The Sacred Architecture of Our Bodies

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A plain reading of Scripture compels us to accept that our being created in God’s image includes our sexuality. The implications of this are significant. If the sexual design of our bodies is created by God as at least a partial reflection of Himself, then our sexuality is sacred. This too is evidenced within the text in Genesis 2:21–22: “So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.”

The sacred design of our humanity in this text is obscured by the translation. The Hebrew word translated as “rib” is tsela, which, in the 41 other occurrences of this word in the Old Testament, always refers to the side of something. In nearly every instance, it refers to the side of sacred architecture, such as the Ark of the Covenant, or the temple.[1] Thus, Genesis 2:21–22 references Adam’s body as sacred architecture in its account of how gender was established.

There are many things about our bodies, our design, and our relationship to God’s image that we do not understand. Rather than succumb to the allure of exploring these grey areas, we, as Christians, should hold fast to what God has revealed. As Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “‘The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.’”

Our bodies are sacred, and God has designed our bodies to best accomplish the specific purpose and role He has assigned to us: To rule over creation with the same heart and purpose that God has for His creation (Gen. 1:26–30). Sometimes our bodies are corrupted by the influence of sin, and they are in need of restoration, but this is a far cry from reinventing our biological design. When this line is crossed, we find ourselves in the precarious position of having defaced God’s sacred architecture.

God specially designed our bodies and assigned to them sexuality. Moreover, God judged this design to be very good (Gen. 1:31). As such, it is the height of hubris to believe that we can improve upon God’s design without affecting our ability to fulfill our created purpose.

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Timothy Zebell

As a former missionary to Asia for twelve years and the author of several books, Timothy is passionate about helping people understand the relevancy of God's Word in today's world. His goals are to help Christians discern truth from error, empower Christians to speak into cultural matters with relevancy, and to help Christians capitalize on the opportunities that these matters provide for sharing the truth about God and His gospel message.
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1. The Hebrew word tsela (Strong’s H#6763), occurs 41 times in 33 verses: Gen. 2:21–22; Ex. 25:12, 14; Ex. 26:20, 26–27, 35; Ex. 27:7; Ex. 30:4; Ex. 36:25, 31–32; Ex. 37:3, 5, 27; Ex. 38:7; 2 Sam. 16:13; 1 Kings 6:5, 8, 15–16, 34; 1 Kings 7:3; Job 18:12; Jer. 20:10; Eze. 41:5–9, 11, 26.


Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.