Since you’re reading this, I am going to guess that you want to know if going “green” is worth it or if it even matters, right? Well, honestly, it depends on what’s important to you.
If your goals are to live healthier, green living can make you healthier.
If you want to help save habitats or wildlife, being eco-friendly can help creatures across the world.
If you want to become a more faithful Christian person, committing to a Christian Green lifestyle can do all of these things, plus help you find a deeper relationship with Christ and walk more closely in solidarity with all of our brothers and sisters around the world!
So, Do Christians Have to Be Green & Eco-Friendly?
This is the question of the day and it’s one that I think many faithful Christians don’t even know we need to ask. What do you think? Is being environmentally-friendly, seeking sustainable choices, avoiding over-consumption and supporting the dignity of all human life a requirement for Christians or just a good thing to do?
There’s no doubt that trying to keep the planet healthy and caring for others are good things, but it didn’t occur to me until a few years ago that it might actually be necessary if we choose to live as a Christians.
Yes, Christian Responsibility Requires Us to Care for Creation
After spending some time with scripture and exploring the teachings of the Catholic Church, it’s undeniable that not only does the Catechism and Pope Francis (and many Popes before him!) teach that it’s a requirement, but we are commissioned straight from Scripture to be good stewards of all of God’s creation…
Scripture* Commissions us to Care for Creation
“The LORD God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it.” (Genesis 2:15)
“Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Now it is of course required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.” (1 Corinthians 4:1-2)
“As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1Peter 4:10)
These are just a few passages that point us towards our mission to care for creation, but there are many more. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) begins to clarify our responsibility when she teaches…
The Catechism of the Catholic Church* Teaches that We Must Care for Creation
There is a solidarity among all creatures arising from the fact that all have the same Creator and are all ordered to his glory. (CCC 344)
Man must therefore respect the particular goodness of every creature, to avoid any disordered use of things which would be in contempt of the Creator and would bring disastrous consequences for human beings and their environment. (CCC 339)
Man’s dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation. (CCC 2415; Centesimus Annus, 37 – 38)
Although the Bible and the Catechism were written in the rather distant past, we thankfully still have the guidance of the Church to help us better understand our responsibility towards the environment today. Our Popes and Bishops are constantly instructing us how we can best apply these teachings to our daily lives.
Because they are so rich and informative, after you read the excerpts below, I encourage you to click on the links and read full the documents for yourself. Honestly, I’m amazed by the quantity of informative writings. These are just a few that you can find referenced in Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si.
Related Post: 12 Great Resources to STOP Over-Consumption
Our Catholic Leaders* Teach that We Must Be Good Stewards of the Earth
“Christians, in particular, realize that their responsibility within creation and their duty towards nature and the Creator are an essential part of their faith.” (Pope John Paul II 1990 World Day of Peace Message, no. 15)
“The way humanity treats the environment influences the way it treats itself, and vice versa. This invites contemporary society to a serious review of its life-style, which, in many parts of the world, is prone to hedonism and consumerism . . . What is needed is an effective shift in mentality which can lead to the adoption of new life-styles.” (Pope Benedict XVI, (Caritas in Veritate, 2009, no. 51)
“Once we start to think about the kind of world we are leaving to future generations, we look at things differently; we realize that the world is a gift which we have freely received and must share with others. Since the world has been given to us, we can no longer view reality in a purely utilitarian way, in which efficiency and productivity are entirely geared to our individual benefit. Intergenerational solidarity is not optional, but rather a basic question of justice, since the world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us.” (Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, no. 159)
“It must be said that some committed and prayerful Christians, with the excuse of realism and pragmatism, tend to ridicule expressions of concern for the environment. Others are passive; they choose not to change their habits and thus become inconsistent. So what they all need is an “ecological conversion,” whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them. Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.” (Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, no. 217)
Following the teachings of the Church, our bishops who serve as our local shepherds, also instruct us on our responsibility towards creation.
Our Bishops* Express that We Must Be Good Stewards of Creation
It is to the Creator of the universe, then, that we are accountable for what we do or fail to do to preserve and care for the earth and all its creatures. (Renewing the Earth: An Invitation to Reflection and Action on Environment in Light of Catholic Social Teaching, 1991)
Stewardship implies that we must both care for creation according to standards that are not of our own making and at the same time be resourceful in finding ways to make the earth flourish. (Renewing the Earth: An Invitation to Reflection and Action on Environment in Light of Catholic Social Teaching, 1991)
Freedom and the capacity for moral decision making are central to what it means to be human. Stewardship-defined in this case as the ability to exercise moral responsibility to care for the environment-requires freedom to act. Significant aspects of this stewardship include the right to private initiative, the ownership of property, and the exercise of responsible freedom in the economic sector. Stewardship requires a careful protection of the environment and calls us to use our intelligence “to discover the earth’s productive potential and the many different ways in which human needs can be satisfied.” (Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good, 2001, citing Centesimus Annus, no. 32)
Related Post: Five Ways to Fight the Throwaway Culture
I hope as you read these quotes some important keywords stood out to you: stewards, required, solidarity, respect, responsibility, duty, essential, justice, accountable and more.
These words serve as the key to our question, “Do Christians Have to be Green and Eco-friendly?” because they show us without doubt that living green can be a great thing no matter what our reasons, but if we truly want to live authentic Christian lives as disciples of Christ, we have to commit to Him in every area of our lives. —Including commitment to stewardship of His creation!
May our Patron Saints of the Ecology and the Environment, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us!
Don’t miss our ongoing study series on Pope Francis’ Encyclical on the Environment titled, Laudato Si’: What Does it Mean for You and Me?
*Scripture excerpts from the New American Bible, revised edition copyright © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, D.C. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright holder. Excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition, copyright © 2000, Libreria Editrice Vaticana-United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Excerpts from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church © 2004 Libreria Editrice Vaticana (LEV), Vatican City. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Excerpts from U.S. Bishops documents, Copyright © United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. All quotes from Popes and Vatican sources, copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana (LEV), Vatican City. Used with permission. All rights reserved.