Christianity and the Environment Part II: Beyond Recycling and Conservation

Originally posted on Sustainablog on July 23, 2009. Don’t miss the recent, in depth discussion of the importance of Environmentalism in Pope Benedict’s 2010 World Day of Peace and New Year’s message to the world as well.

In a previous post, I discussed the clear relationship between Christianity and the environment that is expressed throughout the Bible. Here are some more thoughts, including slightly more controversial ones.

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Environmental stewardship and care for all the creatures of the Earth is especially mandated throughout Genesis. This portion of the Bible seems to express that God wants all creatures to increase in number, not decrease and go extinct. This strongly commands that we should protect endangered species and ensure the survival of all creatures.

“Genesis 1:22. God blessed [the birds and sea animals], and said, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number.’”

“Genesis 6:19-21. God said, ‘You are to bring into the ark two of every kind of living creature, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and them.’ Noah did everything just as God commanded him.”

“Genesis 9:8-9. Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: ‘I now establish my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you – the birds, the livestock, and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you – every living Creature on the earth.’”

“Genesis 9:12-13. And God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.’”

In the above quotes, God makes a covenant not only with man, but with every living creature. These quotes clearly state that man should take care of the world and the creatures of the world, every one of them. It may even be read that we are not to kill or eat animals. As is written in Genesis 1:29: “And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.’” He does not state here, I give you animals to eat. He states here, I gives you plants and seeds to eat. Elsewhere in the Bible, a well-known commandment is: “Thou shalt not kill.” Some translations read “Thou shalt not murder,” but others simply read “Thou shalt not kill.” This line could very likely mean that not only should we not kill people, we also should not kill animals. This is a highly debatable point, of course, but it is a possibility in line with the statement in Genesis 1:29 and with the general teachings of love and care for nature and for all the creatures of the world. This would, of course, be a tremendous benefit to the environment (if people were vegetarians), as it has now been identified that animal production for food is possibly the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions in the world.

Throughout the Bible, there seems to be clear encouragement and demand that we humans care for the environment and preserve it. Thus, it seems that Christianity should be an environmentally oriented religion and a great champion of environmental stewardship.

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Related Post: Christianity and the Environment

image credit: Tambako the Jaguar via flickr under a Creative Commons license


~ by Zachary Shahan on December 30, 2009.

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