The Christian environmentalist

by blue in green

“Let the sea roar and all it contains, the world and those who dwell in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy.” —Psalm 98:7,8

To many, the phrase “Christian environmentalist” is oxymoronic, the idea of preserving nature for its own sake having acquired the same radical connotations as socialism or atheism. Yet the Bible—from Eden to Noah’s ark to the Exodus to Elijah—is inseparable from the natural world and the way God exerts His glory and His discipline through it. King David, who spent many years as a desert vagabond, can attest to the fact that the closest communion with God is often found in the wilderness.

It’s not that every believer must sign up for Sierra Club membership. But the more absorbed we are in the quartz-timed routines of our climate-controlled lives, the more our souls should benefit from direct exposure to virgin Creation. David perceives that the sea, the rivers, and the mountains all extol our heavenly Father. Who would ever say the same about a strip mall or office park?

So yes, it is Christian to preserve wilderness so that everyone, especially future generations, may enjoy God’s unadulterated handiwork. It is Biblical to advocate for the environment, from the local wildlife to the global climate. True, our priorities are very different from those of extreme earth-firsters who see mankind as a pox on the planet, and every resource consumed as plunder. But the Psalmist also reminds us of our place: God created this earth, and He has privileged us to “dwell in it.” May we attain a proper sense of context and stewardship towards our environment, that we may also attain to dwell with its Creator, whose beauty and breadth are even greater by far.

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.” —John Muir