Hear the word of the LORD, O people of Israel;
for the LORD has an indictment against the inhabitants of the land.
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. (Hos. 4:1-3)
As the ecologists remind us, everything is connected to everything, and so the effects of human rebellion ripple out through all creation. And in today’s Romans text Paul looks forward to the healing of the damage occasioned by the rebellion described in chapter 1. Notice the vocabulary links: ‘creation’ (1:20, 25; 8:20-22), ‘futility’ (1:21; 8:20), ‘to glorify’ (1:21; 8:30), ‘glory’ (1:23; 8:18, 21), ‘image’ (1:23; 8:29), ‘bodies’ (1:24; 8:24) (Dunn).
Meanwhile, creation groans; we groan. This text: an underutilized resource both for spirituality (checking any cheap triumphalism) and ecological ethics. Arguably, a single subject: we are ˀādām (human) from the ˀădāmâh (humus): how could our healing/redemption not be connected?