ToLD: The Theory of Love’s Dominion

In Theology and Political Science, the term Dominion Theory — which seems to cover both Dominion Theology and Dominionism — refer to a cluster of related ideologies that start from the assumption that God has explicitly granted humanity Dominion over nature; and usually some people Dominion over others! Historically, this partly includes popular movements like Manifest Destiny and Zionism, though those have also had a strong secular component.

Today, the term is used largely as pejorative, such as when it is applied to Christian Reconstructionists. However, the underlying concepts bear a strong family resemblance to the kingdom theology underlying Transformationalism, which implies we need a clear differentiator. Thus, I feel it necessary to stake out a concrete alternative to classical Dominion Theory (DT), which I have labeled the “Theory of Love’s Dominion” (ToLD).

The key problem with Dominion Theory, as I see it, is that it implies our Dominion is positional. That is, we are given Dominion because of who we are (our race, culture, or theology) or what we have done. In extreme forms, this implies that we are pretty much free to exercise dominion as we see fit, e.g., use up the earth’s resources, enslave/exterminate people groups that get in our way, or subjugate women.

In contrast, the Theory of Love’s Dominion holds that our exercise of Dominion is fundamentally relational. That is, we only have legitimate Dominion to the extent that we simultaneously:

I. submit to God’s character and purposes
II. seek to love and understand those under our dominion

In other words, our Dominion is based on what we are doing at each and every point in time. For example, the only way I can legitimately exercise Dominion over my wife is not just if I love her more than I love myself (as hard as that is), but if I love her even better than she loves herself — the way God does!

This is a high standard, and some (quite understandably) may consider it too high for any human to reach. However, I believe it is the only kind of Dominion that is truly viable: Dominion sans Love is tyranny, but Love sans Dominion is surrendering to evil.

Moreover, I believe it is possible to love another human being that way — after all, parents do it to their kids all the time. For that matter, doctors, firefighters, and other authority figures (hopefully including a few politicians) exercise precisely that kind of Dominion, when they are operating legitimately — even if they don’t use that term.

The real challenge, as I see it, is that such self-giving Dominion is impossible to sustain unless we who lead are enjoying that same Dominion ourselves. It is like a Fountain, where each tier empties itself to fill the one beneath; if the flow ever stops at any one point, the whole system becomes stagnant. It is like how the love of a Husband frees a Mother to indulge yet nurture her Child — without becoming addicted to the role!

Like many of my theories, this seems at once blindingly obvious and impossibly controversial. Fortunately, this theory (like Love itself) is self-justifying. If I actually succeed in loving people this well, then the theory predicts they will naturally trust me, and voluntarily submit to my Loving Dominion. Which — if I am similarly submitted to God, which is the only way I could pull this off — would empower them to similarly take Loving Dominion, leading to an ever-expanding circle of Love.

Wish me luck.