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Sexuality and Sex: An Expression of the Transcendence of God part 1—Creation as a Design

A Creation Paradigm and the Fingerprint of God:[1]

In the Creator’s infinite wisdom, divine glory, and merciful love, He has intimately engaged and committed Himself to the progression of creation for the glory of His Name—contrary to the allegations of Deism.[2] The One to whom there is no beginning nor end has sought to weave into the fabric and tapestry of creation conditions and qualities that are emblematic of His aseity, omnipotence, and Lordship. The magisterial Reformer himself, John Calvin, articulates, “this skillful ordering of the universe is for us a sort of mirror in which we can contemplate God, who is otherwise invisible.”[3] Such characteristics do not lack intent nor creative resolve but communicate, respectively, a supernatural personalism.[4] Thus, every nuance, gradation, and distinction found within the created order is interlaced with an aim to point toward the transcendence of the Creator God Himself. John M. Frame adds, “Matter, energy, motion, time, and space are under the rule of a personal Lord. All the wonderful things that we find in personality—intelligence, compassion, creativity, love, justice—are not ephemeral data, doomed to be snuffed out in cosmic calamity; rather, they are aspects of what is most permanent, most ultimate.”[5]


Furthermore, the Scriptures themselves convey that the “heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork” (Ps. 19:1; cf. 24:1-2; 33:6-9; 102:5). The Apostle Paul affirms such a notion when he writes, “For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived (Gk. kathoratai), ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Rom. 1:20; italics mine). The prepositional clause (Gk. tois poiemasin) insinuates, according to Thomas R. Schreiner, that “God has stitched His greatness into the fabric of the human mind so that His majesty is instinctively recognized when one views the created world.”[6] The covenantal Lord has left His mark upon the finite universe in order to point creation toward His transcendence and Lordship; all the while as humanity is being presented with such mercies their response, unfortunately, is tainted with a depravity that is bent toward suppressing the truth (Rom. 1:18). Regardless, the initial premise stands: the created order is marked by an infinite, personal Creator.


Therefore, this blog series will establish a theological formation upon the nature and function of sexuality and sex as it pertains to an expression of the transcendence of God found within Scripture and creation. Furthermore, this research will examine how Western societal views of sexuality and gender—built upon philosophical naturalism—is insufficient to substantiate modern assertions.[7] To this end, additional questions will be addressed: What is the significance of sex? Is gender merely a social construct?[8] Is sexual intercourse merely a physical transaction between two consenting adults? The premise of this paper will be to defend how the phenomenon of sexuality and sex—rightly understood—expresses the transcendence of the Creator God of the Scriptures.


Preliminary Discussion


The divine design of creation can be described as a creation paradigm. Biblical scholars like Graeme Goldsworthy defines it as “the Bible [presenting] a picture of creation that was designed by God to contain the pattern of the structure of His future kingdom.”[9] That is, creation itself was and is comprised of metaphysical realities that points toward God’s kingly reign and rule. Creation, then, is neither arbitrary nor random. Creation is neither malleable nor plastic in the sense of manipulating it toward standards that are contrary to divine objective truth—for example, the sexual revolution.[10]Accordingly, “creation itself will be set free,” asserts Paul, “from its bondage to corruption and [will] obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21). Thus, creation is marred and broken by the fall, and will, simultaneously, reap the benefits of redemption in the final eschaton through the consummation of God’s kingly reign. Final redemption and the establishment of His eternal kingdom, then, “means that everything in creation relates perfectly, that is, as God intends it should, to everything else and to God Himself.”[11] Truth, meaning, and knowledge is contingent upon the grand Designer Himself. All things spiral toward the transcendence of God (Col. 1:16; cf. Gen. 1:1); that is, God as uniquely and wholly set apart from creation itself.[12] Humanity’s epistemological foundation, then, must first presuppose God as its origin and arbiter of truth. Reality cannot make sense without God because God is reality.


To this end, every nuance and characteristic found within the created order finds its meaning and purpose in the mind of God (cf. 1 Cor. 2:16). Creation is derivative.[13] The parts are informed by the whole; that is, the basis—God—instructs and gives oversight to the variables who receive their intent, aim, and goal in the function of the cosmos. Cornelius Van Til is helpful when he writes,

There is one system of reality of which all that exists forms a part. And any individual fact of this system is what it is in this system. It is therefore a contradiction in terms to speak of presenting certain facts to men unless one presents them as parts of this system. The very factness of any individual fact of history is precisely what it is because God is what He is.[14]

Therefore, the bedrock in obtaining true knowledge is dependent upon the Creator God Himself who communicates, yes, through divine revelation, but, simultaneously, has clearly distilled (Gk. kathoratai) Himself through creation itself via general revelation (cf. Rom. 1:20). If truth and facts, then, are interlaced and their foundation derives from the Creator/Designer, all knowledge—rightly understood—finds its genesis in Him. To rightly know the world is, in turn, to rightly order its function as an expression of true knowledge of its Creator. Similarly, to genuinely know the confines of a piano is to know the intent and purposes of the one by whom the instrument was designed and construed. The glorious melodies and magnificent overtones that transpire from such a marvelous, stringed instrument is enveloped by an intellectually rational order that points beyond itself. It is to this end in which Van Til contends that the “created world is expressive of the nature of God. If one knows ‘nature’ truly, one also knows nature’s God truly.”[15] Consequently, scientific inquiries submitted to the Lordship of Christ become helpful vehicles in identifying the usage of the created order. Faithful theology in the wake of scientific observation must be a discipline that treats all things sub ratione Dei in which it consummates in “either God Himself or [has] an order toward God as their principle and end.”[16] It can be said respectively, then, that Adam was the first scientist who not only knew the world through divine revelation but conceded the cosmos through correlation and application of laws and facts; that is, his utilization in observational truth was tempered through divine commands given to him by the Creator God Himself.[17]


Satisfaction Can Only Be Found in Him:


The 4th Century North African theologian was right when he said, “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in You.”[18] The created order has been formed with nuance and particularities that point toward the wonder and majesty of its Creator. Its myriad of colors, shapes, and sizes give way in expressing His loveliness and magnificence. The grandeur of mountain peaks and the complexities of DNA speak to the breath and intellect that encompasses the structure of the known world. The relational Lord, in turn, is not static nor detached but is actively engaged within creation in order to lift and magnify the renown of His glorious Name. The Apostle Paul amid the Areopagus asserts, “And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him” (Acts. 17:26-27). The great Designer Himself is not far off nor is He hidden from sight, but rather He has distilled Himself in the created order. Calvin interestingly affirms by saying, “God is not to be found by roundabout ways or long journeys; we will find Him in ourselves, if we will but pay attention.”[19] As image bearers of God, then, humanity is marked with a unique pathway toward relational fidelity. Found within her ontological nature as well as her teleological aim, humanity has innate advantages in knowing the Lord and, hence, “they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).


The created order is structured to communicate the covenantal union between the Creator and His creation. William J. Dumbrell asserts that if humanity “were rightly related to his Creator, then He would rightly respond to creation.”[20]Heterosexual union, though bound in the brokenness of the cosmos, must be preserved as an imaging institution of the Gospel; that is, despite the perversion that burdens the act of sexual monogamy, its convergency will give footing to the redemptive aim of the covenantal Lord. This proper ordering proclaims without verbal adage the distinction and intent of the Divine mind. It is a demonstration of the Gospel that is necessary in proclamation. Gentry and Wellum contends that “the covenant was an ordering of male-female relationship and family life so that part of responding rightly to creation was true humanness defined in proper ways of treating each other.”[21] The Church, then, must advocate for a proper ordering of sexual union. Such orderings must not merely terminate upon physical endeavors but propels our eyes to see the metaphysical realities of the Creator God Himself. Such propaganda must not be limited to activism alone but be rigorously employed through the discipline and discipleship of the saints in living out a faithful rendering of the Gospel through covenantal union. The gathering of the saints and the local entity of the church must proclaim verbally as well as dramatologically the essence and righteousness of marital faithfulness. Soli Deo Gloria!

 

***footnotes***

[1] This content is taken with permission from an assignment from a doctoral seminar called “Theology and Culture” at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I am indebted to my professors Drs. John Mark Yeats and Riley Dodge for their critiques and assessments. [2] See Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 2007), 270-295. Taylor attributes the rise of secularism to a shift from theism to deism which leads, ultimately, to the possibility of an atheistic societal existence. Trueman, similarly, comes to the same conclusion yet within the field of sexuality. Since deism is merely a system provided by a divine entity, humanity has the fortitude to change her course. There are no hard fixed laws, or rather those laws can be manipulated by technological developments. Thus, malleability is contingent upon human ingenuity rather than divine decree. This phenomenon, then, affirms Trueman’s thesis: how can a woman be trapped in man’s body? See also Carl R. Trueman, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 35-102. [3] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006), 1.5.1. [4] See Graeme Goldsworthy, According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2002), 93. For Goldsworthy, there is a relational component within the created cosmos from one object to another which ultimately spirals toward its relationship to the Creator God Himself. All these components find their premise in the infinite mind of God. Foundationally, the triune nature of God and His personhood in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit provide the basis of His relational nature. See also Christopher Watkin, Thinking through Creation: Genesis 1 and 2 as Tools of Cultural Critique (Phillipsburg, PA: P&R Publishing, 2017), 14-42.

[5] John M. Frame, The Doctrine of God (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2002), 26. [6] Thomas R. Schreiner, Romans, 2nd ed. BECNT (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2018), 94.

[7] See Carmen H. Logie, Candice L. Lys, Lisa Dias, Nicole Schott, Makenzie R. Zouboules, Nancy MacNeill, and Kayley Mackay, “’Automatic Assumption of Your Gender, Sexuality and Sexual Practices is Also Discrimination’: Exploring Sexual Healthcare Experiences and Recommendations among Sexuality and Gender Diverse Persons in Arctic Canada.” Health & Social Care in the Community 27, no. 5 (September 2019), 1204-13. See also Sarah Odell, “‘Be Women, Stay Women, Become Women’: A Critical Rethinking of Gender and Educational Leadership,” SoJo Journal 6, no. ½ (January 2020), 57-67. [8] See Peter “Peter Boyle” Boghossian and James “Jamie Lindsay” Lindsay, “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct: A Sokal-Style Hoax on Gender Studies,” Skeptic (Altadena, CA) 22, no. 3 (June 22, 2017), 49-53. Boghossian and Lindsay falsified research and documentation with the notion to perpetuate a social narrative in gender identity. They construed these articles in hope of demonstrating the extreme nature of these progressive ideologies. These outrageous papers were accepted because they fit societal narratives of modern genderism. [9] Graeme Goldsworthy, The Son of God and the New Creation, SSBT (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015), 59. [10] I would contend that through the cultural mandate given in Genesis 1:28 humanity is called to establish a theocentric culture. To this end, humanity’s dominion work is not to make much of himself through the guise of ingenuity, but rather it is to cultivate creation with the principles of God’s Word. Cultural construction, then, is contingent and derives from a deeply saturated, affectionately driven view of the world through the commands of God. [11] Goldsworthy, According to Plan, 99. [12] See Steven J. Duby, God in Himself: Scripture, Metaphysics, and the Task of Christian Theology, SCDS (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2019), 23-26. [13] I am following Van Til here in Systematic Theology: Prolegomena and the Doctrines of Revelation, Scripture, and God, ed. William Edgar, 2nd ed. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2007), 56-70. [14] Cornelius Van Til, Christian Apologetics, ed. William Edgar, 2nd ed. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2003), 193. [15] Ibid., 64. [16] Duby, God in Himself, 23. [17] I am following Frame here from The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1987), 62-75. Frame goes on to say, “Self and world are experienced together; the two are aspects of a single organism of knowledge. The self is known in and through the facts; the world is known in and through my experience and thought. Although self and world are different, knowing the self and knowing the world are ultimately identical. The two are the same process, seen from different perspectives” (71). [18] Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, trans. Rex Warner (New York, NY: Mentor, 1963), 1.1.

[19] John Calvin, “Acts: Calvin” The Crossway Classic Commentaries, ed. Alister McGrath and J. I. Packer (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1995), 303. [20] William J. Dumbrell, Covenant and Creation: An Old Testament Covenant Theology, rev. ed.(Milton Keynes, UK: Paternoster, 2013), 38-39. [21] Gentry and Wellum, Kingdom through Covenant, 253.

 

McYoung Y. Yang (MDiv, SBTS; ThM, MBTS) is the husband to Debbie and the father to McCayden (13), McCoy (12), McColsen (9), and DeYoung (6). He is a Teaching Pastor at Covenant City Church in St. Paul, MN and a homeschool dad to his four children. McYoung is continuing his doctoral studies at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO. His ambition is to use his training as a means to serve the local church in living life through the Gospel lens.

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