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The Creation Mandate

What is it?

The term "Creation Mandate" (or "Cultural Mandate") is used to describe the commands given to Adam and Eve in the garden - and by implication, their offspring. Most of these commands are given in direct statements; though some may be stated indirectly or implied. They can be summarized by the following:

Marriage and Procreation (These could also be described as separate commands.)

These two activities were given as commands to Adam and Eve. They were given as moral obligations - things to be done in obedience to God! Furthermore, God defined the nature of marriage in terms that reflect the "unity-plurality" aspect of what it means to be made "in the image of God" (Genesis 1:26).

Sin has complicated things, but has not negated these commands. The only exception is that celibacy - remaining unmarried and sexually pure - has become a legitimate option.

Because of sin, humans now have inborn inclinations to distort these commands in all sorts of ways. Doing so is sin, not only against other humans, but also against the God who's image we were created to bear.


          This mandate is related to "Love for Neighbor."

          This mandate is related to the Seventh Commandment (sexual purity), and the Fifth Commandment (parental authority); and to some degree, some of the other commandments (including the Tenth Commandment, about desiring something that isn't ours, such as another person's spouse).

One Day in Seven Set Apart as Special

God defined the seventh day as being different from the other six days of the week. Though there is no direct spoken command, the obligation is implied, since God's definition of reality is to influence our definition of reality.

It is our duty to set aside time each week, moving our focus away from the daily activities of life, and toward worship and service to God. We are to rest from our daily activities, and reflect on who we are, who God is, and what that means (including how it applies to the rest of the week).

Note that God defined the seventh day at creation - long before he gave a command to Israel about it. The command to Israel was a specific application of this definition, within the context of a specific covenant (what we today call "the Old Covenant" ). Today, though we live under a new covenant and may apply the principle differently, the intent of the original definition has not changed. (Today, many followers of God set aside the first day of the week, in commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the one who makes all things - even creation - new.)


          This mandate is related to "Love for God."

          This mandate is related to the Fourth Commandment (devoting to God part of our time); and to some degree, the other three commandments that focus on our relationship with God.

Labor (Work)

This is what we are to do the other six days of the week. Even before sin entered the world, work was an obligation. Sin didn't cause work to exist; it just complicated work and created the drudgery often associated with it.

Work, like all aspects of life, is to be done as an expression of obedience to God. This fact is to influence the very manner in which we do our work. We must do it "to the glory of God," the way we are obligated to do all things in life (1 Corinthians 10:31).


          This mandate is related to "Love for Neighbor ."

          This mandate is related to the Eighth Commandment (the need to have a productive life, rather than taking resources away from others, in order to provide for one's self); and to some degree, the all other commandments that focus on our relationship with other people. It is indirectly related to the Fourth Commandment (by showing us what we are to do during the days of the week that are not devoted totally to God).

The Significance of the Creation Mandate

This group of commands - this mandate - was the revelation of God's moral law to Adam and Eve. It has never been canceled. It still applies today. More than that, it is the foundation for all expressions of God's moral law that came later - the Law, the prophets, and the New Testament. Though many of the commands and teachings given at later times are not visibly present in this mandate, they are all a logical extension of it.

Dennis Hinks © 2009