All dominion activity begins with destruction (or deconstruction). Mankind naturally works this way without understanding why. Unregenerate man hates anything that reminds him of his Creator, so he tries to hide the nature of his activity. Sometimes the attempt is overt like when the Sierra Club or some other green organization attempts to block logging operations in a roadless area. Sometimes it is not so obvious. Most men mute the violent side of their work and instead focus on the politically correct benefits of their activities. Meanwhile, the pattern of dominion is so common that we rarely recognize it for what it is anymore.
Consider a school teacher; he apprehends (takes hold of), creation when he gathers information. He does violence to creation when he thinks through the raw data reorganizing and rearranging it. He improves upon creation when he distributes the systematized information to his students and they benefit.
Or consider a lumber operation. The company owner or manager begins to apprehend creation when he formulates a plan for harvesting a certain area. He further takes hold of creation through his sawyers and other workmen and does violence to it when the trees are harvested, loaded on trucks and shipped to the mill. At the mill, the process is continued as the trees are milled into usable lumber and creation is further improved upon when a builder uses the lumber to construct a house.
The pattern may be seen in every stage of the work process. The workers at the lumber mill apprehend creation (the logs in the log yard), and violently rearrange it in order to improve upon it and produce usable lumber. The contractor also takes hold of creation (the milled lumber), violently rearranges it and improves upon it by producing a house or other building. I’ve worked in lumber mills and in construction and I can attest to the violent nature of these jobs. They are filled with noise, with rending, dividing and breaking. This isn’t stewardship. It is subjugation and dominion. A steward would never cut down the trees in the first place. His job would be to make sure that nothing happens to the forest. That’s what green organizations are all about. That’s not what Christians are supposed to be about.
Now, this doesn’t mean the Christian world view calls for the exploitation of the natural realm. God certainly did not exploit creation. In His creation week example He always left things better than how he found them. We are to do the same.
Because man is created in the image of God, man – especially the male of the species – has an innate desire to do violence as well. In our sin-tainted world this desire frequently finds its outlet in ungodly behavior. All too often the Church doesn’t offer a solution. Instead the Church wants to make men act like women rather than teach them how to properly imitate God.
Most everything God does has an element of violence and destruction in it. For instance, He redeemed His people through the violence of the cross. In the story of redemption, God’s apprehension of the material of redemption is eternal. Then in the fullness of time He began to do violence to creation through the birth of Jesus Christ. Certainly the process of birth is violence moving toward improvement, but I’m thinking of the violence brought by Jesus to the status quo. The violence continued and culminated in the breaking of Jesus’ body, the spilling of His blood and His burial. Then, the astonishing improvement; God left the world better than He had found it when Jesus rose from the dead and a new age was inaugurated in His life.