Race and The Priesthood

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
Roy
Posts: 6183
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Race and The Priesthood

Post by Roy » 11 Dec 2013, 12:40

Sheldon wrote:How do you all interpret the following letter from the FP, written in our life time (well, most of us old guys anyway). This letter clearly states that it originated with God, and ALL prophets (JS included) have taught it.
I see respect and veneration for the church leaders that have come before. All of these men where raised on stories of the greatness of LDS founders. I assume that they saw JS as receiving revelation more readily than subsequent generations. Who are they to change something that he began? Wasn't it just recently that Elder Oaks was saying something about "We cannot change God's law."?

I believe JS did teach it. I do not believe that JS was consistent in teaching it or that he was consistent in practicing what he had (at one time taught), but he did (at least on some limited occasions) teach it.

First, JS either wrote or translated the PofGP:
Moses 7:8 "a blackness came upon all the children of Canaan. . . ."
Moses 7:12 "Enoch continued to call upon all the people, save it were [i.e., except] the people of Canaan, to repent. . . ."
Moses 7:22 ".for the seed of Cain were black and had not place among them."
Abraham 1:21 " king of Egypt [Pharaoh] was a descendant from the loins of Ham, and was a partaker of the blood of the Canaanites by birth."
Abraham 1:27 "Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood. . . ."
Second, JS provides us with his interpretation on some things:
"In the evening debated with John C. Bennett and others to show that the Indians have greater cause to complain of the treatment of the whites, than the negroes or sons of Cain" (History of the Church 4:501.)
After having expressed myself so freely upon this subject, I do not doubt but those who have been forward in raising their voice against the South, will cry out against me as being uncharitable, unfeeling and unkind-wholly unacquainted with the gospel of Christ.
It is my privilege then, to name certain passages from the bible, and examine the teachings of the ancients upon this nature, as the fact is incontrovertible, that the first mention we have of slavery is found in the holy bible, pronounced by a man who was perfect in his generation and walked with God.
And so far from that prediction's being averse from the mind of God it remains as a lasting monument of the decree of Jehovah, to the shame and confusion of all who have cried out against the South, in consequence of their holding the sons of Ham in servitude!
"And he said cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem and Canaan shall be his servant." —Genesis 9:25-27
"Trace the history of the world from this notable event down to this day, and you will find the fulfillment of this singular prophecy. What could have been the design of the Almighty in this wonderful occurrence is not for me to say; but I can say that the curse is not yet taken off the sons of Canaan, neither will be until it is affected by as great power as caused it to come; and the people who interfere the least with the decrees and purposes of God in this matter, will come under the least condemnation before him; and those who are determined to pursue a course which shows an opposition and a feverish restlessness against the designs of the Lord, will learn, when perhaps it is too late for their own good, that God can do his own work without the aid of those who are not dictate by his counsel." (Joseph Smith Jr., Messenger and Advocate Vol. II, No. 7, April 1836, p. 290; History of the Church, Vol. 2, Ch. 30, pp. 436–40.)
So, JS did refer to modern black people as Sons of Ham and Cain (that according to scripture do "not have the right of Priesthood"). I understand that the association of black africans with sons of Cain and Ham was quite widespread in the US at that time.
"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: 6183
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Race and The Priesthood

Post by Roy » 11 Dec 2013, 12:48

mom3 wrote:For me - I want to let go of the past. Not just forget it, but forgive it. Yes, I see them as fallible, but so are the rest of the leaders. So it doesn't bother me. What I can do, and what nudges me, is how can I use the lesson forward, how can I help heal once inflicted souls and spare future ones. That's my take away.
Mom3, We seem to have been cross posting. I wanted to say how much I am moved by your post.
"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

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16842
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Race and The Priesthood

Post by Curt Sunshine » 11 Dec 2013, 13:13

I cannot improve on what mom3 said, and I have no desire to add to it.

Thank you!
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
Sheldon
Posts: 454
Joined: 14 Aug 2013, 13:44

Re: Race and The Priesthood

Post by Sheldon » 11 Dec 2013, 14:11

mom3 wrote:For me - I want to let go of the past. Not just forget it, but forgive it.
Ok, then let’s forget and forgive all the mistakes from past prophets. But what about the current prophets? They are the ones that put out the words that said this was NOT taught by JS, but was purely made up by BY. I was only showing that even in the steps they took to put this behind them, they still couldn’t get the whole truth. They still wobbled on the truth to preserve Joseph Smith’s reputation. That’s all I was pointing out.

User avatar
SilentDawning
Posts: 7341
Joined: 09 May 2010, 19:55

Re: Race and The Priesthood

Post by SilentDawning » 11 Dec 2013, 14:53

I think it's a bit amusing how the church can thump and thump and thump about the inspired leaders, never leading astray -- aligning thousands of people's behavior around organizational goals due to the leadership's special plug-in to God. Claiming the truth -- inspired leaders -- and then, when a landmark statement like this comes out....Oh well -- they made a mistake, let's move on. Almost as if it was nothing. For me it repudiates decades of teaching and sacrament talks etcetera that have shaped a culture of obedience to prophets who are largely infallible.

Anyway, I don't want to offend anyone, and I will move on and forgive. It's a heck of a lot easier to forgive now that my take on the implications of this message is that we have to take all revelation with a grain of salt, and not give up our own rationale, conscience, etcetera....that Martin Luther had it right when he said the information goes from God to Man. Not God to Church to Man.

Those stories of people showing outright obedience that defies conscience or logic (like giving their wife away in order to keep a commandment stories) isn't necessarily the right thing to do. The prophet could be wrong.

Nonetheless, I hope people realize I still will listen to the prophets. I dont' consider them shysters, or somehow intentionally misleading, AT the same time, I will look at just about anything i hear at church with a healthy skepticism -- as I started doing when my own commitment crises hit the books a few years ago. At the same time, if people want to keep believing in the near infallibility of the prophets in spite of this, that is fine with me.

And by the way, I think I'll feel less like a renegade now that I don't immediately get in line just because a mortal church leader tells me to. This is therapeutic.

And so, I'll join the ranks of the people who are moving on. Validated, wiser, and confirmed in my belief in the elevated conscience.
Last edited by SilentDawning on 11 Dec 2013, 14:55, edited 1 time in total.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- 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."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

User avatar
SamBee
Posts: 5565
Joined: 14 Mar 2010, 04:55

Re: Race and The Priesthood

Post by SamBee » 11 Dec 2013, 14:54

The term Hamitic for certain north African languages is still in linguistic usage.
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."

User avatar
SilentDawning
Posts: 7341
Joined: 09 May 2010, 19:55

Re: Race and The Priesthood

Post by SilentDawning » 11 Dec 2013, 14:57

Sheldon wrote:
mom3 wrote:For me - I want to let go of the past. Not just forget it, but forgive it.
Ok, then let’s forget and forgive all the mistakes from past prophets. But what about the current prophets? They are the ones that put out the words that said this was NOT taught by JS, but was purely made up by BY. I was only showing that even in the steps they took to put this behind them, they still couldn’t get the whole truth. They still wobbled on the truth to preserve Joseph Smith’s reputation. That’s all I was pointing out.
Not sure what you mean by this portion " was only showing that even in the steps they took to put this behind them, they still couldn’t get the whole truth. They still wobbled on the truth to preserve Joseph Smith’s reputation. That’s all I was pointing out."
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- 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."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

User avatar
SamBee
Posts: 5565
Joined: 14 Mar 2010, 04:55

Re: Race and The Priesthood

Post by SamBee » 11 Dec 2013, 15:03

The most disturbing aspect of this whole thing, for me, is that the ban was only lifted in my lifetime. I'm showing my age, I know.
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."

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16842
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Race and The Priesthood

Post by Curt Sunshine » 11 Dec 2013, 15:07

They still wobbled on the truth to preserve Joseph Smith’s reputation.
No, they didn't, Sheldon. Joseph Smith ordained black men to the Priesthood and allowed black members to be part of the temple ordinances. The ban absolutely did not start with him. As the explanation says, it was initiated by Brigham Young, and he used scriptures to justify a prevailing philosophy that existed and was taught actively within Protestantism prior to his conversion and after.

I've said this in other places, but if you start with the view that the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price are ancient records (even if you view them as fictional), any racist statements in them need not be charged to the translator / author as proving racism in that person - since racism absolutely was universal, culturally, in ancient societies. One of the things about those records that actually lend a degree of credibility to them (again, whether fictional or non-fictional) is that they contain racist themes. They should be there, given the time period they purport to cover and the views they purport to present.

Even more critically, the words someone writes in something that is set in ancient times cannot be viewed as indicative that he would have supported future actions by someone else IF that person's own actions during his lifetime don't support or are in direct opposition to the actions of that other person. It's not that they are present in those records that is the issue, since they should be from a historical standpoint; it's the fact that Brigham Young used them to teach the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture - and that others were led to believe (based on faulty information given to them) that Joseph approved of the ban. There is absolutely no evidence that he did - and, in fact, all the evidence says explicitly that he didn't. All of that is in the explanation, and it all is completely accurate.

I'm not saying Joseph was completely free of racism. He wasn't. However, there is nothing in our history that even implies the ban would have occurred had Joseph lived to lead the Church in Utah. There is no "wobbling" by current leaders or the historians who wrote the explanation. Joseph, himself, had nothing to do with the ban, and his actions had to be ignored in order to justify it.
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

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16842
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Race and The Priesthood

Post by Curt Sunshine » 11 Dec 2013, 15:10

Those stories of people showing outright obedience that defies conscience or logic (like giving their wife away in order to keep a commandment stories) isn't necessarily the right thing to do. The prophet could be wrong.


This.

Don't trust in the arm of flesh, at least not completely, no matter whose arm it is. Worship according to the dictates of your own conscience.
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

Post Reply