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Is God Anti-Environment?

“The Bible is anti-environment,” my friend Genie said (that’s not her real name). She tossed her cigarette on the concrete patio behind our favorite bar, stomping it out with a tiny, pale foot, replete with henna tattoo, toe ring, and hemp sandal. “And he doesn’t care about animals either,” she continued, “all those sacrifices and stuff. Gross. God’s a barbarian.”

I stood there with her, in my leather knee-high boots, and an outfit consisting of clothes that were most likely manufactured in a sweatshop. And a cross necklace around my neck.

At the time, I was a recently re-converted Christian. Like many Christians, I knew so little about the Bible that I couldn’t refute her remarks. I replied, “I don’t think that’s right,” and changed the subject.

Genie’s comments made me realize that I needed to be educated about my faith and beliefs. Two read-throughs of the Bible with my husband, and many formal and self-studies later, I know much more now than I did then. I can relate several Scriptures that support that God does care about the earth and all that’s within it, humans and animals alike. Although several examples come to mind, one set of verses speaks louder to me than others:

“The Lord said to Moses on Mt. Sinai, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the Lord. For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a sabbath of rest, a sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields and prune your vineyards. Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest.’” (Leviticus 25:1-7, NIV).

I interpret these verses to mean that God cares a lot about the earth He created—so much that He didn’t want His people to destroy the land by overworking it. And He definitely took this command seriously. Look what happened when the Israelites disobeyed:

“He carried into exile to Babylon the remnant, who escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his sons until the kingdom of Persia came to power. The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah.” (2 Chronicles 36:20-21, NIV).

Granted, the Israelites angered God in other ways, in addition to not allowing the land to have its sabbath rest. However, that He exiled them ten years for each seven-year sabbath they didn’t allow for the land indicates that was a factor in their punishment—after all, the Scripture from 2 Chronicles explicitly states that not only did the land have its sabbath rests, but that it “enjoyed” them. How often do we think of the earth actually enjoying anything? Even though we might not, God certainly does.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m probably not as environmentally-friendly as I could or should be. But I try to be a good steward of this earth we’re blessed with. After all, it’s only on loan.

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.”

~~Psalm 24:1

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6 responses to “Is God Anti-Environment?”

  1. Avatar lee lee says:

    the OT God was big on punishment; it doesn’t surprise me that he punished them for destroying the land!! hmmm…when Jesus died for all our sins, did it include the fact that we’d one day destroy the earth…?

    • acbauch123 acbauch123 says:

      hey, lee lee! i guess the answer to your ? depends on whether or not one considers destroying the earth a sin. according to Scripture, this earth will one day no longer exist, as a new heaven and earth will be created, which will be perfect–as God originally intended the earth to be. some Christians use this knowledge to support a fatalistic attitude toward conservation: “if it’s gonna’ get destroyed anyway, then what’s the point?” which makes no sense, since one of the first tasks God gave Adam was to work in the Garden of Eden and take care of it (Gen 2:15, NIV). and this also makes no sense in light of the above verses, in addition to many others.
      imho, it’s not necessarily the destroying of the earth that’s the sin–it’s the heart and motivation leading to the deeds causing the earth’s destruction that are sinful.
      btw the way, the OT and NT God are one & the same in my mind–although i know people often have trouble reconciling the two. :0)
      thanks for replying!
      blessings, a

      • Avatar Taneem says:

        No I think you should preserve as much of the environment as possible,in case you live to regret it.
        I am not a Christian but there are not many religions that support environmental destruction.

  2. Avatar Jen C says:

    God told Adam and Eve in Genesis to take care of the garden he had given to them. I think certain people have taken the “subdue the earth” passage and decided that meant to treat it as a toilet. If we were created originally for Paradise, then it would seem to be the logical and right thing to try and keep it as close to what God had intended.
    However, we live in an age where we have not had to grow our own food to survive, make our own toys to amuse ourselves, produce our own clothing, build our own homes, etc. We live in a world where everything revolves around “stuff” being brought in on trucks, trains, planes and boats from other countries or other parts of our own country. The computers we are using to respond to this blog on were more than likely made in China, and will probably wind up back in China, off a garbage/recycling ship, where I hear little children and adults take computer parts and melt them down for the metals to sell. We take many things for granted. I think that is the essence of it. We need to balance what is important to God, what is important to each other and what is important to the Earth. I’ve met obnoxious folks on both sides of the environment debate – either they want to “Drill, baby, drill!”and get rid of pesky wildlife or they want everyone to own their own livestock and stop using toilet paper. I think many people, such as myself, fall in the middle, realizing we can’t go back to Pre-Industrial Revolution times and we can’t go forward with a “mass consumption, quick digestion and mass waste” mentality. It’s like anything else God may bless us with – if it becomes something we abuse in order to get what we want, it will eventually be taken away.
    And I do not believe in the silly argument that “it doesn’t matter since we will all be with Jesus one day.” If that’s the case, then throw out the other commandments and red letter verses in the Bible. We must love God and each other. Treating our world like a cess pool, the last time I looked, was not a great way to show love for your fellow man, nor a great way to say, “Thanks God, for the oceans and forests and all the different species of frogs and butterflies and birds..” I don’t think God is anti-environment. I think God is anti-“I have my head up my arse and don’t really care.”

    • acbauch123 acbauch123 says:

      your last line made me lol–i couldn’t agree more! as i mentioned in my reply to lee lee, i think that what’s in our hearts and motivating us is what matters most to God. if we’re thinking of others and the Lord before ourselves–as Jesus said, the two greatest commandments, then we’ll act in a way that reflects that concern, and be as responsible as we can be, within whatever confines we find ourselves.
      thanks for your thoughtful post–it really blessed me today! :0)

  3. Avatar Taneem says:

    I think God is a woman because we live in highly organised world especially in the West. I think she really cares about her children and the environment they belong in. So no I disgree with the argument that God does not care about the environment.

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acbauch123 About acbauch123

Amanda C. Bauch, writer, editor, and teacher, has an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University and is currently working on a young adult novel and a memoir. In her “free” time, she works as a freelance dissertation editor and formerly served as Assistant Editor for Relief: A Christian Literary Expression. Her short fiction has appeared in Tattoo Highway, Bent Pin Quarterly, The Hiss Quarterly, and nonfiction pieces have been published in Writer Advice, Empowerment4Women, as well as two print anthologies, Tainted Mirror and MOTIF: Writing By Ear. She also won an honorable mention in the 2007 Writers’ Workshop of Asheville Memoir Contest and second place in the 2006 Lantern Books Essay Contest. Her viewpoint often derives from her dysfunctional family history, relationships, Christianity and spiritual issues, and random nonsense.

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