I've been meditating on this verse, "God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature (Gen. 1:26, The Message). As I've considered the scope of 'image of God', I recalled some other writing that I've done on this subject: for example, my thesis, “Perceptions of God Held by Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse” by Elizabeth J. Hayduk, 2005. The purpose of the study was to use extensive surveys to collect and analyze the data to determine if there was a difference in the perceptions of God held by women who had not been abused and those who had. It was determined that the women who had been abused viewed God as more hostile toward them.
But how do individuals made in God’s image come to the conclusion that God is hostile toward them? Children develop their image of God based on how their parents and major caregivers interact with them, and the way in which they provide for the child’s basic needs of supplying love, food, interactions, and so forth. This image of God will either be positive or negative as a result of these factors; and these perceptions of God do not automatically change as the individual grows older. So, the image or perception of God develops based on whether children are abused and/or neglected or if they have had attentive and warm, loving parents. Therefore, even Christians may struggle with their perception of God. They may love Him and still fear Him, believing that He is angry with them.
Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk
Former Salvation Army Officer,