From a reader…
A 12 year old asks: Earth day is coming up and I have a question: Is being ecological a sin? She thinks is a sin because she thinks it is caring too much about the earth.
GUEST PRIEST RESPONSE: Fr. T. Ferguson
When I was in high school, I was part of a group that had the honor of going to a forensic tournament in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Seven of us, four boys and two girls travelled in a van down to Gatlinburg and stayed in a large motel with hundreds of other kids, mostly from the south. In the room two doors down from us there were kids from a public school in Kentucky. Their room became the “party room.” All in all, it was pretty tame – no drugs or alcohol, but lots of pop (soda, or coke depending on where you were from), pizza, chips, etc. Our rooms stayed pretty clean, because we spent our free time in the “party room.”
Where are you going with this? You ask.
I’m getting old. I’m now of an age where I almost HAVE to answer a question by telling a rambling story. Sit down, keep listening…
When we got ready to leave, our teacher and chaperone learned of the party room. She demanded that we go help clean it up. “But,” we protested, “It’s not our room, and besides, it’s a motel. It doesn’t belong to us, and they have people that will come in tomorrow and clean it.” That didn’t matter, and that didn’t convince her. We still have to go help pick up the empty pizza boxes, vacuum, get the trash in bags and get it somewhat orderly. It was the right thing to do.
This earth is not our home. We’re not meant to think of it in terms of permanence. In a way, it’s like a motel. We’re just passing through – our real home is elsewhere. That doesn’t mean that we should have no care or concern for this earth and the beautiful things God has given us here. It’s the right thing to do.
If our concern for the environment reaches the level that we places creation above the Creator, if our concern for the environment compromises our obligations to each other and to the demands of natural and divine law, it can be sinful.
If we start treating our transitory home like we’re meant to be here for all eternity, that can be sinful.
If we do our best to limit our impact on our environment, if we choose to be careful and eat food grown on local, family farms instead of large farming corporations, if we lubricate our guns with sustainable linseed oil, and drink our martinis out of glass rather than plastic stemware, that’s not sinful. That’s just being respectful.