If you’re lost and wrecked again.

Rembrandt’s famous painting of the Prodigal Son illustrates the joy of returning to God and finding that He truly is faithful to forgive our sins – yet again.

The Prodigal Son c. 1669 Rembrandt van Rijn

The story of the prodigal son seems to be directed not at the first-time repenter who is turning to Christ for initial forgiveness, but rather toward we who, though already in the Father’s house, are still “prone to wander…prone to leave the God I love,” as the old hymn goes.  It speaks to those who already know the Father but have walked away from Him – again – for a time.  And this is all of us who are Christians; we all rebel and sin, but the story of the Prodigal Son gives us to know that no matter how far we have wandered, the Father will still be merciful when we return to Him.

It’s easy to look at the story of the Prodigal Son from the vantage point of the happy ending, but what we may forget is that there was also this part of the story, the part when the son was still lost and wandering in rebellion, wrecked by sin and knowing that he should return to the Father but not yet having made the hard decision to leave the pigs:

The Prodigal Son 1872 by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes

After turning away from God to pursue some particular sin, there is always a moment when the sinner realizes his pursuit of what had seemed so tantalizing has landed him in a pigsty.  That is the worst moment, in my experience, because you feel utterly lost, permanently separated, and hopelessly mired down.  How can you ever go back when you’ve thrown away the riches you had?  Better just to sit here in the mud, which is all I deserve!  But:

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10)

It is so hard in that moment to see that we are free to stand up and leave the pigsty; we really believe the illusion that we are chained there, but as the painting depicts, nothing is truly holding us back, other than a deep sense of shame at having walked away from the Father and having disappointed our family.  It is with hesitation and fear of rejection, as I know full well and perhaps you do too, that the prodigal approaches the Father again, head bowed with shame and regret, but how indescribable is the joyful relief when we find that He is actually celebrating our return!

Those who are still in the Father’s house when the prodigals – who we all will be at some point or another – return need to accept them with joy, not with bitterness and unforgiveness.  Hallelujah, what was lost is now found again!  This may be particularly hard if the prodigal son’s actions affected you personally, as they did the older brother in the story, but the Father tells us to forgive and come celebrate anyway.  The World, of course, cannot understand this kind of forgiveness and will mock us, but that is because Satan, the god of this Worldalways condemns, whereas Christ always forgives.  When you are yet in the Father’s house, you will need to decide whether you will be the bride of Christ or of Satan and then follow your spiritual husband’s lead.

To those who are in the pigsty – come home!

To those who are home – run out to greet them with joy and celebration!

Lift your head weary sinner, the river’s just ahead
Down the path of forgiveness, salvation’s waiting there
You built a mighty fortress 10,000 burdens high
Love is here to lift you up, here to lift you high

If you’re lost and wandering
Come stumbling in like a prodigal child
See the walls start crumbling
Let the gates of glory open wide

All who’ve strayed and walked away, unspeakable things you’ve done
Fix your eyes on the mountain, let the past be dead and gone
Come all saints and sinners, you can’t outrun God
Whatever you’ve done can’t overcome the power of the blood

If you’re lost and wandering
Come stumbling in like a prodigal child
See the walls start crumbling
Let the gates of glory open wide

If you’re lost and wrecked again
Come stumbling in like a prodigal child
See the walls start crumbling
Let the gates of glory be open wide

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The plus side of “the decline” and hopeful signs in local agrarianism.

I am noticing more small family and cooperative farms in this area which rely on organic production methods, permaculture, and pastured livestock. Interestingly, a number of these farms in this area are explicitly Christian, which is remarkable given the liberal and secular bent of this part of the state (things tend to get more conservative and religious in Michigan as you head north and west).

I don’t know financially how they make it work; maybe they can live really frugally and earn a living from these little farms or (more likely) one or both spouses work outside the home.  In our case, even if we started turning our little homestead into a business, we’d still need outside income.  My husband would still have to keep his job although we could probably replace my job with the fruits of my home labor; my husband is strongly encouraging me to move in that direction, but I am a worrier who lacks confidence in this area, so I’l probably keep my paid job for now.

Here are three little farms not far from where I live that have caught my attention; two of the three are run by Christian families.

C & C Micro-Farm in Gregory doesn’t have a website yet, but you can find them on Facebook.

Growing By Faith Farm in Stockbridge offers classes in the sorts of skills that farm folks might have had 100 years or so ago.  Examples include things like butter-making, how to start a fire with a bow drill, raising and processesing (i.e. killing and prepping) pastured poultry, how to weave a basket out of cattails and the like.

Robin Hills Farm here in Chelsea offers classes, farm tours, and CSA shares of organic produce.

The reason I find these little farms to be a hopeful sign is because even in places like Greece that have been experiencing a fairly length financial collapse, we don’t see total mayhem. People still have basic sustenance and it is not total anarchy.  I think, barring unforseen catastrophe (EMPs, for example, or having Iran someday drop nuclear bombs on us courtesy of the Obama administration’s foolishness), what we’re really in for here is a long, protracted, economic decline in which our collective standard of living is significantly reduced over a period of time.  As that happens, people will naturally return to older methods of food production, with each family finding ways to keep small livestock (chickens, rabbits) and eke out a small garden.  It sounds scary to moderns but it was only three generations ago that this was the normal state of affairs, and it is nice to know that there are already a number of people, a small but growing minority, who are rediscovering old skills and melding them with new ideas from permaculture.

This kind of small-scale agrarianism is a hopeful sign for the immediate future.  When I look at this, I don’t mind the idea of “the decline”; in fact, I rather welcome it.  Why?  Because it is as Herrick Kimball wrote in Light in Our Dwellings ten years ago:

The plain truth, like it or not, is that, in order to succeed in this modern world, on its terms, you must sacrifice your family on the altar of Industrialism.

Yes, I know that is a harsh thing to say. Many people will disagree with me because the industrial model of family life is seen by the masses as normal and, therefore, good. But it is neither normal nor good. It is the spawn of 19th century Industrialism and a historical aberration. It weakens and destroys families. That is the truth and the truth can hurt. Believe me, I know.

The saddest aspect of this situation is that so many professing Christian families willingly buy into the materialistic hubris of our industrial culture.

…I’m convinced that if God’s people are going to be an effective witness to those in the dying industrial culture around us, we must do more than believe in a personal savior, and we must do more than proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. It is imperative that we also live our lives set apart to God. That does not mean that we can simply Christianize the ungodly industrial model and, in so doing, somehow become immune to its pernicious evils. It means we must separate ourselves and our families from the ungodly culture of industrialism.

The only way I know for Christians to effectively separate from the culture of industrialism is to embrace Christian-Agrarian life and culture. Christian-Agrarianism (sometimes called Biblical-Agrarianism) is Christianity lived within an agrarian paradigm. It is trusting God, His word, and His promises more than the false promises of materialistic industrialism in all its manifestations.

Let the decline of materialistic industrialism come, then.

What would it look like for Christians to honor husbands and fathers?

Several weeks ago, IB linked to this quote at Preston Yancey’s site:

I want to hear about the Jesus who demanded loyalty, who commanded authority from storms, sinners and satanic forces, who said vexing and frustrating and wild things. I want to hear preaching which is not just faithful to His words but to His TONE: of comfort but also of rebuke, of welcome but also of warning. I want to hear His dares, His call to come and die, His challenge to make hard choices. I want the Jesus of the gospels who does not just meet our needs, but who calls us to bold and courageous adventure, to self-sacrifice, to taking risks. I want the Jesus who promises huge rewards for huge sacrifices, who embraces fiesty Peter and wayward Mary and touchy-feely John.

I want the Jesus who welcomed the little children, but also the Jesus with eyes like a flame of fire, with feet of burnished bronze and a sharp two-edged sword coming out of his mouth…I want the Jesus who inspires my awe and calls forth my worship: a gospel from The Gospels. That’s the Jesus I want. That’s the Jesus I need: the one who is worthy of the honor, adoration and allegiance of men and women alike.

The word honor in this quote stood out to me because for the past several weeks I’ve been mulling over this quote from a post at Dalrock’s (highlighting mine):

Father’s Day is a day set aside to honor fathers.  This doesn’t translate into modern Christian culture because honoring fathers is a truly alien idea.  What would that even look like?  Note that Thiry’s pastor doesn’t say that he will honor fathers, he says he will try to encourage them.

I’ve been pondering how to honor Christian men, and I decided I would try to answer Dalrock’s question about what it would look like for modern Christians to honor fathers and husbands.  I think there are some good scriptural references in the quote from Yancey’s blog that can guide us.

1. Jesus is worthy of honor because of Who He is, the husband and head of His bride, the Church.  We should honor husbands and fathers for who they are in addition to anything they may have done.

Christ lived a perfect life, and no man or woman can do that, so if we base our decision to honor husbands and fathers solely on what they do, we will always be able to find something they have done wrong, some place where they have fallen short.  Therefore, husbands and fathers must be honored for who they are, for the position they hold, as the head of the family.

So what does honoring our husbands and the fathers of our children look like practically?  Let us consider the very first definition at Merriam-Webster for the word honor:

respect that is given to someone who is admired

To honor our husbands, we women should treat them with great respect and admiration, not only for the things they do but for who they are.

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband (Ephesians 5:33)

For the Church to honor husbands and fathers, it would look like pastors speaking respectfully rather than with condemnation about husbands and fathers.  Any rebuking of men that needs to happen (and there would be some, as men are not perfect the way Jesus is) would happen in a men-only setting, out of the presence of women and children, in a church that honors husbands and fathers.  And it would be helpful if pastors stopped doing that jokey thing where they make self-deprecating jokes about both their own and other men’s wives’ superiority; that’s cheap humor and disrespects men. Would Abraham or any of the other patriarchs have spoken about their wives in such a way even in jest, I wonder?

2. Jesus demanded loyalty (Matthew 26:31-35).  He Himself was loyal but he also expected it from the apostles.

Sarah’s Daughter has a new post that speaks to the importance of women demonstrating loyalty to their husbands.  Please read her entire post, but for the moment just consider her conclusion from Men and Loyalty (highlighting mine):

God made your husbands in a very special way, different than you. He knows how they perceive value (loyalty) and He knows how they respond when they know they are valued. Trust God that He gave you very specific instruction for your marriage for a reason. Do not fear it. Do not project on to your husband a distrust of his integrity. And stop talking publicly about the line in which your husband must walk to receive your loyalty.

So, for Christians to honor husbands and fathers, it would look like women being loyal to their husbands, children being loyal to their fathers, and pastors teaching from the Bible that husbands, fathers, and Christ are all to be given our loyalty.  It would also look like the modern Church ceasing to provide moral cover for unbiblical divorce, which is often (but not always!) initiated by wives.  For too long now, much (but not all) of the modern Church  has either turned a blind eye to disloyalty or even at times supported it; this dishonors husbands and fathers.

3. Jesus was a leader who expected to be obeyed (Mark 14:32-42).  When the apostles disobeyed Him, He did not abuse them or stop loving them, yet He he directly stated what their sin was and rebuked them.

One way that women can honor their husbands and children can honor their fathers is through obedience (the Bible calls this “submission” for women):

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. (Ephesians 6:1)

 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:22-24)

The way that the Church could honor husbands and fathers is by accurately teaching these verses from the pulpit and ceasing to teach the unbiblical concept of mutual submission.  The Church could also

  • affirm that men have both the right and the duty to insist upon obedience,
  • teach husbands and fathers how to identify and lovingly confront disobedience in their wives and children, just as Christ did with His Apostles,
  • and support men in their efforts to lead their families by supporting their right to gently, lovingly rebuke rebellious family members.

Respect, loyalty, and obedience are three key components of honoring Christian husbands and fathers.  The way that the Church could honor husbands and fathers is by explicitly and accurately teaching from the many verses that demonstrate Jesus’ loving insistence for respect, loyalty, and obedience from the Apostles, the verses that teach wives to respect, be loyal to, and submit to their husbands, and the verses that instruct children to honor and obey their parents.

Whatever is lovely.

There is an area on our property that was previously semi-maintained that I’m letting turn into a meadow to see how it does.  Perhaps invasive plants will take over and I’ll have to mow it eventually, but for now, an astonishing array of wildflowers have exploded into a lovely volunteer garden.  There has been so much ugliness in the news recently that I feel the need to fix my mind on the beauty in the world that our God created for our enjoyment.

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God did not have to make the world beautiful, yet He chose to make the land He gave us to have dominion over pleasing to behold:IMGP0032

The heavens are the Lord‘s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man. (Psalm 115:16)

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He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

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It is amazing to think that this beautiful earth we dwell upon is actually just a shadow of the beauty of the world to come:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)

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The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. (Isaiah 40:8)

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“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. (Matthew 6:28-29)imageimage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

The days may be ugly and evil, but let us choose to think about the beauty that we can find in this shadow land and understand that it points to the incomparably greater beauty we will one day behold when we dwell on the new earth under Christ’s eternal reign.  He is  the true alpha and omega, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.  Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!

Godly sorrow versus shame.

I have noticed a trend among modern Christians to frequently express their concern that someone somewhere is being “shamed” or to complain that they themselves are being shamed.  So, is there truly an epidemic of shaming going on?

As I have written before elsewhere, there are two kinds of shame: intrinsic and extrinsic.  Intrinsic shame is shame for who you are and extrinsic shame is shame for something you have done.  It goes without saying that intrinsic shame should be laid down at the foot of the cross.

But what about extrinsic shame?  If I do something shameful, should I not feel ashamed of what I have done?

Oftentimes in my observation, people will say they are being “shamed” when in fact someone has simply pointed out sinful behavior, sometimes just in a general sort of way and not even directed at any particular person.  For example, if a Christian points out that it is wrong for a woman to engage in premarital sex, that Christian can count on being attacked by other Christians for “slut-shaming” which is wrong because Christ has set us free from our shame.

It is true that Christ has set us free from our shame.  It is also true that premarital sex is a sin.  It is also true that if someone is engaging in premarital sex and hears another person say, “Premarital sex is wrong,” that person will feel ashamed of his or her behavior.  Should we then stop teaching what sin is because hearing sin called sin will cause bad feelings in sinners?  Consider what Paul says in Romans 7:

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin,seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

There is no reason for Christians to attack a specific person and heap shame on him or her.  But neither should we condemn one another for teaching the Law that God gave us; the Law allows us to experience godly sorrow for our sins so that we can repent of them and then lay our shame down at the foot of the cross.  We don’t have to bear the shame of our sin because Christ will do that for us, but that doesn’t mean that the sins aren’t shameful, it simply means that when we repent of those sins, we can be free of the shame by submitting to Christ.

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (2 Corinthians 7:10)

Before we are quick to claim that we are being shamed or that someone else is being shamed upon hearing the Law, let us pause and ask ourselves if perhaps we are simply experiencing godly sorrow that leads to repentance and freedom in Christ.

Do pastors tear down men on Father’s Day?

This past Friday, I read the following quote from the blogger Dalrock:

Father’s Day predictably brings out diverse sentiments in our post marriage world.  For Christian leaders it brings out contempt for husbands and fathers, including the now traditional (if not obligatory) sermon tearing down men in front of their families.

 

I’ve heard men’s issues bloggers express this before, that Father’s Day is a time when churches express contempt for fathers, and I thought that was so odd because I’ve never heard a Father’s Day sermon preached in the 12 years I’ve attended and been a member of our church.  So when I read this quote from Dalrock, I sort of rolled my eyes a little and thought that maybe there was a bit of exaggeration there or something.

On Saturday, Insanity Bytes disagreed with Dalrock, writing:

Complete poppycock, Dalrock. Even here in the 9th circuit of hell, in liberal utopia, our Christian leaders don’t tear down men in front of their families nor do they mock fathers. That is no more a true representation of what is really going in the world  than the Westboro Baptist church is actually a church.

And I thought, “Yeah, what she said!  Poppycock, Dalrock.  I’ve certainly never heard a sermon about Father’s Day at all, let alone one bashing men!”  I felt happy about this because I don’t want there to be such a thing as sermons that bash men on Father’s Day.  I also don’t want there to be such a thing as ticks, yet I just removed one of those bloodsuckers from my ankle after walking our puppies in our meadow, so apparently what I want doesn’t dictate reality.

Anyway, who is right?  Dalrock or Insanity Bytes? I wanted IB to be right, and even felt like she must be right and not Dalrock who was probably just being a sour-grapes whiner, but from whom could I find out for sure?

I know, how about a pastor!  How about even my own pastor?

My husband and I went to church shortly after I read IB’s post, where I was shocked to hear my first ever Father’s Day sermon.  You can watch the video of the sermon here:

http://northridgechurch.com/talks/unlikely-heroes/abraham/

Start watching at the 6:00 minute mark, where my pastor says:

“Like us, Abraham was far from perfect and yet he became a hero of the faith.  Here’s actually the truth that I want to share with you on this Father’s Day weekend.  This is the truth from Abraham’s story: a life of a faith, a life where you experience a relationship with God that’s so intimate, that’s so close that God Himself would call you His friend, that kind of life does not demand perfection.  A life that God ultimately honors and celebrates and holds up like he did Abraham’s doesn’t demand perfection.  And if that’s true – and it is – then there’s a lot of encouragement and motivation for us in that truth for those of us who are dads, for all of us.

I have to tell you, it’s our goal on this Father’s Day weekend to lift you up and encourage you.  And I have to tell you from history I’ve learned that often Father’s Day is one of the worst days that dads can ever choose to go to church.  Because often it’s the only time churches feel like they’re going to have the ears of dads and so what they do is they plan to beat them up royally for all they’re not doing right.  Ever been to one of those Father’s Day services?  Oh man, I have.  In fact, here in the early days of my ministry here, you know what we’d do?  Oh man, we planned.  We planned for you guys.  And then what we did is we’d sing “Cats in the Cradle and the Silver Spoon”.  And we’d talk about how you have so royally blown it, the world has gone to hell in a hand basket, and then we’d try and help you recover.  And we wondered why dads didn’t like Fathers Day at our church.

We don’t do that anymore.  What we want this to be is an encouragement to you, we want this to lift you up, and I can’t think of a better story than Abraham’s because he’s like us – far from perfect.  And yet he was used significantly from God.”

My Pastor straight up confesses that our church used to do exactly what Dalrock says and that he had heard it at other churches as well.  Therefore, I am chastened and sad to report that IB and I are wrong and Dalrock is right, according to my pastor.

Edited to add: The quote from the video begins at the 6:00 minute mark, not the 26 minute mark as I originally wrote.

Domination is not destruction.

The earth was given to Man to dominate:

Then 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 birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them.

 And 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 heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”Genesis 1:26-28)

A quote from this interview with Kelly Ware, a permaculture practitioner and Christian, caught my attention:

“We were put on earth as stewards, to take care of the garden, and our domination thing, that we’re able to, you know, dominate is that we make the choices for things.  We say this plant goes, this plant stays, this earth works needs to happen.  So I really think that in terms of empowering ourselves to do earth works, because you’re changing a lot of things, but we’ve been given that right, to dominate and through that job that we were designed to do, which is steward creation.

According to Merriam Webster, domination means:

  1. supremacy or preeminence over another
  2. exercise of mastery or ruling power
  3. exercise of preponderant, governing, or controlling influence

Notice one thing that the word dominate does not mean: destroy.

Many conservatives seem to believe that domination and destruction are synonymous.  Ann Coulter writes:

The ethic of conservation is the explicit abnegation of man’s dominion over the Earth. The lower species are here for our use.  God said so: Go forth, be fruitful, multiply, and rape the planet — it’s yours. That’s our job: drilling, mining and stripping.

Is this truly what God says in the Bible?  Let us check:

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (Genesis 2:15)

It is Man’s job to dominate and subdue the earth not by raping and destroying it but rather by working and keeping it.  The reason for working and keeping the earth isn’t because the earth is an object worthy of spiritual adoration, as environmentalists and some permaculture practitioners believe, but rather because God gave it to us for sustenance and human flourishing:

And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. (Genesis 1:29)

Environmentalists, who are nearly all liberals, frequently fantasize about the elimination of humans from the earth due to the mistaken belief that the earth would be “better off” without us.  They see Man’s domination of the earth as inherently sinful (I use the word sinful to describe their religious-like beliefs because liberalism is their religion and is as authoritarian in its moral prescriptions as any other religion or political orientation).

Some secular permaculturists share the opinion that Man’s domination of the earth is Bad, bad, bad! but others do not, as this quote demonstrates:

Societies and their inhabitant are the reason that ecosystems (such as the Amazon Rainforest) are abundant in bio-diversity and life. In Permaculture it is constantly reinforced that human disturbance leads to environmental degradation; however, new evidence strongly concludes that without human disturbance, eco-systems would not be as thriving if humans were out of the picture.

In addition to the earth, Woman was also given to be under Man’s dominion:

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

Women, kindly read that verse again.  For whom were we created?  For him.  And to whom were we given?

And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. (Genesis 2:22)

Woman was given to Man to be under his dominion, not so that he can destroy her but so that he can cultivate a helper for his work of having dominion over the earth. This is where feminists, like environmentalists, get it wrong. They correctly perceive that some men are using their God-given dominion to destroy rather than cultivate their women, and they decide that Man’s domination itself is the problem, when in fact sin (destruction) is the problem.

We moderns see the word domination used in the man/woman context almost solely in the sense of sexually perverse role plays, but this is not what Christians should understand it to mean, not even when the context is the marital act.  Rather, the godly husband takes dominion over his wife and cultivates her to better fulfill her role as his helper in his domination (cultivation) of the earth.

Pastor Doug Wilson explained this well in something he wrote a few years ago:

A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts.  This is of course offensive to all egalitarians, and so our culture has rebelled against the concept of authority and submission in marriage. This means that we have sought to suppress the concepts of authority and submission as they relate to the marriage bed.

People lost their minds when he wrote this, with Christian feminist Rachel Held Evans writing:

It’s not about sex. It’s not about church leadership. It’s not about roles. It’s not about the Bible.

It’s about power.

It’s about whether or not patriarchy—man’s rule over woman—really represents God’s ideal for the world. 

And I believe, with every bone in my body, that patriarchy is a result of sin. I believe that followers of Jesus are to be champions of equality, and that it is our calling…

But a man conquering a woman does not implicitly mean he destroys her.  A man who conquers his wife in the sense that Pastor Wilson means is cultivating a family.  His dominion leads to flourishing rather than destruction.

Although it is pagan in spiritual orientation, I love the blog Bealtine Cottage, a site written by a woman in Ireland who bought a derelict cottage on some old agricultural land that was badly damaged by conventional farming practices and transformed it using permaculture gardening techniques into a gorgeous food forest.  Her stories and photos are fascinating.  However, the authoress Ms.O’Neill has misunderstood what domination of the earth and Woman by Man means.  She writes:

“As this era of masculine dominance comes to an end and a feminine understanding of life’s wholeness is included, we are beginning to experience a different world in which physical, mental, and spiritual well-being are interdependent.”

A limited and patriarchal interpretation of the Creator, has given us a male figure, with the female as subservient.

Dominance of Nature and continuous war has ensued…

It is clear from the Bible that God gave the earth and Woman to Man not to destroy but rather to cultivate, as we saw in Genesis 2:15.  It isn’t that male domination destroys the earth or women; it is that after the fall, men sometimes use their God-given right to dominate the earth for destructive purposes, rather than using their domination of the earth and their women to cultivate a flourishing garden and thriving families.  The solution isn’t to reject the order of creation that God intended, that of loving domination by Man, but rather for men to teach one another (something women absolutely cannot do) to use their God-given right of dominion to cultivate rather than destroy and then insist that it be so.

Part of the chaff of modernity is the belief that humans having dominion (domination) over the earth and Man having dominion (domination) over Woman is inherently destructive.  This is not true.  Only sinful behavior is destructive.  Godly dominion does not destroy; rather, it cultivates so that all which is under dominion flourishes.