Today is Earth Day.
I know conservative people tend to roll their eyes at there even BEING an Earth Day, but I think this needs to stop.
And I think conservation and recycling and reduction of consumption need to stop being such taboo topics in the church.
Things are changing for the better (yay!), and more Christians are open to caring about the earth, but we’ve still got a long way to go.
Here are a few reasons Christians give for not being eco-friendly and why I think they don’t hold water.
Tree-Huggers are crazy
Ok, there definitely are some people in the eco-friendly movement who are a little out there.
And I’m surely not going to defend people who basically think we’d all be doing the earth a favor if we died and left the planet to the animals and plants.
But why throw the baby out with the bathwater? There are some nutso people in Christendom too, but that doesn’t mean we should give Christianity up.
Global Warming is a Myth
Regardless of what you think about climate change, the truth is that we live on a planet with limited resources and limited space.
And because of that, we can’t reasonably expect to consume resources at our current unprecedented rate and still leave a decent planet for future generations.
So forget about global warming for a second, and just consider where all of our trash is going to go. When we throw things away, they don’t vanish, and eventually, it does seem we will run out of room to store our discarded stuff.
That should be enough motivation for us even without climate change.
God made the earth for us to use.
I do believe God made the earth and its resources for people.
(This is why I don’t think it’s morally necessary to be a vegetarian. Responsible, kind use of animals is not reprehensible in my book.)
But a planet decimated by wasteful living and irresponsible behavior is NOT good for people. Using the planet is one thing, and abusing it is another.
All that said, here are few positive reason I think we Christians should care about the earth and should reduce our resource consumption.
We should take care of the gift of creation.
If we believe that God ultimately owns everything, then we should behave as stewards of what we’ve been given. Good stewards take care of what they’re responsible for.
We should care about people.
If we care about people, we should care about things like polluted water and polluted air.
Also, the sort of consumption we tend to have in first-world countries is pretty selfish. We hog a lot of the world’s resources, and often, we expect people in third-world countries to suffer to provide us with the things we want.
Care about people by caring about the earth.
We should care about future generations.
The planet isn’t currently overrun by trash. The air is still quite clean in a lot of places. There’s still a lot of healthy vegetation, and unspoiled nature.
But in the grand scheme of things, we haven’t been living such consumerist lives for all that long, and just because we’re sort of ok now doesn’t mean things will still be all right for our great grandchildren.
We wouldn’t think of purposely hurting our descendants, but when we fail to take care of the earth we’ll hand down to them, we’re inadvertently hurting them.
Please know that I’m not saying it’s a sin to buy anything in plastic, or that you should rend your garments because you don’t/can’t compost. You could drive yourself nuts trying to live a perfectly eco-friendly life.
What I AM saying is that we should care.
And that we should try (many small changes make a big difference.)
And that in our churches and communities, we should foster a culture that cares about the earth.
Let’s love people by loving the earth we’ve been given.
P.S. Based on the discussion in the comments, I wrote a post with a few clarifications. You can find that right here.