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Creation Care Starts with Our Bodies


Feb 26 2014
Or, what I learned from my bikini-clad mother-in-law about the goodness of creation.

A thorough understanding of the goodness of creation has the power to reorient us. Not only can it give us a new compassion toward our own bodies, a proper theological understanding of creation's goodness also compels us to love more consistently what God loves. It compels us to roll up our sleeves and care for creation in myriad creative ways. The list of practical creation care ideas is long and includes everything from eating more sustainably (think more veggies, less factory-farmed meat) to living more simply (think less shopping and more upcycling). At the top of the list is paying attention to the miraculous world around us, reverently acknowledging the goodness of creation and the Creator who made it.

While the belief in the goodness of creation grounds us in our efforts to care for creation, it is the reality of creation's suffering and humanity's part in that suffering that adds impetus to those efforts. The realization that humankind's broken relationship with God leads to a broken relationship with other people and with creation itself is sobering indeed. Consider the words of Hosea:

Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites, because the Lord has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: "There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land. There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. Because of this the land mourns, and all who live in it waste away; the beasts of the field and the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea are dying" (4:1-3).

Cheery passage. Although they were written thousands of years ago, these words sound startlingly similar to many newspaper headlines. Fish, birds, and beasts die. Murder, theft, and adultery abound. People have lost their faith in God. Sounds like The New York Times to me. But whereas The New York Timespresents such a cattle call of calamities in standalone articles, Hosea connects them, showing the ripple effect of sin. Creation's suffering is intrinsically linked to humanity's faithlessness, lack of love, and lack of acknowledgment of God.

The trickle-down effect of our brokenness is a land that mourns. All (humans and non-humans) who live in it waste away. This is certainly what we are seeing around the world today. The United Nations recently reported that environmental refugees (people who are displaced because of environmental degradation) already outnumber refugees as a result of conflict. Conflicts will, in fact, be increasingly driven by the scarcity of natural resources (read: a mourning land).

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