Denying global climate change. The flat Earth movement. Anti-evolutionists.
There are several scientific debates that have not shed a positive light on some very conservative folk out there. I suppose that shouldn’t be that big a deal. We’re all allowed to think what we want so long as we’re not hurting anyone, right?
That’s the thing, though. We absolutely are.
First, we’re clearly hurting the planet. Even NASA (n.d.) has spoken up about global climate change, explaining that the Earth’s temperature is rising, which leads to warmer oceans and melting icecaps, which leads to rising sea levels and extreme weather events, which doesn’t help since we’re polluting the oceans, and etc., and etc.
Second, we’re also hurting ourselves. For example, Center for Biological Diversity (n.d.) declares that plastic pollution in our oceans is a global crisis, with tragic results such as sickening sea life and giant gyres of trash like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. In addition, a chemical component of plastic– BPA – has actually been linked to cancer (Breastcancer.org, n.d.)
So, if we’re hurting the planet and ourselves, can’t we extrapolate that we’re hurting God too? After all, didn’t God create us both?
I think the answer to all of the above is “yes”.
That’s why I’ve come up with five biblical reasons why I think Christians should be eco-friendly, as well as action steps anyone can take towards becoming an eco-friendly Christian:
1) The Earth is Created by and in God
Scriptures: “All things
were made through him. Without him, nothing was made that has been made.” –
“For by him all things were
created in the heavens and on the earth, visible things and invisible things,
whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things have been
created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things
are held together.” – Colossians 1:16-17
Explanation: Let’s start off with the basics. God has created the Earth, but not only that. God is also part of the Earth. Therefore, if we hurt the Earth, then we are hurting God, and we don’t want to do that (or at least we shouldn’t).
Action: Use reusable kitchen supplies
Let’s say you’re hosting a Bible study with a group of church members, or attending a church bake sale within the community, and you want to bring your homemade cooking or baking to the event. Large events like these call for some large recipes.
Why not buy all the ingredients for these activities in bulk that’s in your own reusable container? Buying in bulk cuts down on single serving plastic, as well as larger plastic containers. You can buy products from Life Without Plastic, like a large reusable cotton bulk bag, for bulk ingredients. Then, once the event is over, you can preserve any leftovers with one of these reusable food wraps from Etee instead of aluminum foil, clingwrap, or plastic bags.
While you’re at it, plan ahead before you attend a church event if there’s a chance there will only be plasticware. You can bring your own reusable bamboo utensils and stainless steel to-go container, straw, and water bottle in order to avoid any throwaway utensils, cups, and plates.
2) The Earth Belongs to God
Scripture: “The earth
is Yahweh’s, with its fullness; the world, and those who dwell in it.” – Psalm 24:1
Explanation: This one’s pretty easy to understand. Just as we are part of God’s creation, so is the Earth. We both belong to God. Need I say more?
Action: Buy a used Bible
You know the moment someone gives you a nice, new Bible with your name engraved on the cover, that you’re not going to be taking notes in it. Perhaps you’ll keep it on a shelf until a special occasion, much like how we leave the good china in the china cabinet seasonally.
If you’re going to buy another new Bible for the sole purpose of notes, why not buy a used one? It’s all going to keep getting marked up anyways, no? Then you can keep your pristine Bible just that: pristine. It’ll also help cut down on non-eco-friendly aspects of new book printing, such as the paper the book is made of, the plastic wrap it comes in, and the fuel costs to ship.
Besides, you can’t have too many Bibles, right? (Don’t answer that)
Check out ThriftBooks here for used books.
3) The Earth was Given to Us by God
Scripture: “Yahweh God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate and keep it” – Genesis 2:15
Explanation: Let’s use the example of a child wanting a pet, so the family got one. Technically, the pet is the child’s, but the parents are really the ones who own the pet. Even though the Earth belongs to God, God is giving us permission to take temporary ownership of it.
Action: Give eco-encouraging Christmas gifts
‘Tis the season for useless plastic. Think about all the Christmas presents you’ve received that you only used once, broke quickly, had no use for, or simply didn’t like. What happened to those presents? You may have donated them, threw them away, or still have them in random hidden spots of your household that you never check.
Before you continue this pattern, you have a chance to stop the cycle and give presents that are not only plastic free, but useful and encouraging an eco-friendly lifestyle as well. There are plastic-free cookie making kits for children to make Christmas treats. You can give a copy of Beth Terry’s book – Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit – to that friend of yours who loves to read. Gift your coworker a plastic-free shampoo bar that’s natural, vegan, and soothing.
Get the idea? It takes some creative problem-solving, but it’s doable.
4) The Earth is Our Responsibility from God
Scriptures: “God blessed them. God said to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” – Genesis 1:28
Explanation: This one’s more like a parent who left their child alone for five minutes with crayons and a piece of paper in the living room, but then comes back to see all the walls have colorful scribbles all over. Clearly, we haven’t lived up to the responsibility God has placed on our shoulders. We’re supposed to take care of the Earth, but instead we have done the exact opposite.
Action: Wear sustainable clothing
Have you heard the term “Sunday Best”? It means dressing better than your usual daily style for church on Sundays. The world of fashion goes through fabric like I do popcorn at the movie theatre – way too much way too quickly.
Did you know that polyester is a form of plastic? It’s important to think about what materials our clothes are made from and if they’re non-toxic to the environment, renewable, and sustainable. Basically, our clothing needs to have the least amount of negative impact on the Earth as possible.
There are brands like Happyxnature and prAna that aim to provide sustainable clothing like aforementioned. Why not get your outfit for your next worship service or church BBQ at retailers like these?
5) The Earth’s Abuse is Sinful to God
Scripture: “So you
shall not pollute the land where you live; for blood pollutes the land. No atonement
can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed in it, but by the blood of
him who shed it” – Numbers 35:33
“The nations were angry, and
your wrath came, as did the time for the dead to be judged, and to give your
bondservants the prophets, their reward, as well as to the saints, and those
who fear your name, to the small and the great, and to destroy those who
destroy the earth” – Revelation 11:18
Explanation: If we consider abusing people and animals as sinful, we need to also add Earth to that list of unacceptable behavior. To elaborate on what I mentioned earlier, when we hurt the Earth that God has created, still has overall ownership of, and entrusted us to care for, we are hurting God as well. If that’s not a sin, I don’t know what is then.
Action: Influence your church to make changes
We’ve talked about several small changes you can make, but if you’re thinking of going on a larger scale, you can try to create lasting change at your church.
Think about it. Wouldn’t an eco-friendly church only add to the positive impact? For example, you can submit a proposal for the church building to go solar in order to save money, reduce electric usage, and use a more sustainable resource for electricity. It’s a win-win-win!
You can find further ideas on how to become a Zero Waste Church here.
Why do you think being an eco-friendly Christian is important? What changes have you made in your life to become one? If not, why not? Please join the conversation in the comments below!
Note: All Bible quotes were pulled from the World English Bible because it’s in the public domain. I encourage you to compare Bible translations and see what these scriptures speak to you as a result.
Breastcancer.org (n.d.). Exposure to chemicals in plastic. Breastcancer.org. Retrieved from https://www.breastcancer.org/risk/factors/plastic
Center for Biological Diversity (n.d.). Ocean plastics pollution. Center for Biological Diversity. Retrieved from https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/ocean_plastics/
NASA (n.d.). Climate change: How do we know? NASA. Retrieved from https://climate.nasa.gov/