Santorum made a very weird statement when he was trying to defend his “phony theology” remarks:
We’re not here to serve the Earth. The Earth is not the objective. Man is the objective.
Santorum has defended his statement in terms of affirming a Biblical understanding of man’s role as a steward of creation, but if we took this later remark at face value we would have to say that Santorum doesn’t understand the concept of stewardship very well. After all, the purpose of Christian stewardship isn’t simply to serve human needs (much less desires), but to preside over the natural world as God’s viceregents and to rule it in a manner pleasing to God, all of which is directed towards giving God glory and thanksgiving for the blessings He has bestowed upon us. We are to see creation as something entrusted to us by God, and as something that we are responsible for preserving and keeping as part of our obedience to Him. That necessarily involves limiting and restraining our desires so as not to exhaust or waste what has been entrusted to us. Viewed that way, we are here to care for the earth and for one another, and in so doing serve the Creator Who made both.
On a related point, a passage from Roger Scruton’s Green Philosophy seems appropriate here:
If society is a contract, it is not a contract between the living only, but a contract that includes the dead, the living and the unborn–in short, not a contract at all, but a relation of trusteeship, in which the living have charge of the assets inherited from the dead which they in turn must pass on to those unborn. Simply to waste in the lifetime of a nation’s temporary tenants, the capital accumulated over centuries, is to breach the trust on which future generations depend. (p. 174-175)
Even to the extent that Santorum is partly right that “man is the objective,” that still includes the part of humanity not yet born that will inherit the world we bequeath them.
P.S. Santorum’s spokesman isn’t doing him any favors when he demonstrates that he has no idea what the differences between theology and ideology are:
Theology’s a worldview. And Obama sees the world differently. I mean, someone who apologizes for America’s greatness, and someone who thinks the government knows best on health care, I mean those are different theologies.
I know that some people treat the “apology tour” lie as an article of religious faith, but that’s no reason to confuse it with the effort to understand God.