The Bible’s Viewpoint
Why Care for Earth’s Environment?
HUMAN activities may be damaging the health of our planet now more than at any time in history. As the threats of such problems as global warming become more alarming, scientists, governments, and industrial groups are increasing their efforts to respond.
Do we as individuals have a responsibility to help care for the environment? If so, to what degree? The Bible provides good reasons for us to act in ways that benefit the earth. It also helps us to be balanced in our efforts.
Supporting Our Creator’s Purpose
Jehovah God made the earth to be a gardenlike home for mankind. He pronounced all of his work to be “very good” and assigned man “to cultivate [the earth] and to take care of it.” (Genesis 1:28, 31; 2:15) How does God feel about earth’s present condition? Clearly, he is deeply offended by man’s mismanagement, for Revelation 11:18 foretells that he will “bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” So we should not be indifferent to the earth’s plight.
The Bible assures us that every trace of the damage caused by man will be undone when God ‘makes all things new.’ (Revelation 21:5) However, we should not conclude that since God will in time restore the earth, our actions now do not matter. They do! How can we demonstrate that we share God’s view of our planet and support his will for it to be a paradise?
Contributing to a Clean Earth
Normal human activities produce a measure of waste. Jehovah wisely designed earth’s natural cycles to process such waste, cleaning the air, the water, and the ground. (Proverbs 3:19) Our actions should be in harmony with those processes. Thus, we need to be careful not to contribute unnecessarily to earth’s environmental woes. Such care shows that we love our neighbor as ourselves. (Mark 12:31) Consider an interesting example from Bible times.
God instructed the nation of Israel to bury human waste “outside the camp.” (Deuteronomy 23:12, 13) This kept the camp sanitary and sped up the process of decomposition. Similarly today, true Christians strive to dispose of garbage and other waste quickly and properly. Special care should be taken when disposing of toxic materials.
Many waste products can be reused or recycled. If recycling is mandated by local laws, then obeying such laws is part of rendering “Caesar’s things to Caesar.” (Matthew 22:21) Recycling may require extra effort, but it demonstrates a desire for a clean earth.
Conserving Earth’s Resources
In order to fill our needs for food, shelter, and fuel and thus sustain our lives, we must consume natural resources. How we use those resources reveals whether we recognize that they are gifts from God. When the Israelites desired meat to eat in the wilderness, Jehovah provided an abundance of quail. Greed caused them selfishly to abuse that gift, greatly angering Jehovah God. (Numbers 11:31-33) God has not changed since then. Accordingly, responsible Christians avoid needless waste, which could be a sign of greed.
Some may view the unlimited consumption of energy or other resources as their right. But natural resources should not be squandered simply because we can afford them or there is an abundance. After Jesus miraculously fed a large crowd, he directed that the remaining fish and bread be gathered. (John 6:12) He was careful not to waste what his Father had provided.
Being Balanced in Our Efforts
Every day we make choices that affect the environment. Must we take an extreme approach, withdrawing from human society to avoid any negative impact on the earth? Nowhere does the Bible recommend such a course. Consider Jesus’ example. While on earth, he led a normal life, which allowed him to accomplish his God-assigned preaching work. (Luke 4:43) Furthermore, Jesus refused to get involved in politics as a means of solving the social problems of his day. He clearly stated: “My kingdom is no part of this world.”—John 18:36.
It is proper, though, for us to consider the environmental impact of our choices in such areas as household purchases, transportation, and recreation. For example, some choose to purchase products that have been produced or that operate in ways that minimize damage to the environment. Others strive to reduce their share in activities that create pollution or unduly consume natural resources.
There is no need for one person to enforce his environmental decisions on others. Personal and local circumstances vary. Still, we remain individually accountable for our decisions. As the Bible states, “each one will carry his own load.”—Galatians 6:5.
The Creator placed upon humans the responsibility to care for the earth. Appreciation for this assignment and humble respect for God and his creative works should motivate us to make thoughtful, conscientious decisions regarding how we treat the earth.
HAVE YOU WONDERED?
▪ Will God act to solve earth’s environmental problems?—Revelation 11:18.
▪ What example did Jesus Christ set in avoiding wastefulness?—John 6:12.