April / May - 2020 Vol. 109
. God’s Motif.

by Michael Shaughnessy

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

The beginning of the book of Genesis lays out some important themes. But the motifs in Genesis 1 also tell us something important.

Theme: a subject or topic.
Motif: a recurring distinctive feature.

Two of the main themes of the early part of Genesis are 1) that God is the creator of all things and 2) that the devil is an active force at enmity with man.

But there are also two significant motifs in Genesis 1. The first motif is the separating out of “this from that”: light and darkness, day and night, sea and land, sun and moon, plants and animals… God gives all things their form and distinctiveness. The second motif comes at the end of each day with God calling what he created good.

These motifs build to a climax as God repeats them. In the final stage of creation he creates man in his own image. His final act of separation is to make man male and female.

Genesis 1 ends with the second motif crescendoing as God replace good with very good!

Enter the Devil…
The second theme of Genesis, the origin of evil, follows hot on the trail of the first. The evil one opposes the purposes of God.

Commonly, the fall of Lucifer is ascribed to his disgust that the image of God is imprinted on man’s face not his. Thus it is no surprise that his tactic is to deface that image. Satan does that in a few very specific ways. The first is to dehumanize the race.

Suicide Squad
The plot of last August’s biggest movie, Suicide Squad, is simple. An American intelligence officer decides to assemble a team of dangerous, imprisoned villains for a top-secret mission, figuring they're all expendable. It’s the bad guys against the worse guys with the bad guys doing evil to effect not much good.

The movie’s promotional strategy included making news headlines during its filming. The actors were sent live rats, bullets, a dead pig, and were personally abused. What force is behind this dehumanization?

In the movie Margo Robbie plays the female lead, Harley Quinn. Robbie descibes Quinn as
“manipulative and deranged.” Quinn’s relationship with her villain lover, the Joker, “is incredibly dysfunctional, really unhealthy, …addictive.” Quinn fell for the Joker when she was working at an asylum as a psychiatrist. She became fascinated with him when he was a patient. She tried to cure him but he totally unhinged her instead.

A second strategy for defacing God’s image is to attack its two distinct forms: male and female. The enemy of man can blurr the image of God by blending the sexes, erasing the distinction.

Make the boys into girls and the girls into boys. (Note: gender identity issues are complex and need a pastoral approach, as they have since forever. But the principle that we reflect the image of God in two separate and distinct forms remains.)

Satan’s third strategy is to distort maleness and femaleness into anything but what they are meant to be. For most girls, that means a hyper-sexualized look. Even worse, today, how well she does at that determines a huge part of her identity.

[This article originally appeared in the Kairos Youth Culture Newsletter, September 2019.]

Michael Shaughnessy Mike Shaughnessy is a life-long member of The Servants of the Word and a regional missionary coordinator of the Sword of the Spirit in North America. He is a prolific writer, teacher, and editor for the Kairos Youth Culture Newsletter (KYCN). The KYCN aims to update parents and youth workers on some of the main people and trends affecting youth. It also seeks to teach about youth and youth culture: its past, current ramifications, and possible future. Visit their Google Group to subscribe or see past newsletters at https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!forum/kycn-subscribers.
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