Did Biden Offer Christians an Image of God Awareness Day for Easter?

Apr 4, 2024 by David Fowler

Did Biden Offer Christians an Image of God Awareness Day for Easter?
President Biden’s proclamation of Transgender Awareness Day coincided with Easter Sunday. Perhaps he thought it was a great day for the proclamation, because he noted we are all made in the image of God. Easter is, in fact, a great day for recognizing that all human beings are made in the image of God. So, I ask: “What might it have looked like if Christians seized on the President’s rationale to turn what they took as an insult into ‘Image of God Awareness Day?’”
Had you asked me that question a few years ago, I could not have answered you.
In fact, about twenty years ago, a Reformed Protestant working for a Catholic economic think tank (odd, huh?) intimated to a group of Christian legislators I was part of that reason constituted the image of God.
At the time it made sense to me, but I later learned it was an Aristotelian answer, not a Biblically sufficient one. Reason does distinguish human beings from other animate and sensate forms of life. However, this reduction of the image of God to mere rationality has more in common with the Enlightenment, which is anti-Christian, than Christianity.
The Conversation the President Opened to Christians
The image of God is a meaningless term if not predicated on a spiritual reality existing in addition to a material world, because God is a spirit. And knowledge of the spiritual is, by its nature, dependent on revelation.
Therefore, any persons, transgender or otherwise, who want to assert rights grounded in human beings made in the image of God must concede to the reality of special revelation. As the material scientists have said, the spiritual is not subject to the knowledge that comes from empirical testing.
So, we can celebrate “Transgender Awareness Day” for any number of reasons, but without the acknowledgment of some kind of special revelation, the reason can’t be grounded in being made in the image of God.
Now, if by revelation we mean nothing more than some kind of individualistic revelation grounded in nothing other than a person’s self-understanding, we can do that. However, by definition, that is meaningless subjectivism, which we ordinarily call conjecture and speculation. Again, the image of God means nothing.
So, the President opened the door to this kind of conversation.
What Is the Image of God?
This is a great question and one that should have been raised publicly. It is one worthy of full exploration, because if the assertion is true, it is the most glorious thing that could ever be said of a human being. Even the pure spiritual beings we call angels were never said to be made in the image of God.
But there’s a catch: Any understanding of the image of God must proceed from an understanding of who God is.
This is where the image-of-God discussion gets very interesting. What could beings like us who are undeniably temporal, finite, and dependent, have or possess that could be an “image” of an eternal, infinite, independent being?
Moreover, on what possible basis could any relationship between the two rise higher than absolute Master and us as abject slaves, given the unbridgeable gulf in their being?
Is the Image of God Reducible to Biology?
No, even though it seems that many Christians want to reduce the image of God to something that simple.
For example, consider how Christians argue for restrictions on treatments that reorder those parts of a minor’s body naturally ordered toward reproduction. Most make it all about the safety and efficacy of medical interventions producing what scientists consider only morphological changes and the treatment of a perceived psychosis.
But if bodies are the image, what do we do with the fact that God doesn’t have a body? He is a pure spirit and invisible and, therefore, not male or female.
By that I am not saying bodies are not part of the image of God, but I am saying that reducing the image of God to mere biology diminishes the import of God’s nature and attributes to our existence.[i] And that diminishes the glory and wonder of being made in the image of God.
Easter and the Image of God
Had Christians seen the opportunity, Easter would have been a wonderful time to use the President’s comment to talk about the image of God and, through the person of Jesus, not just its restoration, but the burnishing of that image’s glory over and beyond the boundaries of time and our limited imaginations.
I submit that what it means to be made in the image of God and what Jesus has to do with that is something we could all stand to be more aware of.
I recognize that I have not said what it means to be made in the image of God. For that, I hope you will catch this week’s episode of God, Law & Liberty.
[i] Maybe reducing the image of God to biology is a result of not having seriously and diligently searched out the knowledge of God’s nature and attributes. Proverbs 2:1-5 should be taken seriously. Perhaps that knowledge seems unnecessary or too abstract and theoretical to be of any value in the real world, in which case one may not a Christian, for the Christian’s highest glory and boast is to “know and understand” God (Jeremiah 9:24).

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