1:00 P.M. EST July 22, 2010
A snowy egret perches atop a section of oil boom at Caminada Bay in Grand Isle, La.
A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
View in Photo Gallery
For three months now, we’ve played the blame game in reference to the Gulf oil spill.
It was BP’s fault; they were too greedy and cut too many corners. It
was the federal government’s fault; its ability to enforce regulations
was compromised by the influence petrodollars have had on the
Occasionally we hear that it was “my fault” or “our fault” because we
all consume gasoline and other products made from petroleum. The only
reason the Deepwater Horizon well exists in the first place is because
of our unending appetite for oil. Our tendency is to blame something or
someone in an effort to explain what happened.
I tend to refer to what’s happening off the Gulf coast as a broken
relationship. The Adam and Eve story in Genesis clearly articulates
three relationships that are at the heart and soul of biblical theology:
relationship with God, relationship with each other and relationship
with God’s creation. If any one of the three is in peril, there is a
Unfortunately, our relationship with God’s creation has received very
little attention lately, even among theologians and biblical scholars.
This inattention is in spite of the fact that the new “Green Bible”
identifies approximately 30 percent of the verses in the Bible as
referring, to some degree, to God’s creation. It’s a topic that is
discussed scarcely, if at all, in sermons or Sunday school classes or
even during fellowship time among those of us “regular” Christians
sitting in the pews on Sunday mornings.
So, an additional explanation for the Gulf oil spill is that those of
us who proclaim to be Christian have neglected to acknowledge the
connection between our faith as Christians and our responsibility to be
in a good, healthy and wholesome relationship to God’s creation. We
relate to God and each other, but seldom, if at all, to God’s creation.
Our relationship with creation is broken.
The prophet Hosea knew the connection between our relationship with
God and our relationship with God’s creation. Because the Israelites had
not nurtured their relationship with God, Hosea indicted them: “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 4:1b-3, NRSV)
Hosea did not just identify the three relationships of Genesis; he
connected them in such a way that if our relationships with God and each
other are not right, then God’s creation will actually provide the
evidence. The Gulf gives evidence of the land mourning, the wild animals
and birds of the air languishing, the fish of the sea perishing. So to
use Hosea’s theology, that evidence points not just to failure of our
relationship to God’s creation, but also a failure in our relationships
with each other and with God.
A contract worker for BP cleans up oil washed ashore at Grand Terre, La. A
Web-only photo by Petty Officer 3rd
Class Ann Marie Gorden/U.S. Coast
The Gulf oil spill is an environmental disaster; no doubt, it is also a relational disaster.
Relationships are hard; none is perfect. We all make mistakes in
relationships that cause pain and hurt and suffering for ourselves,
others and for the planet. But isn’t our faith all about healing broken
relationships? Isn’t there redemption in the person of Jesus Christ?
The solution to the Gulf oil spill is not better technology or the resignation of BP’s CEO. The solution is faith!
Faith heals broken relationships; faith directs us to live out our
relationship with God appropriately through our relationships with each
other and with God’s creation. When our relationships with God and each
other are redeemed, God’s creation will celebrate; even the Gulf will
Thanks be to God, the creator of heaven and Earth!
*Watkins, a United Methodist Board of Global Ministries church and
community worker, serves as executive director of “Caretakers of God’s
Creation,” a ministry of the Virginia Annual (regional) Conference’s
Board of Church and Society.
News media contact: Kathy Noble, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.