Save the Humans

Over the past couple of years, evangelicals have taken an increased interest in the environment. You may have read about some of the meetings that have been held recently in Washington. This is a good thing, because evangelicals have often forgotten that we have a stewardship responsibility for all of God's creation. That means the air we breathe, the water we drink, the wilderness areas we all enjoy. I applaud some of the evangelical leaders who have been pricking our consciences -- and some who have been setting good examples by driving fuel-efficient vehicles. But evangelicals need to remember that we are in a unique position. We're not a special-interest group. We are not special pleaders for the environment or for industry and economic development. Rather than enter the environmental war on one side or the other, we're supposed to look at all of these issues even- handedly. The weakness with much of the environmental movement, in my opinion, is that it has become extreme. Most folks associate it with the tree-huggers, who would just as soon blow up loggers as let them cut down the redwoods -- and some have done just that. Evangelicals can take a much more moderated, balanced perspective. Take the issue of drilling for oil in the Alaskan wildlife refuge. This is environmentalism run amuck. People are unwilling to put clean drilling rigs in an area that is remote from human habitation because it might frighten off some polar bears. At the same time, we could produce enough oil out of the arctic drilling to offset much of our dependence on Middle-Eastern oil. Those rigs could produce the equivalent of what Saudi Arabia exports to us daily. So it's not enough just to look at the environmental concerns. In this case, national security dictates a greater concern -- that is, energy independence and our security against the Middle East. I just use that illustratively. In our newfound zeal to protect the environment, let's remember that there are always conflicting interests and that we are the stewards, not just of the environment, but also of the welfare of people. Half the people on earth live on less than three dollars a day. Stifling industrial or economic development doesn't have a particularly tough effect on us. We're going to have a prosperous economy no matter what. But it can paralyze and cripple people in the Third World. My appeal is that we take a balanced approach. Some of the statements that came out of the most recent evangelical caucus here in Washington tended, in my view, to tilt toward the environmentalist side. Well, maybe that's a healthy corrective at the moment. But for the long run, evangelicals have got to be the ones that mediate, always remembering that we are stewards of all of God's creation. And the supreme act of His creation is human beings. It will do us little good to keep the Arctic Circle pristine if it's at the cost of America being driven to her knees by Middle-Eastern oil traders. It does little good to preserve the Brazilian rain forest if the cost is millions of Brazilians living in shacks on sub-standard wages. We are to take dominion over all of God's creation, being good stewards of nature, animals, and people.


Chuck Colson



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