Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Aggressive Domination

I have been arguing that both complementarians and egalitarians would be happy to see authentein translated as "dominate." Egalitarians see this as a negative value and complementarians see it is a positive masculine value, but a negative feminine value. Then the discussion could move from the discourse of marriage to a discussion of whether Christ actually teaches domination.

The CBMW Gender blog endorsed Manly Dominion by Mark Chanski two years ago.
    "Man is to aggressively dominate his environment, instead of allowing his environment to dominate him," Chanski writes. "I am not to be a passive-purple four-ball! I am rather to be a stick-carrying player! In the spheres of my life, I must subdue and rule, and not permit myself to be subdued and ruled.

    "We have been commissioned by God to go out and aggressively assert ourselves as masters over every realm of our lives. I have not been assigned to stare out my bedroom, living room, or office widow, passively daydreaming about what I might do, if only there weren’t so many obstacles. Rather I am to get out there, so help me God, and plan it, clear it, and do it, with all my might, to the glory of God."

    ------------

    "In the Lord Jesus Christ, the Christian finds his ultimate model for subduing and ruling over the opposing circumstances of our sin cursed world," he writes.

    "In Him, we find a hand to put over our mouths when we begin to spout rationalizations and blame-shiftings. In Him we find a holy rebuke to our every excuse for not doing our biblical duty in every difficult situation. In Him, we find a sacred reprimand to our cowardly claims of ‘I’m a victim, so I can’t.’"

In his review Robinson writes,
    Manly Dominion provides biblical insight the Christian man and his calling to action within vocational labor, husbanding, church leadership, child rearing, spiritual living, decision-making, and romance.
It is clear that Chanski believes that God gives the dominion of the world to men only, and men only imitate Christ. There seems to be a misunderstanding of Gen 1 here. It says,
    26Then God said,(O) "Let us make man[h] in our image,(P) after our likeness. And(Q) 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."

    27So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    (R) male and female he created them.

    28And God blessed them. And God said to them,(S) "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." 29And 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.(T) You shall have them for food. 30And(U) to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so. 31(V) And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

It is clear that "dominion" was given to the man and woman over nature. I think many of us struggle to understand what is meant here by "dominion" but it is clearly something given to man and woman together. I have no idea what kind of Biblical explanation could underly Chanski's thesis.

Jesus himself talks about domination in Luke 22:25,

    25And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.

    26But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.

    27For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.

"As one who serves", as a servant. This is a reversal of domination. Shall we serve creation? That is one possible interpretation.

3 comments:

scott gray said...

it is too bad that chanski only sees two ways of being in the world--either as dominator, or as victim. to choose this artificial polar dichotomy construct, too rationalize it as true, and then to justify it as right, is an interesting sort of limiting parlor game, but not of any value for shaping intentions, actions, behavior, or outcomes in any useful way in the world.

peace--

scott

Peter Kirk said...

It is clear that Chanski believes that God gives the dominion of the world to men only, and men only imitate Christ.

Maybe, but this is not clear from the extracts quoted by you or by Robinson. I assume that Chanski is using "Man" in a generic sense, and of course generic "he". It seems to me that it is the CBMW reviewer Robinson who makes this into a gender issue.

Of course I might well be proved wrong by Chanski's chapters on husbanding and church leadership, but I don't think we can comment on those when it seems none of us have read them.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Here is the Amazon review. I have to assume that Chanski is referring to men, as males, not as generic humans.

"In billards, the four-ball is passive; it's the one that gets knocked around by the other balls. Christian man, is that you? Are you knocked around by your environment, rather than taking you God-given assignment to lead? Mark Chanski's book is a clarion call to all Christian men to face life's challenges with Manly Dominion. It will challenge and encourage you to lead, wherever God places you, with Spirit-filled conviction. No Christian man (or woman!) living in today's world should be without it. Read carefully, and transform your life!"

From 9 Marks, an excerpt of the review.

"According to Chanski, contemporary Christian masculinity lacks the will to take dominion of the earth, that mandate which rang first in Adam’s ears as recorded in Genesis 1:28. Chanski summarizes his central argument on page 18 by exhorting the reader to recognize that "Man is to aggressively dominate his environment, instead of allowing his environment to dominate him." He does this only by the grace of God: "Subduing labor achieves its goals only by divine enablement" (47).

Chanski understands that men will only act out manly dominion through the power of God himself. With that power before them, men are to act. "I have not been assigned to stare out my bedroom, living room, or office window, passively daydreaming about what I might do, if only there weren’t so many obstacles. Rather I am to get out there, so help me God, and plan it, clear it, and do it, with all my might, to the glory of God" (18).

Chanski’s thesis is itself aggressive, scriptural, and invigorating. He combines biblical study with a vibrant collection of stories, historical examples, and personal testimony to lay out the importance of acting courageously in one’s work, decision-making, spiritual life, and romance. Manly Dominion will be of great help to pastors in their efforts to encourage strong male leadership in local churches, especially in the following areas."