The current political climate within the American Church is full of debate over a myriad of national and moral issues, however, protecting the environment should not be up for debate based upon political preference, but should be discussed as part of the Church’s theology. The responsibility and obligation to protect and care for the environment has been upon mankind’s shoulders since the creation of the world.
While many Christians in America would like to compartmentalize the protection of the environment within the political spectrum or simply opt out of protecting the environment completely, it is an issue of biblical stewardship and obedience to God, not of political preference and it needs to be addressed by American Christians and the global Church.
It is common among evangelicals to believe man was created in God’s image and that upon creation, man was given dominion over the Earth. It seems odd then, that many Christians categorize protecting and caring for the environment as an optional command from God rather than a given command and attribute of mankind. Man is to represent God upon the Earth, caring and protecting those of His dominion as God loves and protects His people. The dominion speaks to the care, love and protection God has given; that of life itself and the livelihood to sustain it. It seems clear then that this command is not optional at all.
The biblical command to protect the environment comes from Genesis 1:26-28 stating:
Then God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping things that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the Earth.
The command to subdue the Earth and have dominion over everything within the Earth calls mankind to oversee, to manage and to maintain the Earth in a way that honors God. After all, the Earth is God’s creation, He has rightful ownership of it and all that is within it. Humans, then, do not have the right to destroy what is not theirs. This command informs humanity’s role within creation and begins the call to honor God with all we do, all we have and all we are.
Christians must remember the responsibility they bear by being God’s representatives upon the Earth. The Church is called to make disciples of all nations, to speak of God and make Him known to all. While God is able to overcome every obstacle man or Satan may use to disrupt His plans, it is the blessed obligation of his followers to be faithful to His work and participate in advancing His Kingdom.
It is necessary for Christians today to understand that their responsibility to protect the environment comes from God’s command and it is not dependent upon one’s individual political affiliations. Christians need to understand their first allegiance is it to be to God before country; choosing to follow God’s command over the dogma of any man-made system or government. Christians today are called to protect the environment, to take responsibility of their given dominion and be faithful stewards of God’s gift. The Earth we live in supplies the life we need to continue worshiping God, sustaining life and making disciples of all nations. Protecting the environment needs to become a priority for the American Church and needs to shape the global Christian’s worldview.
The needs of the world are great, as sin has corroded the purity of man. The need to protect the environment is but one of the great needs the Church needs to address, but it is, unfortunately, a neglected command when weighed against the world’s other needs. While there are surely deep needs in this world, American Christians ought not to be swayed from biblical stewardship and command because of the pressures and platforms of their political parties. The things of this world will pass away, this very world will pass away, but mankind was not commanded to protect their political ideals but to protect the Earth God spent His love creating and saving.