I’m reading Womanly Dominion by Mark Chanski, per the suggestion of Carolyn Mahaney. I recently read through chapter 2, in which Chanski theologically unpacks woman’s creation mandate to subdue and rule the earth.
…And God blessed them. And God said to them, “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” (Genesis 1:28, emphasis mine).
Chanski goes on to explain, using an example of a mother he knows, that women are to see their children as “God-assigned spheres for subduing and ruling.” The problem I see with this line of thinking is that God didn’t give Adam and Eve the mandate to rule in this way over their children. The context is specifically over what God had created: animals, fish, birds, creatures. I understand that our children are created by God as well; however, unlike the animals, our children are created in God’s image. As such, they also carry the creation mandate to multiply, to rule, and to subdue.
Our responsibility as parents is to train them to fulfill the same mandate. And I think scripture bears it out that we are to train up our children, rather than dominate and rule over them. We are called to love and nurture and show the way, to help our children understand the ways of God and to love Him. But to write that our children fall under the purview of our mandate to rule and subdue creation may be incorrect.
I understand that parents hold a position of authority over their children, but it is not a position of domineering authority. I’m having trouble reconciling Chanski and, say, Tripp’s books on parenting and discipline, which encourage parents to enter in to the struggle with their children, to lovingly point them to the Savior when they go astray.
Then again, perhaps I’m getting ahead of Chanski. After all, this is just chapter 2. I see that he has two chapters called, “Womanly Dominion in Child Rearing.” For now, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and hope that he fleshes out exactly what he means when he says that children are within our spheres of rule and dominion. It may be that a mother cannot effectively train until her children have been subdued. But that smacks of Debi Pearl, and I don’t like that.
What do you think?