"Design" language and theologizing about embodiment topics

It would seem without question that marriage is how the image can function as a representation of God in the world. It’s not the only way, as singleness is also a blessing for those with that gift. There are of course a diversity of gifts and functions.

I think this is totally off theologically to link marriage with some kind of “complete” image of God or with the Trinity. The Bible doesn’t do that, it uses marriage as an example of unity, the unity of the Godhead as an example for how to be unified in marriage, and the unity of marriage to talk about the unity of Christ and the church.


Who said complete?

The image of God functions as it was ordained in marriage. This is one legitimate function for it.

And yes there is a view looking forward to the marriage supper of the Lamb and the consummation of the age.

I didn’t think that marriage was an acceptable topic here.

Reading this, it s seems that TGC is channeling its inner Mark Driscoll. Perhaps that was unkind, if so I am sorry.
In any case, I appreciate how it is pointed out that the finite can point to the infinite, and God uses our experience to explain divine concepts, but that does not mean our experience is divine.


“You can check out any time you like
but you can never leave”

There’s an element to Driscoll and Wilson that’s never going to go away.

I think Christy hit the nail squarely on the head when she said:

As much as I like Craig Keener, I completely disagree with his egalitarianism and have had serious conversations with committed well read egalitarians.

We’re not “talking about marriage” we’re talking about embodiment and intelligent design and how that relates to understanding theology.

The image of God was never “ordained in marriage” nor does it “function in marriage” differently than in singleness. You are making stuff up that isn’t in the Bible.

1 Like

Nope, we are talking about embodiment and intelligent design and how design assumptions play into the way we use metaphors from embodiment. Stay on topic.

How am I making up that God created men and women in his image, and in marriage men and women have ordained roles? Roles which differ outside of marriage.

You said “the image of God functions as it was ordained in marriage” which I understood as “the image of God functions as the image of God was ordained to function when people are married”

I also don’t grant the premise that husband and wife have ordained roles. Marriage is ordained by God. Gender roles in marriage are created by our societies and constructed around biological realities and God accommodates them.

1 Like

Even if God accommodates an artificial construct, it can be argued they are still (or can be) ordained. I particularly liked how Longman wrote about the creation of Eve from Adam’s side, but I am also not an egalitarian and not sure if Longman is either, which more than anything is a new social construct that God has yet to accommodate, and I’d argue that it’s evident from the Bible that hierarchy continues into the new creation even if gender roles in marriage will be transformed.

With respect to the topic of the thread, could the issue be as a basic as contrasting biological sexual difference as an unintended consequence of natural selection that God accommodates, or is it intended (even designed) and the question of how God did it is not as important as the fact he made it that way according to his eternal purpose.

Good share, Christy. I, like many, nearly threw up into my coffee cup while reading Joshua’s blog post. I won’t rehash some of the good points made on both sides re: marriage. I will say, however, that it feels like Joshua failed Hermeneutics 101 on this one. When I read the offending section of Eph 5:

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
~ Eph 5:31-32 (NIV2011)

It seems to me that Paul/the Holy Spirit is saying

“Hey, you know the profound intimacy that a husband and a wife experience in sexual union, that’s just a fleeting, guttering glimmer of the kind of intimacy that we experience with Jesus as members of the church. Is that amazing?”

In that sense, although it doesn’t quite fit the usual pattern, it feels like a classic Paul “if THIS, how much more THAT argument.”

But of broader concern for me, was the language around hospitality and generosity. The implication is that if a wife refuses to have sex with her husband she is denying him the chance to be generous, and she is being unhospitable (which is a sin). And/or that she is, presumably, being ungrateful for her husband’s generosity (also a sin)? That’s before we even get to the language around the sanctuary and offering, or the disturbing mixing of metaphors when he transitions to talk about Jesus. All in all, the whole presentation of marriage, generally, and sex, specifically, is so androcentric it would be tragic if it wasn’t so blasphemous and dangerously damaging to women. I say all this as a card-carrying complementarian (not in the Biblical Manhood and Womanhood sense… I really hate that I have to make that caveat now).

Thinking out loud for a moment… Following Reformed thinkers like Herman Bavinck, I would say that human societal structures find meaning and ultimate origin in the social nature of the Trinity. Things like marriage, family, community, nation, etc. these things are evolved/social, yes, but I don’t think that means they cannot also be, in God’s providence, divinely intended or invested with divine meaning. But then, and perhaps, I am an outlier here, I am happy to say that a flock of birds or shoal of tetra also have something to teach us about the nature of the Trinity, or God, or the church, or how to live as humans in God’s world or…

Then again, and if I am understanding you correctly, whatever meaning there is to discern from nature or human nature (intended or otherwise) it is a derived meaning that we draw out through reflection and contemplation of the thing. It is not innate meaning that has been ‘baked in’ to the thing by God on, say, a genetic/design level. In that sense, the Holy Spirit might reveal something to me as I reflect on the teamwork in a pod of Orca, but God did not create a pod of orcas to teach humans that insight.

So returning to the topic at hand, whatever (hypothetical) spiritual insights there might be from reflecting on and contemplating human sex, God did not create sex to teach us those insights.


Thank you Liam for helping to further unravel this controversy that I kind of get, but not entirely.

When I interjected the comment about how our social nature helps us to understand something that is true about God, I did so misunderstanding Christy’s point about about the direction metaphorical reasoning goes.

However, if we become like what we worship, maybe we should see it going the other way as well.

I don’t see any disagreement with your reading on the passage from Ephesians 5, and was wondering if you can summarize the view you strongly disagreed with in Joshua’s blog post. I haven’t read it, so I am genuinely interested… and you know, like a good game, sometimes it’s best to get into these things without really knowing what you are getting into.

1 Like

I’m fine with saying God intentionally designed humanity to be male and female because our gendered-ness is a big part of our embodied human identity. It is the result of common ancestry though. When making that assertion that God created humanity, male and female, we should keep in mind that even some plants have male and female species, and we need to remember that it is not true that other species are simply mirroring the maleness and femaleness that God created mostly for humans, his image bearers. The comma makes a difference. It’s not God made humans male and God made humans female, in his image. It’s God made humanity in his image, both male humans and female humans.


But hermeneutics 101 should get a person to the idea that one flesh isn’t about having sex, it’s about getting married. It’s a unity image not a sexual image (just like a head and a body forming a whole living organism like the husband/wife, Christ/church unified oneness.) In Genesis it’s not “A man should leave his father and mother and join to his wife and have sex with her” It’s “A man should leave his father and mother and join to his wife and form a kinship bond with her that entails responsibilities and commitments.” In the ANE men could have sex with women and they weren’t responsible for them. When Jesus quotes the one flesh passage, he isn’t talking about sex or adultery, he’s talking about the duties and reponsibilities that men were walking away from when they divorced their wives “for any reason.” The joining together that he says let no man separate is a kinship bond, not a sexual union. So part of where Butler went wrong was thinking “one flesh” was sex instead of marriage. Unless you are doing that weird thing some people do with allegorizing Song of Songs, the Bible does not sexualize Christ’s relationship with the church. The whole idea of the church as a pure spotless bride being presented to the groom that shows up in Eph 5 is a virginity image.

Yes, that is the moral of the story.


Oh… I think I’m beginning to get the picture.

And I would spew my coffee if the issue is an either/or. Most definitely both/and. Responsibility, commitment, emotional and physical intimacy.

One other comment, a landmine for sure:

“And what about the magazines for men? They are all about the “stuff ” outside relationships. When women come into it, they do so as one more object—like the rifle, or the speedboat, or the money.”

“In short, ungoverned by grace, women want to get in closer to get the hooks into him, and men want to get farther away in order to get his hands onto that.”

“Father Hunger: Why God Calls Men to Love and Lead Their Families” by Douglas Wilson.

Good points. Seems like I failed Hermeneutics 101 on that one too. :sweat_smile: Thanks for the gracious correction.

So you would say there is no sexual overtones to one flesh image at all for the original audience?

Yep, that’s fair too. Although that description comes before Paul’s Genesis quotation, and after his digression about loving one’s wife as one’s own body. Though I concede that it is all within the v21 and v33 bookends of his wider argument regarding marriage.

On an aside, I’m sure I read a blog by Aimee Byrd (I think) way back when about how the language Paul uses in Ephesians 5:25-27 draws on the imagery of a slave preparing a bride for her wedding day, a task Byrd(?) argues would have been principally carried out my young female slaves. True or not, I’ve always found that a very moving image and a very helpful image for conceptualizing male headship and what it looks like practically to love my wife as Christ loves the church. A sort of husband-as-bridesmaid picture (I appreciate the comparison is not one-to-one)