And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Sovereign or supreme authority; the power of governing and controlling.
‘The dominion of the Most High is an everlasting dominion. Dan iv.’
(Webster’s 1828 Dictionary of the English Language)
What does the word dominion mean? According to today’s worldly standards, it’s a license for Christians to abuse the environment. But how does God use it? What does He mean by it? Are we to take care of it or are we to use it for whatever gain we may have of it?
First of all, let’s look at the context of the word. The context of this dominion is with our inclusion of being formed in His image. Webster offers several other definitions for dominion, but in the context of this paragraph, we are to have dominion as if we are sovereign care takers. Perhaps the best picture of dominion we can paint would actually be from the medieval time period. A king lived in his castle and had dominion over all people who lived in his domain. Usually we think of rather cruel circumstances, but in actuality, the king had an immanent responsibility for these people. If his domain was attacked, these people would enter the citadel and be protected by the walls, gates, and strongholds of the king’s army. All too often we paint a picture of the cruelty these kings presented to these people. But in the context of the Bible and being formed in God’s image, cruelty would not be an issue. The care taking would.
It seems that today’s world views are:
- Christians think they have a license to abuse the environment, and
- Evolutionists are the ones that are trying to protect the environment.
As Christians, we need to take the lead in protecting our environment! But not as the evolutionists do. We are to have dominion over the earth. This includes using and taking care of it. We are not to hug it as some bumper stickers suggest. We are not to worship it. (That’s pantheism.) We are not to treat other animals as if they are equal to man! (Rom 1:25) We are not to treat the earth as if it will last forever. (No – the earth has not been here for millions of years. Nor will it continue to be here millions of years from now.) But we are to care for it in a Godly manner! If we can imagine how God cares for us, this would be a good start on our attitude towards caring for the earth. We should not worship it, but we should have a loving respect for all of God’s creation!
Jay A Auxt