Because I am a “conserve-ative,” it is only logical for me to want to conserve God’s creation. Even though Jesus never spoke one word about conserving the environment, I firmly believe it is an insult to the Creator to trash the Creator’s masterpiece. From the rain forests of Oregon to the spring-fed streams of the Missouri Ozarks to the prairie grass of Iowa, I see God’s reflection everywhere in the beauty of creation, and I want to keep it that way.
God has charged us to manage the earth faithfully. The term “subdue” (kabaš) in Genesis 1:28 is used a total of 15 times in the Old Testament; its basic meaning is to bring hostile forces under control. The term “have dominion” (radah) is used a total of 22 times in the Old Testament; its basic meaning is to manage with authority, like Solomon ruling his empire (1 Kings 5:4).
These two verbs in the creation mandate teach that we are not to let nature tyrannize us, but that we must exercise faithful management thereof for the good of humankind. Extreme environmentalism would dictate that we let famine victims starve for the good of the earth. We are not given license to squash whatever threatens the comfort or convenience of our lifestyle, but the Torah teaches that we must subdue threats to human life, because we care for those who are made in God’s image.
I want to live my life in a way that does as little damage to this planet as possible. Our family recycles diligently. We drive two Prizms that get 35-43 mpg on the highway. Our gas/electric bill varies from $65 to $160 a month. We have a microscopic carbon footprint compared to Al Gore. (At least President Carter led by example by reducing his carbon footprint. Even the current British PM flew commercial across the Atlantic.)
But the only reason I conserve is because I believe God has put only so much coal and oil in the ground, which we have no right or excuse to waste. I refuse to buy into the global warming theory, whose credibility has been severely damaged by the East Anglia e-mails that revealed shameless cooking of the data. The earth may or may not be getting warmer, and we may or may not be contributing much to it. But even if it were all true, who is to say that our present sea level is God-ordained? Why not go back to its original level – whatever that was?
One problem with much of the environmental movement is that it depends on blind faith in a “science” that is a moving target and is therefore quickly outdated. “Science” is treated as God’s word until proven otherwise, and all contrary evidence is twisted and tortured to make the evidence fit the scientist’s political preconceptions. But if today’s “science” can be so rapidly debunked by tomorrow’s science, how can we base divine imperatives on it?
Sadly, today’s environmental extremism is bringing out the worst traits that it condemns in others. It uses apocalyptic scare tactics that would make any Bible prophecy fanatic blush. People who would never invade bedrooms to dictate anyone’s moral behavior, want to impose environmental Shariah on us. They force us to buy CFL light bulbs with mercury in them to “save the earth,” thus tripling the toxic waste in our trashcans. (Go figure!) They ban American oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, but they don’t care if Cuba, Mexico, Brazil, or China drills there.
Seriously, if we really want to save the planet, we should ban lawn mowing and drive-throughs, both of which waste huge amounts of fuel. (I don’t do drive-throughs, and would be glad to replace lawns with prairie grass or ivy.)
Our desire to faithfully care for God’s masterpiece gains credibility when we avoid tying it to questionable claims of a science that may soon prove itself wrong, and when we avoid preaching, or imposing on others, what we do not practice.
TOM HOBSON of Belleville, Ill., a PC(USA) pastor for 27 years, has degrees from Gordon-Conwell (M.Div.) and Concordia (Ph.D.), and is currently seeking a call.