Many of us have struggled to understand what is happening in the world today from a theological perspective. Is Covid-19 as sign of the end times? Is God unveiling his wrath? Or is this simply one more difficult experience in the history of the human race?
Andrew Shepherd, Lecturer at the University of Otago, New Zealand has produced one of the best papers on this topic that we have seen. In Covid-19: An Invitation to Ecological Repentance? Andrew suggests that
A more nuanced approach would be to interpret COVID-19 as an apocalyptic event—one which “unveils” the truth of the world as it really is. Thus, the present pandemic is merely one of the multitude of “canaries in the mine” giving warning to humanity of the ecological perils of our current ecologically-devastating way of life. In this interpretation, COVID-19 is an experience of God’s “wrath” as conceived of in Romans 1. Humanity, “filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity … full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice” (Rom 1:28–32 NIV), have been given over by God to our sinful desires and done what ought not to be done.
Ecologically violent actions pollute and destroy humanity’s relationship with the earth and its non-human inhabitants. Like the species that we objectify and evict from their homes, we too now find ourselves cursed. Torn from our normal lives, we are driven into isolation, yet in an ironic twist, rather than being forced to wander as a fugitive, we are imprisoned within our homes (Gen 4:10–14). Accordingly, COVID-19 and other climate-induced catastrophes, I suggest, should be understood not as stemming from God’s actions, but rather, are the result of human actions/inaction. Humanity is suffering the inevitable consequences of ecological realities that stem from our selfish and desires. COVID-19 could be interpreted as a judgement of the earth and its non-human inhabitants for our mistreatment of them. Or, to put it more crudely, the creatures that we share our earth-ark with, that we ignore or abuse, have bitten back.
The whole article is worth reading and filing for future reference.