How, then, do Seventh-day Adventists look at the question of the environment? How do we get involved and yet seek to keep a right balance? Below is an official statement, voted by the church leadership back in 1995.1
“Seventh day Adventists believe that humankind was created in the image of God, thus representing God as His stewards, to rule the natural environment in a faithful and fruitful way.
“Unfortunately, corruption and exploitation have been brought into the management of the human domain of responsibility. Increasingly men and women have been involved in a megalomaniacal destruction of the earth’s resources, resulting in widespread suffering, environmental disarray, and the threat of climate change. While scientific research needs to continue, it is clear from the accumulated evidence that the increasing emission of destructive gasses, the depletion of the protective mantle of ozone, the massive destruction of the American forests, and the so called greenhouse effect, are all threatening the earth’s ecosystem.
“These problems are largely due to human selfishness and the egocentric pursuit of getting more and more through ever increasing production, unlimited consumption and depletion of nonrenewable resources. The ecological crisis is rooted in humankind’s greed and refusal to practice good and faithful stewardship within the divine boundaries of creation.
“Seventh day Adventists advocate a simple, wholesome lifestyle, where people do not step on the treadmill of unbridled consumerism, goods getting, and production of waste. We call for respect of creation, restraint in the use of the world’s resources, reevaluation of one’s needs, and reaffirmation of the dignity of created life.”—Adventist Administrative Committee (ADCOM), released at General Conference session in Utrecht, the Netherlands, June 29–July 8, 1995.
If anything, as Christians who believe that this world and the life and resources on it are gifts from God, we should be at the forefront of seeking to take care of it. If you believed that the earth is just a chance creation, the product of cold, uncaring forces, one could almost be excused in seeking to exploit it to their own ends. When, though, we understand this world as something that God created, and sustains, it’s hard to see how we could do anything other than be responsible stewards of it.
How might your own selfishness impact how you treat the environment? And what’s wrong with the attitude that says, “Well, I’m only one person, so what does it matter?”