Cleaning up the OTHER environment

November 25, 2011

The scene before me was picturesque: a swiftly flowing river bubbling over and around rocks framed by flowering banks and protruding ledges.  I was visiting a natural beauty spot but swirling pools of foam caused by detergent being carelessly drained into the river somewhere upstream made the experience bittersweet.

Many years have passed since my journey to that formerly favorite tourist retreat and considering the progress made in cleaning up the environment I suspect the scene has changed to a more natural and pleasant one.  We’ve made great strides in improving the quality of the water we drink and in the appearance of our rivers and streams.  Lakes are cleaner, fish taste better and, though the task is far from finished, clouds that now color our sunsets are less likely to be heavenly mountains of pollution rising from industrial complexes.

Does this concern for improving the environment have anything to do with carrying out the will of God on earth?


Instructions regarding the protection of the environment, including the cultivation and care of the earth so it would remain productive and beautiful appear early in the Biblical account of creation (Genesis 2:15).  These ancient environmental commands have never been revoked and should affect our conduct regarding everything around us every day.        But there is another environmental obligation to consider: our responsibility to lift the moral and spiritual tone of the communities in which we live; which would in turn affect our entire nation and even the world.


Polluted minds that produce violence and immorality are more dangerous than polluted air and water.  And if we’re to clean up the most important environment of all we’ll have to begin at home.

Our Lord explained that the most serious source of moral pollution is within, saying: “For from within, out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornication, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness” (Mark 7:21-23).  Pretty strong words but we all know they’re true!

Let’s face it: evil is rampant among us.  Witness the horrifying headlines that greet us daily and the scary content of late night television news roundups that disturb our sleep.

Can’t we pass laws that will clean up the moral pollution of our time?

Don’t count on it.  Most lawmakers aren’t likely to tackle cleaning up the moral environment for fear of being accused of trying to legislate morality.

So the ball is in our court. Churches must take the lead in standing up to moral polluters and members must become committed to conduct that pleases their Lord.

The Psalmist’s prayer for purity would be a good starting place for us all:  “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14).

Let’s clear the air on this important subject.  The stimulus needed to produce a better moral and spiritual environment in our land must begin with you and me.


Roger Campbell is an author, broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years.

He can be reached at

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