Church Disavows Dark Sin as a Curse

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16804
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Church Disavows Dark Sin as a Curse

Post by Curt Sunshine » 20 Jan 2020, 19:32

At a meeting with the NASCP, Elder Stevenson said a paragraph in the Book of Mormon Sunday School manual was from an outdated understanding, that it had been removed from the online manual, and that it will not be included in any future manuals.

He then said the Church disavows any statements that link dark skin to a curse.

I think a lot of ultra-conservative members are going to have a hard time with this, but I have ecstatic it was said so clearly. I have said for a long time that reading the Book of Mormon as a historical document (whether or not it is an actual history) is a great way to frame the issue as an incorrect tradition of our fathers, so I am extremely happy about this statement.

Here is the link to the Salt Lake Tribune article about the statement:

https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2020/01 ... 6RL7qMflHg
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

User avatar
desertghost93
Posts: 40
Joined: 15 Sep 2019, 11:00

Re: Church Disavows Dark Sin as a Curse

Post by desertghost93 » 20 Jan 2020, 23:03

This is great progress. I made the mistake though of reading through the comments. Sad how hateful some can be even when the church is trying. Dammned if you do, damned if you don't I guess. Glad to see the church is making friends with the NAACP as well. I think that will be very beneficial for both sides.
You can’t base your knowledge of a church off-broadway plays and the media, or even comments from church members because there are millions of them and they are all different and have different opinions, just like everybody else in this world.

Minyan Man
Posts: 1925
Joined: 15 Sep 2011, 13:40

Re: Church Disavows Dark Sin as a Curse

Post by Minyan Man » 21 Jan 2020, 08:57

I thought this was automatically disavowed when the PH was opened to all worthy male members of the church regardless of race.
What am I missing? This feels very strange.

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 7103
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Church Disavows Dark Sin as a Curse

Post by DarkJedi » 21 Jan 2020, 11:34

Minyan Man wrote:
21 Jan 2020, 08:57
I thought this was automatically disavowed when the PH was opened to all worthy male members of the church regardless of race.
What am I missing? This feels very strange.
The teachings that Blacks were cursed with the mark of Cain or that they were marked because they didn't keep their first estate and a variety of other similar reasons for Blacks not holding the priesthood persisted (and does persist with some) long after 1978. Even the priesthood essay is not clear enough for some. I think this particular case with the manual misprint/oversight is actually an example of that. Whoever wrote/edited that portion of the manual apparently believed it or believed it was doctrine AND it is presumed that editors other than the original also looked at it (this would include GAs). I think the Church is a little embarrassed by this and should be.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

Minyan Man
Posts: 1925
Joined: 15 Sep 2011, 13:40

Re: Church Disavows Dark Sin as a Curse

Post by Minyan Man » 21 Jan 2020, 13:20

Is there a chance that the next step is to Disavow the stance on gay relationships too?

Roy
Posts: 6071
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Church Disavows Dark Sin as a Curse

Post by Roy » 21 Jan 2020, 16:41

Minyan Man wrote:
21 Jan 2020, 08:57
I thought this was automatically disavowed when the PH was opened to all worthy male members of the church regardless of race.
What am I missing? This feels very strange.
What happened in 1978 is that the priesthood and temple ban was removed. 10 after that Elder Oaks began saying that the justifications that had been built up to explain the ban had been man made (he may have been saying that before but in 1988 we have him on record). In essence - God commanded the ban and God commanded the ban rescinded but God did not explain himself and we were foolish for trying to put reasons to God's commands. Elder Oaks has been remarkably consistent in this rationale. I did a comparison on his remarks from 1988, 2007, and 2018.
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=9013&p=126086&hilit ... on#p126086
Roy wrote:
12 Jun 2018, 14:41
Recently President Oaks gave some remarks at the "Be One" celebration. Pres. Oaks had given an interview on this same topic in 1988 and in 2007. I am interested in a comparison of his remarks 30 years apart.
“‘If you read the scriptures with this question in mind, “Why did the Lord command this or why did he command that,” you find that in less than one in a hundred commands was any reason given. It’s not the pattern of the Lord to give reasons. We [mortals] can put reasons to revelation. We can put reasons to commandments. When we do, we’re on our own. Some people put reasons to the one we’re talking about here, and they turned out to be spectacularly wrong. There is a lesson in that. … I decided a long time ago that I had faith in the command and I had no faith in the reasons that had been suggested for it.’

“When asked if [he] was even referring to reasons given by General Authorities, [he] replied:

“‘I’m referring to reasons given by general authorities and reasons elaborated upon … by others. The whole set of reasons seemed to me to be unnecessary risk taking. … My experience with this was to say, I don’t know whether this is commanded in the Pearl of Great Price. I’m not positive about that commandment in relation to this. I put my faith on the president of the Church whom I sustain as the prophet. When he tells me that this is what the church does, then I’ll go with that…. Let’s don’t make the mistake that’s been made in the past, here and in other areas, trying to put reasons to revelation. The reasons turn out to be man-made to a great extent. The revelations are what we sustain as the will of the Lord and that’s where safety lies’ [“Apostles Talk about Reasons for Lifting Ban,”
Daily Herald,
Provo, Utah, June 5, 1988, 21 (AP)]” (Dallin H. Oaks,
Life’s Lessons Learned
[2011], 68–69).
Elder Oaks calls the restriction a revelation and a commandment. Elder Oaks had faith in the commanded/revealed restriction but not in any of the explanations then put forward. The revelation is the will of the Lord - where safety lies.
I had many times that my heart ached for that, and it ached for my Church, which I knew to be true and yet blessings of that Church were not available to a significant segment of our Heavenly Father’s children. And I didn’t understand why; I couldn’t identify with any of the explanations that were given. Yet I sustained the action; I was confident that in the time of the Lord I would know more about it, so I went along on faith.[Elder Oaks "The Mormons" 2007

Elder Oaks could not identify with the explanations given at that point. He sustained the "action" (meaning priesthood ban). He went on faith that he would know more about it in the "time of the Lord" (which I believe infers that the restriction was part of the Lord's timing)
I observed the pain and frustration experienced by those who suffered these restrictions and those who criticized them and sought for reasons. I studied the reasons then being given and could not feel confirmation of the truth of any of them. As part of my prayerful study, I learned that, in general, the Lord rarely gives reasons for the commandments and directions He gives to His servants. I determined to be loyal to our prophetic leaders and to pray — as promised from the beginning of these restrictions — that the day would come when all would enjoy the blessings of priesthood and temple...[snip]...
Institutionally, the Church reacted swiftly to the revelation on the priesthood.

Ordinations and temple recommends came immediately. The reasons that had been given to try to explain the prior restrictions on members of African ancestry — even those previously voiced by revered Church leaders — were promptly and publicly disavowed. ... [snip]... Others have wanted to look back, concentrating attention on re-examining the past, including seeking reasons for the now-outdated restrictions.

However, most in the Church, including its senior leadership, ...[snip]... have trusted the wisdom and timing of the Lord and accepted the directions of His prophet. [President Oaks "Be One" 2018]
President Oaks could not feel confirmation of the truth of the restriction explanations then put forward. President Oaks infers that the priesthood restriction was a commandment and divine direction. President Oaks infers that the restriction was in place due to "the wisdom and timing of the Lord."

It appears that the thinking of President Oaks has not really evolved much on this subject. It regards to content, there is very little change. One development that I noticed was the President Oaks has taken to calling the Priesthood ban as "restrictions". In the previous interviews President Oaks used an assortment of words to describe the restriction - revelation, command, "the one", this, this subject, that, it, & the action (His interviewers used the term "Priesthood Ban", Elder Oaks never used that term that I can tell). In his 2018 address President Oaks used "the restriction", "his restriction", or "restrictions" 7 times.

I am somewhat disappointed because I had hoped that the Essay on Race and the Priesthood might have added something to President Oaks' thought process on this subject. I had thought that it was apparent that there was no evidence for a revelation that began the priesthood restriction (and that it could have been implemented by BY acting as a man and not as an oracle of God). I had thought that by unequivocally condemning "all racism, past and present, in any form" in the essay, the church might be taking a "read between the lines" approach to floating the idea that the restriction might have been wrong.

If that was the intent of the essay, President Oaks appears not to have received the memo.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Roy
Posts: 6071
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Church Disavows Dark Sin as a Curse

Post by Roy » 21 Jan 2020, 17:34

The essay on race and the priesthood says the following:
Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.24
I scoured the essay today wanting to see if the church essay on Race and the Priesthood talked about native Americans or Lamanites and it does not.

I was taught in LDS institute in the early 2000's that dark skin placed upon the Lamanites was a sign of the curse but not the curse itself. I did not interpret the essay to have refuted this BoM teaching (and it would appear that the writers and editors of the Come Follow Me Manual did not understand it this way either). Is that what the church is now saying? That Nephi was wrong?
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Arrakeen
Posts: 105
Joined: 25 Aug 2018, 18:49

Re: Church Disavows Dark Sin as a Curse

Post by Arrakeen » 21 Jan 2020, 18:27

Roy wrote:
21 Jan 2020, 17:34

I was taught in LDS institute in the early 2000's that dark skin placed upon the Lamanites was a sign of the curse but not the curse itself. I did not interpret the essay to have refuted this BoM teaching (and it would appear that the writers and editors of the Come Follow Me Manual did not understand it this way either). Is that what the church is now saying? That Nephi was wrong?
I was taught the same thing just a few years ago, I think it was in a BYU religion class. If the church really is trying to disavow these teachings, it won't be easy. It's been part of the official curriculum for a very long time.

User avatar
Holy Cow
Posts: 310
Joined: 10 Nov 2014, 17:07
Location: Las Vegas

Re: Church Disavows Dark Sin as a Curse

Post by Holy Cow » 22 Jan 2020, 09:28

I'm glad to hear that this is being removed from church manuals. I'm sure it's a topic that church leaders would like to distance themselves from. It's pretty easy to find old talks from previous church leaders making all kinds of racial comments that would make people squirm in their seats today.
Church leaders today can easily say that the comments that were made by previous church leaders were in error, and that our church does not teach that dark skin is a curse. However, 2 Nephi 5:21 comes right out and says that the Lamanites were cursed with black skin to make them undesirable to the Nephites. It's a little harder for church leaders to distance themselves from that, since it comes right out of the BOM. All they can do it TRY to put some kind of positive spin on it. I've heard some say that it is referring to a dark countenance, and not actual dark skin, but that feels like quite a stretch since the verse actually says "blackness of skin." I think that verse will become one of the verses that we conveniently skip over during lessons, because it's uncomfortable to recognize that it's there.
My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=6139

User avatar
nibbler
Posts: 4434
Joined: 14 Nov 2013, 07:34
Location: Ten miles west of the exact centre of the universe

Re: Church Disavows Dark Sin as a Curse

Post by nibbler » 22 Jan 2020, 10:22

Holy Cow wrote:
22 Jan 2020, 09:28
... However, 2 Nephi 5:21 comes right out and says that the Lamanites were cursed with black skin to make them undesirable to the Nephites. It's a little harder for church leaders to distance themselves from that, since it comes right out of the BOM. ...
I think the current approach leaders are taking is to go ultra-parse on the verse to make the claim that the curse is a separate thing from the mark of "blackness of skin."

Here's the verse:
And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.
Again, if you go ultra-parse separating thoughts from one another following punctuation (periods or semicolons), you could say that the verse is communicating three separate ideas:
1) God cursed the Lamanites because of their iniquity.
2) The Lamanites hardened their hearts against god.
3) The Lamanites were hot, like perfect 10s, so god caused a skin of blackness to come upon them to make them less attractive?

Curse or no curse, that last one is tough to get around.

I don't know why we can't go the route of saying Nephi was a product of his time, held racist views, attributed some of his racist views to god and later his thoughts became scripture that many used to justify racist/stereotypical views.

But Nephi is kind of like Joseph Smith in that regard. The answer is seldom, "Yeah, Nephi/Joseph clearly screwed up in that instance. They were human after all." and all too often the answer is an apologetic aimed at protecting the purity of a legend we've built up.

One thing we don't like to discuss in Sunday School is how Nephi is a unreliable narrator.

The Race and the Priesthood essay says the following:
Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.
That goes for things BY said, things that other church leaders have said, ...and things Nephi said. I think we often give prophets in the BoM (and other scriptures) too much weight simply because what they've said is found in scripture. Nephi was just another church leader in a long line of church leaders and church leaders get things wrong all the time.

In other words, maybe the verse is saying that black skin was a curse and a sign of divine disfavor, but that theory is officially disavowed - even if Nephi advanced it.
Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
― Jesus

Post Reply