Q: Should Adventists celebrate Earth Day? This is a holiday that emphasizes the pagan god of Gaia and focuses our attention on the creation and not the Creator. The purpose of this holiday seems to be created to pull people away from God. What should we do? — Bruce, from the United States
A: It’s interesting to understand the historical and political roots of Earth Day. The idea for this day was proposed by a U.S. senator, Gaylor Nelson, from Wisconsin. He teamed up with a U.S. representative, Pete McCloskey, from California, and a politically active graduate of Stanford University named Denis Hayes. Together, these men and a small staff rallied 20 million people across the U.S. on April 20, 1970, to help “save the planet.”
Since then, the movement has gone global and is coordinated by the Earth Day Network, which describes Earth Day as “the largest secular holiday in the world.”
It is true that the day evokes Greek mythology in the form of “Gaia,” more commonly known as “Mother Earth,” a goddess whom the ancient Greeks worshipped. And it is also true that while Earth Day promotes care of the environment, it has also retained its political nature and actively promotes political agendas.
Nevertheless, as Christians, God calls us to be good stewards of the many blessings He has given to us — and that includes the Earth and its resources. We should be mindful not to be wasteful, to use energy, water, and other resources efficiently, and recycle whenever possible. We encourage cleanliness, disposing of waste properly, and doing what we can to preserve the beauty of God’s Earth.
It is clear that Jesus cares about our stewardship of this planet. In Revelation 11:18 we read about His coming to “destroy those who destroy the earth.”
While we should be careful to do what we can to care for the Earth, as Seventh-day Adventists, we place greater urgency and emphasis on saving people than in trying to save the Earth.
God’s Word gives us good counsel on this in 2 Peter 3:10-13:
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God. … Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”