Christians are often perceived as people who don’t care about the environment. Sometimes this is true. Some Christians have a vague, nagging feeling that they should care, but they don’t exactly know why. They definitely don’t want to align themselves with New Age philosophies which seem to drive the environmental movement, but they think that the Bible is silent on environmental issues.
In this post, I’ll cover half of this topic- problems with what Christians believe. This is much too long of a topic for one blog post. Consider this a teaser of articles to come.
1. Christians may assume that there is no way to care about the environment without accepting a pantheistic world view. Most of the basis of secular environmental philosophy is that all life has equal value. Since Christians reject this idea, we assume that we can’t be environmentalists, because of this fundamental difference in philosophy. The simple, and fundamental, answer to this dilemma is that there is a Scriptural reason to care about the environment. In Genesis 1:28 and 2:15, before sin entered the world, humans were commanded by God to rule and care for the earth.
2. Christians may reject the entire environmental movement on the basis of misplaced priorities. I partially addressed this question in “Who Are We?” The basis of this argument is succinctly summed up in the bumper sticker, “Forget the Whales, Save the Babies.” Of course, if we are faced with a clear-cut, immediate choice of saving a baby or a whale, but only one, people would choose, almost universally, to save the baby. But the problem with this argument is that life choices are seldom all or nothing. We all take on causes that aren’t critical choices. No one can live at the critical-choice emotional level all the time. We watch the kids’ soccer games. We support the Scouts. We enjoy our favorite music. Similarly, we don’t have to disregard all efforts to correct environmental problems just because it’s not the highest priority.
3. Christians may mistakenly believe that since all creation, other than human beings, does not have spirit that it also does not have value. They conclude that the environment is not important as regards our actions and our Christian life. This is a variation on the theme that the only valid professions are preachers and missionaries (and presumably their support staff). The church has grown fairly well beyond that theme as regards careers, but many people still apply the same logic to other aspects of their lives. The answer is the same as in point 1. We are charged in Scripture with being stewards of the earth, and it’s always a good idea to do things that we have been told to do.
4. Some Christians believe that it is our God-given directive to dominate and subdue the earth. They believe that plants, animals, and minerals are simply resources to be used in any way we want for our own benefit. A careful study of the Bible reveals this view to be just plain wrong. The short answer is that Christians are never allowed to mistreat anything or anyone just for personal gain. The long answer is the sum total of all that I hope to share over the life of this blog.
5. Some Christians dismiss caring for the earth because we are citizens of heaven, and should therefore have no concerns with the earth. They add that we’ll be leaving the planet soon! These same people usually realize how silly cults appear when they renounce all earthly responsibilities and go to some mountaintop to await the coming of Christ. But they don’t recognize that their attitude toward environmentalism is the same sort of thinking.
The other half of this topic- problems with what secular environmentalist believe, will be the subject of the next Eco Day post.
All of these misconceptions are leading to an eventual point- why it is that Christians should care about the environment, beyond those initial commands in Genesis. Stay tuned.