The Earth, The Bible, Faith, and Our Dominion

Our covenant with God calls us to steward, protect, and defend God’s creation. The psalmist proclaims, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1) reaffirming our charge to care for creation as a trustee of God’s handiwork (Genesis 1:28). We are to delight in and praise God for the abundance and diversity of creation (Psalm 148) and honor God’s covenant established with all living creatures (Genesis 9:9).

What kinds of steward destroys their dominion, and the creation that comes with it?  In Genesis, and other sacred text, people were issued a great responsibility for the stewardship of creation.  People of faith must listen to, and be effective stewards of the Earth. Now.

When I ponder social principles and the rapid deterioration of our planet, I recognize my calling in this time is to lobby for social and environmental justice. Yesterday, Feb 6, 2019, NASA just reported the climate has again deteriorated for the fourth straight year.  Civil and Human rights to food justice, clean water and a place to live will be threatened by extreme water that will destroy crops, heat continents and flood communities in low lying areas.  Hunger and poverty will increase as people try and flee extreme weather, leaving their desecrated fields behind.

Countries with sustainable climate will become burdened with the economic and social distress of supporting climate refugees. If climate refugees and their children can even find a way to move, where will they find employment and domestic security? Will climate desperation lead to increased mental health problems, including depression and addiction? Health and wellness cannot thrive in an inhospitable climate where medical infrastructures are threatened. The spread of tropical disease will become a reality like Lyme disease, can you imagine malaria in New York City? Our world needs a multilateral, faith supported intervention that engages United Methodists around the world in a common goal, the reduction of atmospheric carbon. United Methodists can be the truth and the light in this very dangerous time.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26)

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15)

“You must keep my decrees and my laws…. And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.” (Leviticus 18:26, 28)

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you ; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.”  (Job : 7-10)

Are the animals and inspects teaching us today as we experience the Sixth Extinction?   Have you read the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service  ist of 1488 Endangered Species worldwide?

You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it. You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops. You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance. The grasslands of the desert overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness. The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing.” (Psalm 65:9-13)

“The land itself must observe a sabbath to the Lord. For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and garner their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a sabbath of rest, a sabbath to the Lord…. The land is to have a year of rest.” (Leviticus 25:2-5; cf. Exodus 23:10-11)

“The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants. Throughout the land that you hold, you shall provide for the redemption of the land.(Leviticus 25:23-24)

“If you follow my statutes and keep my commandments and observe them faithfully, I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.” (Leviticus 26:3-4)

You shall not pollute the land in which you live.… You shall not defile the land in which you live, in which I also dwell; for I the LORD dwell among the Israelites.” (Numbers 35:33-34)

“If you besiege a town for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you must not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them. Although you may take food from them, you must not cut them down. Are trees in the field human beings that they should come under siege from you?” (Deuteronomy 20:19)

Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land. The LORD almighty has declared in my hearing: ‘Surely the great houses will become desolate, the fine mansions left without occupants. A ten-acre vineyard will produce only a bath of wine, a homer of seed only an ephah of grain.'” (Isaiah 5:8-10)

“The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the heavens languish together with the earth. The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth; its inhabitants suffer for their guilt.” (Isaiah 24:4-6)

The prophets and psalmists did not foresee climate change caused by atmospheric carbon,  or the damage caused by chemical and physical pollution.  These issues threaten the very existence of our neighbors more than any issue in the modern world.

The United Methodist Church Social Principle and Resolution #1033 affirmed a call to stewardship in 2016  “We believe clean air is a basic right and necessity for all life. Air pollution puts at risk the health of our communities and threatens to forever alter the climate. To ensure that future generations inherit a legacy of clean air,  We advocate the adoption and strict enforcement of adequate standards to control both indoor and outdoor air pollutants”

The Worship is Over. The Service Begins.