Moral Monday is a weekly blog by Josh Bryant on ethical issues facing Christians and churches.
by Josh Bryant
I'm not interested in debating global warming. I'm don't really want to talk about climate change. These issues have been so highly politicized that it is really pretty difficult to determine what the truth is. Both sides of the debate accuse the other of lying for votes. There is a lot we could talk about ethically as a result, but we'll save that for another day.
God doesn't lie. There is much in God's Word that speaks directly to this issue. First, we know God has commanded us to subdue the earth and rule over it (Gen. 1:28). This commandment was given before sin entered the world, so even in that state of perfection the earth needed to be ruled and God appointed us for that job. When sin entered the world it just made the job more difficult.
And He said to Adam, "Because you listened to your wife's voice and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'Do not eat from it': the ground is cursed because of you. You will eat from it by means of painful labor all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow until you return to the ground, since you wre taken from it. For you are dust, and you will return to dust.
As a result of sin, the ground - the earth itself - was cursed. There will be harmful things for us in this world because of sin - earthquake, hurricane, tornado, tsunami, disease, illness, drought, flood, famine, cow farts, global warming, climate change, and death. We must work hard and painfully in life because of Adam's disobedience (and our subsequent disobedience). Sin did not nullify God's command; this cursed world is what we must subdue and rule.
How do we do that? Are we to rule over the world in such a manner that it is more harmful for us than God intended it to be? Or are we to improve upon it and make it better? I think the latter is true. God told Adam - humanity's representative at that time - that we would eat the plants of the field. We would take what was wild and grow crops. Adam's son Abel was such a farmer. This was an improvement for humanity.
We must also remember to whom this world belongs.
The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the LORD: for He laid its foundation on the seas and established it on the rivers.
Since this world belongs to God, we should do what we can to be good stewards of it. We are only His managers; He is the owner. One day, God made flesh - Jesus - will return. What will He return to? A world that His stewards have trashed or one that we have responsibly subdued and exercised dominion over for our good?
The trajectory of humanity in eschatological (the study of end times) is an improvement.
Then the One seated on the throne said, "Look! I am making everything new." He also said, "Write, because these words are faithful and true." And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End."
God is the beginning and the end; He is making everything as it was. This is what we call the restoration. One day everything will be made back as it was before sin; it will be made perfect. With that as our goal, we should also look to provide a little slice of it on earth in the here and now. Should we utilize earth's resources to help make life more comfortable and convenient? Absolutely. Should we do so haphazardly or recklessly? I don't think so. It is a good thing to reduce our dependency on material things that will only fill our landfills. It is a good thing to reuse what resources we can, and to manufacture things such that they can be reused. God is a compassionate God. It is good for us to keep our air breathable and not pollute it with things that cause COPD, asthma, and like ailments. It is good for us to keep our water drinkable to prevent cholera and other water borne illnesses. It is ok to try and reduce your carbon footprint and waste.
God gave us the earth to subdue and manage. We should long and strive for what He intended for us - an Eden. We should take care of the planet. That doesn't mean we should stop mining minerals and fossil fuels or growing genetically modified plants for food. It means we should do so responsibly.
I follow Christ. I have a beautiful wife Megan and three wonderful children, Harrisen, Rebekah, and Carter. I am a candidate for a Ph.D. in ethics from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, have an M.Div. from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and a JD from the University of Arkansas, am licensed to practice law in several state and federal courts, and live in Rogers, Arkansas. I write a blog and produce a podcast. And I do it all that others may know Christ.