Trees Are People Too

Nancy Bray Cardozo, writing in Audubon Magazine, tells the story of her six-year-old girl nestling down for her first night in her new bed. Just before Nancy turned out the lights, her daughter looked up at her sadly and said, "I really love my new bed, but--it's made out of wood. They killed trees to make my bed!" Killed trees? It used to be that we spoke of trees being cut down--not murdered in cold blood. But if the extreme environmental movement has its way, we'll all be feeling guilty about even the responsible use of nature. Especially our children. There is a concerted effort today to bombard them with a litany of dire predictions about ozone holes, vanishing rain forests, and the extinction of endangered species. They hear about it at school. They read about it in books. They even watch it on Saturday morning cartoons. That's right: cartoons. A survey by the Center for Media and Public Affairs disclosed that nine out of 10 Saturday morning cartoons evoked frightening scenarios of impending environmental disaster. And guess who the cartoon villain of today is? It is a businessman or, even worse, a scientist portrayed as pillaging the earth. The result, writes Cardozo, is that "Children feel like intruders in nature [who are] destined to destroy their world." Behind this radical view of nature is the age-old worldview of pantheism: the belief that the universe in it's entirety--is divine. British author John Fowles claims, "all species are equal." In Fowles's words, "We think, what a miserable little worm or what a horrible flea, but you get to the point where you realize it's all one . . . what Christians call pantheism." History itself refutes the absurd belief that fleas and worms are equal with humanity. Mankind has always stood above nature with a power that no other part of nature has. The Bible explains this uniqueness better than any other system of thought. It teaches that human beings are unique because we are indelibly stamped with the Imago Dei, the Image of God. We are commanded to be responsible stewards over his creation--not to plunder and needlessly destroy, but to guard and protect. Christians believe that the world has value because it is God's creation. And as his creation it deserves to be treated with respect. In the Psalms the Lord says, "Every animal of the forest is mine," and the Old Testament warns against the mistreatment of animals. But at the same time there is a real difference between mankind and the rest of creation, which serves as the gracious provision of God for the human race. The apostle Paul tells us that God "richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment." We need to instill in our children the biblical perspective of responsible stewardship. Only then can they resist a pantheistic ideology that denies humanity its proper place in God's creation. Help them understand that humans have the privilege of utilizing nature for legitimate purposes. And yes, that includes wooden beds for little girls.


Chuck Colson


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