Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God. So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you want to be unafraid of the one in authority? Do what is good, and you will have its approval. (Romans 13:1-3)
Jesus went with them, and when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to tell him, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, since I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. That is why I didn’t even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under my command. I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” (Luke 7:6-8)
Hierarchy – “A group of persons or things organized into successive ranks or grades with each level subordinate to the one above.” Also, “A body of persons having authority” (American Heritage Dictionary).
God’s original design for His beloved humanity was for all of us men and women to serve our King side by side, shoulder to shoulder. We were created equal regarding our humanness and task (subdue and rule) but different regarding gender (reproduce). Per God’s design, all people were created equal, and all of us remain equal before Him concerning our humanity.
God’s original design for how His authority and power would operate on the earth is simple. He set up a three-level hierarchy with Himself at the top, humanity in the middle, and the rest of His earthly creation at the bottom. God’s intent was for us to be the stratum of co-equal co-rulers between Himself and His creation with a strictly top-down flow of His authority and power.
However, with the Subdue and Rule Mandate’s corruption, this middle stratum became a gladiatorial arena where we now deploy our dominion drive against each other as we wrestle and jockey for control over our domains within God’s creation. That happened when the middle layer of humanity turned from God and detached from His moral laws, which were our guide to subduing and ruling His earthly domain. It’s as simple as that. But without God’s ethical boundaries, our selfish desires “rule the roost” and push us to satisfy our urge to control everything our way, not God’s. These basic human desires fall into three categories of lust: the lust of the flesh (to enjoy), the lust of the eyes (to obtain), and the pride of life (to achieve) (1 John 2:16).
In our quest for control and to satisfy our lusts selfishly, we often direct what authority and power we have downward against creation, horizontally against each other, and sadly, upward against God in our quixotic quest to replace Him in our lives.
Yes. Dominion gone wild.
The only way to restore God’s original order is for our “hearts” to change and for us to corral our uncontrolled desires within the guidelines and constraints of God’s perfect moral law. That will return us to the simple God-People-Creation hierarchy as designed.
However, despite humanity’s fallen state, not all hierarchies are bad. Some hierarchies help control our dominion drive because they set parameters within which we should work and live, functioning like God’s laws. Hierarchies are often needed for a well-ordered society, especially when restraining an abusive person’s drive for dominion and control. However, I still contend that God’s original design for a side-by-side, cooperative society ruling over His creation as His vice-regents is our goal but is only possible for those who’ve been born-again for reasons we’ll get to later.
We tend toward hierarchical human relationships precisely because of our unrestrained drive for dominion and control. Put bluntly, Everybody Wants To Rule The World. At the lowest level and circle of influence, it’s about our personal world. At the highest level and widest circle of influence, it’s about controlling the whole world, just like God does. You know, dictators like Hitler, Stalin, and Mao of the last century, and globalists like those in the World Economic Forum today with their “Great Reset.” Spoiler alert! The Great Reset is simply their design for world domination. The World Economic Forum’s stated plan is to force everyone outside of their circle into submission or get us out of their way. On the other hand, other powers like Russia and China have their own plans for global dominion.
“Welcome to Subdue and Rule Arena. Would you like some popcorn as you watch the show?”
Megalomaniacs aside, let’s explore why the unrestrained Subdue and Rule Mandate leads to the “top dog, ladder-climbing, step on the guy below you, abusive” hierarchical structures in the world. Take the time to think about it. You’ll realize these top-down, dominion-driven hierarchies are everywhere – families, neighborhoods, religions, businesses, sports, arts and entertainment, education, politics, media, and any other social group or system. Why? Because each of us has an innate drive to control, we can’t escape it.
Yes, everybody wants to rule the world.
So, let’s continue our tour through the consequences of the corrupted Subdue and Rule Mandate. We’ll look at the genesis of human hierarchy, the lust to rule, and how human lusts (desires) intensify the dominion drive.
Consequence: The genesis of human hierarchy and the lust to rule
The Subdue and Rule Mandate’s corruption marked the beginning of human hierarchies because of the dominion drive’s nature and God’s command for people to rule over the earth as His vice-regents. Our unrestrained, misdirected dominion drive birthed human hierarchies because it pushes us toward superiority, dominance, and control within groups of people, large and small. Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20). Well, without Jesus, where two or more are gathered, conflict is there among them because our self-centered dominion drive pushes us to “enjoy, obtain, and achieve,” even at others’ expense. In some cases, especially at others’ expense.
As we’ve learned, the corrupted Subdue and Rule Mandate’s sad redirection can be explained by its God-given original focus: to control the planet and all that was made from it (adamah). But while our dominion includes everything God created on and from the earth, human beings were excluded. However, after the Fall, that changed, and human hierarchies emerged. First, by God’s decree intended to protect humanity. Secondly, from human instinct.
Because Eve listened to Satan and acted independently of Adam, God decreed that Adam would be over Eve as her governor. Why would He do that? Because human beings were designed to operate as a team. That was one of the two reasons for Eve’s existence, to steward God’s world and create more support staff (children) for the expanding global settlement operation. Both of those reasons required teamwork. But Eve took the initiative and acted independently of her mate. As a teammate, Adam followed her lead after she acted. And yet, of all people (and there were only two!), Adam should have put the brakes on Eve because he knew precisely what God had said about not eating the fruit. Eve should have checked with Adam, and Adam should have put the kibosh on Satan’s suggestion. But they didn’t.
So, God institutionalized Adam’s role as Eve’s overseer. Yes, Adam was given authority over Eve. It’s not all bad, though. If we think about it, God’s intent seems to have been to establish cooperation between them to prevent the two from operating separately. A check and balance system, so to speak, to protect them from further violations.
But God also warned that Eve wouldn’t like being under Adam’s authority, and her fallen nature would fight the new arrangement. Why? Because it was her nature to live and function side by side with her partner, not under his authority, and she would fight to return to that status. Eve’s unleashed Subdue and Rule Mandate would continue to push her to drive for personal control rather than submit that control to the only other person on the planet.
And then human instinct kicked in. Since Adam and Eve were both made from the ground (adamah), and their subduing and ruling functions were to be exercised over anything made from adamah, it seems they were instinctively driven to subdue and rule the other person as part of their inborn assignment. Sadly, this refocused drive became the case with every person from that time forward, a power struggle as one person’s claim to their domain collided with another person’s claimed domain. The big question is, “Who will come out on top?”
Although there’s no evidence of how God’s decree affected Adam and Eve’s relationship, it’s easy to see the dominion conflict quickly and virulently erupting in the next generation. The interpersonal fight for dominion fueled Cain and Abel’s sibling rivalry, leading to death and even more covenant punishment.
So, in our current state, we’re driven to subdue and rule everything within our personal world, including others. “Thus, we see that mankind continued in the works of dominion, but these works were marred by the infusion of sin and lust. Instead of godly rule over creation, the exercise of dominion became what Augustine called libido dominator – a lust to rule. Instead of extending peacefully through family, progeny, society, and business, this perverted dominion was exercised in an ungodly way and for the glory of man” (McDurmon).
Understanding this dynamic explains what I believe to be the core of all interpersonal conflict: The fight for control “when worlds collide.”
The fight for control between people is the breeding ground for conflict and the rise of human hierarchies. To gain control over our world, we often feel we must establish dominance over others with whom our world overlaps. To keep control, we’re driven to master anything in our world that threatens our management. This threat management causes people to develop hierarchies with the resulting “pecking orders.” Person B may not be able to best person A, but person B can best person C. Person B is then content to remain under person A’s dominion if they can maintain dominance over person C (especially if person A helps them), and so on down the dominion line.
But human hierarchy was not God’s intent for His people.
Given the Creation covenant and God’s design for humanity, it’s reasonable to assume that had Adam and Eve not sinned, humanity would have functioned differently. People would work shoulder to shoulder as world-shapers subduing and ruling their domains without competition or conflict with God’s other vice-regents to come. There would be no “vertical” hierarchies based on dominance or control. Instead, horizontal cooperation would be sharing tasks and combining efforts as needed.
But our harsh real-world reality is that there must be some mechanism to restrain our out-of-control dominion drive. While it seems that human hierarchies were not God’s intent, He allows and uses them in our unredeemed world to maintain social order among His lost children. However, history proves that if our Subdue and Rule Mandate isn’t submitted to God, human hierarchies as a way to dominate others are the banes of human existence, which comes from the lust to rule.
Consequence: Subdue and rule unrestrained – the lust to rule by our standards
After the Fall, the Subdue and Rule Mandate quickly decayed into the lust to rule, as Augustine described. The lust to rule was unleashed when our Subdue and Rule Mandate was disconnected from God’s moral law. Remember, our God-given Subdue and Rule Mandate can only be properly executed within the boundaries of God’s moral law, which outlines His permissions and restrictions.
As I pointed out before, God’s law reflects His nature and will. Since we were created in God’s image, we were designed to reflect God’s nature – the standard of right being – and God’s will – the standard of right decisions (Pryor). Adam and Eve’s decision to act autonomously separated them from that standard. From that moment on, their fallen natures and independent wills became their standards for life. As independent “gods” over their worlds, Adam and Eve began to function as free-lance imagers and shapers. Their moral decisions were based on their reasoning and compelled by their desires. At that point, human beings developed the “master of my own domain” thinking and attitude, as is seen in their collective slide toward extreme decadence and societal rot between Adam’s and Noah’s days (Genesis 6:5). Without God’s boundaries declaring wrong and right behavior, we’re left to create our own boundaries (permissions and restrictions). These artificial boundaries manifest as laws, customs, norms, and “fences.”
But even though humanity is estranged from God, these artificial boundaries aren’t entirely out of sync with God’s moral law. Paul wrote that Gentiles who don’t know God’s moral law sometimes “do what the law demands” and, therefore, will gain God’s approval (Romans 2:14-15). Our conscience is the remnant of God’s law written on human hearts, albeit greatly smudged and faded over time. God’s law was meant to focus the urges and desires of the human heart per the standard of God Himself. This most certainly applies to the desire to dominate one’s world as part of God’s mandate. Without God’s boundaries, our dominion drive is left to overpower everything in our world according to our reasoning and whims. Therefore, the scope of the Subdue and Rule Mandate not only widened to include other people but deeply skewed away from God’s standard. And when human hierarchies are formed and fueled by fallen humanity’s twisted moral code, abuse follows, intensified by human lust.
Consequence: Subdue and rule intensified by our lusts
Our lust to rule, disconnected from God’s moral law and guided by our subjective and arbitrary standards, intensifies due to selfish desires.
Apostle John lists three basic desires within us that prove we love the world. “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God remains forever” (1 John 2:16-17). These three desires push us to act against God’s will.
God’s will is clear regarding the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam and Eve had perfect freedom to exercise dominion, but only on God’s terms, and it was Eve’s three desires that pushed her to violate God’s will. “The woman saw that the tree was good for food (lust of the flesh/to enjoy) and delightful to look at (lust of the eyes/to acquire) and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom (pride of life/to achieve)” (Genesis 3:6).
These basic human desires steer our dominion drive in terrible directions when not tightly regulated by God. Outside of God’s will, we strive to enjoy what we will, obtain what we will, and achieve what we will, whether or not our goal aligns with God’s will. In other words, “I’ll do this because I want to, and satisfying my desires makes it right.” The “If it feels good, do it” mantra of the 60s is just a millennia-old rehash of this self-seeking mindset. Solomon was right. There’s nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
Unrestrained desires inevitably lead to exploitation. To exploit is “to employ to the greatest possible advantage.” In a negative sense, it is “to make use of selfishly or unethically” (American Heritage Dictionary). Eve used the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil selfishly (1 John 2:16-17) and unethically (violating God’s prohibition). Adam and Eve were supposed to use their God-given abilities to subdue and rule God’s creation for God’s glory, not theirs. “The earth is not humanity’s to do with as it sees fit. It is God’s creation, and as God’s delegates, we are to take care of it on His behalf; humanity is accountable to God for its treatment of the earth (cf. P99. 115:6; 8:4-6). It is not rulership without limits” (Bishop).
Before the Fall, humanity’s dominion drive would have been focused on God and kept in check by God’s parameters. After the Fall, Adam and Eve’s unchecked desires shifted their dominion drive into high gear, creating an environment for exploitation. From that point on, humanity’s major temptation would be to exploit their charge (creation) to their greatest possible advantage, and, sadly, this includes other people.
Once our dominion drive was loosed from God’s control, our lusts intensified it, and everything in the world became its target for exploitation. Within the controlling framework of human hierarchies, the potential for exploitation is tremendous. It’s stunning to read how many pastors and priests have recently been arrested for sexual abuse. The entire entertainment industry is rife with accounts of young men and women who were coerced into exploitative relationships by those with the power to make or break their careers. Who hasn’t heard of the infamous “casting couch” or the office tryst as a requirement for advancement? Almost weekly, we read about teachers who use their position to prey upon their students, be it in Junior or Senior High or a University setting.
And don’t get me started on politics! Political machinations revolve around a person or group using their “high office” position to manipulate their “low-level” target for their self-serving advantage.
Fear is one of the prime motivations on both the Exploiter and Exploited person’s sides. In the next part, we’ll explore how the Fear Factor nuclearizes our dominion drive and makes us susceptible to exploitation. We’ll also explore what the weaponized Subdue and Rule Mandate turned into and how Satan uses it for his own goal.
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