We had an excellent Sunday School lesson today in my ward about the Creation, which focused primarily on our stewardship for the earth and for all of God’s creations.
Here are some great quotes (most of which were distributed from my ward’s gospel doctrine teacher) that illustrate just a taste of why, I believe, Latter-day Saints should be the most environmentally friendly people on earth.
From Hugh Nibley:
The title of dominus designated the Roman emperor himself as the common benefactor of mankind inviting all the world to feast at his board. In short, lordship and dominium are the same thing, the responsibility of the master for the comfort and well-being of his dependents and guests; he is the generous host, the kind pater familias to whom all look for support. He is the lord who provides bread for all, but how? By tilling the earth that he may “eat his bread by the sweat of his brow” (see Genesis 3:19)-he is not a predator, a manipulator, or an exploiter of other creatures but one who cooperates with nature as a diligent husbandman. (Brother Brigham Challenges the Saints, pp. 7-8)
From President Kimball:
I have traveled much in various assignments over the years, and when I pass through the lovely countryside or fly over the vast and beautiful expanses of our globe, I compare these beauties with many of the dark and miserable practices of men, and I have the feeling that the good earth can hardly bear our presence upon it. I recall the occasion when Enoch heard the earth mourn, saying, “Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children. When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me?” (Moses 7:48). (Ensign, June 1976, p. 4)
Here’s Elder Ezra Taft Benson:
A common problem is a concern for our environment. It is not likely that someone who does not love his neighbor will be concerned with his adverse impact on the environment. To love one’s neighbor is a spiritual law. Just as physical laws are interrelated, so are spiritual laws. One dimension of spiritual law is that a man’s self-regard and his esteem for his fellowmen are intertwined.
If there is disregard for oneself, there will be disregard for one’s neighbor. If there is no reverence for life itself, there is apt to be little reverence for the resources God has given man. The outward expressions of irreverence for life and for fellowmen often take the form of heedless pollution of both air and water. But are these not expressions of the inner man?
Whatever mortal reasons there are to be concerned about environment, there are eternal reasons, too, for us to be thoughtful stewards. President Brigham Young said: “Not one particle of all that comprises this vast creation of God is our own. Everything we have has been bestowed upon us for our action, to see what we would do with it—whether we would use it for eternal life and exaltation, or for eternal death and degradation.”
We are concerned about scarred landscapes that cause floods and leave an economic emptiness that haunts the coming generations. Similarly, unchastity leaves terrible scars, brings floods of tears and anguish, and leaves a moral emptiness. Significantly, both imprudent strip mining and unchastity rest on a life-style that partakes of an “eat, drink, and be merry” philosophy–gouge and grab now without regard to the consequences. Both negligent strip mining and unchastity violate the spirit of stewardship over our planet and person. (“Problems Affecting the Domestic Tranquility of Citizens of the United States,” Vital Speeches, Feb 1, 1976.)
From Elder Alexander B. Morrison:
In a revelation concerning the United Order given to the Prophet Joseph Smith in April 1834, the Lord reminded His Church that every man (and assuredly every woman also) is accountable as a “steward over earthly blessings” that He has made and prepared for His creatures. (D&C 104:13.) The importance and priority of that sacred stewardship are indicated by the fact that our accountability will be given to Christ Himself: “That every man may give an account unto me of the stewardship which is appointed unto him.” (D&C 104:12.) When He interviews us, I feel certain that one of His questions will, in essence, be the following: “What have you done with the earth which my Father and I gave you as a home? Have you cherished and protected it? Have you dressed it and kept it, as your father Adam was commanded to do? Or have you laid waste to it, defiled its waters, destroyed its fertile lands, befouled its life-giving air?” To those questions, I fear there are many, even among those who aspire to become a Zion people, who will hang their heads in shame. The earth groans under the insults inflicted upon it. (Visions of Zion)
A fantastic quote from Brigham Young:
The Saints of God should be self-sustaining. While they are laboring to gain the mastery over themselves, to subdue every passion and feeling of their nature to the law of Christ; while they are striving to possess the Holy Ghost to guide them every moment of their lives, they should not lose sight of their temporal deliverance from the thral[l]dom which has been thrown around them by the traditions of their fathers and the false education they have received in the nations where they were born and reared. In Utah territory they are well located for variety of climate suitable to the production of materials necessary to gratify every reasonable want. So far as we have learned the resources of the country, we are satisfied that we need not depend upon our neighbors abroad for any single necessity of life, for in the elements around us exists every ingredient of food and raiment; we can be fed with the daintiest luxuries, and can be clothed almost equal to the lilies of the field. Cotton and fruits of tropical climes can be grown to perfection and in abundance in the southern portions of Utah, while cereal crops, flax, wool, silk, and a great variety of fruit can be produced in perfection in the northern. Our object is not to find and possess great stores of the precious metals. Iron and coal would be far more valuable to us than mines of silver and gold. (President Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses Volume 10)
And this one takes the cake, from Brother Joseph himself:
We crossed the Embarras river and encamped on a small branch of the same about one mile west. In pitching my tent we found three massasaugas or prairie rattlesnakes, which the brethren were about to kill, but I said, “Let them alone—don’t hurt them! How will the serpent ever lose his venom, while the servants of God possess the same disposition and continue to make war upon it? Men must become harmless, before the brute creation; and when men lose their vicious dispositions and cease to destroy the animal race, the lion and the lamb can dwell together, and the sucking child can play with the serpent in safety.” The brethren took the serpents carefully on sticks and carried them across the creek. I exhorted the brethren not to kill a serpent, bird, or an animal of any kind during our journey unless it became necessary in order to preserve ourselves from hunger. (quoted in Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions)
To all who need to hear: This should not be a political issue, folks. It’s about our temporal and spiritual salvation. We would be wise to listen more to these great leaders of ours–and listen less to voices that ridicule efforts to care for this great earth we call our home.
We can start, many of us, by walking to church.
(Or emailing this post to your friends.)
Filed under: Mormon Culture, Relationships Tagged: | air quality, Alexander B. Morrison, Brigham Young, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, creation, dominion, environmentalism, Ezra Taft Benson, Hugh Nibley, Joseph Smith, Latter-day Saints, LDS, Mormon Church, Mormons, pollution, Spencer W. Kimball, stewardship, subdue the earth