Additional Resource

Selected Scriptures and Church Leader Statements
on Environmental Stewardship and Conservation

A strong heritage of stewardship of the earth and reverence for all of God's creations is found in the scriptures and the writings and statements of Church leaders.

Hebrews 1:1-2

Moses 1: 31-33, 39

Moses 3:4-5, 9, 19

Job 12:7-10

1 Nephi 17:36

Alma 30:44

Moses 6:63 

DC 88: 45, 47

DC 49:19-21

DC 59:16-20

DC 104:13-17

DC 136:27

DC 29:24-25

Joseph Smith

  • “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”[1]
  • “That which is spiritual being in the likeness of that which is temporal; and that which is temporal in the likeness of that which is spiritual; the spirit of man in the likeness of his person, as also the spirit of the beast, and every other creature which God has created. ... Beings in their destined order or sphere of creation, in the enjoyment of their eternal felicity” (D&C 77:2-3).

Brigham Young

  • “You are here commencing anew. The soil, the air, the water are all pure and healthy. Do not suffer them to become polluted with wickedness. Strive to preserve the elements from being contaminated by the filthy, wicked conduct and sayings of those who pervert the intelligence God has bestowed upon the human family.”[2]
  • “It is our privilege and our duty to search all things upon the face of the earth, and learn what there is for man to enjoy, what God has ordained for the benefit and happiness of mankind, and then make use of it without sinning against him.”[3]
  • All that we possess and enjoy are the gifts of God to us, whether they be in earthly substance, physical constitution, or mental power; we are accountable to Him for the use we make of these precious gifts. ... It is not our privilege to waste the Lord's substance.”[4]
  • Here are the stupendous works of the God of Nature, though all do not appreciate His wisdom as manifested in his works. ... I could sit here for a month and reflect on the mercies of our God.”[5]
  • “When the Spirit of revelation from God inspires a man, his mind is opened to behold the beauty, order, and glory of the creation of this earth and its inhabitants, the object of its creation, and the purpose of its creator in peopling it with his children. He can then clearly understand that our existence here is for the sole purpose of exaltation and restoration to the presence of our Father and God, where we may progress endlessly in the power of godliness.”[6]
  • “Our Father in heaven wishes us to preserve that which he gives to us….It is not our privilege to waste the Lord’s substance.”[7]
  • “It is the privilege of the Saints to enjoy every good thing, for the earth and its fulness belong to the Lord, and he has promised all to his faithful Saints; but it must be enjoyed without spirit of covetousness and selfishness—without the spirit of lust, and in the spirit of the Gospel; then the sun will shine sweetly upon us; each day will be filled with delight, and all things will be filled with beauty, giving joy, pleasure, and rest to the Saints.”[8]

John Taylor

  • “But as an intelligent being, if I have a mind capable of reflection, I wish to contemplate the works of nature, and to know something of nature's God, and my destiny. I love to view the things around me; to gaze upon the sun, moon, and stars; to study the planetary system, and the world we inhabit; to behold their beauty, order, harmony, and the operations of existence around me. ... everything is beautifully harmonious, and perfectly adapted to the position it occupies in the world. Whether you look at birds, beasts, or the human system, you see something exquisitely beautiful and harmonious, and worthy of the contemplation there was a God, [even] if there was no such thing as religion in the world.”[9]

Joseph F. Smith

  • “Further, the mission of Jesus will be unfinished until He redeems the whole human family, except the sons of perdition, and also this earth from the curse that is upon it, and both the earth and its inhabitants can be presented to the Father redeemed, sanctified and glorious.

    “Things upon the earth, so far as they have not been perverted by wickedness, are typical of things in heaven. Heaven was the prototype of this beautiful creation when it came from the hand of the Creator, and was pronounced ‘good.’”[10]
  • “We have eyes and see not, for that which we cannot appreciate or admire we are largely blind to, no matter how beautiful or inspiring it may be. As children of God, it is our duty to appreciate and worship Him in His creations. If we would associate all that is truly good and beautiful in life with thoughts of Him, we would be able to trace His handiwork throughout all nature.”[11]

Stephen L Richards

  • “I am a lover of the nature and the great outdoors … .I must tell you what they mean to me … .I feel reconciled with life.  The broken harmonies are mended.  My soul is calmed.”[12]
  • “I am sure that beauty is intimately associated with pure religion.  I believe that our Father in Heaven is a God of order and beauty.  I doubt if any rational being ever entertained a concept of God, that is, as a personal Being, except in surroundings of beauty and exquisite loveliness … .Do you think it becoming in God’s children to deface the earth while we sojourn here?  Being the stewards and custodians of the resources which are committed to us, have we not an obligation to use them, preserve them and return them in the best possible condition that our circumstances will permit?”[13]
  • [Speaking of Zion National Park in Utah] “It is a sermon—inspiring, exalting, lifting man from the baser things in life to the nobler … .His vision is enlarged, his sympathies are broadened, his love of his fellow-men is deepened and his trust in God and the universe is supreme.  He is made a better man.”[14]

Spencer W. Kimball

  • “We are a throw-away people. ... Now we ask you to clean up your homes and your farms. ‘Man is the keeper of the land, and not its possessor.’ ... We look forward to the day when, in all our communities, urban and rural, there would be a universal, continued movement to clean and repair ... and to make our properties a thing of beauty to behold. ... Therefore, we urge each of you to dress and keep in a beautiful state the property that is in your hands.”[15]
  • “We recommend to all people that there be no undue pollution, that the land be taken care of and kept clean to be productive and to be beautiful.”[16]
  • “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. ... The Brethren constantly cry out against that which is intolerable in the sight of the Lord: against pollution of mind, body and our surroundings.”[17]

Ezra Taft Benson

  • “Surely you can see the inconsistency in the individual who insists that we be good stewards and not pollute our environment, and yet who is unscrupulous in his personal life. Again, physical and spiritual laws are interrelated. Pollution of one's environment and moral impurity both rest on a life-style which partakes of a philosophy of ‘eat, drink, and be merry’ — gouge and grab now, without regard to the consequences. Both violate the spirit of stewardship for which we will stand accountable.”[18]
  • “Stewardship in the Church is a very important matter. The Lord has mentioned it in the revelations. (See D&C 59; 104.) We are stewards over these earthly blessings which the Lord has provided, those of us who have this soil and this water. We have no moral latitude, it seems to me. In fact, we are morally obligated to turn this land over to those who succeed us — not drained of its fertility but improved in quality, in productivity, and in usefulness for future generations.”[19]

Gordon B. Hinckley

  • “I believe in beauty. The earth in its pristine beauty is an expression of the nature of its Creator…. I believe in the beauty of nature—the flowers, the fruit, the sky, the peaks and the plains from which they rise. I see and believe in the beauty of animals....I believe in beauty—the beauty of God's unspoiled creations, the beauty of his sons and daughters who walk without whimpering, meeting the challenges of each new day.”[20]

Boyd K. Packer

  • “The earth did not come by chance nor by accident.  It is the result of a creation that is based on purpose, on agency, on choice.  It accords with laws which were in force long before the plan was every laid down.  All of it has order; all of it was planned for us.  The beauty and precision of the universe, the endless variety of plant and animal life­—all testify of a plan and a creator.”[21]
  • “There is law and order and precision in the universe, which is breathtaking!  What is physical interconnects with the spiritual; what is spiritual, or eternal, or moral resonates with the physical.  We respond in our very soul to the order in the universe, and how we respect these interconnections will have a profound effect upon our happiness.”[22]

L. Tom Perry

  • “Teach [children] the basic knowledge that the earth is the Lord’s.  He has a marvelous system of replenishment and renewal so long as we care for, conserve, and waste not.”[23]

M. Russell Ballard

  • “I thought … how important it is for every human soul to see and appreciate the glory and grandeur of God in everything about us … .Those who feel no reverence for the creations and the divine attributes of God likely will have little appreciation for other sacred things. Such a lack of veneration for God’s creations may diminish until a person becomes totally insensitive to the feelings of others. This, I am afraid, is the condition in some parts of the world.”[24]
  • “To truly reverence the Creator, we must appreciate his creations. We need to plan to take time to observe the marvels of nature. Today, we can easily become surrounded by brick buildings and asphalt surfaces that shelter us from real life around us. Plan to share with your family the miracle of buds changing to fragrant blossoms. Take time to sit on a hillside and feel the tranquility of the evening when the sun casts its last golden glow over the horizon. Take time to smell the roses.”[25]

Russell M. Nelson

  • “As beneficiaries of the divine Creation, what shall we do? We should care for the earth, be wise stewards over it, and preserve it for future generations. And we are to love and care for one another.”[26]
 

[1] Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 71.

[2] Journal of Discourses, 8:79.

[3] Journal of Discourses, 9:243.

[4] Journal of Discourses, 11:136.

[5] The Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star, 18:675.

[6] Journal of Discourses, 9:256.

[7] Journal of Discourses, 9:169 and 11: 136.

[8] Journal of Discourses , 8:82.

[9] Journal of Discourses, 1:151-52.

[10] Journal of Discourses 23:175.

[11] Cited in George B. Handley, "The Environment Ethics of Mormon Belief," BYU Studies, 40:2, 2001.

[12] Conference Report, Apr. 1940.

[13] Conference Report, Apr. 1940.

[14] Conference Report, Apr. 1940; “Avocation,” Improvement Era, June 1927.

[15] “God Will Not Be Mocked,” Ensign, Nov. 1974.

[16] “Why Call Me Lord, Lord, and Do Not the Things Which I Say?” Ensign, May 1975.

[17] “The False Gods We Worship,” Ensign, June 1976.

[18] The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], 644.

[19] The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 645.

[20] The Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 248, 249.

[21] The Earth Shall Teach Thee, 12.

[22] The Earth Shall Teach Thee, 19.

[23] “Train Up A Child,” Ensign, Nov. 1988.

[24] “God’s Love for His Children,” Ensign, May, 1988.

[25] “God’s Love for His Children,” Ensign, May, 1988.

[26] “The Creation,” Ensign, May 2000, 84.

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