Original Diversity

“Xenophobe Triggered By Great Multitude In Revelation 7”

The humor of this Babylon Bee piece sparks to flame because it pits a realistic stereotype of a political conservative against an established biblical fact: God has always been about all nations— the coming consummation of the kingdom will famously feature every tribe, tongue and nation.

Jesus became incarnated as a particular male in a particular culture and place, in order to rescue the whole church, scattered across space and time. This is should come as no surprise to any Bible reader, and should be fruitfully used in our witness to a world that cares increasingly about diversity. Their heart in this, though imperfect, echoes God’s, and this should be celebrated.

But diversity isn’t something that God is waiting to institute, a final act to show his benevolence. Diversity has been a priority for God from act one.  

So God created humanity in his own image
in his own image he created it
male and female he created them

There is more to be said about this small poem than can be contained in any one post. It has captured imaginations and started fights. But as I turned it over in my mind the other day, it was the diversity that struck me.

It celebrates unity of course, as the male and the female together make up the collective noun translated humanity, or mankind, or people (and hence the “it” of line two). But that noun, and that reality, was designed to embody one necessary diversity: male and female.

Before heaven, we will never experience full cultural diversity; any church in rural New Hampshire can amen to that. We’ll have to wait for that coming multitude, as we’ll need brand new upgraded hearts to be able to contain that kind of joy, I suspect. In fact it will be more than just intra-human diversity—it will be God with his people, diversity of kind on a different level. But even the primal diversity of female and male in the first humans points us to both of these types of new earth diversities to come.

First, it was the source of all human diversity, since God made from one man all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth. That is, this first diversity spawns all the others, and is its seedbed. Each of us owes our very lives to it and to the male female diversity directly responsible for us. Second, it was in itself a picture of God and his people, different yet united in love and commitment, as Paul points out about marriage in general in Ephesians 5.

This is one reason why gender diversity within marriage remains such a powerful good today. Just like the first marriage, it points to these same two realities, performing the beauty of unity amidst fundamental diversity in all seasons, without sugar coating, in the thickness of real life. It is the seedbed of new life and thus new difference, just as the first couple. It is also a living, moving replica of the one marriage in heaven, however imperfect. Of course married couples have more differences than just their sex and gender, but there is something visceral, visual, powerful, about the diverse nature of male and female together making up full humanity. In a generation that loves diversity, can we make this vision sing? I think it is there for the taking.