Culture

Published on July 23rd, 2009 | by zshahan

9

Christianity and the Environment Part II: Beyond Recycling and Conservation


In a previous post, I discussed the clear relationship between Christianity and the environment that is expressed throughout the Bible. Here are some more thoughts, including slightly more controversial ones.

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Environmental stewardship and care for all the creatures of the Earth is especially mandated throughout Genesis. This portion of the Bible expresses that God wants all creatures to increase in number, not decrease and go extinct. This strongly commands that we should protect endangered species and ensure the survival of all creatures.

“Genesis 1:22. God blessed [the birds and sea animals], and said, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number.'”

“Genesis 6:19-21. God said, ‘You are to bring into the ark two of every kind of living creature, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and them.’ Noah did everything just as God commanded him.”

“Genesis 9:8-9. Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: ‘I now establish my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you – the birds, the livestock, and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you – every living Creature on the earth.'”

“Genesis 9:12-13. And God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.'”

In the above quotes, God makes a covenant not only with man, but with every living creature. These quotes clearly state that man should take care of the world and the creatures of the world, every one of them. It may even be read that we are not to kill or eat animals. As it is written in Genesis 1:29: “And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.'” He does not state here, I give you animals to eat. He states here, I gives you plants and seeds to eat. Elsewhere in the Bible, a well-known commandment is: “Thou shalt not kill.” Some translations read “Thou shalt not murder,” but others simply read “Thou shalt not kill.” This line could very likely mean that not only should we not kill people, we also should not kill animals. This is a highly debatable point, of course, but it is a possibility in line with the statement in Genesis 1:29 and with the general teachings of love and care for nature and for all the creatures of the world. This would, of course, be a tremendous benefit to the environment (if people were vegetarians), as it has now been identified that animal production for food is possibly the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions in the world.

Throughout the Bible, there seems to be clear encouragement and demand that we humans care for the environment and preserve it. Thus, it seems that Christianity should be an environmentally oriented religion and a great champion of environmental stewardship.

To read my previous post on Christianity and the Environment, click here.

Image credit: Tambako the Jaguar via flickr under a Creative Commons license



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  • http://glueandglitter.com Becky

    I’m so curious about the comment that got this idea going….can you link to it? I’m digging this series!

  • Zachary Shahan

    Thank you. The first comment on “Personal Happiness and the Environment: A Sustainability Connection” (http://sustainablog.org/2009/07/08/personal-happiness-and-the-environment-a-sustainability-connection/#more-4661) is what gave me the idea. And follow-up posts #2 & 4 gave me more impetus.

  • http://www.yahoo.com Bobby B.

    @Zachary – You have made some broad generalizations by citing only a few verses from The Bible. If, as a Christian, you believe that The Bible is the inerrant word of God, then you cannot cite and translate a few verses that support your views while ignoring other sections that do not.

    Christians retained The Torah and rebranded it The Old Testament. The Torah is full of dietary restrictions to which Jewish people must adhere to keep the law. Add the “www.” to the following link to learn a little bit about the Jewish diet and Jewish ritual slaughter:

    jewfaq.org/kashrut.htm

    Even though Christians believe that Jesus was the fulfillment of the law, they (we) retained much of what was learned from the law. Just as we did not throw away The Ten Commandments, we did not discard many of the dietary restrictions. In fact, the earliest Jewish and non-Jewish Christians adhered to nearly all of the old teachings. Today, there still remains some discourse among believers about whether or not Jesus approved of an unrestrained diet or required a believer to adhere to a strict diet. I do not know which of these views are correct, but here a few verses worth considering:

    There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. Because it (that from without) entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? – Mark 7:15,19

    I think that it would be a stretch for you or anyone else to cite The Bible as proof that Christians must be vegetarians. That being said, I would challenge both the Christian carnivore and the Christian vegetarian to find a Biblical reference that permits one to judge the other.

    Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. – Romans 14:3

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  • Peter

    Genesis 9:3
    Acts 10:10-13

  • http://importantmedia.org/members/sdsavage/ Steve Savage

    Zach,
    While I support the idea that Christians should be all about “creation care” and that this is well supported in scripture, I can’t say the same about the vegetarian thing. Many people have tried to make the argument, but it only works if you are highly selective about what passages to consider. The fact that lamb is key to the extremely important and symbolic Passover meal does not fit with any vegetarian concept. When Able (the first recorded murder victim) presents his more acceptable sacrifice (attitude, not what it was – see Hebrews), it is clearly described in terms of being choice cuts of meat. Most of the people described in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures were either nomadic herders or mixed crop/animal pasturing societies. They definitely ate meat and the “fatted calf” was the food of choice for important events or visitors. Jesus at meat. Peter got a vision about what was ok to eat vs the constraints of Jewish law. Meat was part of that. I’m not saying there are no issues depending on how meat is produced, but you can’t really use the Bible to argue against eating it at all

    • http://www.cleantechnica.com zach

      well, it depends on how much you believe the Bible was modified over the years, or even how much you believe it was based on the teachings of Christ. or, how much some of these statements are just analogies.

      • http://www.cleantechnica.com zach

        overall, i think there is much in the Bible that was part of the agenda of those in religious power later on and really do not reflect the teachings or life of Jesus. there are certain books (e.g. John, Matthew) that i think are much more authentic than others.

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