The idea of environmental justice is one many believers find to be a polarizing topic. It seems like the Bible at first glance can give two very different opinions on the topic. On one hand, it seems as though we are to take care of creation. On the other, the first humans to walk the Earth were given instruction by God to “fill the Earth and subdue it,” (Genesis 1:28). This instruction is often a confusing line in the biblical account of environmental justice- particularly when outside of context. Several questions can arise from this short direction by our Heavenly Father. What does it mean to subdue the Earth? How does God intend for us to subdue it? What should this look like? The Bible provides us with a heavenly posture to mimic as we navigate these confusing waters in three major principles.
To begin, we must realize Genesis doesn’t simply tell us about creation; it is an intimate look at the world through the eyes of the Creator. It defines who God is, not just what he has done, thus defining humanity in relationship to Him. For we would not exist without a Creator, and while our Creator could exist without us, He didn’t want to. He wanted our love and craved a deeply intimate relationship between the finite and the infinite. This is the precedent under which we began: an unfathomable love that brought us into existence “from the dust of the ground,” (Genesis 2:7).
Genesis is not only the story of the beginning of humanity, but a tale depicting the beginning of all. The beginning of the wind and the seas, the beginning of the sun and the moon, the fish and the birds- of all living creatures to fill the Earth. This infinite love was never exclusive to man and woman; this love created all things and He saw they were good. He blessed these things to multiply- fill every corner with their abundance, to mark sacred times and He created man to live among them. The chance to live alongside the beauty of His creation is one of His many blessings.
The first principle we find in the Word is the Lord’s creation serves a divine purpose. Nature simply reveals God’s nature. He is constant and unyielding like the ocean on the shore, yet moving like deer in the prairies. He is loving like a Gray Wolf, mating for life. He is present like the air. We can know who God is because He gave us the physical realm.
The next principle is God’s creation has a sustainable order and purpose. Each piece of the physical world works together in harmony. The birds in the sky ultimately rely on the dirt in the ground. Together these pieces work and together they break. It’s an infinitely symbiotic relationship, which leads us to the final principle.
God values all of his Creation. From Genesis to Revelation, it is repeated time and time again that God created the Heavens and the Earth and that He found it to be good. Our Father values all of his creation, in fact, He enjoys it. Every piece of this world has value because it is deeply valued by its Creator and we must walk this out daily. It is important to value every animal you come across, to respect each tree and bush because it is valued by our Creator.
We live in a world described by Isaiah in which“the Earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the heavens languish with the Earth. The Earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the Earth; its people must bear their guilt…” (Isaiah 24:4-6a) We must enter the world as a people of the Lord to fix the mistakes we have made. We must love the Earth, just as we love the Father and just as the Father has loved us.
About the Author: Maggie Stachewicz
Maggie is currently an Earth and Environmental Science major at Indiana State University with a concentration on atmospheric and surface processes. She feels called to protect and care for the Earth the same way the Earth cares for all life, while aspiring to promote environmentally conscious living for everyone- because it is never too late to be better.
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