The Federal Ethics Committee in Geneva has submitted a report on the dignity of plants. According to a press release, the report “condemned the decapitation of flowers without reason, among other sins.”
According to the members of the committee, plants deserve respect and killing them arbitrarily was morally wrong, except when it comes to saving human life.
A few members of the committee objected to genetic engineering of plants since such action infringes on the plant’s “moral value.”
I believe Christians should be good stewards of God’s creation, but the view proposed by this committee is going too far. Consider “the wild grass, which is here today and tomorrow is tossed into the fire to heat the oven” (Luke 12:28 NET), do they have the moral capacity to say to humans that to use them as fuel for the fire is a sin against them?
We kill trees to make paper, we kill corn to make fuel for cars, we kill soy to make soap for human consumption, and we decapitate roses to make our wives happy.
If allowing plants to die without reason is a sin, should we rescue plants when they are being scorched by the hot sun (Mark 4:6)? Should we try to save plants when they are being killed by other plants (Luke 8:7)? The grass will always wither and the flowers will always fade when the wind of the Lord blows upon them (Isaiah 40:7) and there is nothing we can do about that.
We recognize the dignity of human life and work hard to preserve it. We recognize the worth of animals and abhor animal cruelty. We also appreciate the value of plants because they are part of God’s beautiful creation. However, there is a difference between humans, animals, and plants. Enjoying the beauty of the lilies of the field is one of the joys God has given to his creatures. And picking one of them for their beauty and enjoyment is not a sin against the Creator, much less a sin against the plant.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
Tags: Creation, Plants