When Humans Forget Their Role: Dominion Over Animals

Naruto, who appears to be a confident artist with capabilities in photography that can capture the attention of the world around. This week, Naruto was on the receiving end of a settlement that entitles him to 25% of the profits of his photos. Although Naruto has no need for the money; instead his needs had already been taken care of by the natural processes that had been put in place by God since creation, so it probably doesn’t matter that he won’t ever see that 25% anyway. So why is it noteworthy that Naruto receives only 25% of the profits from his photos? Because he is a monkey.
Naruto was launched to international fame when David Slater put his camera down and the monkey grabbed it and started snapping photos. The result was a new form of selfie that created enjoyment for many around the world. When Slater sought to publish the photos and receive due compensation, PETA intervened with a team of lawyers to say that the monkey was entitled to the artistic rights associated with the photos. This week, that lawsuit was settled out of court with Naruto being entitled to 25% of the profits, which will be administered by PETA and directed towards groups who work towards the protection of monkeys like Naruto in Indonesia.
For some, the outcome represents a major victory and step forward in progress. For others, it is a step towards the absurd and laughable. Regardless of the response one has, the very fact that this became an issue and one that was undertaken by lawyers and the court system points to a denial of the Bible within our society.
From the outset of creation, the Lord set forth a purpose for man that is very clear. We see this first expressed in the creation of man in Genesis 1:26 when it is noted, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.’” Just two verses later the Lord pronounces blessing saying, “God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it.’” Humans then have both dominion over the earth and its resources (including animals) and are called to subdue it. The idea is that humans rule over God’s creation and are to bring it under control. However, in the progression of mindset, these concepts are repeatedly being denied and the story of Naruto exemplifies that. We have forgotten God’s commands in Genesis 1:26-28 and what they mean.
First off it’s important to see what such words don’t mean. The Lord’s call to dominion does not mean to sanctify. Somehow we have taken animals and elevated them to a higher status than man through promotion and propaganda. In fact, we could almost say that PETA’s use of Naruto as a piece of propaganda to further their own cause borders on the very abuse they are supposedly trying to combat. Animals are now in the position of being worshiped more than their creator is worshiped . . . although few would ever use such words. However, considering the actions and expense that many will endure for the sake of defending and pampering animals, domesticated, wild, or otherwise indicate not just worship, but that too many animals have become a form of religion for many.
Instead, the idea of having dominion is found in God’s blessing to subdue. The responsibility of dominion comes with the notion that we are to bring the earth and its resources (including animals) under control. This includes both the preservation and production. Certainly, as stewards we must be cautious to preserve the resources that God has given by not abusing them and yet, they are to be harnessed for their production that they can provide.

It’s fascinating to see that the denial of God’s truth extends far beyond what we realize. As society continues to deny roles of people, that even extends to our role over the land in which God has given. The consequence of this is far more serious than we may consider at firsthand. Such a denial denies everything instituted by God in Genesis chapter one, leading to a denial not just in creation, but in God’s plan, God’s word, and God’s authority. We live in a world in which our role to subdue the earth and its creatures have been transformed so that the earth and its creatures now have dominion over humans. It is indicative of the serious condition that our society finds itself in with its separation from God.

Photo courtesy of user Dominion Valley Pony Club and Flickr.