Caring for God’s Creation is Part of a Pro-Life Ethic

by The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox

From the formation of a child’s first tiny cell to life’s final breath, all life has dignity and value because each and every one of us is made in the image of God. And that is why when we talk about being “pro-life,” it’s not just about a political issue. It’s a world view…it’s a life-view. It’s a way of looking at each human life that transcends culture, class, race, age and opinion.

— The Dignity of Life by Focus on The Family

My organization, the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), has long believed “creation-care is a matter of life.” For us this means protecting human life from conception until natural death. As the recent video, The Dignity of Life, by Focus on the Family puts it: “From the formation of a child’s first tiny cell to life’s final breath, all life has dignity and value because each and every one of us is made in the image of God.”

For us, being pro-life includes not only defending our unborn children, but also the biblical mandate to care for all life. Toxins and other pollutants foul our water, air, and soil, impacting the purity of life God intends for His creation. Every concern mentioned in the video by Focus on the Family is impacted by our poor stewardship of God’s creation; creation-care is foundational to our quest to overcome poverty, human trafficking, racism, women’s rights, and Jesus’ call for abundant life. That’s why creation-care remains integral to being pro-life. As the Focus video states, being pro-life is “not just about a political issue. It’s a world view “it’s a life view.”

Last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its latest study on the human impacts of climate change already occurring, and the more serious threats yet to come. On a recent EEN trip to Malawi, one of the world’s poorest countries, we saw the consequences ourselves and listened to those whose lives have been made worse. Listen to this firsthand account from Lifnette James, mother of six. Recently the Assembly of God’s relief agency in Malawi sent a letter asking the American Church to awaken to their plight. Will pro-life Christians answer this call? Will we answer the call of the one who is leading the way in overcoming climate change, our Risen Lord?

As we approach Easter, our current inability to seek the opportunities for overcoming climate change reminds me of my favorite Bible passage describing Jesus’ resurrection. In John’s gospel, there is a unique and often overlooked story:

14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). 17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.” (Jn. 20:14-18, NIV).

This text has caused lots of thoughts and opinions throughout the Church’s life. To me the text is quite simple. Mary, so overcome with joy in finding Jesus alive, wanted to hold on to him. Mary clings to what she knew. She desires holding on to the past and is completely blind to a new future.

Most of us can identify with Mary. We don’t like change and are apt to live in the past. Mary couldn’t understand that Easter was a transforming moment. The past, wiped clean at the cross, became a new hope and new opportunity in the resurrection. Beginning with Mary on that Easter morning, the Risen Lord offers us the choice to follow Him into a new future, a new reality.

Today part of following our Risen Lord means letting go of our outdated dependence on fossil fuels and seeking new opportunities. Coal, oil, and natural gas provided some great benefits, but with a cost long unknown and a price unrealized. Now we know that part of the price we have paid and will pay is the health of our children. Dirty air, fouled water, and contaminated soil have left a legacy of brain damage, malfunctioning lungs, and a host of other health concerns.

It’s hard to let go. Our history remains filled with examples of people and industries failing to grasp new ideas. In the 1800′s Western Union turned down the opportunity to buy the telephone; in the early 20th century the equine industry believed automobiles to be a fad, and the list of foolish decisions could go on and on. Let’s not make the same mistakes again.

Climate change already impacts food production, water resources, increases disease, and forces more and more of God’s children to flee their homes. Addressing these pro-life concerns will require us to let go of the past, dream big, and together follow our Risen Lord toward a new day.

Here’s what I see: I see cleaner skies and purer water; healthy children free to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, their bodies not hindered by pollution, their brains not diminished by toxics. I see an economy that is the envy of the world, producing the technologies that help us achieve life, liberty and happiness, ones that lead to a cleaner environment, plentiful, affordable energy to power our homes and vehicles and businesses, freeing up time to spend with family and loved ones, to rebuild community life, and to be creative with the gifts God has given each of us. I see such a life being made possible in the Majority World, where American technology creates clean energy that empowers sustainable economic progress, lifting billions out of poverty and into prosperity.

It’s time to see visions of a new day, a new beginning. Let’s move beyond our fear in holding on to the past and see what Risen Lord is doing. Being pro-life is caring for life and following our Risen Lord. This Easter let’s move beyond our past and rise to a better future; Jesus did.

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/foolsconfidence/2014/04/caring-for-gods-creation-is-part-of-a-pro-life-ethic/#ixzz3YiksNdYk

What Does Pro-Life Mean?

by Mitch Hescox

As Focus on the Family so beautifully depicts in the video below on the Dignity of Life “When we talk about being “pro-life,” it’s not just about a political issue. It’s a worldview . . . it’s a life-view.”

Pro-life is so much more than being against abortion, it’s also about protecting humanity from poverty, human trafficking, and for us the threats from pollution. Abortion is a nationally tragedy, but so is 1:6 children born with mercury levels that could cause brain damage, or the 78% increase in autism in the past decade, or the fact women now face a 1:8 chance of developing breast cancer — all linked to increases in toxic pollution. The Christian Church has long supported pro-life as whole life, from conception to natural death. Pro-life has everything to do with quality of life as well as preventing abortions. The long Biblical history promotes pro-life as a true concern for all life. To limit pro-life to only abortion weakens the Church’s witness in caring for all God’s children.

Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

God created us in His image and breathed into us the breath of life. We were created special –with special responsibilities to care for each other and to care for all of God’s creation. Hopefully, no one will dispute the Christian call to be faithful stewards of all God has entrusted to us and this especially includes the earth. We live at a critical time as new chemical compounds are developed by the thousands each year, and many have never been tested for their effects on human life, especially in the combinations in which they are marketed in pesticides, herbicides, and even plastics. Lakes, streams, and ground water contamination continues from lead, mercury, organic compounds, and synthetic hormones. All these are threats to human life, especially our unborn children and “the least of these” that Jesus commands us to care. Moreover, this doesn’t include another serious threat to human life – the climate disruptions caused by carbon pollution that result in extreme weather leading to drought and severe temperatures that menace human life, both here at home and around the world.

Recently, a few Roman Catholic and evangelicals developed A Joint Declaration on Life. Their goal was to call attention to the political partisanship that attempts to disrupt true Christian witness in favor of one party over another. The degree of partisanship of those concerned with our whole life message is troubling. No single political party has the full solution to life issues. The church must carefully speak on the need for action to reduce abortion and to reduce harms to all of life including harms that come from chemical exposure and the world we will leave to generations yet unborn. I signed the declaration as it represents a balanced whole biblical approach to pro-life and rejects a partial Christian understanding of pro-life.

Let’s rebuff any worldview that “waters down” the Biblical message and witness that calls us to protect all life at all time in all ways. Pro-life as whole-life doesn’t confuse the message but completely and fully describes our biblical witness.

The Rev. Mitch Hescox is President & CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network