Longing for the Divine

Is God Earth Friendly?

This year, Earth Day falls on a Saturday, so I want to say a few words about how we should think about the creation of this earth and why I choose to eat vegan for the good of both my body and the earth.

Thinking of creation prompts me to consider where the earth came from. The seventh-day Sabbath given at the very beginning was a celebration of the earth that God had newly created. Genesis does not present God as a nature deity who possesses power over nature but as the good and loving Creator of all things. The human story began in the beautiful Garden of Eden, which was to be the vision for this earth. The emphasis on vegetarianism in Genesis seems to be generally understood as having an ecological purpose (Genesis 1:29). Plant-based eating and living in harmony with nature were extensions of faith in God. The the plant-based diet and the gift of Sabbath rest mentioned in the creation narrative were about compassion and a nonviolent stance toward creation.

I find myself longing for an untarnished place like the Garden of Eden, where I can tread on soft, plush carpets of grass and breathe clean, fresh air untainted by modern pollution. I long to feel a soft breeze wafting with fragrant aromas in a tranquil world. I imagine lush forests, flower-studded valleys, sparkling brooks, rolling hills, and magnificent mountains. I imagine a place without sadness or pain where animals and humans can lie in peace and safety. This desire causes me to believe that a better world will come. I believe in new bodies and a new earth but do not suggest a complete replacement of this earth as a way to justify negligence or exploitation. I hope for this earth’s recreation and renewal.

I think God has a redemptive interest in this world, not a destructive one. The material world that God declared good at the beginning of the biblical story will be renewed and refined—not thrown into the trash heap. I believe there is continuity between this world and the next. The only parts that will be destroyed are the evil, sin, pain, and death that we now experience. When the first humans sinned and failed to steward the earth, the natural order of things was disrupted and subjected to a curse (Romans 8:18–22). We are still called to care compassionately for our bodies and the earth as we look forward to a new heaven and earth. Divine compassion and the delights of creation are to be celebrated. God’s commitment to the earth is real.

Craig Ashton Jr.

2 Responses to “Is God Earth Friendly?”

  1. beachbum94

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on Earth Day, creation, and veganism. Your statements about the Garden of Eden and the importance of living in harmony with nature are compelling. Do you think there are practical steps individuals or society as a whole can take to move towards a more compassionate and sustainable relationship with the earth?
    Jacob Walker


    • Craig Ashton Jr.

      Hi, Jacob. Thank you for taking the time to comment on my post. I think others know how to restore and prevent further damage to the earth much better than I. However, I suggest the practical steps of a plant-based diet, living with restraint, minimizing waste, refraining from using harmful pesticides and chemicals, and living as compassionately as we can. I think the problems we face are much too large to handle on the individual level. I advocate teaming with large groups that know what to do, but I believe government agencies and agendas lack the motivation needed to make a great difference. Often missing from these groups is a reflection of who God is. That God is compassionate, merciful, and self-giving rather than a conquering dominionist makes an enormous difference. Worshiping this loving Creator includes becoming more like Him, the one who gave us this good creation to steward. God’s compassion should lead us away from our insensitivity. I hope this helps. I recommend reading The Letter to the Romans: Paul Among the Ecologists by Sigve K. Tonstad and Stewards of Eden by Sandra Richter. Craig



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