Friday, December 14, 2012

Why Care for the Planet? My (Brief) Article in Bow Valley Life

I was asked to write an article on the Creation Care component of the Social Justice League for Bow Valley Christian Church's newsletter. You can see the text (with one minor grammatical correction) below:

If you have not yet heard of the Social Justice League, you are missing out on an excellent way to put your faith into practice. My name is Matthew Morris, and I am a member of the Creation Care component of the Social Justice League.

Yes, you heard that correctly. Trying to follow the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven’ involves more than simply going to church every week, saying your prayers daily, and thinking nice thoughts. It involves more than believing the right things. It is a call to action. Many members of the Social Justice League find this call to action in helping the poor or liberating those subject to bondage. Both of these are extremely Christian and Christ-commanded things to do. There is a growing number of Christians, however, who are recognizing that caring for this planet is also a Kingdom Calling. By reducing pollution, limiting animal suffering, and protecting biodiversity, we are putting our faith into action and fulfilling one of the many missions of the Church.

Many Christians I encounter disagree with me. They think the mission of the Church is solely evangelism. This is, I think, an impoverished view of the Church. Christ spoke more about taking care of the poor and the needy than he did about saving others. Not that evangelism is unimportant; they are both necessary. Others agree that we need to evangelize and care for the poor, but they do not see the necessity of caring for the planet. To this I have a number of responses, but I would like to provide two: first, there is a link between pollution and poverty. The poor feel the effects of a polluted earth more than we do. It is easy for us to say that reducing pollution has nothing to do with social justice, because it is not our children that are living among burning refuse, it is not our loved ones in the hospital for breathing polluted air. Second, even if caring for the planet did not demonstrably improve the quality of life for the poor, there is still a Biblical mandate for creation care: we care for the planet because it is the first command given to us by God (Genesis 1:27 and following; see also Psalm 104 for a glimpse of God’s rule over nature). Our call to rule over the earth as God rules is a command we can only reject with great fear and trembling.

Rosscarrock Church of Christ and Bow Valley Christian Church have joined forces in creation care. In the past two years we have participated with Trout Unlimited in rescuing over 10 000 fish from a frozen fate in irrigation canals, and we have led educational programs for children and adults. Rosscarrock Church of Christ has furthermore committed to redeeming its impact on the environment by eliminating all waste associated with coffee (we have eliminated disposable spoons, coffee cups, and individual creamers), and have planted a garden to provide wholesome vegetables to our congregation. We are looking at expanding this garden for next year. In these small ways we as the Church remind ourselves of our daily mission to keep this planet clean.

Our work is not done. It will never be done. There is plenty of room for those who are interested in joining the Social Justice League, but you do not need an organization to begin today. How will you reduce your waste? How will you meet God’s command to rule over this earth and all its creatures in love?


Goemon5 said...

I'm not surprised by the lack of care among Christians. That religion works through punishment and redemption. And everyone can get the latter, just by believing it. That's not how you make people follow a path of good deeds, that's how you get a bunch of criminals who know how not to get caught. This idiocy won't stop before church starts their teachings with a decent assessment on morals in a human society. Judging by the writings of the Guanaco, some priests have found the light.

Matthew said...

Thanks for your thoughts Goemon5! I should clear up a misconception, though - I am definitely no priest. I am just a Christian working in the incredible field of evolutionary biology, who deeply cares about this planet!