The 5th Commandment: You shall not kill.
Luther’s Small Catechism
What does this mean? We are to fear and love God, so that we do not hurt our neighbor in any way, but instead help and support them in all life’s needs.
Hear the word of the LORD, O people of Israel;
for the LORD has an indictment against the inhabitants of the land.
There is no faithfulness or loyalty,
and no knowledge of God in the land.
Swearing, lying, and murder,
and stealing and adultery break out;
bloodshed follows bloodshed.
Therefore the land mourns,
and all who live in it languish;
together with the wild animals
and the birds of the air,
even the fish of the sea are perishing. (Hosea 4:1-3)
97% of scientists agree that climate change is related to human causes. (https://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/) Yet, people’s trust and confidence in climate scientists varies widely depending on their political orientation (http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/10/04/public-views-on-climate-change-and-climate-scientists/).
The prophet Hosea did not know about climate change. Yet, in his own time and place, he could see that human actions, human sin and brokenness, and failure to live out the 10 commandments, could affect and harm land, water, plants, and animals. And that God is not OK with that. Rocks, trees, skies, seas, plants, animals-they all have value because God made them, not just because we need and use them for our own survival. God is deeply interested in non-human creation flourishing. A river is precious and valuable, not only because it can provide food, drink, electricity and recreation, but simply because God delighted in creating it and has created the world in such a way rivers will continue to flow.
In Genesis, the first God-given vocation is to “till and keep” or “serve and protect” the earth. The lawyer asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Are animals, waters, plants, forests, insects our neighbors? Do Christians have a God-given responsibility to ensure bio-diversity? Why might our intended or unintended destruction of biodiversity through climate change—of God’s great variety of creatures, from polar bears and coral reefs to dwarf crocodiles and others we haven’t even discovered—why might that be of concern?
Climate Change is a big deal to folks because of economic factors, health factors, and because of the intrinsic value of bio diversity and land. For Christians, climate change matters because God’s creation is precious and valuable apart from human use and needs. For Christians, climate change matters because often it is the poor who are most effected by the results.
The impacts of burning fossil fuels are also hurting our poorest human neighbors worst. Go to https://lwr.org/ and search “climate” for stories of how Lutheran World Relief is working to help communities around the world mitigate and adapt amid changing weather patterns.
In October 2017, Lutherans mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with the occasion of Martin Luther writing his 95 Theses. As a church that is “always reforming,” we know that the good news of God continues to encounter us in our life. We are invited to look at classic Lutheran teachings in new ways. These daily summer devotions look at Luther’s Small Catechism through the Lens of Ecology & the Earth. Pastor Molly edited and adapted them from the website http://www.lutheransrestoringcreation.org/