Was the priesthood ban revelation?

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Dkormond
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Was the priesthood ban revelation?

Post by Dkormond » 17 Oct 2017, 20:29

mom3 wrote:We have various Proclamations and First Presidency statements that people refer to. One of my favorite is an oft forgotten Official Statement by the First Presidency. I tried to locate it in Proclamation format, no luck. I did find it in the following think. Enjoy.

http://emp.byui.edu/SATTERFIELDB/FDINT2 ... 01978.html
God's Love For All Mankind

___________________________________

The First Presidency (Spencer W. Kimball, N. Eldon Tanner, Marion G. Romney)

Based upon ancient and modern revelation, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gladly teaches and declares the Christian doctrine that all men and women are brothers and sisters, not only by blood relationship from common mortal progenitors but as literal spirit children of an Eternal Father.

The great religious leaders of the world such as Mohammed, Confucius, and the Reformers, as well as philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and others, received a portion of God's light. Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals.

The Hebrew prophets prepared the way for the coming of Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, who should provide salvation for all mankind who believe in the gospel.

Consistent with these truths, we believe that God has given and will give to all peoples sufficient knowledge to help them on their way to eternal salvation, either in this life or in the life to come.

We also declare that the gospel of Jesus Christ, restored to His Church in our day, provides the only way to a mortal life of happiness and a fullness of joy forever. For those who have not received this gospel, the opportunity will come to them in the life hereafter if not in this life.

Our message therefore is one of special love and concern for the eternal welfare of all men and women, regardless of religious belief, race, or nationality, knowing that we are truly brothers and sisters because we are sons and daughters of the same Eternal Father. (“God’s Love for All Mankind,” First Presidency Statement, Feb. 15, 1978; emphasis added)
Below it is a reference to this Statement by President James E. Faust of the First Presidency under President Gordon B. Hinckley.
President James E. Faust (1920-2007)

Why does the Church grow and flourish? It does so because of divine direction to the leaders and members. This began in our day when God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith early in the spring of 1820. However, we claim that God’s inspiration is not limited to the Latter-day Saints. The First Presidency has stated: “The great religious leaders of the world such as Mohammed, Confucius, and the Reformers, as well as philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and others, received a portion of God’s light. Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals. … We believe that God has given and will give to all peoples sufficient knowledge to help them on their way to eternal salvation” (“Statement of the First Presidency regarding God’s Love for All Mankind,” 15 Feb. 1978). (From "Communion With the Holy Spirit," Ensign, Mar 2002, p. 4)

So did Brigham Young receive revelation to take the priesthood from people of African descent?


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nibbler
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Re: Was the priesthood ban revelation?

Post by nibbler » 18 Oct 2017, 05:33

Dkormond wrote:
17 Oct 2017, 20:29
So did Brigham Young receive revelation to take the priesthood from people of African descent?
Maybe someone else could give a more definitive answer but I think we could only speculate on that point. He may have presented it as a revelation or he may have taken it as a given or a logical conclusion that needed no revelation.

Check out the Race and the Priesthood essay. I followed some of the references in their footnotes, specifically resource 9. I googled BY's January 23, 1852 speech. Here's an excerpt:
The African enjoys the right of receiving the first principles of the Gospel; this liberty is held out to all these servants. They enjoy the liberty of being baptized for the remission of sins and of receiving the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands; they enjoy the privilege of living humbly before the Lord their great Master, so as to enjoy the spirit of the Lord continually. In short, as far as the common comforts of life, salvation, light, truth, enjoyment, and understanding are concerned, the Black African has precisely the same privilege as the white man. But they cannot share in the Priesthood; they cannot bear rule; they cannot bear rule in any place until the curse is removed from them; they are a “servant of servants.” We are servants, as Counselor George Smith has stated; he says he is a slave; he has been driven from his home and his rights—we are all servants. Now suppose that we should have a servant, and he should be a Negro; it is all right; it is perfectly reasonable and strictly according to the Holy Priesthood. I loathe the abuses to which the slave in a great many instances is exposed, although as a general thing that part of the Negro race that are in servile bondage, are much more comfortable and better provided for than the lower classes of the nations of Europe.
There's much more in the speech but from this section I wonder whether Brigham Young's logic was:

The priesthood is to rule. Africans are currently slaves. Slaves can't rule. Africans can't have the priesthood.

And to him it was as simple as that. From his perspective the logic was sound so there was no need for a revelation. It was a 'given' in society. Of course this is speculation on my part.

Not to go there, but I wonder how much our logic holds back modern day revelation. E.g.

In the CK we'll be like god, have children, and start the whole process from the beginning. Gay unions can't produce children. Gay unions are wrong.

It's based purely on logic. Logic that makes assumptions and is very limited in its imagination. Could that logic be preventing people from receiving revelation of a more perfect vision of heaven?

Sorry, I didn't mean to derail but it was one more similarity between the PH ban and our views on gay marriage that jumped out at me. Usually we focus on the similarities in how the prophets can call something doctrine and be wrong about it. There's another similarity that might show the pitfalls of relying purely on our logic when it comes to spirituality and our relationships with others.
As soon as you set foot on a yacht you belong to some man, not to yourself, and you die of boredom.
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Beefster
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Re: Was the priesthood ban revelation?

Post by Beefster » 19 Oct 2017, 07:45

IMO, the answer is a simple no, but I'll lay out a few (what I consider) key points and let you decide for yourself.

It's quite possible that the policy would have been needed to keep the early church together during a time that it was so heavily persecuted.

Nearly everyone was racist at the time, so it wouldn't have had much resistance.

Joseph Smith ordained a few blacks.

It took as long as it did to lift because much of the Q15 still had racist feelings and it would have been met with resistance. While Bruce R McConkie was a staunch defender of the policy, he took a more academic approach rather than an emotional/ideological approach and was able to make that change when he realized he was wrong.

As far as I am aware, there wasn't much discussion of it before it was implemented. It came out of nowhere. I've heard that it was to prevent an interracial sealing. At that time, interracial marriages were downright unthinkable.

Revelation or not, it had horrendous long-term effects on the church. Would God do something that harms so many people? Maybe, just maybe, if the alternative was much worse. But was it? I'm not convinced. Occam's Razor leads me to the conclusion that church leaders are simply wrong sometimes and God allows them to implement harmful and counterproductive policies. This holds especially true when looking at many other eyebrow-raising policies in church history. They're human. They're good people trying their best with the knowledge they have. They're sometimes wrong.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Roy
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Re: Was the priesthood ban revelation?

Post by Roy » 19 Oct 2017, 09:35

There was an excellent discussion of this same topic here: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=2215&hilit=oaks+rev ... ifications

In 1988 Elder Oaks said that the ban itself was a Commandment from the Lord but that God often does not explain himself and humans step in to provide explanations that are mostly speculation. Incidentally, I feel that this is the current approach to polygamy ("God commanded it for his own reasons that we do not understand. To question it is to question God.")

The Essay on race and the priesthood from 2015? makes the case that it was a historical practice and policy. The essay says that BY announced the race ban publicly. There is no mention of a revelation. While the essay is largely silent on the specific circumstances surrounding the bans origin, I understand it to be in reaction to "race mixing" or interracial marriage producing interracial offspring. BY argued that just a drop of African blood in your veins would prohibit you from receiving the priesthood. Therefore, to have offspring with an African would curse your children. If black men were to receive the priesthood then there would seem to be no dire consequences from having interracial offspring.

The end of the essay gives us this gem:
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.
I believe that this paragraph is carefully written. The church disavows the theories. This is more or less what Elder Oaks said in 1988. "Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form." That is the money quote. For those that want a "mia culpa", the church condemns racism. If you interpret the ban as racist then you can read this sentence as saying that the ban was wrong and NOT OF GOD.

OTOH, If you are committed to sticking with the Elder Oaks reasoning from 1988 (that the theories were wrong but the ban itself was a commandment) then you can read that sentence as a continuation of the previous sentence. It further condemns the racist theories but does not explicitly say that the ban was wrong itself. I believe that if you are an old man that taught and defended the priesthood ban during your formative years and if it would be challenging to your faith now in your golden years for this doctrine to now be unquestionably wrong - in that circumstance I believe the church wants you to have some wiggle room to maintain your belief in the divinity of the ban. Perhaps in 10 or 20 years, after more of those people have had a chance to die out, the church will update this essay to more explicitly condemn the ban itself.
"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

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SilentDawning
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Re: Was the priesthood ban revelation?

Post by SilentDawning » 19 Oct 2017, 09:49

This begs the question of when the Prophet is speaking as a prophet, and when he speaking as a man with an opinion.

My belief is that he is interpreted as speaking as a prophet when it is convenient to do so, and interpreted as speaking as a man with an opinion when it is convenient to do so. And whether his comments are prophetic or man-made can be reclassified as time passes. Particularly if his "perceived doctrinal statements" were uttered a long time ago.

We have very "fluid doctrine" that is used to suit the purposes at the time. Technically, it's the doctrine in the scriptures, which is itself a slippery animal given the wide variances in possible interpretation. But then we have been told that conference talks are scripture for the next 6 months, and that the prophet speaks for the Lord, making his comments inspired and therefore, justifiable as "doctrinal". So, what is doctine is very slippery in Mormon religion.

There seems to be evidence that the membership and leadership for generations after BY believed the priesthood ban was doctrine. This doctrine was reversed by SWK given the upheaval of the 60's and 70's over race, and the expansion of the church into the nations with a lot of blacks. They needed local leadership.

Even though the ban was reversed, society continued to hold our doctrinal racism against us. In recent times, with the Internet, this has become even more widespread, -- to the point we lost membership due to faith crisis. So, the Gospel Topics essays were published. IN the essays, the doctrine of the priesthood ban was downgraded to a cultural phenomenon of the time, and "as a policy from whence no one knew where it came". How convenient!! And then we repudiated it.

However, it leaves a number of thorny issues. If you believe that BY taught it as doctrine, then it raises questions about whether the prophets can be trusted to give us pure doctrine. it raises questions about whether they can lead us astray.

And because all religions have experienced this phenomenon of untrustworthy doctrine and leaders (prediction about the end of the world, sale of indulgences, leaders falling from grace) it leaves me in a very comfortable place.

Take the good in the church, nurture it, let it percolate into peace and happiness for people who subscribe to it. Be there for people who are distressed when it no longer works for them. And learn to be happy and at peace with it yourself, for the sake of your family relationships. Approach much of our religion with agnosticism.

And contribute to a better experience for others, LIke facilitating a teachers' council :lol:
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

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SamBee
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Re: Was the priesthood ban revelation?

Post by SamBee » 19 Oct 2017, 10:22

Pres McKay tried to get rid of it years earlier. He succeeded in extending the priesthood to dark-skinned non-Africans such as Fijians, Negritos, Tamils etc.

David O. McKay never gets enough credit for this.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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LookingHard
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Re: Was the priesthood ban revelation?

Post by LookingHard » 19 Oct 2017, 10:57

SamBee wrote:
19 Oct 2017, 10:22
Pres McKay tried to get rid of it years earlier. He succeeded in extending the priesthood to dark-skinned non-Africans such as Fijians, Negritos, Tamils etc.

David O. McKay never gets enough credit for this.
Yep. I just read Greg Prince's book on DOM and I did learn a bit. I think he backed of some of the ridiculous (IMHO) "prove you are 100% white" requirements in South Africa.

Not criticizing him for this, but it is interesting that he didn't see the ban as doctrine, but never said that to any of his fellow Q15. I wonder why.

DoubtingTom
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Re: Was the priesthood ban revelation?

Post by DoubtingTom » 19 Oct 2017, 13:50

This is really hard issue for me. Brigham taught the ban as if it was revelation, using clear wording to that effect. So it begs the question, if a prophet can teach false doctrine believing it comes from God, and members can hear and accept that doctrine and get a confirmation from the spirit that it's true, then what trust can we have today that either a prophet is teaching true doctrine from God and also whether or not we are receiving a confirmation?

The only answer that satisfies my mind is that it all comes from humans - the doctrines the prophet teaches, the spiritual witness that confirms it. It all comes from an internal source - our minds.

So to answer the original question: No. Brigham taught his opinion and thought it was revelation from God.

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SamBee
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Re: Was the priesthood ban revelation?

Post by SamBee » 19 Oct 2017, 14:13

South Africa was very different to the USA on racial profiling. In the USA, there is the ridiculous one drop idea where you can be less than a 64th black and considered such... in South Africa, they had the pencil test, where they would shove a pencil in your hair and see if it stuck. Siblings in South Africa could be profiled as different races, even if they had the same parents... bizarre but true.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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gospeltangents
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Re: Was the priesthood ban revelation?

Post by gospeltangents » 19 Oct 2017, 19:01

This is a pet topic of mine. Paul Reeve in my interview seems to confirm that Young was the author of the ban, but no revelation preceeded it.
when Brigham Young says in his 5th of February speech, if no other prophet said it before now, I say it. Black people are the descendants of old Cain and are barred from the priesthood. He actually says he’s striking out on his own that if no other prophet said it before, I’m saying it now. So I am starting a new trajectory.
If you want to see/hear the whole episode, see https://gospeltangents.com/2017/02/24/b ... son-pratt/

Paul Reeve gives some amazing context in that interview, and says that Young was arguing against Orson Pratt who advocated black voting rights in 1852!!! That is a groundbreaking position, pre-Civil War, which is why Young says that blacks will not rule over him, because if blacks can vote, they could hold office too, and Young would stand to be ruled over by blacks. It is some very important context that was unknown until Reeve asked Lajean Carruth to translate some previous shorthand on the Utah Legislature. Pratt's political position is astounding to me, and his speech was lost to history until about 3 years ago. Really it is one of my favorite interviews ever.

SamBee you have that backwards on McKay. McKay was the one who got rid of the bloodlines requirement in South Africa.
See my latest interviews on Mormon History, Science & Theology at www.gospeltangents.com

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