This post was originally published at warriorcreek.org, used with permission.
Q. 13: How did God create man?
A. 13: God created man, male and female, after His own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.
(Genesis 1:26-28; Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24)
In this question of the Baptist Catechism, we address the creation of humanity. The previous question asked, “What is the work of creation?” The answer provides specific insight into what God made, the time in which God made it, and the goodness of it. Question 13 seeks to add more information, specifically with regards to the most special of God’s creation: His image-bearers. Let’s look at the answer in more detail.
Humanity: Man and Woman
The first part of the answer is rather countercultural, but the Scriptures do not conform to culture, they transform it. God made, according to Genesis 1:26, “man.” Though this term can be used of only males, it can also be used in a collective sense (i.e., man means humanity). This new group, different from the rest of the creatures, is further divided into male and female. There are two genders, and these genders have different roles and functions. God created males and females to work together to bear children through their union (Gen. 1:28).
After His Image
The next phrase in Genesis 1:26 is “in our image, after our likeness” (ESV). Scholars and theologians have debated this point. Though this post will not address that in detail, we will satisfy ourselves with Bavinck’s summary of the matter, “The human soul, all the human faculties, the virtues of knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, and even the human body images God.” If you caught what Bavinck just said, he included the following that we find in the Baptist Catechism, “in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness.” In other words, God’s image is displayed in humanity through knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. This takes place before the Fall, which will be dealt with in Questions 16-23. At this point in creation, sin has not entered (hence the description in the answer to question 12 that it was “all very good”).
With Dominion Over the Creatures
The final description of the creation of humanity covers their role over the other creatures. In Genesis 1:26 God says, “Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (ESV). This verse encompasses the entirety of creation. There is nothing that falls outside of humanity’s dominion in the physical creation. He holds “dominion” over it all. It basically means to rule. Humanity is to cultivate creation for the glory of God. He is to use knowledge, righteousness, and holiness to further God’s glory in this creation.
There are three main points that I want to draw applicational thoughts.
1. According to God’s Word, there are two genders: male and female.
This is extremely counterculture, and I am sure will be labeled as hate speech. Please understand that as Christians we do not hate anyone. We are submitting to the highest authority, God. As Creator, He made human beings in two genders. This, in turn, affects our relationships with one another in the various fields and situations in which we find ourselves. One example is the leadership of the church. The Scriptures teach that qualified men are the shepherds/teachers in the church. A lady, though gifted and talented, cannot serve in this capacity. God created us differently, but equally. A man is not worth more in the eyes of God than a woman. Likewise, a woman is not of higher value to God than a man. Rather than fight against the creative purposes of God, we should embrace and celebrate our differences, glorify God for His wisdom, and look to Him for fulfillment.
2. As image-bearers of God, every human being is of unequaled value.
The application of this thought is tremendous for a multitude of reasons. As Christians, we believe the Scriptures teach that humanity is made in God’s image. Thus, to destroy an image bearer is called murder (cf. Gen. 9:5-6). However, honoring the image-bearers of God extends well past murder. James ties how we speak to the value of image-bearers. He writes, “with it [the tongue] we curse people who are made in the likeness of God” (James 3:9, ESV). In other words, valuing human life is more than simply not ending it without lawful justification. This is the teaching of Scripture in providing for those in need as well. As Christians, we must value the image of God in others.
3. We must take care and cultivate creation.
This is the final application, and it is drawn from the command to have dominion over creation. We are to rule it. However, this in no way implies a dictatorship that cares for nothing. In fact, it implies the opposite. We are to take care of God’s creation. Though I do not agree with all of her thoughts, Kathryn Tanner is absolutely correct when she writes, “The earth’s geological features and animal and plant life are routinely sacrificed before the altars of corporate profit and a moneyed public’s ever-expanding hunger for consumable goods.” In other words, we will dominate creation without giving it a second thought. This is not the way for Christians. We are to have dominion over creation. We should care for it, and work with it rather than against it.
The Baptist Catechism offers us much in question 13. We would do well to follow God’s Word as His image-bearers for His glory and our good.
 Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics Volume Two: God and Creation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 530.  Kathryn Tanner, “Creation, Environmental Crisis, and Ecological Justice,” in Rebecca S. Chopp and Mark Lewis Taylor, eds., Reconstructing Christian Theology (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1994), 99.
For more from this series, see the following.