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A Christian's duty to protect and heal the earth

 
pollinator
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I use to wonder why go against so much of society and avoid oil products and build soil and fix our mess of the earth. The Scriptures say that the earth will pass away. So why do we go to the effort to recreate Eden? The two greatest commandments: 1. Love the Lord your God, and 2. Love your neighbor as yourself.

1. The earth is the Lord's. Not ours. If we love Him we will not destroy what is His or what He gave us.

2. If we love our neighbors (everyone on earth, including our descendents) we won't wreck and poison the place they live. That is, unless we enjoy that type of home.

There are other reasons, these two just came to mind first. What other reasons are there for Christians to protect the earth even if it won't last forever?
 
garden master
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Huxley Harter wrote:

There are other reasons, these two just came to mind first. What other reasons are there for Christians to protect the earth even if it won't last forever?



What about people such as me, who don’t identify as a christian? I want to protect and heal what I can of this earth too. Of course, nothing is forever. Indeed, I also believe our planet will meet a fiery end, in five billion years or so, when our parent star dies, and in that process the sun will swell many hundreds of times it’s current size, engulfing the first three planets, possibly the fourth as well, as it runs out of hydrogen to fuse into heavier elements before collapsing into a white dwarf star.

I’m unable to comment on your first belief, sorry.

The second, however, is common sense to me. I believe in being kind and helping others. I have values even though I don’t participate in any religion. I’m doing what I can now to be less of a consumer, more of a producer, and leave this little farm and it’s soil better off than it was when I became steward to it.

I think one reason for people, non-christians alike, to protect the earth is for future peoples. I think caring for the planet crosses religious boundaries, and is something that resonates with many peoples all over the globe, regardless of beliefs. While I don’t have children, when I get old I will give away this farm to some lucky young person who probably hasn’t been born yet, whom I hope will have the same passion as I have to be a steward, and do the best they know how to continue to improve this farm and share with their neighbors. I’m no hero and certainly no saint, but this is something for the future that I have some control over, at least while I’m alive. I think ecological agriculture and permaculture, while commonly agreed as being the best way to sustain and feed humans, is also enjoyable. I believe it’s a quality vocation, not a job. It can be a lifestyle of quality work, and can be loving work, that honors the earth, and the future. I’m not going to give up, thinking it’s too late.
 
master pollinator
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It really is about respecting what God created.

I am a Christian and believe strongly in your two points. I do love God with all my heart, and do treat my neighbors as myself.

Because of that, I do worship God and not the earth, but I am still going to take care of what God created.

This is no different than if you were renting a home. You would never just live in the place, never clean it, care nothing about it, do nothing to it, under the idea that "it is not mine anyway." No, you would be respectful to the Landlord. It is rightfully theirs, but how it is lived in, is still a reflection on your morals, and ethics.

It is that way with the land. That means with dilligence I can log my family farm, and provide wood for my family, and when I do, I am thankful for what God created, and allowed me to use that is ultimately HIS. It is his land, his trees, his forest, but I have been entrusted to manage my little part of it. Would you go and take all your trash while living at a rented house and dump it in the backyard just because it was not yours? Certainly not, you would recycle and use the cities trash collection methods to dispose of it properly. And so to we should do with what God grants us. We can do that by voting so that public policy is proper, and we can do it my managing our own properties well.

But I do that by worshiping the creator of the earth, and not earth itself, and I think people get that backwards sometimes. But always keep in mind too, you can never expect a non-Christian to act like a Christian.

 
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I think about it in a few different ways.

God calls us to be good stewards of what He has given us. That means not destroying it. It means not hording more resources than we need. In Luke 12:13-21, Jesus tells a parable of a rich man who has an abundant harvest. Instead of sharing it, he builds even bigger barns to store the food. Jesus says, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions." When we literally rape the soil and the planet to have bigger homes, drive more, fly more, have more easy conveniences, it is, literally an abundance of possessions and greed. We are taking not just from others in this generation, but from those in future generations.

We are to care for the widow and the orphan. Why then would we go about destroying and using the resources that they could use? That's not caring for those in need. Climate change is creating widows and orphans all around the world. People are starving because food will not grow or is destroyed due to extreme weather. People are killing others to get what few resources are left, creating widows and orphans. Our over consumption causes this to occur.

We don't know when the End Times will happen. We literally DO NOT know when it will happen. Why would we make life worse for everyone because "it doesn't matter."

The End Times is full of horrible things...and they're caused by us. There's murder, stealing, rape, petulance, war,  starvation, extreme weather events. Would we say, "Well, everyone's going to be murdering everyone, so I might as well join in?" Or, "In the end times, there will be lots of starvation, so it doesn't matter if I take everyone's food now." or, "I'll just make sure to go on a raping rampage, to make sure the end times come closer." NO! No we wouldn't. So why in the world would we say, "I'll just make sure to help contribute to climate change, because the world will end anyway and it'll bring about the end times." The end times are full of SIN. They're full of a world not following Jesus, not living in love. Why would we want to partake in that? Would we not then be sinning horribly?

Climate change, pollution, etc all hurt people. They are all results of taking more than we need, resulting in other's going without. They are the results of, literally, living in debt by taking more so the future has less. We are not living within our means, and the Bible is pretty clear that we should strive to live within our means.  Climate change and pollution is the result of us taking far more from the land than we should. We don't leave fields fallow to regenerate and feed wildlife. We don't leave extra bits for the gleaners. We destroy the soil and move on, or use even more resources in the form of fertilizers and pesticides to continue to grow on soil we've destroyed.

It saddens me when I see so many Christians so set upon being able to have their own land and do whatever they want with it. They "earned" it. It's "theirs." They "deserve" it. I honestly cannot say I have ever deserved anything. I know there are people who work far harder in far worse circumstances, who by every sense of the word, "deserve" more than me, and they live in war torn countries where their daughter is raped and there isn't enough food to go around and they die an early death due to malnutrition or war or pestilence. None of us, I think, really deserve anything. What we do have, we are to steward and care for and share when we can. To knowingly do differently, I think, makes God very, very sad.
 
Travis Johnson
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I know in the bible that is says Jesus considers us his friends, and in another place it says "come boldly before the throne of grace."

But consider this, there is a throne, and God is on it. We can approach, but the position still requires respect. I really try to think of God as a King, or maybe a better illustration is the President. Even if you were invited to the White House, you would not just stroll through like you own the place, no there would be an invitation, and some security checks, because YOU ARE SEEING THE PRESIDENT.

And so with all of this in mind, what kind of person would I be if I went to England by an invitation of the Queen, and on my way over the drawbridge, dumped 5 gallons of diesel fuel in the Queen's moat? Environmental stewardship of the earth is the same way. We must show respect, even if we consider them friends and are openly invited. The Queen does not want diesel fuel in her moat, any more than God wants diesel fuel in one of his pristine lakes.


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I am far from what one would identify as an organized religious  person. Questioning person for sure. Faith-hope two sides of a coin I guess.  I hope that I can see people changing towards a care of the earth mindset. A permaculture missionary message not from a God but traveling a similar path. Caring for others, caring for the earth values that are held by many religions. I would think that a Christian or any religious person would carry their belief to the end, not coast as the end nears.No crying in baseball and no coasting in being good.
 
pollinator
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""Why heal the earth if it will all burn in the end?" A Christian's Perspective"

For the same reason you don't burn money. :-)


As a follower of Jesus our duty is to be stewards of what God has given.       When Jesus comes back he we ask an account of all the gifts and talents we have.

In order to give to the poor you have to have something to give, Paul in the new testament demonstrated how to do this by working with his hands making tents
and instructed his followers to steal no more but to work with their hands so that they help provide for needs.


Eph 4:28
"Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need."


But the goal of the Christian is to be a good steward of all God has given, yes the Earth will be recycled by God, but it does not mean that we oppress the poor and
make poor use of the land until Jesus comes back


     
 
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Huxley Harter wrote: The Scriptures say that the earth will pass away. ... even if it won't last forever?



Step back and look at it from this perspective.  We all will die someday.  We will not live forever.  Would that stop you from helping someone in need?

If a child wandered into the street, would you not intervene?  Why should you?  He going to die someday anyway.  Why bother?  

As stated above, we are stewarts for the time we are here.  We do what is right because we have a choice.  
 
Huxley Harter
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Terrific answers y'all. Thank you
 
Mart Hale
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You may be interested in this book...

https://www.amazon.com/Born-Again-Dirt-Farming-Glory-God/dp/0985131543/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=born+again+dirt&qid=1570310072&sr=8-1


Noah has asked hard questions as you have and went about finding answers.


Cheers.
 
Mart Hale
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Also you are more than welcome to come join our group on MeWe.

https://mewe.com/join/christian_agrarians

 
Travis Johnson
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I am glad Huxley got some great answers, but must say, it was very inspiring to read everyone else's reply too. Permies is such a great forum!
 
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Having read Shakespeare, I have an awareness that the English language has changed and meanings for words sometimes has dramatically changed over time. The King James Bible was written shortly after many of Shakespear's plays, but was based on oral history, written and transcribed through many languages before the King James version was written in early 1600's English. I personally believe that taking the words in the Bible with modern, common meaning of those words, can be misleading.

I think it is easy for people to take advantage of that and where the bible tells man to "have dominion over earth" they can stretch that to mean, control, dominate, do what you want with the planet, rather than how it quite likely was intended - care for it, support it, help it stay healthy. If I created something as beautiful and wonderful as I feel the Planet Earth is, I'd be pretty disgusted if someone came along and strip-mined, over-populated, burned the forests etc. To me, using a religion to justify those actions, is an insult to that religion. I would like to see every religious leader on the planet stand up for and insist on our "duty to protect and heal earth".
 
pollinator
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Some great comments already.

So, a Christian lense that is salvation focus (cant wait to get outta here) is hard to square with environmental ethos or moral responsibility in general.

But frankly, the gospel of salvation is a relatively new thing in history, even among evangelicals. The new testament presents a gospel of the kingdom where personal responsibility to elevate moral duty above civic duty / patriotism is presented.

Through that lense, doing what is right even when it may give rise to unpleasant response from authorities is central, not peripheral.

So, take 1 thes 4:11 for example.

(From memory on a mobile phone so forgive me if I am off a bit)

"Make it your ambition to live a quiet life,work hard with your hands, let your daily life win the respect of outsiders and dont be dependent on anyone for anything."

Paul, speaking to belivers living on a trade route tells them to choose work that is means of production (not trade/broker/etc) focused SO THAT..they will not be dependent on anyone.

In a context where living morally and teaching othera to do the same (preaching) might mean others won't sell to you..it was imperative for the Christian community to be self reliant.

So another ethos for Christians to be permies is resilience, self reliance, etc. Regenerative agriculture, food forests, improving soil, all fit nicely.
 
pollinator
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Some really great feedback here and I'll add a couple I haven't seen yet.

Genesis has been mentioned, but to expound on that I believe the mandate (that has been perverted) for christians to care for the earth starts at the beginning:'

Genesis 1:26-28
26And 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 fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.



and

Genesis 2:8 and 15
8And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
...
15And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.



Basically the way I see it is God created everything, then he created a garden, then he put man(mankind) in it to care for it giving him authority over it.

God created mankind to have ultimate dominion/authority/jurisdiction over the earth and thusly have ultimate responsibility for the earth. He was authorized to "subdue" the earth. If you follow the link in the text above and look at deffinition 3 it means to bring into cultivation. To make it productive and fruitful. In context, a man dropped into a wild environment has to figure out how to make it productive. How would you do that with no tools or equipment. How about livestock? I think any decent permie sees where that's going.

Another example that ties into this is in the New Testament.
in Matthew 25 starting at verse 14 is the parable of a man who is going on a trip and leaves 3 of his servants with various amounts of money. The ones who used that money and made it grow were rewarded. One of the servants, the one given the least responsibility/money, hid his in the ground and did nothing. He was punished for being lazy.

TLDR
I believe that God created man as caretakers for the earth and we have a responsibility to take care of it for Him and those around us.
 
Mart Hale
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Caleb Mayfield wrote:Some really great feedback here and I'll add a couple I haven't seen yet.

Genesis has been mentioned, but to expound on that I believe the mandate (that has been perverted) for christians to care for the earth starts at the beginning:'

Genesis 1:26-28
26And 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 fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.



and

Genesis 2:8 and 15
8And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
...
15And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.



Basically the way I see it is God created everything, then he created a garden, then he put man(mankind) in it to care for it giving him authority over it.

God created mankind to have ultimate dominion/authority/jurisdiction over the earth and thusly have ultimate responsibility for the earth. He was authorized to "subdue" the earth. If you follow the link in the text above and look at deffinition 3 it means to bring into cultivation. To make it productive and fruitful. In context, a man dropped into a wild environment has to figure out how to make it productive. How would you do that with no tools or equipment. How about livestock? I think any decent permie sees where that's going.

Another example that ties into this is in the New Testament.
in Matthew 25 starting at verse 14 is the parable of a man who is going on a trip and leaves 3 of his servants with various amounts of money. The ones who used that money and made it grow were rewarded. One of the servants, the one given the least responsibility/money, hid his in the ground and did nothing. He was punished for being lazy.

TLDR
I believe that God created man as caretakers for the earth and we have a responsibility to take care of it for Him and those around us.






Yes,

The old testament has great examples of how we are to be good stewards of the earth.       Part of the plan for the Jews was that they were to let the land rest every so many years,  one thing that really stuck out to me that God put in a provision for the wild animals.



Exodus 23:11

but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what is left. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.


Wild animals were to have food from the time of rest,  the Jews of that time did not do this for a time, then were forced into captivity to where they were forced to let the land rest for the time they did not.

The poor were provided for by this as well.


But like you mentioned it is stewardship, we have been given what we have today and the master will return to see what we did with it.      I can't control what others do with their, land, but I am responsible for mine.

Great input.


 
pollinator
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Those are great examples.

I dislike the constant reminder, though, that this is to be done so that the "master" isn't displeased when he returns. It reinforces the idea that this life is just a rehearsal or preparation for our real existence. It feeds into disregard for all things corporeal, the idea that the material must be eschewed for the spiritual.

What if the master never returns? Does that suddenly make everything pointless?

Or to put it another way, is there no inherent value to this life? Should it not be enough to be a good person for its own sake, regardless of reward?

To be a good person, a good steward of the earth, in order to win salvation seems like a less-than-pure motivation.

I think it's more Christian to do the good deed for the good deed's sake, stewardship included.

-CK
 
Mart Hale
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Chris Kott wrote:Those are great examples.

I dislike the constant reminder, though, that this is to be done so that the "master" isn't displeased when he returns. It reinforces the idea that this life is just a rehearsal or preparation for our real existence. It feeds into disregard for all things corporeal, the idea that the material must be eschewed for the spiritual.

What if the master never returns? Does that suddenly make everything pointless?

Or to put it another way, is there no inherent value to this life? Should it not be enough to be a good person for its own sake, regardless of reward?

To be a good person, a good steward of the earth, in order to win salvation seems like a less-than-pure motivation.

I think it's more Christian to do the good deed for the good deed's sake, stewardship included.

-CK




I guess that is the different perspective from looking at things from a Christian perspective and one seeing it as one of many ways to God.

We all have different value sets depending on what our foundation belief is.

I myself believe the bible to be the foundation of my belief as Jesus quoted it and made it the foundation of His teaching.       But this thread is pointing to what a Christian perspective is, so the values of the bible would be represented here and not from another perspective.

I guess we would come to the question,  "What is good?"

Christianity ( my flavor is reformed evangelical  there are many flavors of Christianity ),   would point to the bible/ Jesus, as the starting point for what is defined as "good".    

Others as humanist may point to the elevation of man out of the mire to ever higher levels.

As you point out the motivation of doing a deed is important,   a politician may kiss babies to get power, then only to forget them after elected.      


What if Jesus never returns,   then yes Jesus never rose from the dead and as Paul has said our faith is worthless if Jesus never rose from the dead.


 
Chris Kott
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I have often heard it said that Christians should instead be called Paulians, for the outsized effect his opinions had on the faith. I have always disagreed with him on that point, that unless certain specific claims were historically factual, that the faith is worthless. It is worth exactly what you put into it. But of course, I always thought that original sin was something of a control mechanism thrown in there by the church elite. Babies are born innocent, clean of the sins of the father (or mother, or ancestors). Full stop. I've wanted to walk out of baptisms before because the priest was homilising on the stains present on the soul of the unbaptised child before the altar.

I was raised Roman Catholic. I was even a choir boy for eight years. I have approached my take on faith from a perspective that integrates all that we know from the scientific approach and evidence-based secular learning, and coupled that with an admission that the stories in the bible are just that. Does this make the moral teachings any less relevant? I don't think so. So I don't see why, if what Jesus preached is valid, his existence, or lack thereof, has any bearing at all on the validity of faith.

I definitely agree that there are clear passages in the bible where stewardship is mentioned and even sketched out specifically, the leaving of productive land fallow for one year in seven, for instance. I might disagree with the specifics based on what we currently understand to be best regenerative management practices, but the thought and essence of the idea are both there.

"Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me." Matthew 25:40. I think this is pretty clear, and I also think it can be extended to the stewardship issue. Environmental harm is harm to everyone living on the planet. We don't have an excellent track record in this area over the last, oh, 20,000 years or so, even with the "loving thy neighbour" bit, but I think it spells out the responsibilities pretty completely, if one professes to love Jesus.

I would love to see some real-world action on this front. The wealth concentrated in the holdings of believers could be put to tremendous use in doing things to mitigate ocean acidification and rise due to climate change. I think we could use many more reforested areas and many fewer mega-churches, or whatever they're called. I think the Catholic and United Churches, and any other Christian denominations that agree that the Christian duty involves healing the earth, could pare down their global financial assets, or turn the wealth-generating potential of those holdings to funding earth-healing activities. I think a return to the mild asceticism practiced by some holy Orders is a terrific direction in which to take things. Maybe the Franciscans could spearhead rewilding and tree-planting programs.

Love is supposed to be the answer, so I think it should be the motivation as well. I think if every answer to every problem was solved with a response borne out of love, we wouldn't need to script out our responsibilities so assiduously.

Lastly, I think that if the messaging was overwhelmingly, blatantly love-oriented, reacting in an overblown, disproportionate manner to embrace that which has otherwise been ostracised (the Other, the sinner (But aren't we all sinners?), those not welcome in some denominations), it may do quite a lot to elevate the opinions of non-believers. "...And they'll know that we are Christians by our Love."

-CK
 
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--> God is:
       
    1. Loving Creator
    2. Giver and Sustainer of life
    3. Garden planter.

--> I am created in his image.

--> Ergo....
 
Huxley Harter
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Chris Kott wrote:  I think the Catholic and United Churches, and any other Christian denominations that agree that the Christian duty involves healing the earth, could pare down their global financial assets, or turn the wealth-generating potential of those holdings to funding earth-healing activities.

  I agree with that. It's my impression that many Christians don't see healing the earth as something they should do, or they don't realize what they're doing to earth. Like when the pastor calls tilling and spraying toxic chemicals as a good way of "exercising dominion."
 
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