Rethinking Sexuality

What does Eve have to do with sexual orientation? Everything...

The Where does sexual orientation come from? And what, if anything, does Eve have to do with it? The latter question is mostly what this post is about. The former question is elusive, even among leading scientists and sociologists. In a fantastic academic journal article entitled “Understanding Sexual Orientation,” they make a few observations about sexual orientation. “Studies of the origins of sexual orientation focus mostly on biological factors and social and cultural factors, and a healthy scholarly debate exists on the relative importance of these two sets of factors...At best, perhaps all we can say is that sexual orientation stems from a complex mix of biological and cultural factors that remain to be determined.” 

The American Psychological Association (APA), on the issue of sexual orientation, says, “There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that any particular factor or factors determine sexual orientation. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.” As you can see, the scientific community is still determining where sexual orientation comes from. This is no easy task. 

However, the question I posed above was, what does Eve have to do with sexual orientation? To understand that, a definition of orientation is necessary. The Oxford English Dictionary describes both orientation and sexual orientation as: 

  • Orientation (2nd definition)- a person’s basic attitude, beliefs, or feelings in relation to a particular subject or issue

  • Sexual Orientation- a person’s identity in relation to the gender or genders to which they are sexually attracted; the fact of being heterosexual, homosexual

Both of these definitions center on the individual’s own beliefs, feelings, desires, and identity. These aspects heavily influence who a person wants to be intimate with. Whereas gender describes the identity a person believes themselves to be. Orientation describes the identity of the person they want to be with. On one level, there is no other way to determine orientation. It must come solely from the individual. However, Christians understand things a little differently. In contrast, the above definitions emphasize how the individual feels, desires, etc. Christians have to ask more fundamental questions like, “Who created feelings, desires, and identity?” Believers are always looking to origin stories that eventually lead us to the origin story of humanity itself. So, for this idea of Eve and sexual orientation, there are four things that we must understand. 

  1. We were made for Genesis 1 & 2, but we live in Genesis 3 & 4

  2. Being made in God’s image must include the way Adam and Eve were created. “Let us make man in our image” is not only exercising dominion and procreation. There is something to be said about the way Adam and Eve were made 

  3. The creation of Eve is the most shocking creation in the Cosmos 

  4. This issue requires a much greater treatment than one post can offer, so there will be more than this post

We were made for Genesis 1 & 2, but we live in Genesis 3 & 4

Since Genesis 3, all of us have been living under the consequences of sin. We have no idea what it’s like to live in a world without sin. What makes it even more challenging is that we weren’t created for this world. By this world, I don’t mean the physical location, but more the functional conditions in it. We were created to live in a world without sin. And if you’re a believer, you’re looking forward to the moment the world is no longer tainted by sin. 

As it stands, that could be a long wait. But we do have a snapshot of when the world wasn’t that way. Genesis 1 & 2 is a brief but beautiful picture of a time with God and without sin. Humanity, with the world at its fingertips, an intimate relationship with God, and a future of family planning with picnics in the most beautiful garden ever, was set for heaven on earth. What could go wrong? Everything. Adam and Eve do the one thing God said don’t do, eat from the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. By doing so, they introduced sin into the world, changing the entire cosmos. What God had intended for humanity is lost. And everyone born from Genesis 4 on would be born with a sin nature that is opposite of what God intended. The sin of biting the fruit, put Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden, and humanity out of the presence of God except in the most stringent of circumstances. 

But God is merciful.

Jesus comes to lives in perfect obedience the way God intended Adam, Eve, and the rest of us to live. He dies on a cross as if he had lived in disobedience the way Adam, Eve, and the rest of us did. He rises from the dead, ascends to heaven, and then sends his Spirit to remind us to live the way God intended. And if we do, we’re back in the garden that Adam and Eve were kicked out of, in God’s presence forever, the way he intended it to be when he made humanity in Genesis 1-2.  We must never forget that we were made for Genesis 1 & 2, but we live in Genesis 3 & 4. By that I mean, we live in the aftermath of Genesis 1 & 2, where sin dominates our world, and we’re fighting to live the way God intended with much opposition. This is not how God intended it to be. 

Made in God’s Image

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, the whole earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.

These are some of the most overanalyzed, doctrine-defining words in the Bible. Chapters on end have been written about what it means to be made in God’s Image.  Many of the ones worth reading focus primarily on two components; The cognitive distinction, and the cultural mandate functions. On the cognitive side, being made in God’s image has to do with reason, volition, creativity, aesthetic sensitivity, capacity, etc. On the cultural mandate side, it’s procreation, dominion over the earth,  exercising our will, etc. 

The focus here will be on the specifics of how Adam and Eve were created, not what they were designed to do once created, or how much they have characteristics like God. Those are important things. But not important enough for this post. The following two questions will guide us: 

  1. Why were Adam and Eve created the way they were created? 

  2. What does that mean as it relates to being made in God’s Image? 

After the pronouncement to the heavenly host in Genesis 1 that God is going to make man in His Image, we see this scene in Genesis 2. “Then the LORD God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.” Adam is the first person of humanity and is uniquely created in comparison to the animals. The one main difference is that God breathed the breath of life into Adam’s nostrils. The wording, depending on your Bible translation, makes it seem like God's breathing into Adam was simply Adam being given the capacity to breathe. But reading a little further in Genesis 2, we see that this is not the case. “The LORD God formed out of the ground every wild animal and every bird of the sky and brought each to the man to see what he would call it. And whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.” In this explanation of God in creating the animals, forms them out of the ground like Adam. They do not, however, get the “breath of life” breathed into them. This includes sea creatures that know how to breathe underwater. So if animals that were also created from the dirt are capable of breathing without “the breath of life,” it means that the “breath” is something more than just the ability to inhale oxygen. The “breath” means more than just being alive. It’s part of what it means to be made in the image of God. Thus, animals did not receive it. But God didn’t breathe it into Eve when he created her either. Why?

Towards the end of Genesis 2, we see something that has never been done in all of creation. God creates Eve. But he doesn’t do it out of the ground like the rest of creation. “The man gave names to all the livestock, to the birds of the sky, and to every wild animal, but for the man, no helper was found corresponding to him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to come over the man, and he slept. God took one of his ribs and closed the flesh at that place. Then the LORD God made the rib he had taken from the man into a woman and brought her to the man.” Both Adam and Eve were uniquely created in the image of God, but Eve very differently. Out of all the creatures on earth, Eve is the only one made from someone’s body. She wasn’t created from the dirt and then given the breath of life like Adam.  God created Eve, uniquely different from Adam, but also in his image, revealing two essential truths. 

The first is that Eve, as the helper, was not given the breath of life that in the same way Adam received it because she already had it. God breathing into Adam was God breathing the breath of life into all of humanity. Adam is the first person of mankind, and within this “breath“ are the distinctions that separate animals from humanity, and also what make humanity in the likeness of God. It is an eternal breath, an essence, a forever spirit, something that never dies. This breath of life was necessary for humanity to be like God. We must mimic a shared essence, soul, and uniqueness like the Trinity. So when God breathed into Adam in Genesis 2, he breathed into all of humanity at the same time, allowing Eve to bypass the procedure, and giving all of us the same eternal essence. 

The second vital note to pay attention to is the meaning of Eve being taken from Adam’s side instead of the ground. Because she is created in the image of God, even the way she was formed has significant implications for humanity. God forming Eve out of Adam’s body reveals a oneness in the “likeness” of the Trinity. In other words, the formation of Eve is a statement of how the Trinity functions. The oneness is the shared essence (breath of life, flesh and bones). The function is that Eve has a different role than Adam (helpmate, bearing children etc). 

Their creation is a type, a shadow, a visual illustration of being like the Trinity, imitating its uniqueness. Just as the Trinity is of the same essence, God creating Eve inside Adam’s body, but giving her distinctly different functions, is an arrow pointing to how the Trinity functions in perfect unity. Different roles but functioning in the same essence as the other. Eve was made differently than Adam, but shares Adam’s actual flesh, has the same breath of life, and was created to function alongside Adam in perfect unity. Adam is constructed differently than the animals because, as the first person of humanity he was given the breath of life. That breath of life was an aspect, or better, the inauguration of a progressive revelation of what it looks like to be made in God’s image. The uniqueness in the way Adam and Eve were created is a display of the uniqueness of the Trinity in how it functions. Same essence, different roles. But what does any of this have to do with sexual orientation? Everything. There’s one more component to consider. 

The Eve Orientation 

There is a very crude and condescending response to homosexuality that goes like this, "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve." When I was a kid growing up in the '80's we used to say this phrase to anyone we perceived to be gay, even though I didn't know who Adam and Eve were. Or, I didn't realize the significance of who they are concerning humanity and the reason why the world is the way that it is.  At best, I knew that they were the first two people in the Bible. And I knew they had sex. I also knew it would make my friends laugh in our elementary school class as we clowned everyone for our own edification. As time went by, that phrase slipped out of my mind. It became more dumb to use as the issue of same-sex attraction and marriage rose to the cultural forefront of our collective conscience. After becoming a pastor, and seeing people that I care about wrestling with their sexuality, and looking to me as their friend and pastor to help them, that phrase became less and less loving. Around 2013, after reading book after book on pro-gay theology, trying to help someone who did not believe the bible condemned monogamous gay relationships, and seeking to understand their theological conclusions, I was confronted with the Adam and Eve dichotomy again. This time, It wasn't in the form of a crude statement. It was in the form of a question I asked myself based on some of the pro-gay theological arguments I encountered. The question I pondered was, "Why Did God make Eve instead of Steve?" As a question, this becomes profound when you consider that God can do whatever he wants. Everything God does has perfect wisdom and divine intentionality behind it. He didn’t have to make Eve if he didn’t want to. It is then that we realize that Eve is the most unique creation in the cosmos.  

In the bible, we get a few snapshots of what the heavenly realm and its inhabitants are like. Ezekiel 1, 10, Daniel 7, Isaiah 6, and  Revelation 4 all give us a small window into the dwelling place of our Lord and savior. The description of the creatures in the heavenly places varies. For Instance, Isaiah 6 tells us, "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphim were standing above him; they each had six wings: with two, they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew...Then one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a glowing coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs." Ezekiel 10 gives us another snapshot of divine beings. "After the Lord commanded the man clothed in linen, saying, “Take fire from inside the wheelwork, from among the cherubim,” the man went in and stood beside a wheel. Then the cherub reached out his hand to the fire that was among them. He took some and put it into the hands of the man clothed in linen, who took it and went out. The cherubim appeared to have the form of human hands under their wings." Daniel 7's account of the throne room is riveting. His description of the Father and Son are significant visual aids for us. “As I kept watching, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was white like snow, and the hair of his head like whitest wool. His throne was flaming fire; its wheels were blazing fire. A river of fire was flowing,  coming out from his presence. Thousands upon thousands served him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was convened, and the books were opened...and suddenly, one like a son of man was coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was escorted before him. He was given dominion and glory and a kingdom so that those of every people, nation, and language should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will not be destroyed." All these fantastic creatures have one thing in common. They’re all male. 

Satan is a he (Revelation 12:9). The Holy Spirit is a he (John 16:13). The angels are male (Job 1 & 2). We have no reason to think the 24 elders in Revelation 4 aren't males. It seems that every divine being God created is male. Within the Trinity is the perfect male unity in all of existence (Father, Son, Spirit). Yet God, when thinking of the divinely perfect helpmeet for Adam, creates, for the first time in all of creation, a female. Why?  It would make more sense to give Adam a Steve instead of Eve. That would be consistent with the rest of the creatures that God created. At least the ones that are capable of cognitive worship towards him. But he didn’t make Steve. God truly broke the mold when he made Eve. She is an entirely different orientation and yet is the divinely decided orientation of the Trinity. And he created her from Adam's body instead of the ground. Believe it or not, the creation of Eve is a statement from God about sexual orientation. Eve is the creation of orientation. Before her, there was no other orientation but male to male. I understand I’m using “orientation” differently than the way people use it today. That’s intentional. There are two main reasons below that will explain why. 

The first is that this was exclusively God's choice for Adam. As far as we know, Adam wasn't asking for someone to help him. Here's what Genesis 2 tells us, "Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper corresponding to him.” The Lord God formed out of the ground every wild animal and every bird of the sky and brought each to the man to see what he would call it. And whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the livestock, to the birds of the sky, and to every wild animal, but for the man, no helper was found corresponding to him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to come over the man, and he slept. God took one of his ribs and closed the flesh at that place.Then the Lord God made the rib he had taken from the man into a woman and brought her to the man." God's will to create for Adam (and all humanity) this particular orientation (by this I am including sexual), even though perfect fellowship seems to be male in the heavenly realm is telling. This brings me to my second reason. 

Some theologians believe that when God said, "Let us make man in our image," that he wasn't talking to the God Head alone, but to the entire divine council (I believe this too). This means that Adam and Eve were being made not just in God's image but also the image of the other divine beings in the heavenly realm. What’s fascinating about this is Genesis 6 says, "When mankind began to multiply on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humanity were beautiful, and they took any they chose as wives for themselves. And the Lord said, “My Spirit will not remain with mankind forever, because they are corrupt., Their days will be 120 years.” The Nephilim were on the earth both in those days and afterward, when the sons of God came to the daughters of mankind, who bore children to them. They were the powerful men of old, the famous men." There are different interpretations of the meaning of the sons of God in Genesis 6. In my next rethinking sexuality post, I'll explain in more detail why I believe these are angels having sex with and marrying women.  The point I want to make from this is that the angels in their rebellion exclusively have sex with women. This is important because the bible highlights on a few occasions the attractiveness of men (Genesis 39:6, 1 Samuel 16:12, 2 Samuel 14:25, 1 Kings 1:6). Why don’t the angels have sex with men as well? Particularly if sexual orientation is not necessarily an issue God cares about. Or is simply a matter left up to humanity to decide for ourselves (This argument does exist). The divine beings, even though they were rebelling, weren't tainted with sin in the same way humanity was. Their rebellion didn't rise against the orientation that God had established for beings made in the image of God. The divine beings of Genesis 6 did not break the sexual orientation component. Their lust was exclusively targeting the orientation that God had intended for humanity to functional faithfully as image-bearers. 

So when we combine all of this, we see the beginnings of a divine mosaic.  God declares that humanity will be made in his image. God makes Adam from the ground, breathing the breath of life into him, thus breathing it into all society. God creates Eve, the only female in the cosmos, taking her from Adam's body, and then sees all of this as good. Humanity's creation concerning being made in God's image makes a bold statement. Eve being created to be a helper for Adam, yet having the same essence by the breath of life, and the same flesh and bones, but being a different person with different responsibilities, resembles the Trinity. Adam and Eve are different in person but the same in essence. This is how we come to understand the nature of the Trinity. And the specific way Adam and Eve were created mimics the function of the God Head as different in person, but the same essence. This the Trinitarian Similitude in full effect.  Humanity is created to function similarly as the Trinity.  In fact, humanity is a shadow, a type, a fraternal twin of the Trinitarian unity that exists in Heaven. As it relates to the image of the God Head's similitude versus the Divine Council (the heavenly host), those divine beings were also created. God stating that he's going to make humanity in "our image" is to say to the divine Council that man will function similarly to how the divine council was created to perform. We are all created by God and For God. And are made for such a great purpose. In that, we share the likeness of the heavenly beings. Though it may seem like my stating Eve, a female, a woman, as the emphatic creation of orientation, based on the divine will of God, is blocking believers who have same-sex attraction; there's more to be said that is actually more beautiful and more fulfilling than even sexual orientation. 

More than this

To truly be able to unpack this, one post is woefully insufficient. In my limited involvement with the LGBT community, I believe a proper vision has not been cast for many of them to embrace a more profound, fuller reality except, "Sorry you can't get married,” or, “It's a sin." I do not mean that same-sex attracted Christians do not find satisfaction in Christ alone. Or that somehow I can offer something no one else has. No. But I do think a more profound treatment needs to be given that helps all of us see how being image-bearers has more to do with the Trinitarian Similitude than it does our sexual orientation and or relationship status. Love requires this. And believers who’s orientation is towards the same gender, deserve that much respect. As one who has read a lot of pro-gay and anti-gay Christian theology, I think more should be said than just an exposition of the "clobber passages," which often leads to over contextualizing Greek words that Paul used. There’s a much deeper hope for the LGBT community than what many have experienced in the church. In my next "Rethinking Sexuality" posts, I hope to provide that kind of perspective. There’s some outstanding ones out there for sure. I just hope to add my voice to them.

You cant handle this truth! But you should still share it

In my next post, I'm going to say why Christians should stop telling each other to repent. It's not biblical. And before you start huffing and puffing, read it when it drops, and then tell me I'm wrong. 

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Twitter: @imcurtkennedy