philosophy

Climate Change and The Christian Life

Climate change is all the rage now days with political reforms popping up on both a national and global scale alike. With all the rage, though, what does this all mean, especially for the Christian community? There are so many people that have the mindset to work until you die and “if you’re not growing, you’re dying.” These types of people are mostly found within the industrial industry, although you do find them in other places, the vast majority tend to reside within some aspect of industrialization. Although industrialization has done much good for society since the industrial revolution, it has brought with it repercussions that weren’t quite for seen at its initial beginning.

Since 1950 we have seen a dramatic spike in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere that have never before been witnessed in the past million years. This spike is something to be concerned with as it elevates global temperatures that melt glaciers causing sea levels to rise which lead to globalized flooding in lower lying areas. Not only do temperatures rise, but weather becomes more erratic (like they could predict it much before, now we’re really in trouble) and extreme, sea temperatures rise which kill off more essential marine life, air quality is lowered and toxic which increases the likely hood of contracting diseases including cancer leading to more premature deaths and much more.

Pin pointing on the air quality for a brief moment, all around the world we see that cities and surrounding towns are having more frequent air quality alerts that increase the likely hood of more diseases and cancers. Where I currently live is an hour away from the nearest city, and yet we still have air quality quite often. Not only does the air quality affect human lives, but imagine what it is doing to our local ecosystems.

The solutions need adequate time to formulate, but I do believe that their are ways in which we can cut back on pollution over time in a manner that doesn’t cost the economy at the end, we just need to formulate them. The radical left has proposed their solution, but at the end of the day it is unsustainable economically. I will propose one quick example of sustainable change that could benefit the environment as well as the economy before moving into the theological understanding of humankind’s responsibility of taking care of earth properly.

Extractions of trees to produce paper products and the like should be done away with and replaced with hemp. Hemp takes 20 weeks to grow while trees take up to 20 years or more. Hemp creates 10 tons of paper per acre while trees only produce 2.5 tons. Hemp paper can be recycled up to 10 times while paper from trees only 3 times. Hemp breathes 4 times more carbon dioxide which would help decrease the higher Co2 levels in the atmosphere overtime. Utilizing hemp would end up saving the world around 4 billion trees per year. Now, let’s move into the theological understanding of humankind’s responsibility with earth.

“Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'”

Genesis 1:28 nkjv

This verse is most often used by extreme conservative Christians as to mean that we can do whatever we want to the earth as we are called to “subdue” and “have dominion” over creation. But as we delve into the meaning of these words as well as other correlating verses, we will come to shed light on the issue and better understand where we stand on this issue. The word subdue in Hebrew is kabash, which means to bring into subjection, to subdue or to make subservient. At first glance, it makes sense to assume that we are to conquer and use up all of earth’s resources, but when you stop and think what it means to rule over something or someone, it begins to mean something different.

Looking at the word of dominion in Hebrew is radah and means to rule, to reign, have dominion. Anytime someone is called to rule over something, whether it be a position at a job, political position, and so on, they are then endowed with responsibility. When looking at the kings of the Old Testament, one can assume that when kings were obedient to God and treated their citizens well and ruled over the kingdom responsibly and properly, only then did the king and kingdom prosper. But, as soon as a king was evil and mistreated his citizens and didn’t rule responsibly, then did we see the repercussion come upon the king and the kingdom. We are called to rule which requires responsibility on our part to utilize the resources of the earth properly and not to bring it to utter ruin.

“A righteous man regards the life of his animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”

Proverbs 12:10 nkjv

We should seek to rule the earth in righteousness rather than seeking to do those things that are expedient for gain that will ultimately affect generations to come. Referring to the statement at top where I speak of you’re either growing or dying is a wrong philosophy to live by as it promotes the necessity to constantly worry and establishes the idea that maintenance is wrong. This philosophy has gotten us to where we are now, and that is in big trouble. We must grow, of course, but we also must be able to maintain in due process. If you are constantly growing and never maintaining the surrounding essentials, it will eventually catch up with you as it already has.

“And God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth.'”

Genesis 6:13 nkjv

I find the above verse very fascinating as, just like in the days of Noah, we find ourselves right back in this particular scenario. We have resorted to living lives of expedience to gain money instead of living according to the will of God and taking responsibility and taking care of the earth He has blessed us with. The more we keep “growing” the more we will find ourselves sinking into the pit of climate disaster. If we are to live out a Christian life, we must then take time to reflect on our lives as individuals and see what we are doing to take care of our earth properly. If we are too busy to do such a reflection, then we may be growing monetarily, but spiritually we are regressing.

One of the ways in which we can see more clearly is by avoiding extremes, whether it be on the left or the right. The mentality of growing or dying is predicated upon a radical view, such as is the view that we should all become hippies and do nothing. Jesus was our perfect example and as we can see within the text of the New Testament, He was constantly battling radicals on both sides. Balance is key and the only radical point of reference should be Christ Himself.

“Do not turn to the right or the left; remove your foot from evil.”

Proverbs 4:27 nkjv

Each and everyone of us should be asking ourselves the question, “What can I do personally to better take care of the earth and to provide a better future for the generations to come?” Reform doesn’t just come through political measures, but through individual initiation. The same can be said in a spiritual aspect as the grow and maturation of individuals doesn’t come from the church, although it can help from time to time, but rather it comes from an individuals relationship with God and their willingness to learn and embark on a course of change. God has blessed us with this earth and has called us to rule over it which entails responsibility, so let’s move forward and do what we can as individuals as well as the body of Christ and make a difference in our communities and throughout the world itself.

-Michael Thacker

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