In the Beginning

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Perhaps one of the best known statements in the Torah is the verse “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1.

We may look at this statement as something that is placed at the beginning of the Torah simply because it makes chronological sense to do so. But it also needs to be at the beginning because the basis of our theological beliefs provides the foundation for the morality which shapes our worldview. “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good...” Genesis 1:31 We all need a ( kursai) basic standard by which we define good and bad and the Torah says God is the source of all that is good.

“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ …God saw that the light was good…God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good….The land produced vegetation...And God saw that it was good…And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.’.... And God saw that it was good….So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems…and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good… God made the wild animals according to their kinds…and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:3-25

“…God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’ Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.” Genesis 1:27-31

What God saw as good was an orderly productive universe, good with both the male and female equality representing the image of God and ruling over the rest of the creatures as such. Yet the rule God gave humanity over animals was not to treat the animals harshly. For their own benefit as both man and beast they were to live on plants rather than the death of each other. “The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.” Proverbs 12:10. A selfless world and the prefect order of nature was the good God intended and with that premise we go on to define what is ideal and what is not. Some say you can have morals without believing in God, but what standards are you using to define good without God? If there is no higher power than humanity then the definition of good is bound by the standards of humanity and it will vary from person to person.

Instead of seeing reproduction as good, some believe ending the life of their offspring is good - as long as it is done before birth. Some believe the joint rulership originally established between male and female over creation by God is bad and the custom of honoring men above women and excluding females from positions of leadership in society is good. Some feel that being male or female is not good, and reject their natural physical development. They create their own sexual identity based on society’s image of male or female. Some believe an indifference to the needless death and mistreatment of animals is good. Some feel elevating animal lives above humanity is good. Even if some believe doing things that do not cause pain is good, there may be circumstances in which the most selfless thing to do is not painless for you or those you love (like holding someone you care for accountable for their actions) as God did when humanity sinned(Genesis 3). And the list can go on.

If God isn’t your beginning point for morality you are your own god - as is everyone else and there is no universal standard for morality. You need to have a solid foundation to build your life on. So begin with the Creator.

Picture originally found here

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