So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27 ESV)
Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:49 ESV)
When God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1-25) it was done ex nihilo, or out of nothing. He spoke, and the universe came into being. At the pinnacle of his creative act was man. Man was made from the dust and woman from the rib of the man (Genesis 2:7, 22). They were both created to image God, or to represent his likeness (Genesis 1:27). Dr. Russell Moore, in his Lectures on Systematic Theology points out several different ways that humanity images God:
- Image as Physical Likeness: There is a sense in which Adam looks like God. In his essence and being, he resembles God.
- Image as Rationality: We, as human beings, can reason. “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD…”(Isaiah 1:18 ESV)
- Image as Morality: We have a sense of “oughtness” or a moral compass that helps us to determine right from wrong (Romans 2:14-15) as opposed to animals who live by instinct.
- Image as Relationship: We are capable of relating to God.
- Image as Rule: This is part of the functional sense of man’s carrying out the image of God. Man rules over creation as God’s vice-regent. He names animals, he gives titles to land (Genesis 1:28; 2:15).
Why It Matters
It matters that we see humanity as imago dei because the worth of the individual comes not out of cultural constructs or societal patterns, but out of the creative work of almighty God. Human beings have dignity because they image God.
“Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.
(Genesis 9:6 ESV)
but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. (James 3:8-10 ESV)
So, when a man walks into a movie theater and squeezes off enough rounds to kill a dozen people and wound many more his actions are evil because he is destroying the image of God, the creation of God. Abortion is evil because we are destroying the image of God (Psalm 139:13-15). When a teenage girl makes herself vomit in a high school bathroom so she can stay a certain size, we see evil because she has been created as she is in the image of God. When people destroy themselves with alcohol, drugs and overeating, they demonstrate the evil of harm to the image of God.
I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:6-7 ESV)