What Does the Bible Say about Caring for the Environment?
By: Dr. Dillon Burroughs | © 2019
Headlines regularly highlight climate change and related issues, arguing for the need to improve human treatment of the environment. Yet others argue climate change is “fake” or that the issue is unimportant. What does the Bible say about the way we should treat the environment?
First, Scripture clearly notes God created our world.
Because God created all things (Genesis 1-2), including our environment, how we treat the environment reflects our view of His creation. God created the world “good.” Though imperfect, our response should be similar to the call to Adam and Eve to “tend” or care for the place in which God has placed us.
This does not specifically describe the way we should respond to environmental issues, but does highlight the need to consider the environment as important, and as a topic closely connected to our faith.
Second, Scripture encourages the ethical
treatment of land and animals.
Throughout the Old Testament law, rules were given regarding the proper treatment of livestock and of land. Christ came to fulfill the law, yet there is still a sense in which God’s view of the environment is important.
Christians do believe Jesus will return at any moment for His people. However, this does not negate the importance of caring for the land in which we live. The early church did not heavily emphasize environmental issues, yet they also lived in a manner naturally consistent with Old Testament teaching of creation.
Third, Scripture emphasizes this world is temporary.
While creation is important to treat well, we are also taught it is temporary. Revelation 21-22 describe a new heaven and earth that will replace the imperfection of this planet.
How Do the Biblical Teachings about the Environment Apply Today?
All believers are expected to treat God’s creation with respect. However, there is also much room for personal freedom regarding the details of applying this principle (Romans 14). For example, one person may feel strongly about eating organic, recycling, or reducing carbon impact. Another believer may also care about the environment, yet take fewer specific measures for practical change.
There is certainly room for diversity regarding our Christian treatment of our planet. A few specific ways believers can apply positive treatment of the environment can include:
-reduced power usage
-reduce the use of harmful items, such as plastic bags, or using reusable water bottles instead of plastic
-where possible, expand planting of trees and green areas
Though Christians may have concerns regarding some aspects of environmental issues, there is certainly room for those who follow Christ to show concern for the planet, starting with our own lives and daily habits.
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Dr. Dillon Burroughs
Dillon Burroughs serves as senior writer at The John Ankerberg Show and has written nearly 40 books on issues of faith and culture. He is also an associate editor for The Apologetics Bible for Students and has contributed to many works on apologetics and Christian worldview. Dillon is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and holds a PhD in Leadership from Piedmont International University. He lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with his wife, Deborah, and their three children.