“Puzzling to me how so many who believe in creationism/intelligent design don’t seem to feel it important to protect Mother Earth,” a Facebook friend recently posted. The resulting comments ranged from defensive (“I probably don’t do all I should to care for the earth, but wasn’t it given to us to use?”) to tongue-in-cheek (“Jesus is bound to be back any day now and he’s just gonna fix everything, so why stress?”).
Like my insightful acquaintance, it has always rattled me how some of the most avid Instagrammers of landscape scenes I know are also some of the most dogmatic opponents of environmental stewardship. What gives? Is our earth just something to be exploited for hikes and likes? My hippie-dippy heart felt delighted (and probably too smugly vindicated) when Mormon Newsroom recently published the article In Honoring Creation, We Honor the Creator and an accompanying Gospel Topics essay. Here are some gems from both:
“We should live for future generations, not just for our own. This means learning about the earth and having a responsible relationship with it; we can become informed, engaged, and attuned to sound science.”
“Latter-day Saint teachings are unequivocal—we all have a responsibility to care for God’s majestic creation and to use its resources ‘with judgment, not to excess’… (D&C 59:20).”
“The earth is vulnerable, and we are accountable to God for how we treat and use it…The creation groans under the weight of recklessness and indulgence that neglects both the poor earth and the earth’s poor.”
“Ultimately, the earth is God’s property. Basic moral obligations compel us to act as good stewards and to not damage or harm what belongs to God; we should treat His creation with the heightened care it deserves…”
“All humankind are stewards over the earth, and should gratefully use what God has given, avoid wasting life and resources…”
“Approaches to the environment must be prudent, realistic, balanced and consistent with the needs of the earth and of current and future generations, rather than pursuing the immediate vindication of personal desires or avowed rights.”
Boom! Pow! Win! Score one for Planet Earth! And while we’re on the subject, isn’t it amazing that our scriptures teach that our earth has a mother spirit (Moses 7:48) and everything created on her has a spirit too (Moses 3:5)? For all of human history we have intuitively called her Mother Earth. Of course we have. Who but a mother could exist on so little thanks, recognition, and care? Who but a mother could give so tirelessly of herself while her children continually demand more, more, more?
One of my best friends recently launched a website called HerStory.Earth, dedicated to environmental change and to sharing women’s stories. “The title, Herstory, is a play on the word history,” she explained to me, “because so often women’s voices are missing from the historical narrative, and I believe that part of healing our planet includes telling women’s stories.” I love the connection she identifies between female empowerment and caring for our earth mother. (And, interestingly, studies show that men who feel more secure in their manhood are more supportive of conservation efforts, too.) “Healing our planet”–what a vision! Let’s work to heal our planet in preparation for the great millennial day, instead of waiting for our Savior to come fix everything.
“For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare…” The Lord tells us in D&C 104:17 that he prepared all things for his children. But what if he prepared enough and to spare for our needs, not our gluttonous wants?
Two truths–the earth was created for the use of all humankind, and the Lord commands us to be good stewards over the earth–need not be mutually exclusive. But living in the balance where both these truths peacefully coexist may mean being a little inconvenienced. It may mean being willing to own less than the generation before us; it may mean being willing to consume less than our means could allow us.
When have you felt Mother Earth’s spirit in the presence of nature?
The Newsroom article states that “the Church recognizes that appropriate stewardship may vary according to individual circumstances.” What stewardship measures feel appropriate to you and your family in different seasons of life?
Himalayan sunrise over Annapurna Range: photo credit Mark Sears.