Climate Change and Christian Stewardship.

Our existence on earth is in pearl. We are in a self-imposed predicament because we have not taken care of the third rock from the sun. Last Friday, September 29, was the International Student Strike Against Climate Change. Students from Albuquerque, New Mexico, held a rally in Robinson Park between downtown and Old Town. There were numerous groups represented at the rally, but I didn’t see even one Christian slogan or group. I should have seen a lot of Christian banners.

Climate change will soon get out of hand if we don’t reverse the process immediately. Fossil fuels are blocking the sun, aerosols are depleting the ozone layer, which allows more UV light to reach the surface of the earth, and acids are poisoning our oceans, which kills fish and the coral reefs. The reef off the shore of Miami, Florida is almost gone. Scientists say it would take over 30 million years to rebuild the reef. This compromises the interaction between air, water, land and the cryosphere (ice caps and permafrost). And, pollutants disrupt the balance of incoming solar heat with the radiation of energy back out into space.

Trash, especially plastics, is poisoning fish, animals, and humans. That includes you. Every year more than 38 million tons of plastic are manufactured worldwide. From 1950 to 2018 over 6.3 billion tons of plastics were made. Incinerating plastics to reduce the amount of trash pollutes the air if the smoke for the burning isn’t scrubbed. Air and water, including drinking water, pollution affects the thyroid hormone axis (BTA) which can lead to hypothyroidism and disrupts the normal physiological levels of human sex hormones, which affects women and may reduce healthy sperm counts in men.

Signs from individuals and groups abounded, but not one Christian sign was seen. Photos by author.

Christians are especially accountable for trying to reverse climate change. There is no direct biblical admonition to not pollute the earth, because climate change was not an issue when the Bible was written. Plastics and today’s dangerous chemicals didn’t exist. The only emissions into the atmosphere were fires to warm houses and cooking fires. And since the world’s population was much lower then, those fires didn’t pose a threat. Accordingly, no direct scripture exists that deals with climate change. However, a large body of verses deals with believers being responsible for the environment.

Care must be taken in biblical interpretation when a topic isn’t clearly addressed in the Bible. Circumstantial evidence can be misleading. I once saw a pile of fly bait on the floor under a window, which had about two dozen dead flies on it. A person entering the room would naturally think the bait was doing a great job, but the truth was that someone had been swatting the flies as they buzzed against the window, and they fell onto the bait pile. My dad was coming home one evening when the two little girls who lived in the apartment under us were at the window waiting for their dad. The youngest one said, “Hi daddy!” The older one said, “That’s not your daddy”, to which the younger replied, “He is too a daddy!” The miscommunication was due to a difference in percieved contest between the sisters. Both were right. We need to be sure of the context and circumstances surrounding Bible verses before we make an interpretation.

Enough references to environmental stewardship exist to clearly define Christian responsibility for climate change. God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the known world to them, ” to tend and keep it” (Genesis 2:15-17). That is, to take care of it. But they fouled that up. God gave them only one thing they could not do, which of course they did.

The argument is often made that God controls the environment, which is true as far as it goes. He did create the flood that wiped out almost all life. He created long droughts and famines. But these actions were for specific purposes to further His will on earth. But the inherent implication that we should leave the environment to god is false. He doesn’t control all the climate all the time. He expects Christians to be stewards of the earth as were Adam and Eve. Our expecting God to take care of what we are destroying is to tempt Him, which Christ told us is forbidden. He told Satan that we may not tempt God (Matthew 4:7). Jesus said we are to let His light shine out through us to the world (Matthew 5:13-16). The Great Commission instructs us to go into the world and teach all that Christ has taught us, which includes stewardship.

The Hebrew word for steward is sar, meaning head person. In biblical Greek, the words for steward are eoitropes, meaning manager, and oikonomos, meaning overseer, a manager or superintendent. A steward then is comparable to Abraham’s and Joseph’s stewards (Genesis 15:2; 43:19; 44:1), and Herod’s steward ( Luke 8:3). Ministers are stewards over the church (1 Corinthians 4:1,2). And we are held accountable for our stewardship over God’s gifts to us as well (Luke 12: 35-42; 16:2; Titus 1:7-9). “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God (1 Peter 4:10; emphasis added). Peter was talking about the gifts of the Spirit, but it is clear from both the old and new testaments that we are to be stewards of all God has given us.

The blatant disregard of the gifts God gave us due to commercial and political expediency and personal laziness is hurtful and insulting to Him. We have a spoiled brat mentality, believing that we can do as we please, and Daddy will fix everything for us. God won’t do that, if for no other reason than to teach us responsibility for our actions. And for every action there is a consequence. Jesus told the parable of the virgins who procrastinated and didn’t get oil for their lamps. Then when the bridegroom came before they expected him, they were left behind (Matthew 25:1-13). The parable was given to demonstrate how believers should be ready for Christ’s return at all times. But it also demonstrates how situations can get out of hand quickly if not tended to at the proper time.

The proper time to start caring for our earth’s welfare, and thus our own and our children’s, is long past. And if climate change isn’t reversed, or at least stopped where it is, we will be existing in a garbage heap. God requires us to address the secular government, businesses, and individuals concerning the destruction of our environment. We need to play catch up now, but we as Christians are doing nothing. It’s high time we started. Talk to your pastor and other church members about educating others and starting volunteer cleanup crews. Is the place where you work handling their trash responsibly? If not, talk to them about changing their policy.

Today’s children are becoming alarmed at our lack of responsibility for what will become their environment. They and their children will be living in our trash. God gave us the Garden of Eden and a beautiful world to live in. We are giving our children poisonous junk as an inheritance. If we don’t act today, climate change will soon snowball and gain enough momentum that we won’t be able to stop the destruction. Let’s act today, for our own and even more importantly for our children’s sake.

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