I know this will come as a shock to you but a United Nations report has identified the world’s rapidly growing herds of cattle as the greatest threat to the climate, forests, and wildlife. How could Elsie be the source of such destruction? It seems cow emissions are responsible for such environmental crimes as acid rain which produces deserts, creates dead zones in the oceans, poisons rivers and drinking water, and destroys coral reefs.
I suspect it won’t be long before NASA will release photographs of highly polluted regions of the world–regions where the air is destroyed by cow emissions. Can you imagine what the price of beef will be in twenty years when every cow must be outfitted with a catalytic converter type device to eliminate the pollutants from their emissions? Actually, I’m not sure if such an “improve the air quality movement by improving the air coming out of cows” will ever gather much steam–so to speak. Why? Because cars make better targets than cows since cars are built by men and cows … well cows come from other cows. It’s downright hard to blame people for the toxins cows distribute onto the planet’s surface and into the planet’s air. At least the beef industry will be able to declare that every cow they slaughter not only provides food for the table but cleaner air and water for the planet.
I obviously couldn’t read that United Nations report without smiling–and now you know why. Such ongoing dribble about the environment makes me wonder how a follower of Christ should respond to such concerns and the worldwide obsession with global warming. I suppose, besides laughing, we could examine the evidence presented by those who deny the threat of global warming and argue that the whole idea is a farce–which it may be. Or, we could join the crusade and demand cows be outfitted with omission control devises. But such efforts do little to answer the question concerning our responsibility to care for the environment.
I’m not going to attempt to give an exhaustive theology of environmental stewardship. But it does help me when I remember that God made Adam and Eve responsible to care for the earth (Gen. 1:28). That responsibility has not been removed and we should remember that the earth, and all it contains, is a gift from God. It belongs to him, not us. We’re not to use it and throw it aside. We’re to care for the world God has given us.
Many in the ecology movement are motivated by a desire to preserve the earth in order to secure the future of mankind. But God makes it clear the future of mankind isn’t in danger. God controls our destiny and he has a future for mankind. One day God will destroy the earth by fire and replace it with a new heaven and earth (2 Peter 3:10). And there is nothing mankind can do to alter that fact.
I like to think of mankind as the crown of God’s creation and the earth as an expression of his care for us. When we care for his creation we show him reverence. When we seek to faithfully use what his has entrusted us with we show him respect. Ultimately, it’s our love for God that should prompt us to care for the earth–not just a concern for future generations.