Recently, Forbes magazine published an article that suggests the unique and powerful contribution that churches have to make in the struggle to rapidly address our climate. In an article entitled “How Gay Marriage Suggests a Strategy for Climate Change,” Jeff McMahon recounts how marriage equality seemed to be nowhere near the horizon of possibility in 2004, but then something started to happen. It became adopted state by state. Momentum gathered, and now it is the law of the land for the entire nation.
So what is to be learned from this? David Hochschild, the environmental commissioner for the California Energy Commission, contends, "I think there’s actually some lessons for the climate movement in what happened with marriage equality, because they framed the movement in terms of love: Government has no place to get between two people who love each other.” He adds, “I actually think climate change is the same thing. It’s about loving the next generation."
As Christians, we frequently root our sense of calling in love, and I have observed that the strongest motivator for many who engage in the work of addressing the damage done to our climate is a love of children. We care about the environment they inhabit, and we care about the future they will inherit from our actions today.
Churches know how to speak of love. It is the grounds of our theology, purpose, and passion. We have an immense potential to lead on climate because of our ability to articulate what fundamentally drives so many of us to action. In truth, we should be at the forefront of the climate movement.
In this struggle, time is of the essence. Rapid change is needed. Let’s rise to the occasion.
The Rev. Dr. Brooks Berndt is the Environmental Justice Minister for the United Church of Christ. Sign-up to receive updates about the United Church of Christ contingent in the upcoming climate march in Washington, DC on April 29th.