Male and Female He Created Them: Genesis and God’s Design of Two Sexes

By Jeff Johnston
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Genesis teaches that God created humanity male and female in his image and likeness. We are divinely separated into male and female.

As Christians, our starting point for understanding human sexuality is Scripture. We know from the creation account in Genesis 1 that God creates by “calling forth” by His spoken word (“Let there be…”). We also learn that His creation and ordering of the world involved a series of “separations.” These separations include heaven and earth, light and dark, day and night, morning and evening, clouds and seas, and water and dry land. Profoundly, the Hebrew concept of “separation” is rooted in the word kadosh, which—while often rendered as “holy” in English—here carries the sense of being “set apart” (separated) unto the Lord. Thus, in this series of separations, we see a consecrated and holy ordering, which at its essence reflects a setting apart unto the Creator God of the Universe.

Following this pattern of separation, the creation account then gives a distinct separateness for plants and then seasons, followed by all manner of living creatures found in the seas, on land and in the air. Finally, in Genesis 1:26, we see the pinnacle of God’s creation—mankind—called forth into being. Humans are first created separate from the animals. But we are also told that there is a separation of mankind into two sexes—male and female—wholly complementary, yet each sex uniquely and mysteriously bearing God’s image—the imago Dei. Humans bear the image and likeness of God as male and female. And it is in this way, as men and women, that humanity is called to make visible the invisible Creator God on this planet.

It is out of the diversity and distinctive separateness of male and female that we humans are called to not only reflect the image and likeness of God, but we also represent God in the stewardship of His good and wonderful creation (Genesis 1:28-29). Male and female also reflect God as they come together in unity in marriage and are joined as “one flesh” (see Genesis 2:23-24; Matthew 19: 3-6; Mark 10: 6-9; Ephesians 5:28-32). This coming together as one flesh is unique, in that the sexual union brings forth new life that will also somehow look like God and bear the imago Dei. As we are “fruitful and multiply and fill the earth,” we spread God’s image around the world (Genesis 1:28). 

As it was from the beginning, so it is to this very day.

For more on this topic, see:

God’s Design for Marriage

The Foundation of Marriage

Mom and Dad: Children Need Both

Teach Your Children About Marriage


© 2008, 2015 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

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About the Author

Jeff Johnston

Jeff Johnston works as an Issues Analyst for Focus on the Family, writing and teaching about marriage, homosexuality and gender, as well as encouraging and equipping Christians to engage the culture on these issues. He regularly shares his story of struggling as a Christian with same-sex attractions and how God brought healing and change to his life. Before working at …

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