Do Christians Hate the Environment?

Honest Answers : Episode 003

Honest Answers, Episode 003: Are Christians anti-environment? Should they be? Unfortunately, this issue is so politically charged that sometimes it’s hard to get through all the noise to really hear the Bible’s teaching about the environment. But if we listen to what it says, the way Christians are led to think about the environment can be pretty surprising to lots of people…

HA 003: Do Christians Hate the Environment?
Today’s question is: Do Christians hate the environment? Do they think it’s okay to pollute, and trash ecosystems, and hurt animals?
Now, as we begin to answer that we should first agree that no one can speak for all Christians. I’m sure out of the 2 billion or so people who identify as Christians there are some who aren’t kind to the environment. So maybe a better question is, should Christians destroy and neglect the environment? And since the Bible is where Christians go to find their direction for living and thinking, all we have to do is ask: Does the Bible lead us to harm the environment?
And for three reasons the answer is: absolutely not.

First: the Bible pictures the earth as God’s gift to us. If we neglect and abuse the gift God gave to us, it shows that we don’t think very highly of the giver. (See Psalm 115:116.)

Second: The earth has been given to humanity as a home and our place of work. Not only is it a place that we’ve been given to live, but it’s also the place God has called us to cultivate. (See Genesis 1:28.) In the Bible we see that God put the first two human beings into the garden, a place of beauty, and a place where they were provided for. The idea seems to be that they were supposed to extend that garden-like state all over the earth—which seems to have been created wild. In other words, the dominion that God gave to humanity is the dominion of cultivation. We’re called to help the earth grow, to tend it, and to keep it.

Third: The Bible says that Jesus Christ will return in order to rule over the whole earth which He’s going to fix and restore (Romans 8:21 & Revelation 21:1-5). Right now Jesus is calling a people to himself, and he promises to give a restored and healed earth to everyone who follows him. So Jesus himself is all about the healing of the planet. It’s part of the reason he died and rose again. Jesus cares about His people’s home.
Now of course, Christians don’t worship the earth, or think that human beings are a cancer on the earth, or think that we exist to serve the earth. No, Christians worship and serve the earth’s maker. And when we rightly care for and cultivate the earth we do it to show that we care for the earth’s maker, as well as to love our fellow human beings who share the Earth with us.
There is one very provocative thought in the Bible that comes into this discussion. The prophet Isaiah tells us that the biggest disaster for the environment is when humans give themselves to sin (see Isaiah 24:4-6). It sounds crazy, but the Bible teaches us to believe that the whole universe is integrated (both its material, and its spiritual parts). It’s relationally and morally connected—so that when humans run from God it ends up messing up the environment—and Christians are not into things that mess-up the environment. As Christians we don’t want to be abusive, wasteful, or neglectful. We don’t want to mess things up for future generations or for our neighbors down the street. No, the Bible directs us to rightly care for and cultivate our earth.

The Recap:
When Christians rightly listen to scripture they won’t waste or hurt the earth because the earth is a gift to us from God. Because it’s our home and a place we are called to cultivate. And because we know that Jesus Christ is coming back to restore the earth and give it to those who trust Him.

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