Emerging Perspectives: Student Chapters

The Sacredness of Water

Hallie Stelzle

Pick up any religious text and you are likely to find at least one reference to water. Whether it is used to cleanse, bathe, heal, restore, replenish, or purify: water is one of the most prolific symbols in major world religions, stretching through time, place, and culture. As human beings, this may come as no surprise seeing how our bodies are composed mostly of water, and we rely on it for our very survival – a truth that continues to become more resonant as the effects of climate change take hold in the forms of drought, rising temperatures, and natural disasters. Like many religious symbols, water appears in scripture, ritual and tradition through its simplicity and use in everyday life. In examining a variety of major world religions, namely Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Christianity, connections between water as a common resource, and water as a sacred and holy gift become apparent. Drawing from these unique and similar understandings of water, we can begin to consider the spiritual motivations one might have in engaging in water conservation efforts. Furthermore, in exploring these religions specifically, we can identify some beliefs about water that may provide helpful wisdom in the face of more rational conversations surrounding water conservation. Because these religions have such strong relationships with water and large followings worldwide, there is hope that these connections between scripture and our contemporary crisis may be brought to life to move toward a more secure and just future…

…While unique in the specific details, each of these religions place emphasis on water as an essential component of their creation stories, noting its ability to bring forth or restore life. These themes of birth, rebirth, and restoration will come back into the conversation about water later, especially in the context of rituals and traditions…


Find the rest of this chapter in Emerging Perspectives on Religion and Environmental Values in America HERE.


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Religion and Environmental Values in America Copyright © 2019 by Hallie Stelzle is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.