Elder D. Todd Christofferson: ‘Sustainable Societies’

Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Notable quotes:

“The institutions of family and religion have been crucial for endowing both individuals and communities with the virtues that sustain an enduring society.”
“Reliance on culture and tradition alone will not be sufficient to sustain virtue in society.”
“If enough of us and enough of our neighbors make our decisions and guide our lives by the truth of God, the moral virtues needed in every society will abound.”

Summary points:

  • Sustainable and flourishing societies are devoted to the two great commandments: to love God and to love one another.
  • Even a thriving society can fail if it turns from God and trusts instead in the arm of flesh.
  • Teaching and living by the truths in God’s plan of redemption will lead to the success and sustainability of society.


A sustainable, flourishing society is one that promotes happiness, progress, peace and wellbeing among its members. There are two examples of such thriving societies found in the scriptures: the city of Enoch, or Zion, and the Nephites and Lamanites for two centuries after the Savior’s ministry in the Americas.

“The societies in these two examples … were obedient to God in their personal lives and they looked after one another’s physical and spiritual welfare.”

A thriving society can fail, however, if it abandons the virtues that uphold its peace and prosperity, turns from a sense of accountability to God and trusts instead in the arm of flesh.

The institutions of family and religion are and have been crucial for endowing individuals and communities with the virtues that sustain an enduring society. 

“These virtues, rooted in scripture, include integrity, responsibility and accountability, compassion, marriage and fidelity in marriage, respect for others and the property of others, service and the necessity and dignity of work, among others.”

In recent years, the perceived importance of religion has declined all over the world. Those who profess no religion are often good, moral people, but this didn’t happen without divine influence.

“Whether aware of it or not, every man, woman and child of every belief, place and time is imbued with the light of Christ and therefore possesses the sense of right and wrong we often call a conscience.”

When society has no greater good than satisfying individuals’ appetites, the detrimental effects will manifest in due course. In contrast, the truth of God points to a better or more excellent way to personal happiness and community wellbeing.

“There is much we can do as neighbors and fellow citizens to contribute to the sustainability and success of the societies we live in, and surely our most fundamental and enduring service will be to teach and live by the truths inherent in God’s great plan of redemption.”

In the news:

  • In his June 27 remarks at the 2020 Mission Leadership Seminar, Elder D. Todd Christofferson declared that the “authority of God, the spirit of revelation and the spirit of prophecy” are all crucial to preaching the gospel.
  • Speaking from an office occupied by Brigham Young in the late 1800s in downtown Salt Lake City, Elder Christofferson addressed missionaries in online MTC training released May 14 on the topic, “By Small and Simple Things.”
  • In an interview with the Church News in May, Elder Christofferson said the COVID-19 pandemic “a great season of opportunity” for members of the Church to “contemplate belonging.”

About the speaker:

Recently on Social:

  • On July 26, Elder Christofferson posted on Twitter that “the Savior makes all things right” and testified, “No injury, disability, betrayal, or abuse goes uncompensated in the end because of His ultimate justice and mercy.”
  • Elder Christofferson posted on Facebook on June 29 about Jason Olson, who almost set fire to the Book of Mormon as a teenager before hearing in his mind the words: “Do not burn my book.” Elder Christofferson testified the Book of Mormon is “the Lord’s instrument of conversion.”

At the last general conference, I spoke about the experience of Jason Olson, who joined the Church as a young man after…

Posted by D. Todd Christofferson on Monday, June 29, 2020
  • On May 22, Elder Christofferson wrote in an Instagram post about his concern for single adults and single parents, who may be facing more challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. To help combat “negative physical and mental health consequences,” he suggested serving others, making a phone call and looking for opportunities to share the gospel.
View this post on Instagram

During this unique period while the world battles COVID-19, I have frequently thought of the single adults. We are all experiencing some hardship, but you who are single adults may face additional challenges, including perhaps less frequent access to priesthood blessings and to the sacrament. Additionally, you may face a greater challenge in dealing with isolation. I have also thought of single parents, who also carry such a huge load. Forced solitude can lead to loneliness, which can have negative physical and mental health consequences. If you are wondering how to deal with the challenges of solitude, I offer a few words of encouragement. Look for opportunities to serve. Look for a chance to help someone, to be kind. There are many things you can do, even during the current circumstances. Call someone. Find ways to interact as human beings, as brothers and sisters. You might also look for missionary opportunities. Due to our situation, some may be a little more open to thinking about religion than in the past. Remember to develop yourself spiritually. This is a prime opportunity for each of us to “feast on the words of Christ” while we have a little more quiet time. This is the time to learn to “hear Him” more consistently. I testify that God will support you if you will turn to Him (see Alma 38:5). All are included in this promise. . This image is from my visit to West Virginia in March 2015.

A post shared by D. Todd Christofferson (@dtoddchristofferson) on

  • Along with a photo of him and his wife, Elder Christofferson shared in a Facebook post on Mother’s Day, May 10, that women bring into the world “a certain virtue, a divine gift that makes them adept at instilling such qualities as faith, courage, empathy, and refinement in relationships and in cultures.”

In many countries around the world today is Mother’s Day—a day we celebrate and honor women and mothers. Women bring…

Posted by D. Todd Christofferson on Sunday, May 10, 2020
  • In a Twitter post on April 5, Elder Christofferson posted a clip from his April general conference talk and testified that “Christ’s Resurrection makes His promises sure.”