Should Christians “go green?” Is environmentalism a moral issue? I can only give my opinion on these and similar questions.
Instead of framing the ideas presented by some environmentalists as a moral issue, I tend to see it as a spiritual issue. Our morality is rarely linked to the environment; sometimes, but rarely. Instead, what becomes healthy and good for us spiritually? I believe scripture points us to a balance. There are several factors to consider when looking at this; First, God did indeed put humans in charge of the earth, which included animals, plants, and the earth itself. Second, He built the earth to be resilient.
The first point means that we are at the top of the consideration when looking at environmental matters. Humans are the pinnacle of this earthly creation, and we were to have a ruler-ruled relationship with the rest of creation. That means humans are always to be considered before anything else (whales, fish, plants, etc…) and also we are more fulfilled when we are stepping up and safeguarding the environment.
The second point means that the environment is far from fragile. It is designed to be resilient. For example when a volcano erupts the gases and effects of the eruption, the ripping of the earth, the physical steam, ash, etc… are devastating in the short term, but long term, the earth adapts. Take an oil spill caused by humans; oil is actually a natural substance. There is indeed a shock to the environment if oil is suddenly introduced in mass amounts, but it will recover.
The answer then is a balance; we shouldn’t be panicked over the environment, but we are indeed connected to it in a way that should make us responsible. If we exercise our responsibility we also reap spiritual fulfillment. Look at it this way; Adam was designed to be placed in the garden of Eden. He named each animal, and was surrounded by perfect nature. We, his descendents, can find working with animals, or plants, or cultivating land, or even just being out in nature very fulfilling in a very basic way.
That brings us back to environmentalism. There are some “duh” aspects to this, and non-fanatical ways to approach supporting and helping the environment. Is it a moral issue if I use a plastic bag instead of using my own reusable canvas bag at the grocery store? No, but there is the fact to face that plastic bags are one of the banes of our existence. They clutter our houses and blow down the streets like urban tumbleweeds. They wind up in our water systems, and even get hung up in trees. Plus, if you think littering is no big deal, get a dog you love and try walking it down a street, pretty soon you are going to “get” why littering is irresponsible and frustrating.
Jesus didn’t just come here to fix us, His sacrifice is ultimately going to save and fix the whole of creation. He cares about the physical earth, why shouldn’t we? That being said, humans are the main concern of Jesus, He became human. Jesus was so “down to earth” about things, we should be the same way. We were meant to have an awesome responsibility, and also to enjoy the physical world. We shouldn’t stress about the environment, nor become fanatical about it (fanaticism often leads to a from of idolatry). The balanced approach is the best approach for us and the environment.