Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Christianity and Enviromentalism

Who ever said that environmentalism and Christianity can’t go together harmoniously?

In my efforts to simplify my life, appreciate what I already have, and be resourceful with a little as a way to give thanks to God for the “enough” of His provision for me, I’ve suddenly found myself caring WAY more about the environment, renewable energy, and sustainability. I didn’t see that coming, but it makes so much sense. When I am consciously seeking to be resourceful and not waste what I have, I both become more thankful in general, and more desirous that the system in which I live uses the same restraint.

The earth God gave us is such a marvelously self-sustained system, created specifically to support human life, and we are becoming completely disconnected from it.

In the beginning, Adam and Eve ate exclusively from the plants and trees in the Garden of Eden, a paradise only God could have orchestrated. Then we had the Fall, Man was separated from God and the Garden, cursed to work the ground and labor to recreate the life-giving bounty he had once known in Eden. But when I read Genesis 3, I don’t see merely a curse and an end to the provider/dependent relationship between us and God through the earth, I see grace. We are thrown from the perfection of commune with God in the garden as a consequence for sin, yet God still gives us the ability to glean sustenance from the earth. He didn’t say, “You’ve sinned against Me, so now you have to eat dirt for the rest of your miserable life.” No, He gave us a remnant of Eden; He gave us food from the earth, and a Savior to restore our former relationship with Him.

When God created the earth and its creatures, He called them good. He declared that His creation was something worthy. Then He created humans in His image, giving us the job of caring for the rest of creation. If we, as Christians, are not even MORE passionate protectors of the earth and proponents of a system that provides food from the free resources God in His wisdom constructed (solar energy feeds the grasses, the grasses feed the animals, the animals feed both us and the grasses, and the system feeds itself) then how can we do what Micah 6:8 instructs?

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

In the Old Testament, God gave Israel specific instructions in their farming practices that would enable the poor of the community as well as the livestock to have food to eat.  

Leviticus 23:22 “‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the Lord your God.’” 

And in Deuteronomy 25:4: "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain."

In contrast, we have now set up a system that denies real food to the poor (fast food and processed foods are what they can afford to eat), and forces animals to deny their created instincts and natural aversions and live crowded in their own filth, never seeing the sun, and eating waste instead of grass. Why? Greed. Because this system produces more profit.

This big industrial system is going to collapse. It depends on more oil to exist than will last or stay affordable. It's already not affordable--look at the debt load of our government. God gave us the sun for FREE. And what really gets me is that the bigger and cheaper we make our food system, the more people starve all over the world, and the more difficult it is for anyone without money to find real food.

How, as Christians, are we engaging with this problem? 

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