“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it.”
Ephesians 5: 25, King James Version
EXPLORATION “Kept In Your Place”
“Authority without wisdom is like a heave axe without an edge, fitter to bruise than polish.”
“Dominate” - To order. To command imperiously.
“Dominion” – Authority and sovereignty in a sphere of influence.
What does the word “dominion” make me think of?
What does the word “dominate” make me think of?
“Nothing fruitful ever comes when plants are forced to flower in the wrong season.”
When I was young our family spent nearly every summer at my grandparents’ small ranch in Aravaipa Canyon in Arizona. This wasn’t a time for goofing off. Summer was a time for harvesting fruit which meant we helped Grandma with her annual job of canning. However, my sister and I always found time to enjoy the swimming hole our dad made for us in the creek that ran through the property and we also spent time riding horseback or enjoying Grandma’s beautiful garden.
It was in the garden one day, where two young girls decided to “help” the flowers bloom. Grandma had planted roses that by this time had buds that were ready to bloom. Sheryl, my sister, and I decided to assist the roses by pulling the petals apart. Of course, in our silly attempt to make rose buds open, we destroyed the flowers. We found, very quickly, it isn’t possible to take a perfect red rose bud and force it to become a fully-developed blossom without ruining it.
You could say, two little meddling girls had “dominion” over the flowers. We ruled over them. The flowers couldn’t fight against us. We could even kill them by our dominating behavior. But if we chose to use our power in such a destructive manner, we would only deface the very thing we wanted to enjoy for its inherent beauty.
Today, we are looking at two words that we find coming out of the Eden story. One is “dominion.” The other is “domination.” In Genesis, we find that God gave man “dominion” over “the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” (Genesis 1: 26. K.J.V.). I want to point out, this idea of “dominion” was given to man and woman before they were even created. It was a gift from God in a perfect world. If we look at the dictionary definition of this word, we note that it means authority or sovereignty in a sphere of influence. This makes perfect sense to me for God said, “On the earth, in this perfect environment, I am bestowing the gift of rulership over animals and plants on man and woman.” In other words, in the order of created creatures on earth, we were in first place. With this gift of “dominion,” came the power to “care for” the garden and the creatures in it. As Willa Gibbs so aptly states: “With power comes responsibility.” God gave us responsibility to care for the beautiful garden home He so graciously placed our parents, Adam and Eve, in.
However, here again, we find the word “consequence” coming into view. When sin brought its toxic effects into a world in harmony, tragedy followed. Dominion took a backseat to domination – the power to rule imperiously without thought for another!
Not only do we find that God’s Life-Givers – women—who were created to be men’s partners were “marginalized,” we also find that dominion became domination in the hands of those who chose to use God’s gift of authority, rulership and power in a destructive manner against another. And girls, it isn’t just men who use ”power” to dominate. Women can be quite effective in using what was once “dominion” to abuse another. Whether it’s the rich against the poor, the strong against the weak, the beautiful against the homely, or the in-crowd against the out-crowd, we as women are adept at making each other feel the dominating hand of power – one against another. I don’t have to draw you a picture in order for you to understand what I mean. All we have to do, as women, is look at any magazine advertising or get in a committee meeting with a group of power-hungry women – and before you know it, someone will grab the golden scepter of authority and try to dominate. Not always. But it happens more often than any of us would like to admit. As one author points out, “Power is a great word if you understand what real power is. It’s not getting what you want or manipulating others. I see power as being more akin to wisdom.” If we look at God’s gift of “dominion” in the Garden of Eden, I think we would all agree that God was entrusting His perfect created beings, Adam and Eve, to use their sovereignty over other created animals and plants wisely – guided by Heavenly wisdom.
However, when sin poisoned the earth, a wise use of dominion was tossed out the window and exchanged for domination which in many cases became an almost tyrannical rulership. In the male/female relationship we find that when women were “marginalized” the use of power to dominate became a tool men used to destroy the very gifts they had been given by God to give them wholeness.
If you don’t believe me, just look at what happened to relationships between men and women after the “fall.” In Genesis 2: 22, we find God giving one woman, Eve, to Adam as a gift. A partner to complete him. To bring him wholeness. To take away man’s loneliness. But by chapter 4 of Genesis, and only six generations later, we find Lamech took two wives – Adah and Zillah. These are two of the three women who are named between Eve and Sarah. I believe God gave us their names because He wanted us to take note that it didn’t take long for the abuse of His gift of authority and rulership to end up with men so demeaning women that the gift of one woman became multiple women – thus lessening the value of what was once a treasured gift to be adored and honored and turning it into a possession to be acquired. As Simone Weil appropriately states: “To get power over is to defile. To possess is to defile.” Once men began to look at the “women” in their lives as possessions, not “a gift,” the spirit of domination ran wild and, believe me, women have paid the price ever since.
The author M. F. Follett writes: “Co-ercive power is the curse of the universe. Co-active power is the enrichment and advancement of every human soul.”
While you and I can’t snap our fingers and undo the “coercive power” that has marginalized women and led to the abusive domination of women throughout the world, we can, as daughters of the King of the Universe, embrace with hope, the purpose that God created us for. During the next two days, we will look at the ways God has designed for His daughters to again reclaim what was lost. We can again be like “trees replanted in Eden.” Our perfect garden home.
“A Woman’s Prayer”
when I come to You
with deep concerns
You never silence me.
And when I risk
my most immediate thoughts
You do not patronize|
or brush me aside.
but you are God
and not man
and it is often other humans
that I have to deal with.
Help me in all my dealings
have need to communicate
fragile egos and patched-up
and that it is before You-
that I stand ultimately
and find my true worth.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.