19August

“Subdue the Earth” and “Till It and Keep It”: Responding to God’s Cultural Commands

Taken from CrisisMagazine.com
by R. Jared Staudt

“Subdue the Earth” and “Till It and Keep It”: Responding to God’s Cultural Commands

In the middle of our cultural crisis, issues such as politics, economics, and education may come immediately to mind. Though these issues are vital to our culture, the crisis stems in part from something even more fundamental. We’ve lost touch with the most basic aspects of culture.

An important answer to our crisis can be found at the beginning of Scripture. The first command addressed to humanity in the entire Bible is to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion” (Gen 1:28). This command is addressed to man and woman in the first creation story and is addressed to all of humanity. In the second story, Adam is said to have been placed in the Garden “to till it and keep it” (Gen 2:15). God’s first commands are cultural commands. This reveals his primal will for all human beings: to be fruitful in themselves and to enhance the fruitfulness of the earth by their efforts.

There are many ways to respond to this primal call. I will describe one way it is relevant to me by providing a short theology of gardening. I will then broaden the discussion to show the relevancy of God’s cultural commands more generally.

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