with the traditional marriage between man and woman, with all obligations and rights. As if that were not enough, the practice of almost every form of sexual orientation is defined as a human right, and every criticism, questioning and rejection is understood as discrimination and on the level of racism criminalized by the state and outlawed by the church. Even Pope Francis, in the documentary film about his life (Pope Francis: A Man of His Word), publicly called for the legalization and protection of civil partner- ships for homosexuals, since homosexuals also have a right to a family. He does not make clear what exactly Francis means by family. But the thought that he means that homosexual couples should also be allowed to adopt children or to have children through surrogacy is not far off. If the world, which does not judge itself according to the orders of God, legalizes such partnership relations out of its sense of justice, one can understand this. But when the head of the largest and oldest church demands this, it becomes visible how far the disintegration of the fundamental orders of God in the church has already progressed. The previous traditional marriage between man and woman is no longer protected; on the contrary, it is increasingly being dismantled because it is based on the biblical, Judeo-Christian view of man and his understand- ing and values. It is an annoyance and a dilemma of the gender ideology, which wants to dissolve the complementary differences between man and woman, that a human being cannot be created other than by fusion of the sperm of the man and the egg of the woman, and that without the carrying of a developing child by the woman no new life can be created.

Man, measure of all things

This new image of man is the basis of many movements that have the goal of leading man to freedom and justice by breaking down the biblical image of man with its order and values, which restricts and enslaves their understanding, so that man – no longer determined by religion or other authoritarian structures – can develop forms of life and structures that are rooted in and through him. A current movement, which very quickly became very popular in the West and has a great influence on society, is the BLM (Black Life Matters) movement. The BLM-Movement has taken up the fight against racism as its banner and has rightly won the support of many Christians. Everyone who really loves God and knows that racism is a sin, because in Christ there is neither white nor black, but only children of God without distinction. On closer inspection, however, one can see that the fight against racism is only one of the goals of BLM. The founders of the BLM Movement, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, who started the movement in 2013, are professing Marxists who have made the destruction of biblical orders their goal, among them the dismantling of marriage and family according to biblical values. In their view, biblical values make self- determination and self-definition of women impossible and cement their oppression. Of course, in all cultures and religions, unfortunately also in Christian culture, there were and still are blatant injustices, abuse and violence, especially concerning women and children; one day God will not only hold the world accountable in this respect, but also his church.

However, the goal of gender ideology and world-views such as BLM goes far beyond the struggle for justice for women, ethnic groups and social groups. It is not just about redefining the role of men and women, and redefining marriage and family as a relationship without defined power structures to prevent abuse and guarantee equality. In this new relationship network of same-sex marriages, too, there will be injustice towards children who cannot decide for themselves whether they will have father and mother or two fathers or two mothers, let alone whether they will ever meet their bio- logical parents after procreation through a sperm bank. A growing human being is given a heteronomy that will shape him and who’s identity as a product of the wishes of others will one day become an existential problem.

A question of focus

The nucleus of the gender ideology is not primarily the fight against social injustice and oppression, against patriarchal structures of domination, but against the creator of man, whom they blame for injustice because of his orders, which are mostly misunderstood, and therefore rejected and declared non-existent. If there is no creator to whom one owes account as a creature, man becomes his own creator who defines himself according to his needs and view of the world. Biological and social realities are explained and rejected as religious, cultural and social conditionings. Man and woman can redefine themselves as they wish in their self-confidence and gender and demand their individual rights, thus the coming chaos and decline of every community is pre-programmed. Although man is surrounded by a creation that shows him daily that the creation and passing of life is subject to an order and its laws and that everything that violates this order and its laws causes catastrophes and chaos, he refuses to believe that his life is also subject to the life-creating and life-sustaining order of the Creator and its laws. The fact that man is a creature is already shown by the fact that he is neither omniscient nor autonomous and that he must approach most of his life with faith and trust in order to experience reality. Nothing in life is guaranteed in itself, except death in its time. Man is a being of faith, which is also indicated by the Word of God in the Epistle to the Hebrews: “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God” (Hebrews 11:3a).

The question now is what message we believe. To whom do we open ourselves, what do we believe to be true and from which information, with which we deal, do we ultimately draw insights and conclusions about ourselves and the world? If we align ourselves with the Word of God and believe in it, then our understanding of God, man and the world is shaped and formed accordingly, and we find our calling as man and woman as father and mother of all living things.

The message of the cross

The church of God is in great danger of being appropriated and exploit by the claims and ideologies of this world, making the issues and needs of this world the center of its proclamation so as not to miss the connection to the world. Social justice, racism, environmental protection, equality of all cultures and religions and tolerance of every form of human life are increasingly displacing the message of the crucified and risen Christ, who gave his life to lead hearts back to God and save them from judgment and damnation. The church makes itself the helper of ideological streams and no longer dares to proclaim the message of guilt and forgiveness, of grace and truth, of Christ as Lord over life and death, as the only true hope for change, salvation and peace. Today’s society, including Christian society, no longer wants to hear anything from guilt towards its Creator, and anyone who reminds them of it will be pilloried. The topic of guilt and forgiveness got excluded because it is unacceptable. The church can gain a lot of acceptance and recognition from the world by adapting to the current zeitgeist and ideologies, but “what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26) If the church of God does not have the courage to proclaim the message of the cross despite all the pressure, then it will lose its protection, become a pawn of the powers of this world and suffer the same judgment that will surely come upon all godlessness.

[1] “Gender debate” is the debate on the self-determination of the human being and how this defines his or her gender and social nature.