When it comes to the environment, Christians are as beholden to it as anyone regarding its preservation and restoration. The environment is a physical manifestation of God's love and it's for us to preserve. This notion is found clearly in scripture which asserts in Colossians 1:1619, "For by Him [Jesus] all things were created, in heaven and on earth… whether on earth or in heaven…" This clearly demonstrates the undeniable responsibility that all Christians have in preserving and protecting the environment and how they have an obligation to protect the earth not just for themselves but for future generations.
One of the major articles of proof for such a thesis is in the belief or viewpoint that the environment is a gift from God and thus the responsibility of all Christians. As one scholar explains, "Our environment is one of the greatest examples we have of God's power. To me, the word "environment" encompasses all of God's most beautiful and awesome works. The environment is His creation, a precious and holy resource that He entrusted all humans with the loving care and wise use of. God asked all humans to be stewards of the environment in Genesis 1:28, when He said to Adam and Eve, 'Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground'" (Belknap, 2013). In instructing us to rule over the earth and sea, God did not mean in the way that we have been -- by polluting them or being indifferent to their needs, health and vitality. Rather one can assume that God wanted us to rule over the sea-life and earth-life as he rules over us, lovingly and patiently (Belknap, 2013). God doesn't rule over us with a heavy hand or with sheer neglect, rather we are constantly receiving loving guidance from him which helps us on our way. This is the exact manner in which we should be ruling over or looking after these sea creatures.
Pope Benedict XVI believed that the environment was indeed God's gift to human beings, and that was his fundamental message that was delivered on the World Day of Peace: "If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation" (Wenski, 2010). This provides a very lucid perspective as to how Christians should be relating to the environment, particularly in the realm of climate change: "The environment… must be seen as God's gift to all people and the use we make of it entails a shared responsibility for all humanity, especially the poor and future generations" the Pope strongly asserts (Wenski, 2010). Thus, this gift is not something that can be used up and discarded or abused and thus eliminated, but needs to be carefully preserved for our children and grandchildren. As one scholar explains, "For the Holy Father, natural ecology is inseparably linked to human ecology. He urges us to see the interrelatedness of the various social, economic, political or environmental crises that confront the human family today. Fundamentally, they all are moral crises that require 'new rules and forms of engagement' - in other words, a rethinking of the path that we are traveling down together" (Wenski, 2010). This is indeed a provocative and revealing idea as it demonstrates one of the most compelling reasons that Christians have a need to preserve and protect the environment: they're under a moral obligation to do so. Morally speaking, looking after the environment in a kind and gentle manner means that one is doing a good deed for other people, if only indirectly.
Furthermore, the fact that the natural world is a gift to human beings is a fact too easily forgotten by people in this modern day and age. For instance, humans have long had a mutual connection with the natural world that engaged their needs with the Creator as a source and provider of life (Dwyer, 2009). "Perhaps the most ancient of the names people gave to the most observable and basic gifts of nature were the four elements held in sacred regard: earth, air, fire and water. Primitive and thoughtful people observed that these were indispensable for life; hence, the One who provided them was worshipped, striving to build or restore a sense of environmental awareness, a need that has risen in our own day as we experience a world population explosion" (Dwyer, 2009). Since these times the population has exploded, with numbers reaching eight billion people: this has had an undeniable strain on the environment and there's an intensive necessity to not only increase the ecological awareness of the world as a whole, but to take conscious, proactive effort in all that we do so that the environment can benefit from it.
The idea of ecological impact is nothing new: in fact, many ancient sources and even Hebrew Scripture accounts can verify that the idea of caring for the natural world is essential. The Hebrew faith system believes that the Creator of the Earth deserves to be honored with gifts and other celebratory forms of acknowledgement for the gifts given. Thus, the documentation from these ancient texts can only provide more support for the notion that the environment is the responsibility of the people and that there has long been a strong bond and relationship between the environment and the people: this bond was based on need, giving and reciprocity.
In fact, one could argue that respect for ecological creation is not just a necessity because creation is the pillar of all of God's works, but because this type of respect, manifested through the calculated proactive effort of Christians is necessary to prolong the peaceful coexistence of all of mankind. Man's inhumanity to man has manifested in a variety of ways: via wars, terrorism, international and regional conflicts, and violence against children and the elderly. Abuse of the environment is just another manifestation of this lack of humanity to one another: in these cases the environment is misused and abused and the covenant between human beings and the environment is forgotten. This covenant states that human beings and the environment should reflect the imaginative love of God (Escriva, 2013). Too may forget that such a bond is central to human development. "Integral human development is closely linked to the obligations which flow from man's relationship with the natural environment. The environment must be seen as God's gift to all people, and the use we make of it entails a shared responsibility for all humanity, especially the poor and future generations" (Escriva, 2013).
However, others disagree. Some Christians will acknowledge that while the environment is indeed an important issue, it's not a major priority for all involved. For Christians, some argue, more pressing issues need to be dealt with in an active fashion such as things like child abuse, elder abuse, poverty, racism and a range of other factors which make life on earth monstrous for so many people. Recent research reflects that entirely: "Environmental issues rank low and the issue of climate change is not a priority for people around the world, an international study indicates. People were five times more likely to point to the economy over the environment as an issue and when asked about climate change, people said they saw the issue more as a national problem than a personal concern, the study found. The results are from coordinated surveys conducted by the International Social Survey Program in 33 countries from 1993 through 2010" (upi.com, 2013). This research is indeed significant as it demonstrates where the opinions of most people tend to resonate. It shows that while people are aware that the environment needs help, it's not a huge priority for many: this is largely as…
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