No sooner had the ink dried that people wondered what it meant. “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). What does it mean that male and female were created in the image of God?
Theologians, philosophers, the religious and nonreligious of all stripes have debated and defined the issue. Some thinkers are very specific about what it means while others paint with a much broader brush. Still others spend the bulk of their time saying what it doesn’t mean.
A brief post such as this is not the place to delve into explaining the idea. But it might be a good place to just remind us of the idea.
In a lecture given at Oxford University Church of St. Mary the Virgin on June 8, 1941, entitled “The Weight of Glory,” C. S. Lewis makes an observation that went on to become one of his most oft’ quoted remarks when he said,
“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn: We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat—the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.”1
That one paragraph is worthy of a series of articles and has in fact been the topic of dozens, if not hundreds, of commentaries and critiques. For my purposes I just want to pick out a few words: “we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit . . . no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption . . . . And our charity must be a real and costly love.”
Oh, here comes someone now. Let’s hope I don’t forget.
“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.’” – Genesis 1:26.
- C. S. Lewis. The Weight of Glory (New York: HarperCollinsPublishers, 1949), 46. Italics in original.