We human beings are most preoccupied with ourselves. Our efforts to define ourselves are numerous.
Today, defining issues of gender and sexuality are nothing short of consuming. Of great significance is the question of whether are we the mere product of a random Darwinian process, or do we have a soul, possess an innate spiritual capacity, and have unique and special value which is bestowed by a Creator? Every era poses new questions like these to be addressed by the Christian faith. For Baptists, nonetheless, answering and responding to these questions begins with the Scriptures and, particularly, the beginning of all things.
We human beings, male and female, are created beings. Gen. 1:27 is clear that “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Baptist confessions of faith always begin explaining who we are by referring to who created us. “Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image.” (BF&M 2000, Article III) Further, “The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God’s creation.” (BF&M 2000, Article III) Men and Women are both image bearers, intended to be renewed into the image or likeness of Christ (Col. 3:10; Rom. 8:29), and created to bring glory to God (Isa. 43:6-7; I Cor. 10:31), among many other aspects of likeness. At the same time, they are two different genders and sexes who bear more than biological distinctions. With this in mind, we all should define ourselves both male and female, first and foremost by our relationship with God our Creator. God designed us, and we are valuable to Him, which gives us a basis for human dignity. (Ps. 8: 4-6).
We are complex beings. While our physical and biological being is intricate and special, we are spiritual beings with a soul which is immortal (Matt. 10:28), each person with a different personality. While the Bible does not provide us with an explicit definition of the “image of God,” it provides us with a rich theological content for it. Our spirit, or soul, as a part of that image as spiritual beings provides us with both the capacity and the desire to know God and experience genuine eternal fulfillment of our entire being. Our body is a gift from God, and it is good, but we are whole persons—body and soul or spirit. (Gen. 2:7; Luke 1: 46-47; Matt. 10:28; I Cor. 5: 3-5, for example)
We are volitional beings. We are rational, thinking beings who have a will and make choices. We have historically confessed as Baptists that, “In the beginning, man was innocent of sin and was endowed by His Creator with freedom of choice.” The choice of Adam and Eve was to sin against God and since then all humans have “… a nature and an environment inclined toward sin.” In other words, sin is a part of our nature and of the world around us. We can refer to it as a fallen world and ourselves as fallen sinful beings. (Rom. 3:10, 23; 5:12) As God’s image bearers, we are morally accountable to God, and we make free or willing choices when we commit sin.
We are created to dwell in community with one another, especially as believers as the church. Rampant individualism and consumerism have diminished the value of strong personal and spiritual relationships in a Christian faith community. There is a genuine need for a renewed commitment to the Baptist emphasis on the faith community for both single and married persons. (Acts 2:44-47) We need each other.
We have a purpose and “Only the grace of God can bring men into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. “ (BF&M 2000) God’s grace is fully given to us in Christ.