God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.
Genesis 1:28 NRSV
R and I have spent many a day discussing the old ways of the church in regards to environmentalism. When he and I were growing up, the church viewed environmentalism to be un-biblical earth worship. To suggest we care for the planet, or suggest we treat animals with respect, was to invite disdain and accusations of idolatry and, worse, liberalism. (Audible gasp included.)
As I was reading this verse for my study, I fully realized why. This verse was one that was one that was always used to justify doing whatever we wanted to do with the planet. We were to have dominion over it. And, if you look at how dominion is practiced by humans over other humans even to this day, it’s easy to see where the church went sideways with their interpretation.
But taking the whole of Scripture into account, and starting with a focus on Christ and His earthly ministry, they could have seen this was never the intent.
But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it will not be so among you…
Which brings me to the church’s idolatry of marriage. (Seriously, if you didn’t see that coming, you haven’t been paying attention. ;))
Was it God’s intent that people should be subjected to abuse? Is this His “master plan?”
Most people in the church believe it is. Most people in the church think that God created us to suffer (intoned in the whiny voice of C-3PO).
The majority of us won’t be as frank as the elders from my former church who told my abused friend that God creates some people for suffering and that she must be one of those, therefore she had to stay married to her abusive husband (and live with him).
(It was the same church that taught that we didn’t have to live like Christ.)
The level of evil and horror and cruelty that has been perpetuated in the worship of the institution of marriage is one of the most heinous things the church has ever participated in. It has damned more people to Hell than probably all of their religious wars combined.
See, an abusive spouse has sworn allegiance to the Devil even more so than an Atheist. Because an Atheist can at least still love their spouse, still love others. An abuser can love no one but him/herself. The abuser drags their entire family into Hell, literally. I watched it happening in my home. An abuser has no desire to see his/her family serve God and obey Him. They have no desire to see their children grow up to be godly people. In fact, they do everything to prevent it.
So, I think it’s far past time for a close examination of this idolatrous practice.
I found a great article yesterday about it. In this article, Barbara Roberts explains that the Bible does allow for divorce in cases of abuse, and details the how and why. But it’s her comment about male dominated leadership that explains the reason that this supposedly new teaching will not be embraced as quickly by the church as, say, the teaching that the Song of Solomon is a sex manual that tells us the wife can do all sorts of things “for” her husband in the context of marriage. (I’m not going to spell it out for you, this isn’t a PG-13 blog entry. ;))
Even in this, if we return to Christ’s words we see that abuse in marriage was never God’s intent and that He despises it, and the abuser.
…but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
Abuse in the church-sanctioned and enforced marriage was never God’s intent. Just as it isn’t God’s intent that our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world live in fear of their own governments. But those of us in our cozy places of quasi-power can’t be bothered about them, and we don’t want to be bothered by those living under tyranny in their own homes. What we want is to continue in our worship of our little idols, the main ones being physical and emotional ease.