Nathan Schneider


Creation Care and Moral Vertigo

Earlier this year, a piece of legislation was introduced in the California Senate, which, if passed, would ban the selling of shark fins (over 70 million sharks are used to make Shark soup and other products each year). Recently, the legislation has gained national attention because of support from numerous celebrities, including Leonardo DiCaprio. Read more about the law here.

Now, I don’t have anything against the proposed law and would, if I was a resident of California, consider supporting such a measure (further study would be necessary). However, earlier today I sent out this Twitter:

It’s sad to think many people care more about sharks than people (50 mil abortions since 1973).

My point was not to bring down those who support the proposed law, but to point out the sad reality that our values have shifted as Americans. This becomes obvious when those who stand for animal rights are hailed as champions for what is right, while those who stand up in the pro-life camps are mocked as bigots. The truth is Bible-believing Christians should affirm the good nature of creation AND place highest priority on God’s greatest creation: humans.

Here are three points I think are obvious from Scripture concerning the care for general creation:

  1. God has Given Humans the Task of Caring for Creation (Gen. 1:26; Lev. 25:23-24). The words in Genesis 2 that describe Adam’s responsibility in the garden, “to work it and take care of it,” have their roots in the words for “obey” and “worship.” As John Sailhamer has said, “Man is put in the garden to worship and to obey him. Man’s life in the garden was to be characterized by worship
    and obedience.”[1] Adam was to worship God by taking part in the act of caring for God’s creation.
  2. Creation reveals a Creator (Psalm 19; Romans 1). Just as a painting needs a painter, a building needs a building, so creation needs a Creator. The apostle Paul makes this clear when he pens his
    epistle to the Romans: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (v. 20). This point is also made clear with the usage of things in nature to illustrate a principle in Scripture (e.g. Isaiah 11:9; Matthew 6:25-34; Mark 13:28-31).
  3. Creation is an Apologetic. Martin Luther wrote, “God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.”[2] Often, the early apologists would reason from natural or general revelation, pointing out that certain things can be deduced from the very existence of creation.

There is no doubt that God cares about Creation and He wants Christians to invest in it as well. The Bible even says that there will be punishment on the Day of Judgment for those who do not care for it (Revelation 11:18). However, what is necessary to point out is that God has put precedence on particular areas of His creation. For example, God prioritizes people over all other areas of creation (e.g. Genesis 1:28; Matthew 6:26). One of the most obvious passages where this is evident is found in Genesis 9, following the Flood:

Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.”

I don’t use this passage to suggest that humans should eat all the animals and do so without care. Rather, I point out that God values humans most of all. After all, it was human beings that God created in His own image (Gen. 1:26-28), and it was humans that God came to save (1 Timothy 2:3-6).

Again, my point is not to diminish the efforts of those who champion animal rights. There is certainly a balance needed between our concern for environmental issues and our love for people (this does not reflect a position on the shark law). Ultimately, though, we must find ourselves pushing for what pleases God and sadly, in many cases, we don’t do this. We should care for nature because it is God’s. We should care even more for people because we are created in His image, each valuable in His eyes, and utterly hopeless before entering into a relationship with Him.

[1] See Mark Liederbach and Alvin Reid, the Convergent Church: Missional Worshippers in an Emerging Culture (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2009), 122. By the way, the term “moral vertigo” also comes from Dr. Liederbach.

[2] Martin Luther, God’s Other Gospel quoted in The Green Bible Devotional.