There it was, pure and simple and seemingly innocuous. Painstakingly assembled and endlessly debated, each line bore the totality of their hopes, dreams, anger and frustrations. Clear in its language, but complex in implication, it radiated both the humility of the lowliest servant and the highest authority to challenge an empire. Fifty-six men penned their names and sealed their fates, for the sake of their freedom.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Freedom. It is not just a foundational notion in the birth of our country, but an integral idea in our national psyche. What exactly it means and looks like has certainly evolved overtime, from the battlefields throughout the Colonies with an end-goal of collective, political self-determination, through the Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington, to a hyper-subjective reality built around a frenzied sense of individual happiness. The path to freedom appears to be an ever-moving target, begging the question, what does it mean to be truly free?
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 have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Created. We are created beings, thoughtfully designed with specific functions and purposes, and in the image of the Almighty Father, nonetheless. “How we define being made in the image of God is really three things,” according to guest Rev. Jonathan Pezold on this week’s Ringside. “We’re given two jobs: to have dominion, to take care of creation and lead creation to have further dependence on God, and to be fruitful and multiply, which is not just to have babies until you die, but to raise up the next generation into dependence on God. The third aspect of the image of God is doing all this righteously, doing this as God would want you to do it.”
To men have been given the responsibility of dominion of the earth, to nurture and care for it the way God does, giving Him due praise and thanks at all times. Women have been given the responsibility to raise up and teach generation after generation, growing God’s church on earth, and increasing its dependence upon Him. “When it comes to Genesis 3, we lose the image of God, but we don’t lose those jobs…what they lose is the righteousness of God, they’re not doing these things the way that they should, they’re not imaging God in the way that he made them to do it.”
True freedom is to live the lives that God has given us, in the way in which He intended us to live them. “If we really want true freedom, freedom is not living apart from his design, but living in his design,” says Jonathan. It seems paradoxical, that true, objective freedom means we must bind ourselves to His will, whether we feel like it or not. Yet, to submit to who you are made to be is to cease fighting against the overwhelming force of creation’s design, and allows you to truly enjoy life and the people around you, much as a river rafter does when he stops fighting the current and learns to enjoy the ride downstream.
God has declared you to be who He created you to be, and what your purpose is. “That external definition of who you are is really a law and gospel thing,” Jonathan reflects. “God tells you ‘You’re a man, and you are a woman. Live as you are designed,’ but he also says, ‘You are forgiven, you are mine,’ and that is an external definition of who you are as well. And if we start throwing out the external definitions of who you are, then you start to lose the gospel and the gift that God has given you.”
This is true freedom, it is borne from obedience. Our fallen selves may be incapable of finding our way back to the garden on our own, but in our given identities and relationships are illustrations, snippets, and reminders of God’s saving grace, of a Son bound to a cross, whose death brought freedom for all from sin and death. We will once again be truly free creatures, living in harmony with the Creator.
This article is a brief examination of the “metaphorical and theological rugby match” that was this week’s episode of Ringside Preachers. Listen to Rev. Joel Hess, Rev. Paul Koch, Rev. Ross Engel, and guest Rev. Jonathan Pezold as they duke it out over the roles of men and women, the importance of marriage, which summer cocktails are worth a try, and more on the full Ringside Preachers episode, “Male, Female, and…with Guest Jonathan Petzold”
Pre-Order Male and Female: Embracing Your Role in God’s Design by Jonathan and Christa Pezold today. Available for purchase everywhere on July 13, 2021.
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