One Christian's Thoughts on Climate Change

As part of Blog Action Day 2009, I agreed to write a post today on the topic of Climate Change. Trouble is, climate change is not something I've thought too much about.  This in spite of the fact that it seems to be all the rage.  "Green is the new black." is a common mantra, and some would have "Global Warming" be the Fifth Horse of the Apocalypse.   (And lo, I saw a rider on a green horse, and his name was Al Gore...) 

Seriously, though, how is a Christian supposed to balance his responsibility of stewardship of God's creation with his responsibility to spread the Gospel and strive against moral outrage?  Are we better off lifting our voices against abortion and sexual slavery and the like, or is climate change enough of a "real" issue for us to sink our teeth into?

As with many things, I suspect the correct answer is "a little of both."  There are prominent evangelical Christian leaders who both support and oppose a "global warming" agenda in the evangelical church.  So how are we, as leaders in local congregations, supposed to shepherd in this area?

Let's start with a couple of basics.  "Climate Change" is certainly real.  It can be physically measured, in glaciers, ice cores, fossil records, insect and animal populations, sea levels and more.  What we don't understand completely is how or why it happens.   Is it a natural part of our planet's cycle?  Is it - at least partially - caused by human activity?  "Global Warming" is the idea that human activity is causing the Earth's temperature to slowly rise, and thus accelerating climate change. 

What we do know is this - We are called to love God and love our neighbors.   What we need to think about is how our stewardship of the planet God placed us on relates to those two things; do we "love God" by needlessly polluting His creation?  Do we "love our neighbor" by squandering the planet? Probably not.

Christ often practiced what I call the "Greater Principle."  He would conform to that law which was "greater."  He would heal on the Sabbath, because it was the greater good.  He would break traditions to conform with God's law of love.

What is the "greater" principle here?  Should I detract my time from teaching, preaching, service and defending the unborn to protest global warming?   Maybe not.  But - should I be a good steward of what God has given me?  Of course. Is it "loving one's neighbor" to use energy-efficient appliances, to drive a fuel-efficient car, to turn off the AC when it's not very hot, to carpool and take mass-transit when possible?   You know what?  I think it is.

Here's the problem.  "Evironmentalism" can easily become an idol.  We lay so many things upon the altar of a "green society" and are willing to bash one another because of it.  That's not love.  Tossing around pseudo-science (on both sides) to prove a point?  That's not love. Especially when there is little to no consensus on the causes and extent of climate change. But there is also no harm (and a lot of good) in doing what we can as individuals to protect our environment.  So lower that thermostat, turn off those lights, and get on the train. And while you're on the train, talk to the guy next to you about Jesus.


  1. (And lo, I saw a rider on a green horse, and his name was Al Gore...)

    Love it! Yours or borrowed?

    But you're right, and such a balanced view, especially from someone on the left side of the pond is fantastic! Steve, I applaud you.

    Just to add that anti-abortionism can also become our idol, demanding chastity before marriage can also become our idol, getting the gospel out to the un-churched can also become our idol. It's just been very fashionable and simple to dismiss the responsibility required for our actions in this area because it doesn't have the immediate christian impact that some of the others do. It also might mean reducing our obesance to the god of profit, and that would be a very bad thing in a society run on money.

    So yes, I think it should be right up there, alongside the other things. Good post.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts