Blue Theology: The Christian Call to Care for the Ocean
Water is reflective of light, of the blue sky, and of God’s love. Water has long been central to the Christian tradition: from baptism to the washing of feet. The Bible itself is full of language about water, beginning with the creation of the sea in Genesis and ending with the “water of life” (Revelation 22:17). As Christians, we are called to care for the earth— an earth that is 71 percent water (and mostly saltwater). We honor the sea and understand our responsibility to care for all that swims, crawls, and emerges beneath the surface. Water is sacred, and the Christian call to ocean conservation upholds this belief.
What does it look like to practice a blue theology, a theology of ocean-focused creation care? One can put into practice such a theology by first paying attention to the water that surrounds you. It could be freshwater; maybe you are surrounded by rivers or wetlands. Wherever you may be, remember that we are all connected to the ocean. As scripture reminds us, “all streams flow into the sea” (Ecclesiastes 1:7).
We can further focus our attention by asking ourselves, “Who lives in the water? Who depends on it? Where does the water come from? Who is upstream and who is downstream?” Immerse yourself in nature, reflecting on where water is present (or absent). This exercise is an invitation to think about how water is life-giving, both physically and spiritually. Marine phytoplankton create oxygen for us to breathe, we catch fish to nourish our bodies. Both saltwater and freshwater have the ability to soothe, shock, and sustain.
We can look to the ocean as an example and as a sign of God’s presence. There is miraculous life of each molecule of water. There are the waves that parallel God’s unending grace. Artists, scientists, and theologians alike are drawn to the ocean. We look to the sea for inspiration: for wonder, for stories, to understand more about God’s creatures. If you wait patiently, you will see more and more. Paying attention leads to wonder, and wonder leads to reverence.
This deep respect and acknowledgement of the divinity reflected in the ocean will naturally lead to a conservation-mindset. In recognizing the inherent value of our seas, we desire the healing of our ocean and watersheds for the benefit of all beings. We then want to protect our beloved ocean from harm.
As we work to heal our seas, we are also healing ourselves. To increase equitable access to our oceans is both a social justice success and a conservation success. The ocean’s health is our health, just as our neighbor’s suffering or joy is ours as well.
A theology of caring for our seas and watersheds can make something as simple as drinking a glass of water feel like a prayer. A theology of ocean care can sustain us, the creatures with whom we share the earth, and the sea itself. A walk by the ocean becomes worship. A conscious breath connects us to the sea.
To commit to ocean conservation is to invite resurrection. To actively love our oceans is not just a moral obligation, it is a path toward personal, community-wide, and global transformation.
Blue theology is an invitation to see the ocean how God sees it. To care for the sea as God would have us do. The ocean reflects God’s presence, and as Christians, we are called to worship our Creator by honoring our connection to the sea.
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