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In the Gates


Conservation--Even the creation deserves a healthy measure of respect and honor from the people of God.

The fifth commandment

5.6 Honor creation

We are to honor the creation, using it in such a way as to conserve it for the future.

Deuteronomy 22.6, 7

If you come across a bird’s nest in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young. You shall let the mother go, but the young you may take for yourself, that it may go well with you, and that you may live long.”

Genesis 2.15; Psalm 24.1; Psalm 111.2; Romans 8.19-23

Two principles of environmental care and responsibility close out the fifth commandment. Even the creation deserves a healthy measure of respect and honor from the people of God.

In this case, the principle of conservation is in view. By taking the eggs or young Israelites would have spared the adult bird to produce more. This represents a principle of selective harvesting of the creation in order to meet the needs of human beings. If we will work hard to understand the implications and applications of this principle more broadly, God promises to bless us.

This series of In the Gates we present a detailed explanation of the Law of God, beginning with the Ten Commandments, and working through the statutes and rules that accompany each commandment. For a practical guide to the role of God’s Law in the practice of ethics, get The Ground for Christian Ethics by going to and click on our Book Store.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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