As the organization where I work prepared to start a program on faith-based action to stop climate change, I prepped by listening to podcasts from the Creation Care for Pastors website.
I heard some great preaching and some excellent Bible study that showed how care for God’s earth is a religious mandate.
What left me unsatisfied is where that stopped.
The sermons I listened to did an amazing job of explaining why we should care for the earth. And to explain how to do this, they talked about filling your tires to improve gas mileage and setting up recycling progams at churches.
That’s a good start, but I’m sorry, that’s not enough.
If you look at the Bible, the Hebrew scriptures include laws about environmental protection.
A great example is the law of the sabbath year. This law said that every seven years the earth was given a year of rest, just like every seven days people were to get a day of rest. This law teaches us to respect the earth and to take care of it’s ability to give forth food rather than stripping all nutrients out of the soil in a greedy effort to get more and more productivity from the land.
Environmental protection was the law.
And as we face the environmental challenge of today, we need more than inflated tires and recycling progams, we need good lawys.
The Cuyahoga River in Ohio used to catch fire. Now it doesn’t. The credit doesn’t go to individuals who stopped dumping. The credit goes to solid envrionmental regulations that cleaned up the river.
In discussing global warming, Thomas Friedman says, “change your leaders, not your lightbulbs.” His point is that the challenges we face are much larger than we can fix by only driving a Prius or eating local greens.
These are important, but to get the change we need, we need strong environmental laws.
Personal and community transforamation are important. The sermons on Creation Care for Pastors give a good baseline. But to really fix the problem we need policy change.
Lucky for the folks at CCFP, the Bible gives us a good model of just that.