In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
6 And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God calledthe vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place,and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.
11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.
20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.
24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
It’s been a while since I read Genesis. This really is a lovely passage, isn’t it? I’m truly rediscovering the beauty of the Bible through this blog project, which is an unexpected bonus. Look at all the beautiful, good things our loving God gave us to rule over – “the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (1:28) As regent-stewards made in God’s image, the entirety of the Earth are our subjects.
This means two things. First: we can expect service from them, which we do without thinking through service dogs, livestock animals, even relying upon pollinators for our fruiting plants. Second: we are responsible for their well-being. And that’s what I want to focus on today, out of all the beautiful possibilities of this chapter, I want to talk about stewardship, particularly environmental stewardship, since, as a farmer, it’s a part of my daily life.
This is not a discussion about climate change. This is a discussion that transcends climate change. If you don’t believe in climate change, or if you believe it’s happening but humans have nothing to do with it or can’t do anything to stop it, please don’t stop reading here – because you are exactly who I need to be on board with this. I’m not even going to mention the term “climate change” for the rest of the post!
You see, God not only blessed us and urged us to “be fruitful and multiply,” (1:28) but he also blessed the animals that preceded us in the same way, in 1:22. As rulers of this Earth, it is our responsibility to help them do so – to help the beings of this planet live to their fullest expression. Sometimes, we’re not very good at that. Plastic waste in the oceans getting stuck on marine wildlife causes many to die. Oil spills destroy habitats. Concrete eats up more and more wild areas, forcing us into direct competition with many larger animals, like wolves and bears and coyotes. Growing up, we never heard the coyotes in Virginia and rarely saw bears. Now, since Charlottesville has seen explosive growth since I was a kid, you can hear coyotes almost nightly at my parent’s house. Also, my parents can’t put out the trash for pickup until and hour or two before, because bears will rip through it.
I’m not advocating for a full stop on all development and creature comforts. That’s unrealistic. But, regardless on your environmental beliefs, I think we all can agree that we haven’t been very good stewards of late. And that needs to change. So I urge you to find a few more simple ways to help the animals under our care, meaning, all the animals in the world. This doesn’t mean the hippie environmental freaks are “winning” or that you’re succumbing to governmental or societal control of your personal choices. It means that you are doing the Godly work of caring for the Earth given to you to rule. We clean up our house when it’s messy, right? Shouldn’t we clean up our kingdom, too? We know our houses aren’t permanent. We hope they last a good long time, maybe even past our children’s lives, but how many residential dwellings are still in existence and in use from 500 years ago? Even 200 years ago? The Earth is going to last longer than that, even if it, too, isn’t permanent. So it’s even more our responsibility to make it a good, green place while we have it, for as long as we have it. Regular maintenance extends the life of a car, a house, a person….why not the Earth, too?
Where to start, then? I’ll be the first to admit, I could be doing more. I still use plastic – juice is just a fact of life in our house, as are kids’ lunches with little plastic containers of applesauce, pudding, and whatever I can get Marienne to eat. But I’m trying. Let me share some examples from a busy, cash-strapped family that may inspire you: I make all our own bread now, and thus haven’t brought a one-and-done bread bag into the house (or trash) for months now. Also, I switched our toothbrushes from plastic to fully compostable bamboo. We use disposable diapers, but they’re 80% biodegradable. We recycle what we can (it’s limited where we live) and compost as well. And I call my representatives. I called them last week to request a fast and wall-free solution to the government shut-down, and am getting in the habit of calling them regularly to voice my opinion. That one is totally free, but may have the most impact as policies towards the environment are formed.
Finally, if you feel so moved, you can donate to lobbyists in line with your own environmental views. I touched upon feelings some may have that Big Money and Big Government are strong-arming your decisions. The influence is real, just not where you may think. Did you know that fossil fuel and transportation lobbying groups outspent environmental lobbyists by a factor of 10:1 between 2000 and 2016? That’s over ONE BILLION dollars spent buying your and your representatives’ opinion by those that would benefit most from environmental deregulation. You can read about it yourself here. Just think about that objectively for a minute. If you think popular opinion is being influenced by the tree-huggers at the Nature Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund (who only spent a combined two million on lobbying last year), how much more do you think popular opinion is being swayed by Exxon and BP?
Sorry, I’m going to mention climate change one more time, but just to say – forget about climate change. Let’s focus on being good stewards. And part of that means holding ourselves and the companies responsible for oil spills, soil degradation and loss of wild space to higher standards than we are currently doing. Solutions are out there – wind and solar energy, green-roof buildings, and low- or no-emission vehicles could all become just a regular part of life, if we support them. You don’t have to believe in climate change to support them, you just have to believe that it is your responsibility, as a child of God, as a ruler of Earth, to take good care of all its inhabitants, from the fish in the sea to the birds in the sky.
This is a list of organizations that focus at least in part on lobbying for environmental conservation. I like some better than others, but again, this is about choosing what speaks to your heart. Additionally, you can find your representatives and their phone numbers here. If you call them, mention I’d very much like my husband working again so can they please open the government back up.