Does the Bible teach the abuse of nature?

The answer to this question requires balancing and blending two truths.

1. God expects us to use nature, God commanded humans to have dominion over all of nature, subduing it and ruling over it (Gn 1.20-31). God gave persons

broad latitude in their dominion over nature, including permission for humans to eat plants and animals for food (Gn 1.29-30; 9.1-3), Jesus demonstrated his absolute control over nature in events such as claming a storm (Mt 8.24-27) and causing a fig tree to wither (Mt 21.18-27). We thus have divine approval to use nature for our own needs and purposes. Good stewards are expected to maximize production by shrewd management of God- given resources (Mt 25.14-30).

2. God opposes the abuse of nature. Our having dominion over nature should not be confused with our owning nature. Humans do not own nature, because the earth is the Lord’s (Lv 25.23; Ps 24.1; 50.10- 11). We are given the natural world as a stewardship, not as a possession.

Scripture teaches that, as stewards of God’s good creation, we should apply sound principles of land and resource management. In the agricultural regulations of OT law, for instance, the land was to lie fallow in the seventh year so its minerals could be replenished (Ex 23.10-11; Lv 25.1-22). In two key NT parables – the parable of the vineyard (Mt 21.33-44; Mk 12.1- 12; Lk 20.9-19) and the parable of the talents (Mt 24.14-30) human beings are depicted as stewards or managers of God’s property. These parables emphasize that God will hold us accountable for our management of these resources.

– Steve W Lemke

Courtesy: The Apologetics Study Bible, p. 777

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