“Can you believe this? They’ve put a week’s lesson on the environment into our church’s lesson study guides.”1
“They have?” Brenda reached the coffee table and found her copy of the guidebook her husband Matt was talking about. She rustled through the pages until she found the one labeled February 18-24. “It doesn’t say anything about the environment, Matt. It just says ‘creation care.’ ”
“Yes. They’ve found a phrase they hope won’t upset us. But you can be sure of one thing. They’re talking about the environment. Look, dear. They have the word ‘environment’ on every page. This is definitely a pro-environment Bible study guide.”
“Why does that upset you, Matt?” Don’t you think we Christians should do everything we can to take care of our environment? Shouldn’t we all be environmentalists?”
Matt sputtered. “Brenda, you wouldn’t recognize an environmentalist if one walked in the house.”
“Now you stop talking like that, Matt. Environmentalists are good people. They’re trying to do what they can to make the earth a better place to live in. What have you got against environmentalists?”
“They think they can save the planet, but they can’t. They think they know why we have climate problems and that every heat wave, blizzard, or earthquake is caused by human beings. They try to get everybody on a guilt trip. They’ll get a 60-unit development disapproved because the construction could endanger a spider with red legs. They’re irrational, that’s what they are. They go by their feelings and see trends in data where none exists. They’re alarmists.”
“You made that up about the red legged spider, didn’t you? You’re still sore because they wouldn’t let you put a spur road across our property out in the country.”
“They wouldn’t let me disturb the wetlands they said were too close to where I needed a road.”
“I think you’d better go to back to the Creation of this world and see what God has to say about the environment.”
“There’s nothing about the environment in the Bible.”
“Oh, I think there is.”
After a while Matt agreed to study God’s word to see what He said about the environment and mankind. It was easy for Brenda to see the importance of working to make the earth as clean and free from hazards as possible. Matt held out for less government involvement but agreed we’d be better off if we all tried to live as “green” as posssible. The discussion continued for years.
[Thought Questions for Creation Care February 22, 2012]
1. Whose environment? Did God give the environment to Adam and Eve when He introduced them to their new home? What specific tasks did God outline for Adam and Eve to do? Do you think they regarded these activities as work? If not, why not? To what extent do human beings today have control over the environment? What aspects of the world of nature are most affected by mankind? Should we try to alter the weather? the seasons? the crops?
2. A temporary world. Do you handle your fine china as carefully as you do your shade trees? Why? Do you ever look around you and consider that pretty much everything you see will be gone before long? What about the expression, “this old world”? In what sense is this world old? Older than what? Will God totally destroy the earth at the end of time? Or will there still be a formless, empty object as there was before Creation week until the re-creation of our world? Or do we know? As far as you and I are considered, is everything we see on earth temporary?
3. A steward or an environmentalist. Back in 1995 the church leadership (General Conference) issued a statement on our Christian responsibility to the world where we live. Your lesson authors have quoted this in your lesson guide for Monday. How seriously should you and I take that statement today? What can you and I do about protecting the earth’s ecosystem? Are there small but significant ways we can stop or slow any of the following: 1) emission of of destructive gasses; 2) depletion of the earth’s protective mantle of ozone; 3) massive destruction of the American forests; 4) the ”greenhouse effect;” 5) overproduction of highly processed foods; 6) bad treatment of animals and fowls that we eat; and your ideas? Can an environmentalist also be a steward?
4. Making it beautiful. Do you like to garden? Keep flowering plants? Plant and nourish house plants in your home? Take care of a well-manicured lawn? Enjoy parks and forests? If so, will you have an enjoyable time of it in heaven? If not, do you think you’ll learn to love these activities? Why didn’t God just make everything perfect without any need for Adam and Eve to care for the plants and trees and other objects in the Garden of Eden? Couldn’t He have made a garden that needed no tilling? no watering? no careful care? What about the sanctuary where you worship every week? Is your church blessed with professional landscaping? How does the outer appearance of your church affect people’s notions about who we are?
5. Sabbath and the environment. How hard is it for you to put thoughts of your work or business or secular hobbies aside on Sabbath? How can your environment help? How long after the first sin was it before our forefathers caught on to what it means to work for a living? How did the Sabbath change due to this development? Are you able to take some time every Sabbath exploring nature in some way? If you have children or teenagers in your circle of acquaintance, how can you turn Sabbath afternoon into a time of exploring the glories of nature for them? Can that include vigorous hikes? cave exploring? rock hunting? beach walking? bird photography? What else?
6. Our dominion over nature. The voice of God explaining all about creation to His newest family members must have been almost overwhelming to Adam and Eve. Didn’t God more or less tell Adam and Eve to take charge of all the animals, fish, and birds on earth? Didn’t He command or at least strongly suggest for Adam and Eve to bear children and keep the process going until the world was populated? HDoes a childless couple disregard this command to their peril? Or does having children have anything to do with God’s acceptance of us? What about people who by health or by choice never marry or have children. Are we all still participants in the command of God to look after the world and do our best to make it clean and free from sin?
7. What we eat. Lately you may have heard a lot about veganism. If you’re a vegan (not consuming animal products of any kind), do you feel good about your choice? Why? How should we regard members of our church who choose to follow a vegan lifestyle? How should vegans consider fellow members who use regular milk and cheese and other animal-source foods? Is a vegan diet kind to the environment? Should everybody be a vegan? Is veganism a plank to make friends outside our fellowship.