There are, in fact, many passages about the environment in the Bible. As a matter of fact, there is a book available called “The Green Bible” which highlights the more than 1,000 verses that talk about the environment. One of these verses is found at Numbers 35:33-34. It says:
“You shall not pollute the land in which you live… you shall not defile the land in which you live, in which I also dwell.”
The Green Bible is available on Amazon.com.
This quote from Isiah 9:11 is one of my favorites illustrating the idea that God wants people to care for the Earth:
“They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isiah 9:11)
In addition to numerous passages which explicitly advocate respect for the Earth, there are also a number of other Bible passages which address the question of environmentalism more indirectly. For example, this quote from John:
“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”
which I interpret as environmental because if in fact all things were made through God’s hands, then we should respect each of his creations (plants, animals, the soil, the whole Earth), as we do him and each other.
For a more comprehensive list of environmentally conscious Bible quotes, see the link cited below.
There are numerous parables of Jesus that use analogies of fig trees, mustard seeds, vines and branches among other references to environmental features. In one of His teachings in the book of John, He refers to the growth of a fruit tree that is pruned to produce a better yield.
In the creation myth of Genesis, there are several references to the earth, the land, plants, and animals. Because God appears to be bestowing the earth on mankind for cultivation and use, it has often been argued that Genesis justifies human exploitation of the environment. Some examples follow:
Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness, to have dominion over the fish in the sea, the birds of the air, the cattle, all wild animals on land, and everything that creeps on the earth. (Gen 1:26)
God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase, fill the earth and subdue it, have dominion over the fish in the sea, the birds of the air, and every living thing that moves on the earth.’ God also said, ‘Throughout the earth I give you all plants that bear seed, and every tree that bears fruit with seed: they shall be yours for food. (Gen 1:28)
God blessed Noah and his sons; he said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in numbers, and fill the earth. Fear and dread of you will come on all the animals on earth, on all the birds of the air, on everything that moves on the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are made subject to you. Every creature that lives and moves will be food for you; I give them all to you, as I have given you every green plant’. (Gen 9:1)
Be fruitful, then, and increase in number; people the earth and rule over it. (Gen. 9:7)
When interpreting texts like these, it’s important to take into account the variances in language, noting how many revisions and translations it has taken to arrive at the text we now read. Also, elsewhere God notes that humans are made of the same substance as the earth. After the eating of the forbidden fruit, he says the following to Adam and Eve:
…on your account the earth will be cursed. You will get your food from it only by labour all the days of your life; it will yield thorns and thistles for you. You will eat of the produce of the field, and only by the sweat of your brow will you win your bread until you return to the earth; for from it you were taken. Dust you are, to dust you will return. (Gen 3:17)
This implies that humans owe their origins to the earth and aren’t necessarily superior.
Oxford Study Bible: Revised English Bible With the Apocrypha. Ed. M Jack Suggs, Katharine Doob Sakenfeld, James R. Mueller. New York: Oxford UP, 1992.
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