At the latest Catalyst conference, Mark Driscoll said “I know who made the environment and he’s coming back and going to burn it all up. So yes, I drive an SUV.” This is the perfect lead in to talk about environmental stewardship. Regardless of what Brother Mark and his compatriots might say, we are given the responsibility of caring for the earth. It says so in the Bible, most notably in Genesis 2:15. There is a growing movement in American Christianity toward a taking better care of creation and even the Southern Baptist Convention is getting on board.
If the Southern Baptists are willing to acknowledge climate change (even they do use some weasel words), I’d say that battle is won. The question then becomes what do we do about it? Many more conservative Christians opt for Drisoll’s approach and believe Jesus’ imminent means they don’t have worry about the environment. There are progressive Christian’s who place a priority on environmental stewardship and radically alter their lives to reflect this. Then, you have those of us in the middle who want to do the right thing, but the reality of our lives doesn’t give us the flexibility of our more radical (I mean that in the best possible way) brothers and sisters.
For most people, how we treat the environment is a balancing act. Sure, we want clean air and water and we know there are things we need to do to ensure them for us and our children. But, there are things we have to do thrive and survive in this world and some of them are at odds with the things needed to care God’s creation. So, what do we do? Is there a third way?
Of course, there is. Maybe the size of your family means a small hybrid isn’t feasible for you. But,that doesn’t mean you go out and buy a freakin’ Hummer. Find a choice that fits your particular needs, but doesn’t shit all over the planet. And, there are things that you can do that will help offset whatever damage your vehicle might doing. Always remember the three “R’s”: reduce, reuse, recycle. We live in a much more disposable culture than our parents or grandparents. My grandfather threw away almost nothing, but he wasn’t a hoarder. Well, maybe he was, but he generally found a use for the things he hung on to. Instead of plastic or paper bags at the grocery store, invest in a few of those canvas jobs you see those hippie-dippie types using (something I need to do myself). And, if you do wind up with some plastic bags, find ways to reuse them instead of just tossing them in the trash (I’m sure there’s something on Pinterest). And, of course, recycle everything you can. These aren’t big changes, but they are ones any of us can implement and they do make a difference.
Look, in a perfect world, we’d all live within easy walking or biking distance of most of the places we have to go and only need a car for long trips; which, of course, would be kept to a minimum. We’d all live in solar-powered, carbon-neutral houses and those three “R’s” would be second nature to us. Unfortunately, this world is far from perfect and we have to live in it. But, does that mean we should use scripture to justify an excessive lifestyle? I don’t think so. What about you?