The Moral Imperative of Environmental Stewardship

In a talk by Elder Steven Snow of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we’re reminded of the moral imperative for our earth stewardship. See excerpts below. I hope you take time to read the entire talk:

I believe the beauty of the earth testifies of a divine creator. The founder of our Church, Joseph Smith, said as much in 1832 when he described his own search for God during his early teenage years. He wrote: “I looked upon the sun, the glorious luminary of the earth, and also the moon, rolling in their majesty through the heavens, and also the stars shining in their courses and the earth also upon which I stood, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of heaven and the fish of the waters, and also man walking forth upon the face of the earth in majesty, and in the strength of beauty whose power and intelligence in governing the things which are so exceedingly great and marvelous. . . . And when I considered upon these things, my heart exclaimed, ‘Well hath the wise man said, it is a fool that saith in his heart there is no God.’ My heart exclaimed, ‘All these bear testimony and bespeak an omnipotent and omnipresent power, a being who maketh laws and decreeth and bindeth all things in their bounds.’”[2] Joseph Smith, we believe, found God in nature—both literally on his knees in a grove of trees and in a figurative sense while contemplating the Lord’s creations. Indeed, our religion and our environment are fundamentally interconnected.

One of our Church leaders, President Dallin H. Oaks, shared some of these same concerns in an address in February of last year. He said: “These are challenging times, filled with big worries: wars and rumors of wars, possible epidemics of infectious diseases, droughts, floods, and global warming. Seacoast cities are concerned with the rising level of the ocean, which will bring ocean tides to their doorsteps or over their thresholds. Global warming is also affecting agriculture and wildlife.”[3] As one commentary on says, “The earth is vulnerable. . . . Excessive consumption sullies God’s seas; wanton waste blackens His air. The creation groans under the weight of recklessness and indulgence that neglects both the poor earth and the earth’s poor.”[4] Climate change is real, and it’s our responsibility as stewards to do what we can to limit the damage done to God’s creation."

As Latter-day Saints we tend to focus on our ecclesiastical and family stewardships, which is well and good. But I believe we will also be held accountable for how we treat one another, the community in which we live, and the land that surrounds us, even the earth itself. That stewardship has never been more urgent. Our generation, more than any other, has the ability to irretrievably change the land. Financial rewards provide tremendous pressure to unleash our technology to reinvent our surroundings. There will be growth; change will come. But failure to care for the land on which we live means turning our backs on the heritage laid down carefully and at such great cost by our forefathers—and will leave us immeasurably poorer.