4.22.2007

christian environmentalism

If you were surprised by this header, I'd consider it upsetting. But don't be. I'm not alone.

(Watch the surprisingly good documentary "Is God Green?"
Also, take a moment to read a commentary by Greg Koukl.)

That's becoming quite clear of late as we hear increased talk of "global warming" and "climate change," but even more as we see environmental damage affect us personally. All of a sudden, many who have, for whatever reason, been silent in the past are now sitting up and taking notice that something is wrong.

When I was a kid, we heard a lot about acid rain, turning off the water tap and light switch, and always cutting your six pack plastics before throwing them out so ducks wouldn't get stuck in them. But environmentalism was often considered a movement of the fringe–those who were just trying to make life difficult for the rest of us. It became a political struggle, just like everything else, between those battling for the planet and those fighting for industry.

Now I realize, as with anything, some folks take things too far. And, usually, those are the ones who get the media attention. But that's not everyone. There are a lot of people who genuinely care that we are doing serious damage to the only planet we've got (despite the ideals of individuals like Stephen Hawking, who would have us "boldly go" elsewhere). And many of those who care are also followers of Jesus Christ.

In reality, this is only fitting, as our Lord is the One who created it all.

"All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made." -John 1:3

So for the Christian, environmentalism has nothing to do with worshiping the creation, and everything to do with worshiping our Creator by respecting all that He made.

I often ask, what type of future do we expect for the generations who follow us? For those who believe in the sanctity of human life, this should be an especially important question. Is our life of ease more important than clean air and water, safe places to spend time in creation and healthy food? Or do the conveniences of our "now" overshadow any consequence for tomorrow—for everyone including ourselves?

When I think of this, I consider Jesus' answer to the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:35-40:
"Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."

Everything we do that knowingly and willfully harms the environment also disrespects the Creator. (And we can no longer say "we didn't know.") Therefore, for the Christian, caring for the planet should be as much about "loving the Lord our God" as anything else we do.

Everything we do that affects the environment also affects everyone else around us. Therefore, for the Christian, doing our part to care for the planet should be as much about "loving our neighbor" as anything else we do.

Christian, don't get hung up in all the "love your mother" (as in "mother earth") statements. Love your Heavenly Father and your brother and sister in Christ instead.

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