Prophets in Mormonism/Part 37

By: Marvin W. Cowan; ©2009
For 148 years, Mormonism taught that black people of African descent were cursed and could not have the LDS priesthood and the mark of that curse was their black skin. Why were black people of that lineage cursed before 1978 while those living after 1978 are not cursed? And why did Kimball’s 1978 “revelation” remove the curse, but leave the mark of the curse?

Black men excluded from LDS priesthood

Mormonism teaches that having their priesthood and going through temple rites are requirements for individual salvation in the highest level of the Celestial kingdom after death. But Mormon women can’t have the LDS priesthood, so they depend upon their husbands for the blessings that come through the priesthood. That is one reason “eternal marriage” in an LDS temple is so important to them. Before 1978, black men of African descent couldn’t have the LDS priesthood or enter the temple, so their wives and families were also excluded from the “blessings” offered to all other Mormons in this life and the next. That changed for them in 1978 when LDS Prophet Spencer W. Kimball said he had a “revelation” now known as Official Declaration-2 at the end of the Doctrine and Covenants.

Mormon scripture says, “The seed of Cain were black” (Pearl of Great Price, Moses 7:22). It also says that “Noah cursed him [Ham] as pertaining to the Priesthood” (Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 1:26). LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie explained, “Noah’s son, Ham, married Egyptus, a descendent of Cain, thus preserving the Negro lineage through the flood” (Mormon Doctrine, 1966 ed., p. 527).

LDS Prophet, Brigham Young also said, “Cain slew his brother… and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin…. How long is that race to endure the dreadful curse that is upon them? That curse will remain upon them, and they never can hold the Priesthood or share in it until all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the Priesthood (Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, pp. 290-291).

Young also said, “When all the other children of Adam have had the privilege of receiving the Priesthood…and have received their resurrection from the dead, then it will be time enough to remove the curse from Cain and his posterity” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 143). Brigham Young taught false doctrine if LDS Prophet Spencer W. Kimball received his 1978 “revelation” from God, because all of Adam’s other children have not received LDS Priesthood nor have they been resurrected. But if Brigham Young taught the truth, Kimball was a false prophet.

McConkie also said, “Cain was cursed with a dark skin; he became the father of the Negroes, and those [pre-mortal] spirits who are not worthy to receive the priesthood are born [on earth] through his lineage” (Mormon Doctrine, 1966 ed., p. 109).

For 148 years, from 1830 until 1978, Mormonism taught that black people of African descent were cursed and could not have the LDS priesthood and the mark of that curse was their black skin. Why were black people of that lineage cursed before 1978 while those living after 1978 are not cursed? And why did Kimball’s 1978 “revelation” remove the curse (of not having the priesthood), but leave the mark of the curse (black skin)?

The Bible does NOT say that the mark God put on Cain was black skin, nor does it say that having black skin is a curse. The Bible does not say what kind of mark God put on Cain, nor does it say that black people of Africa are descendants of Cain. The mark God put on Cain could have been white skin, a red nose, or big ears for all we know!

Mormonism seems to be preoccupied with the color of peoples’ skin. Mormon Prophet Brigham Young said at the 1857 Semi-annual LDS Conference, “You can see men and women who are sixty or seventy years of age looking young and handsome; but let them apostatize and they will become grey-haired, wrinkled, and black, just like the Devil” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 332). Thousands of former Mormons have apostatized, but not one became black! As they grow older they become grey-haired and have wrinkles, but so do active Mormons!

The Book of Mormon claims to be a scriptural history of the ancestors of American Indians like the Bible is of Hebrews. In it “Nephites” are white because they are righteous. But when they are evil, they are cursed with a “skin of blackness” and called “Lamanites” (II Nephi 5:21-24). If evil Lamanites become righteous, their skin turns white in less than a year (III Nephi 2:11-16), so change in skin color works both ways. Changes in skin color happen many times in the Book of Mormon, which also says in Mormon 9:19 that God doesn’t change; if He did miracles in the past, He will do them today. If the Book of Mormon is true, American Indians who join the LDS Church and live its teachings should become white. Do they?

In the New Testament, Peter thought God favored Israel over any other nation until God gave him a vision that opened his eyes. Then he said, “I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that fears Him, and works righteousness, is accepted with Him” (Acts 10:34-35). And Paul said God “has made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). Paul also said to the believers in Galatia, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). The message of the Bible is not about the color of one’s skin, but about man’s sin. Paul wrote in Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” And 1 John 1:7 says when we believe or trust in Christ “the blood of Jesus Christ, His [God’s] Son, cleanses us from all sin.” That is far more important than the color of our skin!

More about Mormonism’s view of the Negro can be found in Mormonism, Shadow or Reality?, by Jerald and Sandra Tanner. Next time we will consider some changed LDS scripture.

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