Is Climate Change a Moral Issue for Christians?

Is Climate Change a Moral Issue for Christians?

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The issue of climate change divides some Christians, some feel humankind has a responsibility to fix it, while others believe it doesn’t exist, and still others believe God will fix things. Here are some things the Bible says.

Earth is God’s creation for humankind to have dominion

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

– Genesis 1:1

This line not only describes God’s creation of everything but also, because of that, establishes His superiority and the fact that he is God.

The next 24 verses of Genesis detail the phases of what God created between the first and fifth days. But when we get to the sixth day, God created a very unique type of creature, one called “humankind.”

“Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'”

– Genesis 1:26

Notice this verse says “rule over… all the creatures…” This indicates that humankind has dominion, as declared by God, over all the other living creatures, and as will be discovered through further reading, over the earth itself. And in verse 28, this is declared further and repeated.

“God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'”

– Genesis 1:28

Next, it states:

“Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.’ And it was so.”

– Genesis 1:29-30

The main takeaway here is that Earth and everything on it was created to be subdued and ruled over by humankind. Therefore, logically, we can deduce that with rule comes responsibility.

A key point for the duties of humankind

When we get to the second chapter of Genesis, some very key verses tie together what we have looked at from the first chapter.

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”

– Genesis 2:15

Many take this verse to mean that the Garden of Eden implies the Earth as a whole and that the job of mankind is to be a steward of it, to take care of both the land and its creatures.

Discussing Genesis 2, Cambridge Bible scholars say the work of humankind on the Earth is to: “(1) to improve his surroundings, (2) to provide for the necessities of life, (3) to protect from waste or loss that which is committed to his care.”

From this, we can also deduce that humankind has a responsibility, from the Bible, to care for the Earth. And in protecting from waste or loss, humankind must respect the role it plays here.

The Cambridge Bible scholars add: “Notice, that the garden requires to be dressed and kept; it is not a place of spontaneous perfection. Man in the garden is to work, to take trouble, to practise forethought, to exercise solicitude and sympathy for the objects of his toil. ‘Paradise’ is not a place for indolence and self-indulgence.”

Does humankind have a moral obligation to protect the climate?

This week, after a landmark report from the UN IPCC on climate change, The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) said it shows the need for every parish in the country to set up a climate change committee, News Talk reported.

“This is now an important moral issue as well as an issue for our climate,” said Father Sean McDonagh, cofounder of the ACP.

Further, they advocated that all religions should work together in order to provide moral leadership, find solutions and take action.

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