Genesis and Antis

Is the Christian worldview a discouraging one? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night, I was at our local Reasonable Faith meeting where we are getting ready to do a study through Genesis. In the midst of our discussion on it, I started pointing out that Genesis if we understand it in the way I believe that we ought, it really does dispel many of the myths that we have today. Some could argue that the Bible later on upholds these myths, but I’d like to go to the world when it was not fallen and see what we have. We’ll do this by looking at the claims of how Christianity is opposed to something good.

Christianity is anti-human.

Some of you might have seen this meme.

whichisdamaging

Yes. So is this what Christianity really says? Let’s look at Genesis 1:26-27.

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

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

Now in the account, everything else has been made and the final aspect is humanity. Only humanity is said to be in the image of God and only humanity involves dialogue in the divine council. The creation of humanity is described in poetic terms as well. If we go with John Walton’s idea from the Lost World of Genesis One, humanity is there in order to be God’s representative and to have dominion. We are to rule on His behalf. True, we are fallen later on, but we still are meant to be what we were in the garden, and even better.

But that ruling over the creation? That could lead to another charge.

Christianity is anti-environment!

I oppose the New Age movement naturally and think they can go too far with environmentalism, but many of us don’t go far enough. Christians sadly do have a reputation of wanting to destroy the environment. A lot of this has to do with some ideas that can be around that this world is not our home and we’re just passing through so why be so focused on it? God’s going to destroy this world anyway.

This is not a view I hold. I prefer the old hymn “This is my Father’s world.”

The Genesis account says in 1:28.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number;fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

We are told to rule, but we also know in Genesis 2 man is placed in a garden and given the task of controlling it and caring for it. Still, man is to recognize his place in the environment. He is not just one of the animals. Whether we came from the animals would be for the scientists to answer. The point is that we are unique in our capacities and our nature and if we hold to Christianity, we hold a special place. If you want to find a good Christian group to help you care for creation, I recommend the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.

So what’s next?

Christianity is misogynistic! 

When we get to the second chapter of Genesis, we read this:

18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.

But for Adam[f] no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib[h] he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

23 The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
    for she was taken out of man.”

 Keep in mind that in the first chapter, the man and woman are both equally in the image of God. While we know that they are distinct, there is no ranking there as if one is superior to the other. A lot of people make the mistake that saying because men and women are different, that that means one is inferior to the other and the other is naturally superior. This does not follow.

“But woman is described as a helper!”

Yes. The same term is used to describe God Himself in relation to man. The woman is a helper and in fact, she is just the very helper that Adam needs. Also, the language of describing creation means that it is not just good, but it is beautiful. The woman is the last one created and as such, I interpret her to be the jewel of creation and the best representative of the beauty of God on Earth.

As we men definitely know, nothing beats the beauty of the woman. You can go to the Zoo and see several animals. You can find beautiful mountain ranges. You can find waterfalls that will hold you captive. You can watch a sunset going down in the evening. In all of this, you will not find anything that is more beautiful than the human female form. As I have told my own wife, “You are the most beautiful thing my eyes can see until I see Jesus one day.”

Woman is to be celebrated and any man who is dating or married should be treating his woman as a princess. She is to be honored. But talking about the woman leads to the next step.

Christianity is anti-sex!

Really? Seriously?

24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

I know several married men. I do not know any that are anti-sex. I have heard men give sermons on sex before. They want to make it very clear they are not opposed to it and it is always hysterical when they do. They are so emphatic that the congregation definitely gets the message. Of course, we place sex within one context, that of a man and a woman united in marriage, but that is because we are pro-sex, not anti.

A man and a woman’s body are not to be viewed as cheap. They are not shared with just anyone. They are shared with people who are worthy. Putting sex in one environment is the way of honoring it by saying that you have to make a real commitment to be ready to handle it. Sex is like nuclear energy. If you use it properly and with the right procedures, you get a great result. If you misuse it, you can get Chernobyl.

So let’s lead that into the final one.

Christianity is anti-pleasure.

With all of these, we should know Christianity is not opposed to pleasure. We are opposed to some things deemed as pleasures and we are opposed to pleasure that can be good but not in the proper place, but God made us to enjoy what we do. Look at it this way. As OT scholar David Lamb has said, in the creation account, the commands given to man were simple. Eat a lot of food. Have a lot of sex. All he had to do was tend the garden and he would be cared for and there was only one tree he could not eat of.

Christianity is not a religion meant to kill one’s joy and frankly, we need to hear more about that. Sometimes we hear so much about the work that we have to do that we hear nothing about the pleasure we were meant for. When was the last time you heard a sermon about play for instance? Even a great theologian like Thomas Aquinas said play is essential so that we can recharge our minds.

In all of this, we must realize that if we have these ideas that Christianity is opposed to these things, we have a false idea. Unfortunately, we might need to watch ourselves to see if we are in fact giving out that viewpoint. Too many times, we’ve done things that fit with this stereotype. If we’re Christians, let’s seek to be living in a way where we are embracing the good things in this life, remembering another passage. This time from James 1:17.

 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Debunking 9 Truly Evil Things Right-Wing Christians Do Part 8

We now turn the blog over to Allie again for part 8.

We’re almost done with going through this article http://www.alternet.org/belief/9-truly-evil-things-right-wing-christians-do?page=0%2C2 .  We’re now at part 8. Destroying Earth’s web of life and impoverishing future generations is evil.  The writer of the article didn’t write much on this section, so I’ll go ahead and quote them:

“The book of Genesis may say that only man is made in the image of God and that God gave man dominion over everything that grows or walks the earth. The book of Matthew may say that the return of Jesus is imminent and that his disciples shouldn’t worry about tomorrow, which will take care of itself. The book of Revelation may teach that this world is just a prelude to streets of gold.

But some of us think the lives and loves of other species have moral weight of their own. And some of us think that the intricate web that gave us birth is both precious and precarious, and that the wellbeing of future generations matters. And we think those verses in Genesis and Matthew and Revelation reveal more about the hubris and flawed humanity of the Bible writers (and of Bible believers) than they do about divinity.”

The verses they are using from Matthew are 16:28 and 6:34 –

(Matthew 16:28 NLT) “And I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”

(Matthew 6:34 NLT) “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

Yes, Genesis does say man is made in God’s image and they have dominion over the creatures of the world.  Genesis 1:26 (NLT) reads:

 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

There’s more to that than just ruling.  It’s not like ruling with an ironfist.  We are to care for them as well.  God created everything and saw that it was good – including all the animals.  Even though man is most precious to him, he loves animals too or why would he have created them and wanted us to care for them?  You do have corrupt people who will abuse their power of ruling over the creatures – that’s because of sin, not because God said that it was okay to do that.  A king rules over the people in his kingdom, but a good king doesn’t abuse his power in ruling over them.  He takes care of them.  We may have dominion over the animals, but we are to take care of them, not abuse them.  

Yes, we’re not supposed to worry about tomorrow.  It’s not necessarily because Jesus could be coming back any day now though!  In Matthew 24:36 (NLT), Jesus says:

“However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.”

We don’t know how soon Jesus is coming back.  People have waited for him to come back ever since he ascended into heaven.  He could come back today or he could come back 2000 years from now.  We don’t know.  Only God knows.  Plus, when Jesus said this, he didn’t die yet.  He had told his disciples more than once before he said this that he was going to die, but they didn’t understand.  When Jesus told people not to worry, he was just starting his ministry.  There was no predicting his death or anything like that.  If anything, the people who believed in Jesus thought he would lead them as their king in defeating the Roman Empire – not being the King of the universe!  But Jesus was not out to destroy the Roman Empire.  What Jesus was saying here is “Why are you worrying about tomorrow?  Doesn’t today have enough problems already?  Why add more problems on your plate when you already have enough on there?”  The reason we don’t have to worry is because we know that Christ is with us.  We aren’t going through our problems alone.  (Psalm 23:4 NLT) Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.

As for the Book of Revelation, there are different interpretations of it and what’s going to happen in the end.  I agree, writer (of article), if people are just waiting for Jesus to return and for the world to be destroyed, that’s not right.  If people are thinking, “Well everything is doomed anyway,” even if you’re under that opinion, you still do the best you can to save it!  We are supposed to take care of the world, so do it!  Whether you’re a Christian or not, do it!  Of course, there are things only God can take care of, but do your part too!  God doesn’t condone laziness, which is something I even need to work on.  God approves of working hard, not laziness, so do it!

Our final part will be 9. Trying to suck vulnerable people into your poorly researched worldview is evil.

 

In Christ,

Nick Peters