There are many things that could be said about Earth Day, but I want to focus on the distinction between environmentalism and Biblical stewardship of the environment. Environmentalism puts the planet first and treats humanity as an infestation that is inherently harmful to the environment. Environmentalism demands that people do with less…less energy, fewer cars, reduced commerce, and less technology. Biblical stewardship suggests something very different as described in Psalm 8:
“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.”
God has given mankind dominion over the environment, and he gave mankind the charge to fill and subdue the Earth. That sounds dangerous considering the selfish nature of man, and we must be clear that individual men don’t always do the right thing. Nevertheless, we have the charge to actively manage God’s creation. Its good and our own are intimately tied together, and man’s proper use of the land consistently makes it better.
A great example of this is the land of Israel. When the first Jewish settlers emigrated to their new nation, they were appalled at the state of the land, because centuries of neglect had allowed it to return to its natural state of barren desert and swampland. Those settlers knew that the Bible referred to Israel as a land flowing with milk and honey, so they set to work with confidence that it would be so once again. Through hard work and careful management, Israel now exports food to the world. They recycle 80% of their grey water and pipe it through purple pipes around the country for agricultural use. They supply 30% of their drinking water by efficiently desalinating water from the Mediterranean Sea.
Israel shows us that intelligent dominion of the environment makes the land better and creates wealth at the same time. For more information about Biblical stewardship of the environment, look for the Cornwall Alliance on the web.