Before terms such as social justice existed, God laid down the Sabbath texts that include green ecology laws as well as commands to care for the poor, not oppress the sojourner, and treat animals equally on the Sabbath. You don’t have to accept liberal theology to validate these ideas. God wants us to be known for our acts of kindness and healing, not our individual politics.
“Do no harm. Do all the good you can. Stay in love with God.” — John Wesley
As Wendell Berry says, “Healing is impossible in loneliness; it is the opposite of loneliness. Conviviality is healing. To be healed we must come with all the other creatures to the feast of Creation” (The Body and the Earth, p. 99).
For centuries, Protestants have championed Martin Luther’s legacy of justification by grace through faith, not works. Habakkuk is the prophetic context from which Paul speaks in Romans of the right-making initiative that comes from God, yet it is often proclaimed from weekly pulpits in unbalanced ways that fail to connect to God’s work of justifying and righting all creation.
I believe in the pursuit of health and the benefit of adopting a plant-based diet. We should continue to eat for strength rather than our gastronomical urges, but we need not go further back than the Old Testament narrative for ecological wisdom.
Things are definitely changing in our world. Vegetarianism has not only become a socially acceptable dietary choice, but due to soaring health crises and increased attention to how animals suffer in factory farms, it’s destined to become an increasingly hot topic.
I was raised a vegetarian from the tender age of seven. I have four other brothers and sisters who were also raised vegetarian. When the five of us filed into a pew at our local church, people would comment on how healthy and vibrant we looked.