How to Talk with Your Kids about Climate Change and God's Sovereignty
By Annie Yorty, Crosswalk.com
Climate change is on everyone's tongue these days.
"Ocasio Cortez: 'The World is Going to End In Twelve Years If We Don't Address Climate Change.'"
"I remember my middle child waking up with nightmares over concern around climate change." - Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA)
"One in five children are having nightmares about climate change."
Climate change—currently defined by the United Nations as long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns—pervades conversations about everything from politics and education to farming and families. The overall message warns us to go on high alert because the world as we know it will soon end. Experts blame humans and their modern habits. But never fear; human ingenuity will save the day. If we pay the proper homage to the earth, it will graciously remain long enough to sustain us beyond the next twelve years.
When I was a kid in the 1970s, the world population numbered less than five billion. I learned in school that we shouldn't have many babies because the earth couldn't sustain many more people. Now the population has surpassed eight billion, and we continue to survive. Still, the drip-drip of warnings from decades ago has increased to a deluge of apocalyptic prophecies. Education and media particularly target our children to control their beliefs and behavior. No wonder fear consumes them.
Maybe the so-called experts have other motives, possibly financial. Or maybe they're flat-out wrong. Though I find many factual and logical contradictions from green movement proponents, I will leave that topic for others to debate.
Instead, as a God-following parent with a teen, I want to tell you why I'm not crippled by worry about climate change and why you shouldn't be either. Together, let's study God's teaching on the purpose and plan for the earth. As you apply God's Word to the climate hype, you will influence your children to lay down their fear and trust Him for their future.
A False Religion
In his second letter, Apostle Peter cautions us about false prophets.
But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. (2 Peter 2:1 NLT)
Wait a minute! Isn't Peter talking about religion? Perhaps you haven't noticed the religious undertones of the climate message. The god of this religion is the earth. Humans sin against this god and must atone through the sacrifice of modern conveniences and financial offerings (now called climate reparations). The government, a savior, will build a bridge of harmony (natural, of course) between humans and the earth through green policies.
Peter continues by exposing the motives of the false prophets.
In their greed, they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed. (2 Peter 2:3 NLT)
Parents, your kids learn the tenets of this religion in school and through ubiquitous media channels. Observe how these internalized lies churn out fear—nightmares about fireballs pummeling the earth. Worry about the world running out of food. A decision against marrying and having a family in the future.
Children are easily tossed about by the winds of false doctrine (Ephesians 4:14). But we can give them an anchor for their souls found in the truth of God's Word.
Counteract False Religion with God's Truth
Parents are the best messengers of the truth of God for our kids. Just as we encourage them to exercise to develop strong core muscles, we can gird up their inner strength with biblical understanding. Without a strong spiritual core, they will be trampled under the feet of environmental ideology like a doormat.
Truth #1: God created humans and gave them a purpose in the universe He designed.
Then God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground." (Genesis 1:28 NLT)
Every child is a blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). God expects us to procreate and fill the earth. Limiting population growth, as some suggest, contradicts His explicit plan. If God commands us to fill the earth, surely the environment He created will provide for our needs.
Truth #2: God expects humans to steward the earth's resources.
The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. (Genesis 2:15 NLT)
Throughout the Bible, God condones using the resources of the earth. He said to quarry stones and cut cedars for buildings. He hid gems in the depths to be mined. Animals and plants provide reproducing sustenance. Harnessed water powers human ingenuity. The list goes on.
The Bible teaches Christians to steward well. With that in mind, we should use all resources wisely to provide for our needs and glorify God. We must be careful not to despoil the land by misuse, pollution, or waste.
Truth #3: God intends for humans to continue to use the earth for as long as it exists.
In Noah's time, God punished human wickedness with a worldwide flood. Afterward, He declared that He would never flood the earth again.
"As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night." (Genesis 8:22 NLT)
That fact should put to rest our current concern about rising ocean waters wiping out continents. Because of God's promise, we should continue normal activities, including managing and using the planet's resources. These activities will not cause the end of the world. No person holds the power to override God's plan.
Truth #4: The earth will remain until God decides to destroy it.
The Bible says the earth as we know it will end one day. Shouldn't we worry about that? Shouldn't we try to prolong its life? Jesus addressed this issue.
"However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows." (Mark 13:32 NLT)
The God who created the universe, the One who controls every day it exists, has already determined when the end will come. If He has decreed an event, no one can stop it. If you belong to God through faith in Jesus, you don't need to fear this future. God promises to deliver you through it.
Today's climate attitudes reveal a common human failing—pride. We often begin our efforts with the best of intentions. Over time, though, the motives become distorted.
In the case of the environment, when we consider the beauty of the earth and its God-created ability to produce, we want it to last forever. Our admiration leads to what Job calls a temptation to "throw kisses" of worship to the elements of nature, such as the sun and moon (Job 31:26 NLT). When admiration turns to worship, humans become desperate to preserve the object they revere. Desire to preserve leads to the arrogant illusion that we are in control.
The bottom line? Humans can neither cause nor prevent the end of the world. God will choose His perfect timing to move into the next season of His plan.
Shepherd Your Children
Satan will always have schemes to capture the heart of the next generation. His tactics almost always appeal to pride and self-reliance. We may not be able to stop his false teachings, but God has equipped us as parents to lead our children to worship Him rather than make an idol out of His beautiful creation.
And when you look up into the sky and see the sun, moon, and stars—all the forces of heaven—don't be seduced into worshiping them. The Lord your God gave them to all the peoples of the earth. (Deuteronomy 4:19 NLT)
This imperfect earth that tempts us to worship falsely will indeed pass into oblivion. Then Jesus will usher in a new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1). Yet even that perfection will not be worthy of our worship. Only God deserves such adoration.
Let's teach our children the truth about God and the environment by searching Scripture for His principles. Take time with your children to listen to the messages of education and media. Together, ferret out the subtle lies and apply God's truth. These conversations will continue over the years of their time in your care.
Investing in your kids this way always requires the sacrifice of time and effort. But there's no other way to anchor them to the solid Rock of God. Then they will be safe through the storms of life—even those caused by climate change.
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/galitskaya
Annie Yorty uses her writing and speaking to encourage others to perceive God’s person, presence, provision, and purpose in the unexpected twists and turns of life. Married to her high school sweetheart and living in Pennsylvania, she mothers a teen, two adult children (one with intellectual disabilities), and a furry beast labradoodle. Please connect with her at http://annieyorty.com/, Facebook, and Instagram.