Over the last few years, I’ve become more interested in sustainability. If you’re not familiar with sustainability, I just googled it and found this definition:
avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance
Sustainability is basically the latest “green” buzzword among people who care about the environment.
My interest in sustainability stems from my gut instinct that caring about the environment is the right thing to do.
Recently I’ve been thinking about the environment from a Christian point-of-view. I hadn’t considered this much before because it’s not like recycling or buying organic is sinful.
Should Christians care about the environment? What does the Bible say about the environment? To answer these questions and more, I consulted multiple Christian authors. Plus I read my actual Bible!
Here’s what I learned about a Christian’s responsibility to the environment.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on these links and make a purchase, I might earn a commission, at no cost to you. This helps me cover my blog expenses. I only recommend brands I trust.
What the Bible Says About the Environment
If you go to BibleGateway and search the New Revised Standard Version for “environment,” it returns 0 results.
But that doesn’t mean the Bible says nothing about the environment! It just uses different words. After all, the Bible was written well over 1,000 years ago–and not in English. When I consult my NRSV Bible, I’m reading a translation of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek.
After careful reading of the Bible, I found relevant verses in two categories. The Bible frequently refers to the wonders of God’s creation. After all, God created the heavens and the Earth! God also created all of humankind to take care of Her creation. We are Her stewards.
The Bible also refers to the responsibility of managing resources wisely and using them to better God’s kingdom. God created all things. Anything we have, whether it be wealth, health, time, or something else, is a gift from God. God wants us to use these gifts wisely.
Bible Verses About God’s Creation
Below you will find several scripture passages about God’s creation. I’ve only included the most relevant verses, but I highly recommend pulling out your favorite Bible and reading the entire chapter that contains the selected verses.
The first book of Genesis tells the story of God’s creation, from the heavens and the earth to humankind. If you only read one chapter of the Bible when prayerfully considering your Christian responsibility to the environment, read this one.
Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”
So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” -Genesis 1:26-28
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you;
the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you;
and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every living thing
and the breath of every human being. -Job 12:7-10
For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and the dry land, which his hands have formed.
O come, let us worship and bow down,
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand. -Psalm 95:3-7
Worship the Lord in holy splendor;
tremble before him, all the earth.
Say among the nations, “The Lord is king!
The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved.
He will judge the peoples with equity.”
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the Lord; for he is coming,
for he is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with his truth. -Psalm 96:9-13
Bible Verses About Using Resources Wisely
Below you will find several scripture passages about using resources wisely in acknowledgement of God’s glory and grace. All blessings come from God, and thus we should take care of those blessings for the glory of God.
1 Chronicles 29
Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might; and it is in your hand to make great and to give strength to all. And now, our God, we give thanks to you and praise your glorious name.
“But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to make this freewill offering? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. -1 Chronicles 29:11-14
Honor the Lord with your substance
and with the first fruits of all your produce;
then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine. -Proverbs 3:9-10
Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. -Ephesians 5:15-17
Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen. -1 Peter 4:9-11
A Christian Approach to Sustainability
We’ve examined Bible verses about God’s creation and about our responsibility as God’s stewards. I’ve prayerfully considered these verses. I’ve also read what other Christians think about the Bible and the environment.
I truly feel, in my heart and in my soul, that God wants Her children to protect Her creation. We should care about the environment because God created the heavens and the Earth. God created us to take care of Her glorious creation. God calls us to be Her stewards.
Be Good Stewards of the Earth
While the Bible doesn’t use the word steward in Genesis 1, this chapter is the biblical origin for the concept of Christian stewardship.
I googled the definition of steward and found two that conceptualize this for Christians.
a person employed to manage another’s property, especially a large house or estate
a person whose responsibility it is to take care of something
I use the NRSV of the Bible, which says humankind will “have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”
But I also like to reference other translations to provide greater meaning. “Have dominion over” can also be:
- Be responsible for
- Rule over
- Take charge of
I don’t claim to be a biblical scholar, but that reads to me like God asking humans to take care of the rest of Her creation. This is basically the idea of Christian stewardship.
Nothing we own is ours–it’s borrowed from the Lord. All of the Earth and everything on it belongs to God. As God’s children, we have both the privilege and the responsibility to manage God’s property. As such, we are God’s stewards.
Examples of Christian Stewardship
What does it mean to be God’s stewards? Overall, I think it means we should each do the best we can with what we have. That will look different from Christian to Christian. God blesses us with different gifts just as God challenges us with different trials.
Here are a few examples of God’s creation that we should protect:
- animal habitats
- the ocean
- freshwater sources
- the atmosphere
That doesn’t mean we can’t consume animals, plants, or water for our own nourishment. However, we should do so carefully so as not to waste any resources.
All that said, caring for the environment doesn’t mean following a strict and narrow list of rules. God loves Her children most of all. Thus, in whatever we do, we should meet the basic needs of God’s children first.
Prioritize God’s Children
Last month I wrote a post on my lifestyle blog called Confessions of a Depressed Flower Child. I explained how I make choices to prioritize my physical and mental health, even if that means buying one-use plastics or using strong chemicals in the yard.
I am a Daughter of God. Actively harming myself in order to better the environment goes against God’s design.
But I am not God’s only child. When considering our Christian responsibility to the environment, we need to consider all of God’s children.
How the Straw Ban Hurts People with Disabilities
Over the last year, I’ve seen increased conversation about disposable plastic straws. I even bought glass straws last year, and I recently received bamboo straws while working with Grove Collaborative. It’s easy for me to stop using plastic straws. I don’t have any real need to use straws at all, and if I do want to use a straw, reusable options work for me.
However, people with certain disabilities need plastic straws. They need the flexibility of plastic. They need the convenience of not washing reusable straws.
Completely banning plastic straws might have a small positive impact on the environment, but it’s at the expense of God’s children.
My friend Rose has written an excellent article on why plastic straw bans hurt people with disabilities. These two bullet points are particularly convicting to me, not just as a Christian, but as a human being. (Bold text original).
- We deserve to live. We deserve access to straws. The fact that there are fewer people with disabilities who need straws, percentage-wise, than there are abled people is irrelevant. We have the right to live, regardless of what percentage of the population we are, and unless we can consume liquid, we will die. That means we need access to plastic straws.
- We have seen the viral video of the sea turtle. Yes, it’s horrible. Yes, we still deserve to live and if you can’t accept that some people need plastic straws because you are more concerned about sea creatures than humans who will die of dehydration, you need to re-examine your priorities.
I do care about the sea turtles. I care about all of God’s creatures. But I care about God’s children most of all.
Rose has really opened my eyes to the various ways a disability can impact a person’s ability to consume a drink. Her article explains in-depth all the reasons why plastic straw alternatives don’t work for all people.
Rose also describes an easy solution for people who want to improve the environment while also protecting people with disabilities. (Bold text original).
Advocacy groups and individuals with disabilities have objected to outright bans on plastic drinking straws. We’ve explained that reusuable, paper, or edible straws don’t work for every person with a disability. So, instead of outright bans on straws (which have a negligible impact on plastic pollution as compared to industrial waste or plastic fishing gear) we are asking that food service businesses provide straws on request for those who need or want them, and that stores continue to be allowed to carry plastic, positionable straws.
Additional Reading on Christians and the Environment
I read multiple articles, from a variety of Christians, to help me write this blog post. If you want to learn more about what the Bible says about the environment, or Christians’ responsibility as stewards of the Earth, check out these resources.
- A Biblical Case for Sustainability
- Handle with Care: What the Bible Says About Sustainability
- Joint message of Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch on the World Day of Prayer for Creation
- Environmental Stewardship and Conservation
- Presbyterian Church (USA) Environment and Energy Policy Brief
Simple Sustainable Changes for Christians
At this point, I hope you agree with me that the Bible presents a case for Christian stewardship. As Christians, we have a responsibility to do our part to protect God’s creation.
But where do you start? How can Christians begin to live a sustainable lifestyle? How do you prioritize human beings, manage your resources wisely, AND make sustainable choices… all at the same time?!
Sustainability can be overwhelming, especially if you’re on a budget. God asks us to do our best, but She also knows we will always fail to live up to the standard set by Christ. Don’t let a fear of failure stop you from trying. Strive for progress over perfection!
Prayerfully consider these sustainable choices. God will guide you to make the best decisions for you and your family.
Sustainable Choices When Shopping
How we consume and what we consume has a great impact on both the environment and people around the world. While trying to buy sustainable goods from ethical companies is challenging, you can make a few simple sustainable changes when shopping.
- Buy less. Learn to differentiate between a genuine need and a want. Choose those wants carefully. Appreciate what you already have. Buying less is an easy way to manage your resources wisely while still improving the environment.
- Buy secondhand. While secondhand shopping opportunities vary wildly by location, you can still attempt to buy secondhand. Thrift stores, yard sales, and antique stores are all opportunities to find clothing, books, appliances, and furniture for your household.
- Use reusable shopping bags. Reusable shopping bags for grocery stores have been popular for over a decade now! Keep a few in your car for any last-minute trips. I also like to take canvas bags with me when shopping for clothes.
- Choose quality over quantity. Obviously this will depend on your budget. However, if you have the money available, invest in a few high-quality products rather than a lot of low-quality products. These products will last longer and save you money over time. When evaluating the price of something, think about its per-use cost. For example, my boots have all be good investments over the last 8 years due to how often I wear them–and the fact that they’re all still in great condition.
- Choose ethical brands. This is not an easy thing to do, largely because there’s so much to consider when evaluating the ethics of a company. Do they treat their employees well? Do they use environmentally-friendly manufacturing processes? It’s so hard finding out this information! I can recommend a few brands, though.
- Grove Collaborative: I buy all my cleaning supplies from Grove, plus a few additional household products. I’ve written a detailed review of Grove over on Belle Brita.
- Pact: I’ve purchased a bunch of underwear from Pact, as well as three dresses. I’m obsessed with their soft cotton, reasonable prices, organic cotton, and fair trade practices. Prices are a little more than I would usually spend on underwear, so I stock up during sales.
- Rothy’s: They make their shoes out of plastic bottles! Save $20 on your first pair by using my link.
- Oka-B: A women-owned company, Oka-B makes their shoes in Georgia with 15-25% recycled material. When your shoes wear out, you can send them back to Oka B to be recycled into more shoes. Save $10 on your first pair by using my link.
Sustainable Changes in the Home
Your home is ripe with opportunities to use less energy and create less waste. Go ahead and use up any products you already have (unless you have a health reason to stop). Then replace them with sustainable alternatives.
- Switch to reusable snack and sandwich bags. I’ve purchased several of these from Grove Collaborative over the years, and they recently sent me two new ones as part of an Earth Day campaign. At this point, I only use disposable plastic baggies to freeze raw meet.
- Switch to LED light bulbs. These do cost more than incandescent bulbs, so you might need to save up for these, or replace just a few bulbs at a time. LED light bulbs last longer and use less energy than incandescent light bulbs.
- Recycle. This is an easy one, a sustainable choice you’re probably already making! Recycle glass, plastic, cardboard, and paper. Look up your local recycling guidelines, and be sure to follow them. For example, not all types of plastic can be recycled at all facilities.
- Buy soap refills. Grove Collaborative sells beautiful refillable soap dispensers, but you can also just keep reusing a plastic soap dispenser. My family has always used soap refills, so this is a no-brainer for me. I particularly love the soap refills from Grove Collaborative. Their hand soap pouches use 60% less plastic than a bottle of the same size and contain approximately 3 refills.
Grove Collaborative Free Gift with Purchase!
Grove is currently offering an awesome free gift with your first purchase of $20 or more.
- Mrs. Meyer’s Spring hand soap
- Mrs. Meyer’s Spring dish soap
- Mrs. Meyer’s Spring multi-surface spray
- Grove Collaborative bubble-up brush
- Grove Collaborative walnut scrubber sponges
Existing customers can still get free walnut scrubber sponges with their next purchase by using my link.
If you’re not a fan of Mrs. Meyer’s products, Grove also has a limited-time Earth Day offer. I haven’t tried out these products for myself, but it’s a different free gift with your first purchase of $20 or more.
Final Thoughts on Christians and the Environment
I hope this post and the additional resources answer any questions you might have regarding what the Bible says about the environment. I encourage you to read through all the Bible verses I’ve included, plus the full chapters. Then ask God to guide you towards a more sustainable lifestyle, one that you can manage with the resources God has given you.
If this blog post has helped you or inspired you in any way, I ask that you share it on Facebook or Pinterest. If you feel inclined to support my writing financially, please shop through my affiliate links. With rare (and clearly stated) exceptions, I only recommend companies that I have used myself.