One of the most difficult tenets of the Christian faith to understand or to explain is the doctrine of the triune nature of God. This has led to the recent resurgence of groups that teach “Jesus Only,” or “Jehovah Only.” The Local Church headed by Witness Lee has developed a “God is processed” theology that states that God the Father became God the Son for the purpose of redemption and salvation, and following His ascension, He was processed into the Spirit, which is His new permanent form and position.
There is, amazingly enough, scant information in the Bible itself to help unravel this mystery. There is a dearth of prepositional statements that would aid us—statements like, “God is three persons in one,” or “God Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”
Instead, we find statements such as “the Lord our God is one God.” Many have seized on this passage to develop the theologies stated above.
Therefore, to unravel the mystery of the Godhead, we must resort to the line upon line, precept upon precept principle of interpreting Holy Scripture to begin to fathom what our Creator and God “looks like.”
Here is what we know. God is a Father who has a personal name, Jehovah. God is a Son, who has a personal name, Jesus. God is a “Spirit,” which is unique in that He has NO personal name.
Seeing the Face of God in the Things That Are Made
Paul says in Romans 1:20 that the Godhead can be “seen” in the things that are made.
Looking specifically at the living things that God has made (in contrast to inanimate matter), all creatures exist in two sexes for the purpose of reproduction, or bringing forth offspring. All creatures (including even plant life) comprise male and female forms–the male generally being referred to as the “father,” and the female as the “mother.” The union of the male and female brings forth after their “kind,” as in Genesis 1. This is a pervasive pattern of life–from the beginning of life to the continuation of life.
Some believe that God refers to Himself as “Father” because humans are born of human fathers, and this gives us a grid by which we can relate to God’s position of loving authority over his creation. But there is another possibility, and that is that life, being created by God, reflects the very life forces that have operated in God eternally. That is to say, that God IS Father, and has been Father since eternity, and would be Father even in the absence of any created beings in a physical universe. If this is accepted, it can be seen that God has not “named” Himself “Father” after our image and likeness of our human fathers, but in fact, our fathers are called “father” because they are a reflection of God in our humanity.
Going further, we can see that all “fathers” throughout creation bring forth “sons” through the agency of a second aspect of the same species. That is, the union of the father or male aspect of a species with a female aspect results in the bringing forth of “sons,” which for the purpose of the continuation of life are also born male and female–male sons and female sons.
Again–within the Godhead, the Father has a name, the Son has a name. The Spirit has no personal name of its own. It is interesting that many commentaries point out that the reason Abraham’s servant Eliezer’s name is not mentioned one time in Genesis 24 is because in this chapter he is a type of the Holy Spirit calling out a Bride for the Son.
It is also interesting to note that God said “Let us make man in our image and in our likeness” and that He made them “male and female” and that He called their name “Adam.” Adam called his wife “Eve,” but God called her “Adam.” She had no personal name from God’s perspective, for she was to Adam what the Holy Spirit is to the Father. And just as Adam knew his wife and she conceived and brought forth a son, so the Father and Spirit and the Son have been one for eternity.
The implications of this understanding of the “triune God” are, as Francis Schaeffer would say, simply titanic. Titanic and pervasive. Once this view of the trinity has been seen as at least a possibility, many things concerning the roles of men and women as portrayed in both the Old and New Testaments take on new meaning. They are not simply the accident of culture or the result of repression on the part of a patriarchal society. They are woven into the warp and woof of human nature and the reality of what the woman is and represents.
Western man, especially Americans, tend to view nearly all matters ethical and esoteric from the standpoint of the individual. This is in contrast to the Eastern or Oriental view, which see the individual as important only inasmuch as the individual contributes to and complements a larger unit, whether it be the family, a clan, a tribe, or a race.
This emphasis on the individual makes it difficult for Americans to “get a feel” for the communal aspects of spirituality as depicted in both the New and Old Testaments–of tribes and a nation of the elect in the Old Testament, or of the true nature of what is referred to as “the church” or community of believers in the New Testament.
Just as the church is a body made up of many members, so the family is and always has been made of many members. It has just been demonstrated that what we refer to as the nuclear “family” is really a miniature version of God Himself in the fullness of the Godhead. That is, we generally hear God say “Let us make man in our image and in our likeness,” and then we see Adam rising from the dust and we say, “There–that is the image and likeness of God.” But the Bible doesn’t say that exactly. It says God reached into the man and brought forth the woman, and the two “knew” each other, or came back together into one flesh, and brought forth “seed” after their kind. We personally believe that the image and likeness of God was not complete until Adam and Eve brought forth a son. A single man in isolation, or a single woman in isolation does not reflect what God is and has always been. It is the union of the man and the woman and the bringing forth of the son that completes the picture.
Seeing God in the Things The Devil Attacks
Given that, is it any wonder the devil’s attacks are almost all directed at the destruction of the basic “family unit?” Militant homosexually (a direct attack on the person of the Father, of His masculine nature), militant feminism (a direct attack on the submissive nature of the Holy Spirit vis-à-vis God the Father), and the pro-abortion movement (a direct attack on the Son, or offspring aspect) are the most divisive issues on the earth today and in fact are serving to polarize absolutely those who believe in God from those who believe in humanism. This is why it is important to those who are opposed to Godliness to depict families as being comprised of two mommies or two daddies, as well as objecting to references to single-parent families as being something less than ideal.
Any breakdown of the analogy, if it can be called an analogy rather than a model, has to do with the fact that God has created man to inhabit a physical universe demarcated by the boundaries of time and space. Therefore, physical males and females bring forth sons by way of a process. In the Godhead, the bringing forth of the Son is not a process. That is, the Son IS eternally. He is brought forth in eternity before He is brought forth in time (through the agency of a young Hebrew female). The Father and the Spirit are One in eternity, so an “act” equivalent to the coming together of Adam and Eve, or any man and woman since, is not called for, and maybe not even possible. This means that the sex act as experienced in time and space is pointing to something that already exists in God from eternity. And this should not surprise us, since all we see tells us something of our Creator, as Paul pointed out in Romans 1.
Again, it is obvious that so much of the devil’s scheming against man, which is actually an attack on God Himself, entails a preoccupation with sexuality in an effort to both promote it and downplay it at the same time–that is, it is promoted to school children as being no big deal if they would like to go ahead and begin experimenting, and at the same time it is promoted as being the only big deal in sit-com plots, commercial advertisements, and of course, the booming pornography industry, which is continually morphing into mainstream “network” entertainment, or vice versa.
A true understanding of the actual nature of God–of what He looks like, so to say–goes a long way in explaining a lot of things that are going on today, and that have been going on since before Lot fled Sodom and Gomorrah. It also sheds never before understood light on such passages as I Corinthians 11 and I Timothy 2:14.
Implications of the True Nature of God for Gender Roles
It is beyond question that both the Old and New Testaments portray the woman as being in a submissive position to the man, whether it be her father or her husband. In the Old Testament, a widow would need to be joined to one of her husband’s unmarried brothers to maintain her “covering,” or come under the covering, i.e., authority, of her oldest son.
In this respect, it is interesting that the covenant sign given to Abraham, circumcision, was a cutting of the flesh in the distinctly male member of the human body. Did this mean that females were excluded from the covenant? No one teaches this. It is obvious that females were also in “possession” of a circumcised member as long as they maintained their position of submission. That is, the unmarried female was included in the covenant promises by virtue of her father’s circumcision, as she was of his flesh. When a woman married, she was joined flesh to flesh with her husband, and as long as she remained in this union, the circumcision in her husband’s flesh was truly counted as her own circumcision. If she became a widow and did not remarry, she would be covered by the circumcision in her oldest son’s flesh, who of course received life from her. If she were widowed before having a son, her husband’s family was obligated to give her one of the unmarried brothers of her husband so that, by virtue of having again a circumcised member she would not lose her covenant position and privilege.
In each case, there was a true flesh-to-flesh relationship between the female and the holder of her circumcision.
In the New Testament, physical circumcision of the flesh of the male is done away with, and Paul states that each believer, whether male or female, is circumcised with the circumcision made without hands. There is no male or female “in Christ,” that is, from the viewpoint of the Spirit. But the fact that saved born-again Christians continue to marry and bear children, thereby creating families, points to the fact that while there is no male or female in Christ, in the natural, physical realm, we continue to be both male and female as originally created by the Creator.
Many books have been written and much energy has been expended to try to explain away the gender specific distinctions and roles depicted in the New Testament in such passages as I Corinthians 11, I Timothy 2:9-15, Titus 2:2-5, and I Peter 3:1-6, and of course the famous passages regarding “submission” in Ephesians and Colossians.
It is not within the scope of this article to attempt an exposition of these passages here. Suffice it to say, the roles and responsibilities delineated in these passages have their source not in the social customs prevalent at the time of the writing, but in the nature of God Himself, and so are not to be seen as being “out of date” in today’s “enlightened” and “liberated” society, but continue through the ages to be binding on godly men and woman of any age who desire to live out the purposes of God in the face of a unbelieving and uncomprehending world.
This article is meant to serve only as a spring board or a launching pad for a serious look at the nature of the Godhead and the implications posed to our sexuality, our families, and our societal relations in preparation for our soon entrance into the Kingdom of God on earth (or the Millennium, if you will) where all things will restored to the original pattern. Don’t be shocked to find the older men “sitting in the gates” of the cities and towns while the woman are gathering at the wells and riverbanks. It is unimaginable that anyone expects to find Family Planning clinics and other abortion mills operating under the authority of Jesus Christ in the Millennium—which in itself should be a good enough reason to be opposed to the practice on this side of the Second of Coming, regardless of any arguments of rape or danger to the mother. Gay marriage? Same answer. We are opposed to these movements (including the “Woman’s Rights” movement) not because we are hateful or want to see others oppressed, but because we love God and believe His ways are the best ways for all of mankind.