Death insists that Life is Real
Only a creature created for eternity views death as an unacceptable reality. Death devalues life but the image of God in us empowers us to overcome and value life with self-giving acts of love. The resurrection is the deification of humanity as creature, to be the beloved children of God
Sex and sin enter the world at the same time as death. I understand that the sexual impulse is instinctual. Animals have instinct, we have insight. Our only instinct is the sexual impulse.[i] Jesus words teach that marriage is not a part of the resurrection experience.[ii] Understanding marriage as the covenantal relationship for assuring procreation and family, then both these realities must change and sexuality ceases. I think if the instinct or impulse to sexuality is removed we will not miss it; as memory fades over time. However I think gender must play some ongoing role in the resurrection. He created us male and female and this was pronounced good, so it will be preserved. I understand why the Johannine epistles say that our resurrected reality is not yet fully conceivable; there are many unanswerable questions.
I think history exists specifically because of the presence of death and partially because of the entrance of violence. Without death or violence, history has no relevance in existence. This is why God is without a history until creation begins. In the Eden story, sex, violence, sin and death all enter the world at the same moment. Without humanity there is no procreation, violence, sin, death or history. God cannot reveal God’s self apart from history. The history of God begins with the emergent consciousness of humanity outside the mythic garden. Any events prior to humanity’s consciousness are either inconsequential or mythical.[iii]
That human beings have a beginning, enter the world as limited creatures with unlimited imagination is indicative of both finite reality and infinite possibility. So, enters our conflict with death and its inevitability in relation to our existence. Created in the image of God we are, in a sense, deity in conflict.[iv] God will need to enter into history to reveal God’s self and provide humanity with a relational connection to God if humanity is to conquer death.[v] God can only reveal God’s self to image bearing creatures within a construct where procreation, violence, sin and death exist in history. This is so because God is a creating, nonviolent, holy, redemptive being of love longing for a family.
The theme of God being able to create human beings apart from our participation is demonstrated in the reversal of menopause in Sarah and infertility in Abraham (his body referred to as dead). The virgin birth likewise attests to God not needing males in order to bring human beings into the world. Of course the creation of Adam and Eve also makes the birthing of life a divine fiat independent of human participation. I like teaching young men how important it is to value their power to participate in the creation of human beings with God and their wife. Our fragility as males is front and center to remind us not to use our strength for violence but to protect the possibility for life existent in our loins.
In the concept of the virgin birth is both the activity of God and humanity. It is the first movement toward God reclaiming the power to create life as distinctly God’s alone. Further, as I have stressed, a beginning for image bearing creatures requires a history, a beginning inevitably includes death, and God can only reveal God’s self to his creatures within a historical construct where death exists. For this reason God is a redeeming being and God must work to have a family. The apex of God’s creation is humanity; the pinnacle of God’s work to reveal God’s self is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
[i] Sexuality is instinctual because we do not need to be taught it. Flight or fight is not an instinct but a response to fear. Fear is rational not instinctual, even if it is based upon superstition. Other aspects of human behavior like anger and jealousy are emotions and expressive of limitations, weaknesses and relational challenges, they are mimetic, and can be overcome rationally. The sexual impulse is not mere emotion; it is part of our biology. The sexual instinct exists in our body and it touches the mind with its power.
[ii] Matthew 22:30
[iii] Pre-historic creatures are void of a history; their existence is inconsequential as creatures without insight, without a consciousness of becoming or understanding of violence, sin, and death.
[iv] Psalm 82:6; John 10:34
[v] Finiteness requires limits, an end, only infinite being (God) is limitless. God alone is infinite, is life, and only that which is incorporated into God can enjoy eternal life. Christ Jesus, the son of man (human being) conquered death.