A Christian approach to environmental issues
The first paper in this three-part series discussed God’s present work in creation and humanity’s relationship with the created order. The second part expounded a Christian view of development and environmentalism. In this third and final paper, the ethics behind environmentalism are considered and a set of principles are proposed that can guide our decision-making when facing environmental challenges or when we are forced to compromise in relation to development projects and environmental issues. These ethical principles are then applied to a current environmental challenge: the perceived threat of “climate change”.
When dealing with issues of development and environmental impact, we will always be faced with difficult and complex choices. There will always be a tension between our stewardship responsibility and our mission to resist the Fall. Our attempts to develop and improve our environment may be unsustainable in the long run or may result in unforeseen problems and unacceptable environmental damage.
It is imperative, then, that we develop an ethic for guiding what we do to the world that we have been charged with preserving and protecting. It is only with reference to such an ethic that we can make morally right and ethically sound decisions about how we change and develop our environment.
Ethics is concerned with what a person ought to do in any given situation. What, then, are Christians—as stewards of God’s creation—to do in light of the environmental challenges we presently face? Clearly, we are to take care of creation, but that does not mean that industrial and agricultural development should be stopped or severely restricted. Nor does it mean that the needs of human beings should be subjugated to the desire to maintain a pristine environment….
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