Last Wednesday we watched the first of the Humanum video series which was produced by the Vatican after a three day inter-faith conference on marriage and the family. After we watched the video Conal asked us to reflect on Peter Kreeft’s statement that ‘male and female are biological, masculine and feminine are cosmological…The God who invented sexuality invented the universe, the two fit…It’s a happy philosophy, we fit the nature of things’
This caused a lot of head scratching (my own included!) In fact I kept scratching my head and thinking about what it all meant! I hope this can help…!
I think the key word to focus in on to understand this is ‘cosmos’ which is the Greek word for ‘order’. What Kreeft was getting at is that the whole universe (sun, moon, land and sea) is ordered in a way that reflects the complementarity which is present between a man and a woman.
We can see this in the first Genesis account of creation in which God creates order (cosmos) over the ‘formless and empty’ earth (Genesis 1:1) by diving land from sea (Gen 1:9) the day from the night (Gen 1:18) and animals that fly in the air and those that crawl on the ground (Gen 1:20) and so on. Throughout the account this sense of opposite but complementary things working in harmony is bolstered by the constant refrain ‘and there was evening and there was morning- the first/second/third etc…day’
The grand finale to all of this is the creation of humanity.
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them
It is not by accident that the author of Genesis specifically mentions that God made humans as male and female, reflecting what has gone before in the creation of the world. Humanity is the crown of creation (i.e. the creation goes from the most basic -plants- to the most complex organisms-humans) so we could say that humans are the best expressions of this complementary principle which is running through the universe. Therefore we can legitimately identify this cosmic principle as masculine and feminine. However there is something even deeper going on here since the author of Genesis says that humans are made ‘male and female’ in the image of God. In other words there is something about humans as male and female that reflects God. This makes sense since, as Kreeft points out, the God who made sexuality also made the universe. The creation bears the marks of its Creator.
This is not to say that God is a strange mixture of a man and woman, but that when men and women come together in love as free persons they reflect the fruitful love of the Trinity. The Father loves the Son and the bond of love between them is the Holy Spirit. When a man loves a woman a third person is created, the child, the fruit of their love.
The family therefore is an icon of the Holy Trinity. N T Wright expresses this beautifully in the video when he points out that many scholars read the first Genesis account as God constructing a temple of heaven and earth. When a temple was built in the ancient world the final thing that would be placed inside it was an image of the god that was to be worshipped there. Therefore man and women together are a living image of God.