Created in God's Image as Male and Female

A man and woman on a hike

“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.

“And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it… And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” Genesis 1:26-28; 31 (ESV)

In the first chapter of the book of Genesis — the book of beginnings — God speaks the world into existence. He speaks and creation bursts forth: light; the heavens; the earth; plants; the sun and moon; and creatures that fly, swim and walk on land. God also separates: light and dark; day and night; the sky and the earth; and water and land.

But God’s creation of mankind is different. He honors humanity by creating us in His own image and likeness, male and female. This story is expanded in Genesis 2, as God forms the man from the dust of the earth and breathes the breath of life into him. He then fashions the woman from the man’s side — or heart. He separates humans into two sexes, male and female. Each is distinct and valuable, and both reflect the image and likeness of God. 

Our word “sex” even comes from a Latin word meaning “to divide or separate,” showing that humanity was separated into two groups, male and female. Not only does Moses write about this in Genesis, but Jesus and the Apostle Paul also point to the male-female creation as a foundational truth.

Adam rejoices at this creation of Eve, celebrating and recognizing her as his partner, a complement, distinct from any other created being. Woman is uniquely formed as a gift for man — and man as a gift for woman. The two aspects of God’s image, male and female, are joined wholly together in marriage — a unique, permanent and covenantal relationship.

We’ve noted God acts at first by speaking forth creation and then by separating various components into their opposite counterparts. But as God creates humanity — male and female — we notice something else that is different. He consults within Himself and refers to Himself by using plural pronouns, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Throughout Scripture God tells us He is one. But here in Genesis, we also see He exists in a plurality of Persons. This is our first hint of the Trinity — the eternal relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The loving, personal, relational God creates humanity — male and female — to be loving, personal and relational, too.

It is out of this creation of male and female that we see God’s design for marriage and family. A husband and wife come together in marriage, joining to each other in body, soul and spirit. And out of their union comes forth new life, children. That’s why Christians have such high regard for men, women and children — all of life. We celebrate and honor the image of God in each person.

Male and female personhood, sexuality, relationships and marriage contain so much that’s good — and all of that goodness points to God and reveals the goodness of His character. Our gender and sexuality were designed to lead us to joy, connection, life, growth, relationships, family, pleasure, children and marriage. God must really enjoy these things to have planned for us to participate in them!

Here’s what author Jason Evert writes about God’s design in creation:

  • God designed us for union with Him and with others
  • Our bodies have been created by God and are good
  • Our bodies reveal deep truths about the meaning of life
  • Through our bodies, we make visible the love of GodJason Evert, Theology of the Body for Teens—Parent’s Guide, (West Chester PA, Ascension Press 2008), p. 5.

“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” …So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”

“Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” Genesis 2:18; 21-25 (ESV)

To explore this concept more deeply, we recommend:

  • Irreplaceable — A documentary film that explores marriage, motherhood, fatherhood and family.
  • The Family Project — This12-session DVD experience is for couples or small groups that explores the theological, philosophical, and cultural underpinnings of the traditional family, and combines that information with inspiring stories and practical tools to help 21st-century families thrive.
Teach Your Children About Marriage — Pass on the truth about male and female, marriage and family to your children and grandchildren.


NOTE: Referral to websites not produced by Focus on the Family is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily constitute an endorsement of the sites’ content. Some of these websites deal with sensitive and difficult issues and may contain content for mature readers.