- Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Dear Dr. E, I have heard you speak a couple of times about the culture wars and, more specifically, about the debates over sexual identity that are so pervasive in our churches and schools. You have also written about this here in The Washington Times more than once. One of your repeated refrains argues the difference between the “imago Dei” and the “imago dog.” I’m not sure I understand. Can you explain? — SINCERELY AN INQUISITIVE FOLLOWER FROM FORT WAYNE, INDIANA

Dear Inquisitive Hoosier: As a Christian, I believe in the dignity and biblical identity of the human being. I argue that the traditional orthodox worldview pays mankind the highest compliment. My mantra that men and women are the “imago Dei,” not the “imago dog,” is my attempt to explain why.  

Whether you are Anglican, Anabaptist, Agnostic, or Atheist, I assume you agree that people are morally culpable beings. We can and do choose how to behave. Our appetites do not determine our actions. We can and should rise above our instincts and inclinations. Wanting to steal, lie, cheat, and kill does not define us. We are not defined by our desire to take something that isn’t ours or to hurt someone who has angered us. Because we are morally aware, we can and should choose differently.

So, the question is, why? Why do we choose to restrain ourselves, and why do we consider such restraint virtuous and good and more of a marker of who we are than the desire to behave badly? The Bible gives us the answer. 

The book of Genesis describes human beings as made in God’s image. Whether expressed in the Latin “imago Dei” or the Hebrew “b’tselem Elohim,” the argument is essentially this: Men and women are not merely the byproducts of the primordial ooze. We are not just the result of happenstance and chance or the lucky winners in the battle of the fittest. God intentionally made us in His image; therefore, we have moral significance over and above the rest of creation. 

In other words, we are different than what we see around us. We believe in justice; trees don’t. We care about civil rights; an amoeba doesn’t. We are indignant when we see someone do something we know is wrong. We care about tolerance, love, inclusion, equality, and fairness. We know rape is evil. We understand slavery should be reviled, that greed isn’t good, and that the Holocaust was a bad thing. When we look at the horses, pigs, cats, and cows around us, we see a glaring difference between them and us. Cattle don’t debate good and evil. Thoroughbreds don’t argue about right and wrong. Men and women do. There is something unique about human beings, and this is why God defines us as created in His image compared to the other creatures around us who are not. 

The LGBTQ definition of the human being is the exact opposite. This agenda dumbs down the definition of our identity to little more than the sum total of what we are inclined to do. This worldview says that if you want to do it, that’s who you are. Your passions define your personhood. In this upside-down world of following your feelings, you are not made in the image of God; you are little more than an animal. Like your dog, you’re defined by your gut. You are the “imago dog,” not the “imago Dei.”

When we accept the definition of the person as “being” gay, trans, queer, homosexual, or even heterosexual, we are admitting that we think those who have a given appetite are defined by that desire. We are saying we think, “That’s just who they are.” This is the ultimate insult to God and God’s creation. We all intuitively know that our base hungers, our bellies, or our libido do not define us. We are not animals. We are human beings, and we have free will to choose what we will do, sexual or otherwise.

LGBTQ labels, by definition, are grounded in an illogical and broken ontology and anthropology. The trans-nomenclature of our time diminishes human identity to little more than “behavioral adjectives” (Gore Vidal), a “false species” (Michel Foucault), and a “category error” (Rosaria Butterfield). This is ontological dyslexia. We are literally spelling God backward, and in doing so, we transpose the imago Dei into the “imago dog.”

Chuck Colson said it over and over again: If you get the answer to the first question wrong, then everything that follows will be wrong thereafter. The first question of human identity must be grounded in biological facts and God’s revelation, not in social constructs and human rationalization. Otherwise, everything tumbles, and our culture becomes a house of cards where we act like animals and destroy ourselves. 

If you are seeking guidance in today’s changing world, Higher Ground is there for you. Everett Piper, a Ph.D. and a former university president and radio host, takes your questions in his weekly ’Ask Dr. E’ column. If you have moral or ethical questions for which you’d like an answer, please email askeverett@washingtontimes.com and he may include it in a future column.

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