Most state parks have a place to dump “gray water.” We aren’t talking about raw sewage. Gray water, as defined, includes the dishpan of water you washed your dishes in. Ever carry a couple gallons of water 500 yards in an awkward dishpan you must hold out in front of you, trying not to slosh it all over yourself in the cold? Nearly impossible. And who, living in the country, doesn’t know that wash water works wonders on the blueberries and flower beds? At least the last park we stayed at had dispensed with the gray water rule.
I think some of these things bother me because, as country people, we are always green. We are careful what gets dumped where, even if it means having to load it up and cart it off to the landfill ourselves; you don’t want your groundwater polluted, especially uphill from the well. We rotate crops. We even rotate garden spots. We use twigs to dissuade cutworms rather than plastic rings or metal nails. We mulch with the leaves from our live oaks, which we then turn under to enrich the ground after the garden is spent. We dump the ashes from the woodstove into the fallow garden. I am sure Keith could add even more to this list.
God expects his people to be “green.” Good stewardship of his gifts has always been his expectation, from our abilities to the gospel itself. You can even find sewage disposal rules in the Law. Cruelty to animals was punished under the Old Covenant. That same principle of stewardship follows into the New.
At the same time, God said, “Have dominion over [the earth] and subdue [the animals],” Gen 1:28. He said to eat of the plants and the animals, 1:29; 9:3. God meant this to be a place we used for our survival, not a zoological and botanical garden where nothing can be touched. When we carefully use the resources of the earth, it will continue to furnish us with the things we need. So we eat sustainable seafood. We hunt in season, and eat the meat we bring home. We raise and eat animals fed with garden refuse. We carefully sow and reap so the ground will continue to be arable. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of that.
Sometimes, though, the people who claim to be green are no longer flesh-colored (in all its assorted hues). They care more for animals than people. I know that is true when I see a “Save the Whales” bumper sticker on the same car touting “The Right to Choose.” Let’s save the animals, but the babies are fair game.
Shades of Romans 1--Paul speaks of the Gentiles who had rejected Jehovah throughout the ancient days and eventually arrived at the point that they “worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator” 1:25. Our culture has come dangerously close to that. The environment has become the cause du jour, and while I certainly agree that we should care for the beautiful home God gave us and not be cruel to animals, it is because I am grateful to the God who made them for me, not because I have less regard for humans. I have always been that way, not just recently, yet I still know that people are more important than sea turtles, and unborn children more so than polar bears.
So let’s be green, just as God has always expected—but let’s be flesh-colored too, caring about the people, and their souls even more than the animals. And let us also be as white as snow—an obedient people who worship and serve the God who created it all.
From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work. You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth. The trees of the LORD are watered abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted. In them the birds build their nests; the stork has her home in the fir trees. The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers. The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God. When the sun rises, they steal away and lie down in their dens. Man goes out to his work and to his labor until the evening. O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works, Psa 104:13,14,16-18,21-24,31.