"(An) ...observation is this: Man and woman together are the image of God. We have already made the point... that man's having been created male and female is an essential aspect of the image of God. Karl Barth, as we saw, lays great stress on this point: man's existence as male and female is not something secondary to the image, but is at the very heart of the image of God. This is so not just because of the difference in sex between man and woman - since this distinction is found also among the animals - but because of far-reaching differences in personality between the two. Man's existence as male and female means that man as a masculine being has been created for partnership with another being who is essentially like him but yet mysteriously unlike him. It means that woman is the completion of man's own humanity, and that man is wholly himself only in his relationship with woman.
This implies that man is not the image of God by himself, and that woman cannot be the image of God by herself. Man and woman can only image God through fellowship with each other - a fellowship that is an analogy of the fellowship God has within himself. The New Testament teaches that God exists as a Trinity of "Persons" - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Human fellowship, as between man and woman, reflects or images the fellowship between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. And yet there is a difference. For persons as we know them are separate beings or entities, whereas God is three "Persons" in one Divine Being. Human fellowship, therefore, is only a partial analogy of divine fellowship - yet it is an analogy.
It is there unfortunate that the English language has no word like the German Mensch or the Dutch word mens, both of which mean "human being, whether male or female." The English word man has to serve a double purpose: it may mean either (1) "male or female human being" (the generic sense) or (2) "male human being." This double use of the word man seems to betray a typical masculine kind of arrogance, as if the male is the carrier of all that is involved in being human. But man can only be fully human in fellowship and partnership with woman; woman complements and completes man, as man complements and completes woman. When we use the word man in the generic sense, therefore... we must always keep this in mind.
The fact that man and woman together image God will still be true in the life to come. Jesus once said, "When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven" (Mark 12:25). The similarity to angels, however, means only that there will be no marriage at that time; it does not mean that the differences between men and women will no longer exist. In the final resurrection we shall not loose our individuality; that individuality will be not only retained but enriched, and our maleness or femaleness is the essence of that individual existence.
In the life to come, therefore, not only shall we continue to image God as men and women together, but we shall then be able to do this perfectly. We do not know how such fellowship and partnership between men and women will be carried out in a situation where there will be no marriage. But we do know this: Only then shall we see what the relationship between men and women can be like in its richest, fullest, and most beautiful sense."
- Created in God's Image, by Anthony A. Hoekema