Specific Actions for Christians in Environmental Preservation
Christians should adopt responsible and conservative approaches towards the environment. In the context of Christianity, one of the role of human beings as inhabitants of the earth is to be responsible over all creation and take care of it in accountable ways. Responsibility in this case involves use of the environment’s resources in ways that display sensitivity towards their value for social welfare and economic growth in the long-term. Christians’ use of resources should feature considerations for future generations, such that core capacities of the resources to regenerate and maintain their value and utility for the benefit of upcoming generations remain intact and effective (Bergstrom, 2014). This requirement implies the obligation for Christians to utilize resources sparingly to ensure that their sustainability is not under threat.
In this context, specific actions for Christians to preserve the environment involve the avoidance of greed and indulgence in utilization of environmental resources, commitment and active roles in ensuring their health, dedication towards protecting them, and sacrifices at the personal level to ensure protection, sustenance, and enhancement of the resources. Volunteer work, activism, and advocacy should be essential elements in the activities and responsibilities of Christians in environmental preservation, which is a Christian duty towards the environment (“Christians and the Environment”, n.d.). Reduction of wastage, conservation of energy, and general respect for the environment and its health represent other vital ways in which Christians could fulfill their stewardship responsibility towards the environment, as their religion requires.
Genesis 2: 15 records that God placed man in the Garden of Eden, with instructions to work on and take care of it. In essence, God’s instructions to human beings about taking care of creation involved the requirement of stewardship in their relationship with the environment (BBC Article, 2014). DeWitt & Nash (2009) argue that service and preservation of creation, rather than oppressive domination, constitute the fundamental idea of the economy according to God, as the Bible records (DeWitt & Nash, 2009). Considering the fact that God created all things, God’s placement of man on earth and demand for his rule over creation implied the role of stewardship, with God commissioning human beings to control creation in ways that sustain, protect, and enhance His work. Human beings’ roles in the relationship with the environment involve the requirement to enhance, rather than destruct, God’s work, in this way ensuring that all creation fulfills the purpose that God intended. Psalm 24: 1 (NIV) records that the earth remains God’s property, rather than man’s possession, implying that the role of man on earth is to take care of God’s property. The stewardship role of human beings towards creation means that they should control and manage the environment and its resources with the objective of enriching God’s glory, rather than for their own benefits.
The foundation of Christian beliefs and doctrines is the text in the Bible, which the religion’s believers hold as words and philosophies that God has authorized. The leading chapter of the Bible, Genesis, outlines the process of creation and God’s intended responsibilities and mandates for creation. God, as the creator of all things, including environmental resources and human beings, is the Supreme Being whom Christians worship in their lives and actions on earth. Christians and their actions and lives are accountable towards God, as their creator (Bergstrom, 2014).
Justification for Warrant
Caring for God’s creation constitutes an essential role in the service of Christians to God and His Kingdom. As God’s creation that He put in charge of the rest of creation, human beings have an integral role in God’s Kingdom as servant leaders (“Christians and the Environment”, n.d.). Human beings are the most intelligent species among God’s creation, and God chose them as His partners on earth to protect His creation and ensure its value and supportive capacity for successive generations (BBC Article, 2014). Christians’ worship of God, as the maker of all, is more complete and effective when they take care of the environment and participate actively in the work of sustaining and restoring its resources, especially because creation reflects the glory of God.
As caretakers of the environment, human beings are to apply good stewardship practices. In this context, “stewardship”, as it applies in Biblical contexts, implies servant-management and taking care of property that belongs to another person. It implies the application of wisdom, faithfulness, responsibility, problem-solving competences, and self-control, while avoiding wastage, abuse, and over-indulgence in use of the resources and other relationships with them (Bergstrom, 2014).
Description and Rebuttal of Counter-examples
Opponents of the responsibility of Christians and human beings to take care of the environment as stewards and through volunteer work, activism, and advocacy to ensure their protection, sustenance, and enhancement may argue that human beings are more important than the rest of creation. Such an argument may cite the fact that God created human beings as the most intelligent among all the created species and placed them in control of the earth. As Genesis 1: 28 records, God instructed human beings to grow in number, control (subdue) the earth, and administer over creation. The opponents would argue that human beings ought to focus on the use of resources to fulfill their needs, rather than on addressing the issues of environmental preservation. Nevertheless, this argument is unsound because God also charged human beings with the responsibility of taking care of the environment as He placed them in control of earth, as Genesis 2: 15 records. In arguing that human beings should focus only on utilizing environmental resources in the fulfillment of their needs, these opponents also ignore the fact that lack of care for the environment precipitates environmental problems that affect adversely the wellbeing of human communities (“Christians and the Environment”, n.d.). Problems such as climate change and its features, including global warming, rises in sea levels, disappearance of species through extinction and endangerment because of human beings’ exploitation, and spreading desertification relate strongly with human beings’ indiscriminate and careless exploitation of environmental resources (BBC Article, 2014).
This means that care for the environment is a responsibility for human beings to ensure their own survival and promote the welfare of their own communities. Human beings also have responsibilities to ensure the sustenance of environmental resources’ capacity to support forthcoming generations. Upcoming generations of human beings shall require quality, abundant, and productive environmental resources to fulfill their needs and promote their wellbeing. This means that the current generation has to utilize environmental resources in ways that ensure protection of their effective capacities to regenerate and remain valuable (Mensah & Castro, 2004). Without focus on taking care of the environment, humans imperil the wellbeing and existence of their own communities and future generations.
Another argument by critics would be that protection of the environment represents an insignificant role for Christians in comparison to the responsibility of sharing and spreading the gospel. This argument would involve reference to Christians being primarily the ambassadors of religious message, with the implication that environmental issues and decisions on the utilization of environmental resources should be the responsibility of governments and the political sphere of communities’’ lives (“Christians and the Environment”, n.d.). Nevertheless, this message is unsound because God’s concerns for the wellbeing of human beings have no limitation to the sphere of spirituality, instead extending to all areas of life, including physical and socioeconomic wellbeing. God’s plan and system of administration for the world, which DeWitt & Nash (2009) term “God’s economy”, provide the context and framework within which the plans and economy of human beings work (DeWitt & Nash, 2009). While Christians should not neglect the responsibility of spreading the gospel among different communities, they should also not neglect the obligation of taking care of the environment. God instructed man to take care of the environment, and man’s obedience to this instruction represents a vital component in Christian service to God, especially within the roles of human beings as servant-leaders on earth (“Christians and the Environment”, n.d.).
There is no limit to the claim that Christians have a responsibility to protect the environment by taking active roles in the society as stewards, through volunteer work, activism, and advocacy to ensure protection, sustenance, and enhancement of environmental resources. Nevertheless, Christian values demand the application of non-violent but firm means in these responsibilities. Christians’ responsibilities to protect the environment have a foundation on their stewardship role as God’s partners in control of creation on earth (BBC Article, 2014).
BBC 2014. Christianity: Beliefs about Care of the Planet. BBC Religion Article. Retrieved from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/rs/environment/chstewardshiprev1.shtml
Bergstrom, J. (2014, November 14). What the Bible says about the Environment. Apologetics Resource Center. Retrieved from: https://arcapologetics.org/culture/subdue-earth-bible-says-environment/
Christians and the Environment (n.d.). Geneva College Webpage. Retrieved from: http://www.geneva.edu/community/environmental-stewardship/why_care
DeWitt, C., & Nash, R. (2009). Christians and the Environment: how should Christians think about the Environment? Christian Research Institute. Retrieved from: http://www.equip.org/article/christians-and-the-environment-how-should-christians-think-about-the-environment/
Mensah, A., & Castro, L. (2004). Sustainable Resource Use and Sustainable Development: a Contradiction? ZEF Center for Development Research Article. Retrieved from: http://www.zef.de/fileadmin/downloads/forum/docprog/Termpapers/2004_3b_Mensah_Castro.pdf