Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Image and the Dominant Species - Day #5

God gave the earth to us to take care of responsibly as His image bearers.

The Dominance of the Species
As human beings -made in the image of God both in nature (Day #1 and Day #2) and in body (Day #3 and Day #4)- God has given us the honour and the responsibility of caring for His entire creation as its dominant species and as His representatives. In Genesis 1.26-30 we are told that God made man in His imageand let them have dominion over the fish, birds, livestock, and the things that creep on the earth (Genesis 1.26); then God blessed the first humans and said fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion (Genesis 1.28); then after giving them the gift of food (Genesis 1.29), God told our ancestors what the animals of the earth were supposed to be eating (to every beast of the earth… I have given every green plant for food), sort of in the same way that a pet owner might describe his or her pet’s diet to a house-sitter before leaving on a holiday: the assumption is that God had given our first parents this information (Genesis 1.30) because the animals were under their care; then, in Genesis 2.5, it is suggested that man’s purpose is to work the ground, and in Genesis 2.15 his purpose is serve in the Garden of Eden and take care of it. If you take this all together then it looks like God gave us the earth but also told us to take care of it – with great power comes great responsibility, or to whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12.48).

Responsible Care of the Earth
So if we are God’s representatives, and if He has given us the earth to take care of, then that has to mean a few things. It means that Christians need to respect the environment. It means that we need to stop the wasteful killing of animals. It means that, as God’s children, we should stand against the cruelty that God’s creatures are subjected to. I know what you are thinking – this sounds like a passionate Greenpeace blog post. Most of you don’t believe in global warming. Many of you are suspicious of Christians who take up environmentalist causes. Hear me out: I am not a liberal trying to pick up a trendy cause; I am a theological conservative who reads Genesis 1 and 2 and takes the Scriptures on this subject seriously. Even God sounds off the “save the trees” bell a couple of times in the Bible: When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them. You may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Are the trees in the field human, that they should be besieged by you? (Deuteronomy 20.19)

Some of the resistance that you have to this post has to do with conservative politics, not conservative theology – to this I would say, choose your master. If you had to pick between God and the Republican Party on this issue then whose side would you take? God has made us the dominant species on the earth and the only ones of whom it can be said "they are made in the image of God." But that comes with some responsibility. God has given us dominance, but also responsibility.

Reflection Passage
Read Genesis 1.26-30, along with the rest of the passages in the article (if you can). Ask yourself what it means to accept the responsibility that comes along with being made in the image of God; what stands in your way? What doubts or fears do you have?


  1. Totally. I know I have had sort of a "whatever" attitude towards recycling and stuff, but I think that should change. So I guess repentance for me looks like googling recycling info.


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