I live in Bountiful, Utah where deer roam throughout the city. Beautiful as Bambi and friends are, nobody appreciates hungry deer barking trees, chewing off tulips, and devouring vegetable gardens. The deer in our area look pretty healthy—apparently our suburban landscaping sustains them. Not so the deer that enter our daughter’s yard in Evanston, WY. With no natural enemies, these animals have increased beyond the capacity of nature to feed them. We watched a gaunt, pregnant doe cross the fence into our daughter’s yard through deep snow to nibble the prickly branches of an Austrian pine—a pine showing the effects of a cold winter and too many hungry deer.
Like deer, we humans have the potential of reproducing ourselves into starvation and misery. Nations already fight over scarce energy resources. Parts of Asia and Africa currently face critical water shortages. Many Americans criticized China’s one-child policy as an assault on a basic freedom. Yet even with that drastic measure, China’s population swelled to over a billion and continues to grow. Which is more unkind—mandating birth control or allowing children to be born to starvation and disease?
The U.S. Congress—depending on which way the power plays—frequently holds up funding for voluntary birth control in foreign aid grants to developing countries—a hypocritical policy since few American couples of any religious persuasion opt to do with no form of birth control.
Mormons like to quote D&C 104:17, “For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare,” as evidence that the earth can provide for current and future population growth. In 1834, when that revelation was given to Joseph Smith, world population was less than 1.5 billion. World population is currently projected to reach 7 billion by 2020. Maybe it’s time for the prophet to ask for an update—particularly in light of the admonition in D&C 59:20 that God gives the things of the earth “to be used with judgment, not to excess.” God’s idea of excess may be far lower than our own.
Shutting our eyes to the real situation of a too large population on a finite planet is a recipe for disaster—and surely not what God expects of us.