Bridging the Divided

Dominion Over The Created World…..

It doesn’t take much for an animal to display love and loyalty toward humans so why is it difficult for humans to return the love and loyalty animals afford us? And it’s not just dogs. There are stories about elephants and other animals in the wild who intervene when needed, offer loyalty, show emotions, and even rudimentary reasoning skills. We are supposed to be the superior of all the created animals and yet the cruelty shown to far too many animals strips us of the right to be called superior to anything. Day after day the news and social media are full of stories of man’s inhumanity toward animals. It sickens me.

In the book of Genesis, God gave Adam dominion over the created world and Adam was told to subdue creation. What does that mean, exactly? What it doesn’t mean is cruelty, shirking responsibility, or in any way exerting control and power over another with any intention other than kindness. Dominion in the Biblical context means man was to care for, tend to, and use the creation to its fullest potential. When Adam was given dominion, neither humans nor animals were meat-eaters. It wasn’t until after the great flood, as told in Genesis 9, God reiterated His command to Noah that man would have dominion over the creation, except now God added, “The fear and dread of you will be upon every wild animal, every bird in the air, every creature populating the ground, and all the fish in the sea; they have been handed over to you. Every moving thing that lives will be food for you…”

Anyone who knows me understands I believe the Bible to be mostly a metaphor, allegory, a way to tell the story we can relate to and not a literal interpretation. Did God ‘talk’ to Noah, or did nature take its course and man’s nature took the dominion thing too far? History has taught us when mankind is given an inch, mankind takes a mile.

Back to the dominion thing. Adam was to tend and care for the creation. None were carnivores. After Noah, the Bible says, “Every moving thing that lives will be food for you…” Why the shift? Following the logic of the Bible, I would venture God was still upset with mankind and took it out on the animals. 

As the Bible unfolds, Moses and the Pharoah are at odds and the enslaved Hebrews are exiled to the desert; the “let me people go” saga. The Hebrews spent forty years wandering the desert eating ‘manna’ provided by God. At the end of forty years, Moses was given the strict dietary laws written in the Book of Leviticus many Jews follow to this day. Apparently, God had cooled off by then and backed off on the “Every moving thing that lives will be food…” and revised the list of consumable creatures. The laws allowed the Hebrews to eat anything with a split hoof and chewed cud; cows, sheep, goats, etc. All others were off-limits. The fish were separated into the consumable and non-consumable: shellfish were forbidden, perhaps because they are bottom feeders. Strict guidelines for the humane slaughtering and preparing of the meat were outlined, and so on. Did God have health concerns in mind or did the laws have more to do with obedience and separateness? For the most part, the laws were centered around rituals regarded as righteous before a Holy God. 

I’m good with mankind eating meat. Meat provides macro and micronutrients we need and cannot get from other sources. Our bodies, and specifically our intestines, are not designed for an all-plant diet But, all meat is not created equally. The dietary laws of the Hebrews make sense; the cloven hoof thing, specific fish, and fowl. I do not agree with eating domesticated animals. Let’s face it, there are differences in animals; some are companion animals, some are not, some designed for work, some as a food source. 

To Noah, God added in Genesis 9:4-5, “only flesh with its life, which is its blood, you are not to eat. I will certainly demand an accounting for the blood of your lives: I will demand it from every animal and from every human being.” Here again, governing rules; cannibalism isn’t allowed. Sounds like mankind is on a level playing field with animals if God will demand an accounting for the blood spilled by either man or animal. I will leave the sorting out process to God. What can be inferred from God’s accounting for spilled blood is God is not a fan of cruelty. Neither am I…..

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