From Kingship to Kinship
Peter Grimwood reflects:-
For Green Christians and, let’s face it, for everyone how we understand our connection to creation and to the creator is the key question. There seem to be three ways of thinking about this which I would summarise as:
kingship, stewardship or kinship.
The idea that humans are Kings ( or Queens) exercising dominion over creation is derived from Genesis 1: 26.
Kingship hear means absolute power to do just as we like. It has led to accusations that this religious view is largely responsible for the ecological crisis. Humans have plundered the earth, destroyed habitats and brought about the extinction of thousands of species. You won’t hear this kingship view expressed from pulpits very often nowadays.
What you are much more likely to hear is the idea that we humans exercise stewardship over creation. Like the idea of kingship this also comes from Genesis and within this view we are invited to see ourselves as God’s gardeners tending His garden of earthly delights. This is more or less the consensus opinion at the moment.
The difficulty with stewardship is that it poses a relationship disconnection between the stewards and the rest of creation. Humans are not Kings or Queens anymore instead they become estate agents and alas experience shows us that estate agents have narrow interests and are often indifferent to the interests of the tenants or even the owner of the property.
A better way of thinking is the idea of kinship. Humans are not in charge of creation they are part of creation themselves. This involves a fraternal vision of creation in which all parts of creation are loved and accepted for what they are. Creation thrives in a condition of mutual relationship and inter-dependence. This approach isn’t really new and is perhaps best expressed in Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Creatures in which the earth is addressed as our sister and the atmosphere as our brother. We live within the world and not above it or against it as others so commonly do.
You might say that this is just plain common sense but good sense isn’t so common nowadays.