Monday, May 2, 2016

Genesis Chapter 1

God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth.

There is a lot going on in Genesis chapter 1, but verse 28 is sticking out to me today. In it we see God’s first command and his instructions to us. In the verse before we see that human beings are made in the image and likeness of the Holy Trinity. The importance of this is, we are given tremendous responsibility and awesome power over the other creatures. As Uncle Ben says, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” Here in Genesis 1, we see where that power comes from (being made in the Creator’s image and likeness) and how we execute that power (multiply to fill the earth and have dominion over all other creatures). In chapter 2 we will see the responsibility aspect, but for now let’s dig into chapter 1 verse 28.

Many people think religion is just a list of rules meant to restrict our fun. Some think God is an angry tyrant that doesn’t want us to have any fun. One of the more annoying things I’ve heard people say about the Church and God, is sex is a bad thing. Well, if anyone reads this verse, they will think otherwise. The very first command God gives to humanity is not, “don’t kill,” “don’t steal,” “be nice.” It’s a command about sex. It’s not a prohibition, either. “Don’t fornicate,” “no homosexuality,” “no abortion.” He says to be fruitful and multiply. Which means, have lots and lots of sex for God’s sake. It is a command that husbands and wives engage in what John Paul II called a renewal of the wedding vows through the language of the body. How poetic! If there is anyone who doesn’t understand the Church’s teachings on sexual morality, they don’t need to go any further than the first chapter of the first book in Sacred Scripture. God loves sex! Yeah, I said it! He loves it because it is one of the many instruments he gives us to draw closer to him and one another while sharing his love with others. Of course, with great power comes great responsibility. We can’t have sex all willy nilly, but we see the Church’s teachings in this one verse. Sex is between one man and one woman, brought together by the grace of God to live lives fully committed to one another in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony for the purpose of growing in holiness and growing the Kingdom of God. Catholic sexual morality wrapped into a one sentence summary of one verse in the first chapter of the first book. Ever wonder why the Church is against pre-marital sex, homosexuality, or abortion? Genesis 1:28 is your answer to all those questions. 

Subdue: to bring under cultivation

Because we are made in God’s image, he gives us the opportunity to cultivate the world around us. We, as people are at the top of the food chain. We can do whatever we want to the animals, plants, and environment, right? Not exactly, we have to keep reading this verse to fully understand what the Lord is saying.

Dominion: the power to rule

Now that we have the definition of dominion, it makes more sense, right? It’s okay if not. The key word in the definition is, “power.” We must first consider where that power comes from. God, obviously. He’s the one delegating responsibilities so although we have power, what we do with it must be inline with what he wants. Next, we can look at the word, “rule.” With our own understanding, let’s take government rule as our example. Do we want governments to exploit their people? No. Do we want them to take advantage of the weak? No. Do we want them to respect the human dignity of it’s people because they are fellow creatures made by God? Yes. So let’s change “government” to “humans” and “people” to “environment.”Do we want humans to exploit their environment? Do we want them to take advantage of weaker species? Do we want them to respect the dignity of the environment because all creatures are made by God? God gives us the environment, plants, and animals to help make our lives better, but not at the cost of degradation, exploitation, and extermination. With great power comes great responsibility.

Wow, can you believe in one verse we were able to connect Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and Pope Francis’ On Care for Our Common Home? Catholics are a bible-based people and the teachings of Holy Mother Church are just clarifications on the messages found in Sacred Scripture. The popes have not added anything, merely explained more clearly to the modern ear what the messages are. The message in this verse, Genesis 1:28, is to remember where our power comes from and how to use it in accord with the one who gives and takes away.

If you liked this post, you should subscribe because this is the first in a series of bible blogging meditations I’m working on. Also, keep an eye on the blog because I’m developing a bible commentary one book at a time. Finally, check out my Genesis bible study here so you can study the scripture with me. In the comments below, let me know what verses stick out to you most in Genesis 1 and why.


Have a sparkly day!