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Imago Dei

This is part of our summer series, Complementary, at The Well on Tuesdays at 8pm.


This Latin theological term originating over a millennia ago means, Image of God, and is rooted in Genesis 1:26-27, which says,

Then God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

It explains the unique position that humans have over all of creation as being made in God’s image, with inherent worth, as well as divine purpose. God created us male and female to complement one another as we fulfill his mission on earth.

Here are some practical implications of this doctrine:

  • Racism- “All people descend from our first parents Adam and Eve, who were created equally in God’s image. That means every race, tribe, nation, and color are equal bearers of the image of God and there is therefore no superior or inferior group of people. That means any form of racism or racial profiling are sinful assaults against the image of God, and therefore assaults against God himself.
  • Women’s rights- “ Both men and women are created equally in the image of God, and therefore have equal worth and dignity. The Imago Dei rejects the idea that one gender is superior or inferior, and therefore any treatment of women in any culture as “less-than” must be rejected as well. Women are to be honored as equals.
  • LGBT- “ Our maleness or femaleness is not accidental, incidental, or inconsequential. God created gender and sexuality on purpose, with a purpose. As the Creator, only God has the right to define manhood, womanhood, sexuality, and marriage. As sinners, we all have disordered desires which manifest in a variety of ways. Regardless of sexual orientation, every human being is equally made in God’s image, and equally in need of Jesus for salvation and sanctification.
  • Porn- “Viewing pornography is the mental ripping away of a person’s soul to make them an object to consume for pleasure. It is an assault on the Imago Dei and therefore on God himself, and so far from God’s design for us. The porn industry enslaves, oppresses, dishonors, and degrades women, and every time we engage, it is a vote in favor of a system that abuses the weak and vulnerable, and mocks the glory of God.
  • Abortion- “ Scientifically, there is no question that human life begins at conception, and Biblically there is no question that every human life bears the Imago Dei. Even the unborn, then, have inherent worth and dignity as human beings made in God’s image. This means abortion is murder.
  • Speech- “James, the brother of Jesus, said that to praise God and then curse people who are made in the likeness of God” (Jam. 3:9) is sinful and hypocritical. Therefore it is also an assault on the Imago Dei to insult, judge, or gossip about others, or to demean or belittle others because of their particular struggles.

The Imago Dei bids us to honor one another in thought, speech, and action as fellow image-bearers of God. And the good news is that while sin has shattered us so that we don’t glorify God like we ought to as his image-bearers, Jesus has offered salvation and redemption to all. He is able to pick up our broken pieces and redeem us, so that we may be progressively transformed into [his] image from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18). We are all broken, perverted sinners, but God saves murderers, addicts, homosexuals, racists, chauvinists, and anyone else who calls on the name of Jesus, and heals our hearts and transforms our lives.

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