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In the Gates

Stewards of Creation

Stewards of Creation--Not even extreme situations sanction the wanton destruction of creation.

The fifth commandment

Deuteronomy 20.19-20

“‘When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them. You may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Are the trees in the field human, that they should be besieged by you? Only the trees that you know are not trees for food you may destroy and cut down, that you may build siegeworks against the city that makes war with you, until it falls.’”

Here the principle of conservation is somewhat more broadly elaborated. Not even extreme situations sanction the wanton destruction of creation. Not even when that creation belongs to one’s enemies. Trees could be put to proper use in making siegeworks to carry out war against an aggressor, but they must not be wantonly destroyed as a kind of vendetta against one’s enemies. As the text implies, the creation is not at war with us.

Creation is to be used wisely and well; it is to be honored as a work of God’s hand. All creation is God’s servant to accomplish His good purposes (Ps. 119.89-91). As God’s people delight in His Law, they find the wisdom to function as His stewards and regents over all creation and all of life.

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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