As I have watched the debate over the recent climate change conference in Copenhagen, like many Americans I have a gnawing sense that (yet again) we are witnessing the politicization of issues that are of great importance to us as a people. The recent revelation of emails which were stolen from a British database just add more fuel to the fire that is quickly devouring the credibility of scientific claims about climate change. The emails in question (though obtained through nefarious means) expose alleged manipulation of scientific data to make the data support certain political views.
All of the discussion and controversy tends to muddy the waters of reason, as political agendas are thrown by those on all sides of this debate. As an individual, I have to wonder: So is there climate change or not? If so, is all or part of it caused by man? What are the potential consequences for the future? Only God knows the real answer to any of these questions; beware of any who claim to have all the answers. There are just too many “unknowns” here.
Regardless of where one stands on the issues of global warming, climate change or environmental degradation, there is one question that I have not seen explored seriously by the Christian community. That is, what is the role of the Christian here? Through the years, I have noticed that the cause of environmental responsibility has largely been abdicated by the Christian community; in fact, the very term “environmentalist” has been comandeered by the left. Secular groups like Ducks Unlimited have played a major and positive roles in conservation and environmental protection. But for some inexplicable reason, there is a real vacuum of leadership from the Christian community in this area. Why?
Scripture is full of reminders from God reminding man of his role in creation. In Genesis 1:26: Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth and over all the creatures that move along the ground. How about in Ezekiel 34:17-18: As for you, my flock… Is it not enough for you to feed on good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet?
From this scripture and many others, it’s apparent to me that caring for the environment is my responsibility, both as a follower of Christ and as a child of my Creator. I take this seriously; I take part in recycling efforts, and I don’t litter. I feel strongly about things like overfishing and am concerned about the loss of habitat for animals. I think all the time about the impact I am having on the environment around me. Although politically you could call me a conservative, the environment is high on my list of concerns.
So, you may ask, what makes me (as well as like-minded Christians) different from “tree huggers”, those who blow up dams, or those clamoring for draconian “Cap and Trade” legislation? The difference is one of motivation. My care for the environment stems largely from the fact that God told me (as he told all mankind) that the world is my responsibility. It’s not my primary responsibility as a Christian, but it’s among them.
Frankly, I am distressed that we as Christians have not taken the issue of care for the environment as our own. I believe the Christian perspective needs to be prominent in the current debates. There are increasing efforts within the Christian community, and within our own denomination, to embrace environmental stewardship. Regardless of what your personal political beliefs may be, the decisions now being formed and legislation now being crafted will affect all of us.
In practice, I believe that most Christians try to do the right thing, whether it’s “stashing our trash” and not littering our highways, responsible stewardship of land we own, or making a decision that our businesses are going to use less energy. As with most things in life, we can make a big difference by doing a lot of little things right. It’s not only the right thing to do; it’s part of being a Christian.
(c) 2010 by William D. Moak