Our Daily Dread: Dominion Be Damned

Continuing my series of “disruptive devotionals” (which I would love to turn into a book), consider this passage — after referring to the Old Testament’s so-called “dominion mandate,” the writer says:

Now in putting everything in subjection to man, God left nothing outside his control. But at present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to man.  But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone (Hebrews 2:8-9).

The idea, so popular among white evangelicals, that God created Adam, placed him in a garden, and expected him and his offspring to “take dominion” over the earth is what has led to our current political climate, according to which greed is good, the Market reigns supreme, the earth’s natural resources are there for us to pillage and plunder, the poor deserve exploitation and the rich deserve luxury, and we are in constant danger from the dreaded “other” whose destruction alone insures our safety.

Bollocks, to all of it.

If this whole Christianity thing is supposed to be about — what’s his name again? Oh, right! — Christ, then we would be wise to seek to understand this whole “dominion” idea in the light of the ironic episode in which power, might, and strength are all turned on their head:

The Cross.

If Jesus was “crowned with glory and honor” not by vanquishing his foes but by “the suffering of death,” and if those who claim to follow him are called to “carry their crosses” and imitate his example, then it would seem that most of Christians’ political and social muscle-flexing and chest-thumping are not only ugly and base, but are completely at odds with the guy they think they’re serving.

Sacrifice. It was kind of Jesus’ whole thing.

In a word, if you think that you were put on this earth to kick ass and defend your rights, then congratulations, you’re a Texan.

But as for that Jesus fish on the bumper of your Chevy pickup? Call me crazy, but it doesn’t really make sense next to the sticker that says “Don’t Tread on Me.”