STUDY FIFTEEN: CHRISTIANS AND THE ENVIRONMENT

© Rosemary Bardsley 2006, 2016

Because environmental issues are important in our contemporary society Christians should have an ethical response ready for those who question them in this area. The world is after all God’s creation, and we are God’s people. How we treat the world God made is a moral/ethical issue, in fact our treatment of our environment was the content of one of God’s original commands.

What are the implications of these scriptures for a Christian understanding of the environment and our relationship to it? As you consider these scriptures include consideration of the impact of human sin on the environment both as an automatic cause/effect consequence and in terms of God’s judgment.
Psalm 24:1
Colossians 1:16-17

 

 

Genesis 1:26,28

 


Genesis 1:29-30

 


Genesis 3:17b-18
Genesis 4:12a
Genesis 6:13,17
Genesis 7:11,12,17-24
Genesis 9:1-3
Romans 8:18-22

 

 

 

Genesis 8:22; 9:8-17

 


Leviticus 25:1-5
Leviticus 25:11-12

 


Deuteronomy 28:15-19
Psalm 107:33,34
Jeremiah 4:25-28
Jeremiah 12:4
Ezekiel 33:29
Joel 3:19
Micah 7:13

 

 


Matthew 5:45b
Matthew 6:25-34

 

From the above we can identify a number of principles:

[1] The earth exists because of Christ and for Christ. He both created it and sustains it.

[2] Man has the God-ordained responsibility of ruling over the earth and keeping it in check. Both animal and vegetable life are under man’s authority and are man’s responsibility. At this time both man and beast were vegetarian.

[3] The entrance of human sin brought a change in nature. Whereas before everything was very good, it is now corrupt. Death, decay and suffering has become part of the ‘natural’ world.

[4] At the time of the flood [God’s judgment on human sin] massive climatic and geological changes took place that continue to impact the earth. At this time also, man was given permission to eat meat.
In this earth under the judgment of God ‘utopia’ is impossible. It is not possible to return to the pre-flood and pre-sin conditions.

[5] When sin pervades a nation the physical environment suffers. This is for two reasons: firstly as a cause/effect consequence of human greed and mismanagement, and secondly as a direct expression of God’s judgment on human wickedness.

[6] Even in our imperfect environment God can be trusted to supply our needs.

From these principles we can identify important facts:

[1] The earth [our environment] is the Lord’s.
[2] Man has a God-given responsibility towards his environment.
[3] Man’s sin impacts his environment.
[4] Trust in God is an over-arching principle.


On the basis of the biblical facts above identify your ethical choices in each the following environmental issues. Should you, as a Christian, adopt the following measures, or should you not? Give biblical reasons for your choice about each.

Issues of ensuring resources sufficient to feed the world
Practise population control measures, for example, zero population growth by limiting children to 1 or 2 per couple.

 


Encourage and support internal government policies which support agricultural and pastoral industries and maximize food production.

 

Encourage and support government policies and humanitarian aid organizations that assist developing countries to produce more food.

 

Eat healthy food and food that has maximum yield per hectare

 


Practice water conservation

 


Practice good stewardship of God-given resources

 


Issues relating to environmental pollution and depletion of ozone layer
Practise environmentally friendly waste management [e.g. recycling, composting]

 

Minimize personal use of chemical pollutants


Minimize use of ozone-depleting products

 

Where practical walk or cycle or use public transport instead of driving solo

 

Avoid purchasing products that generate pollutants either in use or in manufacture

 

Avoid polluting waterways


Where possible buy products that are bio-degradable and that have bio-degradable or recyclable packaging.

 

Issues concerning preservation of the land, flora and fauna, and natural eco systems
Support government policies that conserve natural ecology.

 

Make personal choices that help preservation of nature and natural systems.

 

Get personally involved in conservation projects. For example, re-vegetation.

 

Avoid activities that will destroy wildlife and natural habitats.

 

Agitate for animal rights, even if it means human beings will suffer either physical harm or financial loss.

 

Keep quiet when minority groups push governments to environmental decisions that reduce human well-being.

 


Issues relating to energy conservation
Where possible use non-consumable energy sources [e.g. solar power, wind power, muscle power]


Where possible purchase energy efficient vehicles, appliances, etc


Practice energy conservation by careful use of electricity, and where possible walking or cycling instead of driving.