Established in 1970, Earth Day is celebrated on April 22 each year. It is a day for people around the world to show their support for environmental protection, and it is often filled with events that encourage care for the earth (such as tree planting or recycling efforts) and educate participants on the environment and how to preserve it. On Earth Day 2016, more than 120 countries signed the Paris Agreement, a controversial treaty in which the participating members agreed to lessen the impact their countries have on global warming.
Since it is not a Christian holiday, should a Christian observe Earth Day? There is nothing wrong with observing a day to emphasize the value of planting trees and recycling trash. Care for the earth is not a secular concept. When God created the first man and woman, He charged them to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28). In fact, man’s first job was to care for the beautiful garden God had created (Genesis 2:15). Both the earth and humans are God’s creation. We should care for the world as a miraculous work of God’s own hands. This care is known as stewardship, the act of being responsible for the care and cultivation of something. God did not create the world for us to neglect and abuse. He created it, in part, to be enjoyed, and, in order to enjoy creation, we must be good stewards of it.
A problem with celebrating Earth Day, for many Christians, is the politicization of the observance. Political activists use Earth Day as a platform to disparage technological progress and call for expensive government projects, more intrusive regulations, and globalization. They try to claim the moral high ground, asserting that immediate implementation of their political priorities is the only way to “save the earth” and that to oppose their leftist political agenda is to jeopardize the earth itself. Christians are right to be wary of the sketchy science behind claims of global warming, overpopulation, acid rain, ozone holes, and other alarmist, hot-button issues, especially given the many failed prophecies of environmentalists since the first Earth Day in 1970.
As Christians who believe God’s Word, we know that the earth was not meant to last forever. God tells us that this earth will be destroyed to make way for a new heaven and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:12–13; Revelation 21:1). Therefore, we know that there is ultimately no way to “save” the earth from its eventual destruction, which will be carried out in God’s own time and God’s own manner.
In conclusion, there is nothing in Scripture that would prohibit a Christian from celebrating Earth Day or engaging in environmental activities. But Christians must be discerning. We should not allow ourselves to be used as pawns in a globalist political agenda or to be swept up in movements that serve the creation over and above the Creator (see Romans 1:25).