Annoying False Doctrines Strike Again

Stephen MarshMormon 101 Comments

We were having someone dear to us taught in our home, when the elder looked at them and said …

“You do know that you might want to think twice about the time you spend with your Asian friends, since a darker skin color means that they were less valiant in the pre-existence.”

She completely lost interest.  I laid my hand on the elder’s arm and observed that as his skin was darker than mine, and he wasn’t a light blond (he had dark brown hair), he must  have meant that he was very valiant …

He’d never looked at his false doctrine that way, as a way to down grade him rather than others, nor was he quite as prepared to talk about the fact that it was a false doctrine.

I’ve met the approach in a number of ways through the years.  The funniest was when the group that called themselves “The Children of Ephraim” petitioned the Church for their own ward at BYU.  They attributed spiritual virtue to being smarter than anyone else, though they also believed that physical height, large noses (!?) and blond hair marked them as a separate racial group.  The brethren were not amused.

I just gently bedeviled those I knew, who were no where near as smart as they thought they were, and obviously not as smart as I was.  My wife doesn’t remember it as being as gentle as I thought I was being.

But racial and racist types of doctrines really offend me.  My grandfather quit his first church over them, so it just might be in the blood (did I just buy into something like the false doctrines I’m picking at?).

I try to laugh at the times I’ve encountered that sort of thing, but I’d think it was a lot more humorous if the friend had joined the Church later.

Comments 101

  1. I think one of the negative results of this false doctrine (even in very watered down forms) is that those who feel privileged and blessed start to feel deserving and entitled. Gratitude, generosity and charity have a difficult time finding purchase. The sad thing about your story is in the probability that the missionary was well-meaning in his utter ignorance. Someone actually taught that crap too him in a clear enough manner that he could subsequently articulate it and do this kind of damage.

    How long ago was this? Are we still really dealing with this level of idiocy and bigotry? Probably.

    It was just three years ago a friend asked me for my “mormon” opinion on something. He (white) was dating a black girl, and was quite honestly head over heels for her. There was some significant though neither permanent nor insurmountable geographical distance to the relationship. My friend wanted to know what mormons thought about interracial marriages. Specifically, were they “wrong” in the religious and moral sense. My immediate answer was that they were just fine. I filled in that marriage isn’t easy, and that the more common ground a couple has to build on the easier it often is, but that racial identity is probably a lot less important than common opinions on ethical issues or even basic philosophies on how to discipline children. Then it hit me….why the heck was he even asking this question?

    Some member who was a friend of his girlfriends told her she needed to break it off to avoid committing the “sin” of interracial marriage. So he wanted to know if that was really something that we (I) believed. I told him flat out that her friend was completely wrong both in the ultimate sense and in the assertion that this was the official position of the mormon church on the matter.

    Then just a few weeks later I’m prepping for my young men’s lesson and there it is. A nice tidy paragraph about marriages between cultures. I don’t feel like looking it up right now to quote it. It didn’t get explicit, and it certainly didn’t go so far as to actually condemn the practice, but the tone of the quote was definitely along the lines of…..”it’s not actually wrong, but you really shouldn’t even consider it”.

    Needless to say, I did not give that paragraph any “airtime” at all in the lesson. But one of my counselors was in there with his manual, and he brought it up. Along with the pre-existence nonsense. Yikes. I blew my stack. I wondered afterward if I had overreacted. Nope. I think we generally underreact, and that’s why this garbage persists.

  2. It seems surreal to me that the church ever was in such a position where doctrines like this can now propagate. I’m not sure if I can fully buy that the elder would actually say such a thing out loud…although, at the same time, I know that it could (and did) happened. And that it’s happened to others.

    but I mean, that’s the surreal thing. It hasn’t been all that long since 1978…

  3. I totally agree that it’s ridiculous that stuff like this does still propogate. I have heard the marriages between cultures bit several times before, but I’m not sure where it came from. I heard it a lot when I was out of the country on my mission, when many elders were coming back to marry women and take them back to the US. One of the things leaders would say about that (in addition to the whole you’re not on a mission to find a wife part) is that there can be problems when marrying between cultures like that. When the families of the couple are split across the world you could see hardships on either side. I could certainly see there being issues in a relationship like that. However, I have met people who have families many many miles away who they still manage to keep in touch with and manage to have perfectly wonderful lives together even though they both grew up in completely different circumstances.

    Of course, that’s a bit different than the situation above. The above doctrine was always one that really bothered me growing up, and I had seminary and institute teachers mention it in lessons. Although I think I’ve heard it more in the west coast than when I lived back east.

  4. I remember that particular story. It was in a book by Alvin Dyre (member of the 12. Member of first presidency from ’68-’70). The title was either “Who am I?” or “The meaning of truth.” In that book, he went into a great deal of explanation of the example in the original post. I pulled the book off of the old GospeLink CD set. It was extremely interesting reading.

    I also remember a general authority seventy (American born and raised in Utah whose picture is in the conference edition of the ensign) tell us in a mission conference that English was revelation and everything else was translation, nothing more. The native elders didn’t take that one too well. Were also told in that same meeting that it was Ephraim’s birthright to restore the church organization and to take the gospel to the world. That was why the leadership of the church was of the tribe of Ephraim and that the other tribes were assisting. Natives didn’t like that one either. It put me in an odd position with my native companion who asked me if I believed the words of the general authority. I told him I didn’t know and would have to pray about it. We never spoke of it after that.

    I understand the logic behind the argument but don’t agree with it. I’ve always thought that our experiences here in life were specifically designed to help us achieve our greatest potential. Since all of us are different and have different needs, it wouldn’t make sense for us to have standardized start points and experiences.

    #3 Gregeth – I saw that same thing quite a few times. I don’t know of any marriage that actually lasted. Cultural differences were the major problem, or at least, so I’ve been told.

    Merry Christmas Everybody.

  5. #3 I am sorry but I agree with our GAs on this one. Now if by culture one means color of skin I would think this is racist but culture is NOT a matter of color of skin. I have seen countless of of girls marrying guys who had served in France. Some marriage lasted some did not. Those who did not had something in common along with many other issue that were not often the problem of the foreigner: not to want to give up on the culture. ALL the happy marriages I have seen between american and french were one where one had given up on his/her culture. Sometime the american comes to live in France, most of the time it is the french who cross the ocean.
    You need to know that I remember our GAs saying these things in the 80’s when girls, in France at least, were literally running away from their country to go to Utah (the promised land as everybody here is well aware of). It was really like a plague. Thus it weakens the church in France/Europe.
    I don’t see anything wrong in giving up one’s culture if it is a will and not a sacrifice. But you have to be aware that it is rather hard (if not impossible) to avoid this.
    Now the funny thing about inter culture marriage is that I have seen more African/French happy marriages than American/French marriages.

  6. I’m surprised that people are shocked that some of these things are still being taught or believed by the members. Bruce McConkie and Mark Peterson clearly taught this to be true. As well as many of the Brethren. Has this doctrine ever been publicly denounced? I believe that it is false doctrine, but most active latter day saints (especially the older generation) are just going off of what prior leaders have said. Can you really blame the members for believing something that their leaders have taught? If there is any blame to be had it lies in the Brethren not clearly denouncing the “false doctrine”. That could be said of this subject and many others.

  7. I agree with #6.

    We call it ‘false doctrine’ and can’t believe that people actually believe it. But it wasn’t considered false doctrine in the past–it was the teachings of prophets, apostles, and official policy of the church. And the ‘past’ here wasn’t too terribly long ago.

    The church could come out publicly and denounce all of the previous teachings, but in the process it would have to admit that several past church leaders were racist. This would weaken the ‘one true church’ claim, so the church just ignores this stuff and lets these ideas die a slow death.

  8. LDS Apostle Mark E. Peterson on the “Sin” Non-Caucasians Committed in the Pre-Existence: Following Lucifer, and Hating God

    “We must accept the fact of pre-existence, and that in our pre-existence we had free agency. We could be lazy there or we could be industrious. We could be obedient or careless. We could choose to follow Christ or to follow Lucifer.”

    “This scripture clearly indicates that He shows mercy to those who love him and keep His commandments, but visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children of them “that hate me”. In other words, we reap what we sow.”

    LDS Apostle Mark E. Peterson on Poverty in this Life Being Based on Unrighteousness in the Previous Life

    “With that in mind, we can account in no other way for the birth of some of the children of God in darkest Africa, or in flood-ridden China, or among the starving hordes of India, while some of the rest of us are born in the United States? We cannot escape the conclusion that because of performance in our pre-existence some of us are born as Chinese, some as Japanese, some as Indians, some as Negroes, some as Americans, some as Latter-day Saints. There are rewards and punishments, fully in harmony with His established policy in dealing with sinners and saints, regarding all according to their deeds.”

    Great Series by the way Stephen

    A few questions

    1 If we don’t believe in Racist comments of the past why isn’t it said now by the brethren that it was wrong we have further light and knowledge.

    2 Or would this shake many members belief in our view as apostles that they won’t lead us a stray with false doctrine.

    3 If they made a mistake in the past how do we not know we could be not receiving false doctrine now from time to time!

  9. Interesting topic. I’ll ask the black man in our bishopric what he thinks…and maybe oure black Sunday School president as well.

  10. …patiently waiting for Ray to bring up that worthless BRM quote and claim that it answers all questions on this subject…

    #9–Are you really going to talk with them? If so, I’d like to hear what they have to say. I sincerely hope you aren’t just giving the standard apologetic response–“Look, here is a black guy in some leadership position, so the church clearly isn’t (or wasn’t) racist in any way.”

  11. I can relate to this story because I had a similar experiance on my mission. During a district meeting in which the zone leader was attending it was mentioned by another missionary that people born in China must have been less valiant in the pre-existence since the Gospel cannot be taught there.

    I was upset by this comment and expressed my frustration very passionately. Instead of getting support from the zone leader he attempted to “reason” with me and show me where I was wrong. After a few minutes of discussion I had to accept the gross realization that I was the only missionary in that meeting that did not agree with the comment.

    There is only one way for us to move past this false doctrine. The general leadership of the Church has to officially state that this teaching is false. Just as we have quotes from several general authorities that suggest race is an indicator of our choices in the pre-existence (our valiance) we need quotes from leaders condemning these suggestions. It pains me that the Church has not done this.

    In fact, I wish the Church would come out and condemn this false doctrine as well as the teaching that African Americans derive from the seed of Cain, that they are a lower order of the human race, that they were fence-sitters in the pre-existence and all other racial biggotry expressed from leaders in the past.

    I once taught a discussion to a black woman. Her husband came home during the discussion and spoke with the other elder and I. He said that the one thing that bothered him most about the Mormon Church was they weren’t willing to move on. While most Churches have apologized and withdrawn their rascist teachings of blacks the Mormon Church has never tried to apologize or withdraw the rascist comments and teachings of its leaders. I thought he made a great point.

  12. I suppose it depends on whether by ‘culture’we’re really reading ethnicity.I think that G is right when she notices the cultural divide between Europe and the USA.I’m less happy with this being about ethnicity,it’s not skin colour that’s the issue,it’s the family culture.I think every family has it’s own culture,tribe is an extension of this and every marriage faces these kinds of challenges,it’s just that ethnicity/culture can be a useful hat upon which to hang our discontents.Our challenge is pretty much always to get over ourselves and create a new family with it’s own unique culture,and then to let go of that when the time comes to face the challenge/opportunity.

  13. I think it is a true doctrine that certain people and even certain bloodlines are called to various callings in the gospel. That being said, the Lord has made it quite clear that those who do not live righteously are booted out of these birthrights and those who do are adopted in.

  14. 13. SilverRain

    If this is true then what purpose does it serve the Church to allow speculations on bloodlines to exist when ultimately the person’s salvation hinges on their own free agency?

  15. #10 – “patiently waiting for Ray to bring up that worthless BRM quote and claim that it answers all questions on this subject”

    It’s so nice to be so badly misquoted.

    I understand the difficulty of cross-cultural marriages, and I think it definitely should be considered when a couple is getting married – but it shouldn’t stop the marriage. It’s just one of many things that can cause issues, but “culture” doesn’t mean “skin color” – as Gwen pointed out. “Culture” is way more complex and comprehensive than that – and skin color sometimes is almost totally irrelevant when it comes to culture.

    This false doctrine should be drawn and quartered and laid to rest. It is one of the worst in our history.

  16. I’ll be honest in saying I haven’t heard this racist nonsense for a very very long time at church. But I heard it when I was a teenager (a very long time ago). The missionaries were teaching two teenage boys at our house. They had been studying with the JW, and they were concerned about the priesthood ban. My parents mentioned the pre-existence and seed of Cain folk doctrines, and I contradicted them and said that stuff is not true, and it’s not doctrine. My parents were taken aback and were surprised to hear that, but they backed off in their statements, and I never heard them say it again. They still struggle with racism, but more due to their age than anything else. They are not deeply racist, just somewhat tone deaf on these issues.

    The quote about cultural divides not being a good basis for marriage is wise counsel. It’s not to say it can’t work out; I’m sure it can and does in many cases, and it’s not prohibited. The caution is just there so that naive young people won’t assume true love conquers all. It doesn’t. Contrary to what readers of Twilight may think, love is not really epic, just hard work. And there’s just as much potential for cultural divide (e.g. socio-economic, geographical) within the US as between countries.

  17. Part of the problem is that we still tend to take an extremely hardline approach to the notion that “whether by mine own voice or the voice of my servants, it is the same”. That is, anything ever spoken by any church leader is gospel truth and the the mind and will of the Lord. This includes the teachings by Brigham, Joseph Fielding Smith, McConkie, Peterson, or Benson on the races.

    Perhaps the quickest and most effective way of silencing this issue once and for all would be for the First Presidency to issue a statement that church leaders were reflecting some cultural racist views, that those views are not scriptural but were based on their understanding, and are not to be repeated. (Then again, perhaps not, as evidenced by the number of people in the Church who seem to place ETB’s anti-Commie screeds from the 1960s above the teachings of Hinckley or Monson. We do tend to prefer the Dead Prophets’ Society.)

  18. Gwennaëlle (#5): I’m inclined to agree with you on the cultural difference thing. I served in France on my mission, and I think that maybe French/U.S. American relationships have such a hard time succeeding because both cultures have an extremely powerful sense of self, making it hard for one to compromise and concede to the other. Both U.S. Americans and French people, in my experience, believe their country is the best place in the world (best food, best countryside, best way of life, best government, best schools, best art, best inventors/scientists, I could go on and on). If both sides talk in superlatives, its hard to come together and incorporate both into a lifestyle that is satisfactory to all. For similar reasons, Californians often have a hard time with Texans. 🙂

    I agree with everyone else, however, that the color of skin thing denoting more righteous premortal spirits is complete bunk.

  19. Okay, maybe because I am in an interracial cross-cultural marriage, I get more upset about these things than I should, but seriously I wish they would apologize for these statements. Also, I think it is really stupid and racist to believe that the cultural differences break up a marriage. I think unwillingness to change and adapt break up a marriage period, regardless of culture. I think that a neighbor who marries a neighbor will still have vast differences in how they were raised, and they will have to adjust their ways. It may be more pronounced in a multi-cultural marriage, but for me it makes it easier, because the differences are easy to see, and we went into the marriage with our eyes open to that. Staying together is a choice, and something that is easily worked at. Though I get sick of the condesending stares from people in the ward who are older and obviously disagree with my choice of a marriage partner. My grandmother who I loved dearly said she was ashamed when I got engaged, and she died a week before the marriage. I am convinced she could not accept my choice, and would not be surprised if she just gave up on life rather than face such an awful thing as an interracial grandchild. It hurts so much to know that the teaching of the church lead to such thoughts.

  20. 19. Maren

    Whether its cultural differences, family differences, eating differences, etc. every marriage is going to have its conflicts. I do agree that its stupid to believe that cultural differences in and of themselves break up a marriage. It is the person’s decision to allow their culture to break up a marriage just as they can allow any number of differences and conflicts to.

    Kudos to you for bringing an interracial marriage into the Church. It desperately needs it.

  21. Mr. Stephen Marsh said, “But racial and racist types of doctrines really offend me. My grandfather quit his first church over them, so it just might be in the blood (did I just buy into something like the false doctrines I’m picking at?).”

    How do you reconcile the following statements from Brigham Young. These are definately racist doctrines. The Journal of Discourses were studied in the church within my lifetime as doctrine. To sweep them under the rug is unacceptable.

    “You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind.

    The first man that committed the odious crime of killing one of his brethren will be cursed the longest of any one of the children of Adam. Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings.

    This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another curse is pronounced upon the same race–that they should be the “servant of servants;” and they will be, until that curse is removed.”

    Brigham Young-President and second ‘Prophet’ of the Mormon Church, 1844-1877- Extract from Journal of Discourses.

    “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God is death on the spot. This will always be so.”

    Journal of Discourses, Vo. 10, p. 110

  22. 21. Joe P

    I don’t think anyone has stated that these quotes do not exist. To the contrary, I believe most participants on this blog are well-acquainted with them.

    I do not want to stand up for Brigham Young’s character, as I never knew the man personally. But a lot of his statements are in harmony with the view of African Americans in his day. If someone wrote all of your speculations and opinions down and then later published them as doctrine 40 years later I am sure there are statements you would find embarrasing.

    I think my criticism is what the Church has done now that we have moved away from these views.

  23. “How do you reconcile the following statements from Brigham Young. These are definately racist doctrines. The Journal of Discourses were studied in the church within my lifetime as doctrine. To sweep them under the rug is unacceptable.”

    I don’t think anyone wants to sweep them under the rug. Right now they seem to be dying the slow death of a starving tree, as fewer and fewer members believe them. But most of us would like to violently hack them to pieces of kindling with the hatchet of modern revelation and toss them into the fire of repudiated false doctrine.

  24. Well said, adam.

    Joe, You probably couldn’t care less about personal advice from me, but if you want to be taken seriously on a Mormon-themed blog, it’s probbly a good idea to read the posts and comments carefully and address what people actually say – not a strawman you think we must be defending. I think just about everyone here has stated at one point or another that they believe racism was a determining factor in the quotes you provided and in the policy that was enacted (and that the ban was not God’s will) – and that we understand our prophets are fallible and not every word they speak is the will of God. Trying to claim that we ARE making those claims simply devalues your comment in our eyes.

    I mean this comment as a sincere effort to help you understand how to be a productive part of these conversations and actually have your contributions valued and considered. Broadside attacks that don’t address what we actually are saying just don’t cause that to happen.

  25. adam, it is interesting that your reaction is exactly the same as the servants in the vineyard described in Jacob 5 when they wanted to prune the trees most vigorously. The response basically was, “I don’t want my tree to die again, so I will clear away the bad at a speed that will allow it to continue to live.” Remember, that allegory says explicitly that the Kingdom of God would include bad-fruit producing limbs that would have to be pruned away and cast into the fire. We forget that sometimes in our desire for perfection.

    I can honor the people who enacted and accepted the ban for the wonderful things they did, while simultaneously recognizing those areas like this where I believe they falied miserably – largely because I really want the same charitable consideration 30 years from now when others look back at what I have written and shake their heads (and probably their fists) at the areas where I am failing miserably. I know what some of those areas are; I have no idea what others are; I pray the future will look kindly on my flawed but sincere efforts – so I try to do the same for those in the past.

  26. President Hinckley did denounce racism in the church in one of his last conference talks. He didn’t come out and say BRM or MEP were wrong, but he did say that those who think people with differing dkin color are inferior are not in harmony with the gospel.

  27. #18 I totally agree with you. Let me tell you this funny story. I was talking with friends about the best restaurant in town and one of them said that she did not understand why in a certain chines restaurant we were talking about they did not offer “french bread”. I was totally astonished that she had actually asked such a question. She was not stupid. She was just french that thinks that everybody she eat french because it is the best food, everybody should speak french because it is the most beautiful language and the language of love (I personally like English better and I just looooove your “th” sound) YET not everybody can speak french because it is so hard so you have to be pretty smart to be able to rise from your low barbarian English language to the higher language that french is. Do I need to go further or do everybody get an idea?
    The problem I realize that people have is that when one has a darker skin it is easier to keep on mind that this person must have a different culture. It makes things a lot easier and communication always a constant effort.
    I won’t start counting down how many times my culture was either an issue or just something “funny” on my mission. Because you know…I am LDS and white….I should necessarily have the same way to speak, the same way to see things, the same goal and the same up breeding. The funny thing to me is that people don’t know how much for a french person I am “American” because of the way my mother raised me.
    This is one thing I have been aware of very young: I could not marry an American unless this guy is unusually gifted for understanding what it means to be different.
    It does not mean that I will not marry an American, it only means that if I should ever fall in love with someone of “the lower breed” (ARGH! just teasing please don’t take it bad) I would be careful that I would not have to spend all my time and energy being the one always crossing the bridge.

  28. we’ve been ’round and ’round on this subject a number of times and it usually falls into two camps. Those who are critical of the Church always point to the various GA statements and insist that our Church “believes” and teaches (or did teach)the principles in those statements. And on the other side, those church members who acknowledge those statements but yet insist that the “Church” does not teach those things as Doctrine. Which is usually the case. However, we can’t very well disavow opinions and even recommendations made in the past by GAs and other leaders.

    Then someone will pull out a YM manual where there is a quote about not recommending inter-racial marriage and we go round and round about that for awhile.

    Yes, it would be nice if the Church would issue a long list of what is and is not doctrine. But, it hasn’t. And until it does, if ever, some of us as members will continue to defend the defensible and disavow the indefensible and incorrect doctrine to the best of our ability.

  29. Joe P. – you can quite easily trace most of BY’s folk doctrines directly back to his protestant upbringing prior to his conversion to LDS. He also uses the words “hell” and “damn” a lot more than most LDS leaders – another byproduct of the hellfire and brimstone protestant sermons he was raised on. Additionally, as Ray points out, most of his racist rhetoric was common for his day, which absolutely doesn’t make it right. It just illustrates that prophets are fallible and a product of their time, for both good and bad. I have not seen any racist statements made by Joseph Smith, by contrast.

    An interesting side topic that came up yesterday at church was that the migrating Saints who left Missouri basically kept the church out of the Civil War which may have preserved many lives, especially since the majority of Saints were anti-slavery while Missouri was not. To some extent, we can be proud of the anti-slavery heritage while feeling shame for the racist rhetoric.

  30. #14—I suppose I don’t understand what you are asking. The Church doesn’t “allow” or “disallow” speculations, they continue whatever the Church says.

    As far as why there might be bloodline callings when salvation is individual, I can only say that every person on this earth is given a different set of experiences or circumstances. I find it comforting and empowering to know that I have a purpose and calling beyond merely my own individual one; that I belong to a family with a similar purpose and calling. What I choose to do with that familial calling—that circumstance I was born into—is still purely individual.

  31. “He’d never looked at his false doctrine ” I thought everyone in Utah believes this is just fact.

    #11 “The general leadership of the Church has to officially state that this teaching is false. Just as we have quotes from several general authorities that suggest race is an indicator of our choices in the pre-existence (our valiance) we need quotes from leaders condemning these suggestions. It pains me that the Church has not done this.”

    Here is the real problem. The church just doesn’t do this, they rarely come out publicly against past beliefs. They seem to only come out against rumors like the youths-generals-in-heaven one. But whatever contradicts past leaders, well they stay quiet on those ones.

    And if the new apostle is just another white lawyer who is married to a white woman, well then people can feel somewhat vindicated in their beliefs on interracial and cross-cultural marriages, and in all these ‘more valiant theories’ since only whites run the show (that includes white Germans). Hopefully the Lord is ready to change things and call a Nigerian or pacific islander area authority as apostle, because men like Elders Costa or Zivic aren’t really ‘colored’!

  32. 30. SilverRain

    All the Church has to do is release an official statement that these speculations are not Church doctrine. By not doing so, they allow these speculations to continue.

  33. I find the Mormon “pre-mortal existence” view of the world disturbing, if not offensive. The idea that the suffering and misfortunes being visited upon non-white races was because of some failing in their “pre-existence” serves only to reinforce the fallacy of white supremacy. It’s not difficult to trace how American exceptionalism or manifest destiny came about: I’m blessed above anyone else, I’m better than you, and therefore I own you.

  34. Believe it or not, when teaching Elders Quorum in Rexburg when I was a BYU-I student, there was one kid there from Idaho who said something I found interesting and shocking at the same time. The lesson was on Mothers’ Day and how we should love and respect our mothers… his assertion was that Hagar, Sarah’s handmaiden, was an inferior mother (she was kicked out of town, after all), and therefore we see the resulting problems of being a bad mother in the subsequent generations (the Arab people of today). I mention that this kid was from Idaho because I firmly believe based on this (and many other anecdotal evidences) that people from Idaho were less valiant in the Pre-Existence.

  35. Mr. Li

    “I find the Mormon “pre-mortal existence” view of the world disturbing, if not offensive.”

    The point is in this post that is not THE MORMON view, though it may be some Mormon’s view. That idea has pretty much been discounted. In fact, I have often thought a completely opposite view. That the ones born in the gospel might need more help in this life. The folks born without benefit of the gospel in this life might be stronger spirits because of their ability to endure life without it.

    The one things that has always gotten me is when members get up and say how blessed they are for being born into a LDS family. As if the rest of us were not blessed. On the other hand, where much is given, much is required.

  36. 32 Mr Divorced

    The Church can’t come out with an official statement condemning past prophet or apostles statements especially the ones given in General Conference because its considered scripture to most members.

    I would of thought even back in the days of Mark E Peterson if it didn’t go through correlation their was a general consensus among the brethren on their talks.

    So its denying we receive direct revelation. If we condemn them as being mislead or false than how can we be sure of what the prophet and apostles today are telling us the truth!

    You can’t say were the One and Only True Church directed by god and then choose which doctrines you want to believe from the brethren!

  37. So what do we do about a quote like this from Joseph that figures in the current lesson in the JS manual.

    “Mormonism is truth; and every man who embraces it feels himself at liberty to embrace every truth: consequently the shackles of superstition, bigotry, ignorance, and priestcraft, fall at once from his neck; and his eyes are opened to see the truth, and truth greatly prevails over priestcraft. …”

    I suppose one could say that the members and GAs who propagate racist thinking do (did) not actually embrace Mormonism. Or perhaps one might say that JS was speaking narrowly in terms of attitudes towards knowledge. But for us today its quite difficult to read words like superstition and bigotry in a narrow sense.

  38. Annon. –

    “I suppose one could say that the members and GAs who propagate racist thinking do (did) not actually embrace Mormonism”

    Or it could mean they were imperfect human beings like you and the rest of us.

    On the other hand, one can read the Declaration of Independence where it says that “all men were created equal” knowing that they really didn’t mean “all” men but all “white” men. And that didn’t include women, either.

    So, take your pick.

  39. CarlosJC,
    When you write “Hopefully the Lord is ready to change things and call a Nigerian or pacific islander area authority as apostle, because men like Elders Costa or Zivic aren’t really ‘colored’!” you need to consider that there is a problem with “colored”. Most have a chip on their shoulder and are racists, are you colored?

  40. #39

    No offense but the short reply to you is NO DUH.

    The longer reply is:

    Of course they were imperfect human beings and of course there is the revisionism we do when reading the DOI. That’s not the issue. The issue is what was JS speaking to? And what do we hear in his remark? How do we apply it? Do we take it as an aspiration? As a statement of fact regarding the power of Mormonism? What do we say about people who don’t live up to the statement, i.e. all of us? its not really enough to say we are flawed human beings and use that to try to end discussion.

    JS believed in and preached with great passion about the power of knowledge and that we are free to embrace all truth and yet when it comes to the ontological status or meaning of other human beings we have a robust history of superstition, bigotry, and ignorance that is still playing out today. Hence the false doctrine being discussed here. There are real intellectual and spiritual lessons to be gained from the persistence of false doctrine of this sort. A lot of it has to do with how we seek to use difference.

    I really like the JS quote (problematic as it is) because it suggests that just embracing the religion ushers in a new intellectual era for the believer, and yet we have so many problems making that happen. A lot of time Mormon culture encourages us to narrow our world view, to not get out there and seek knowledge from the broader world to be suspicious of truth, knowledge, people, that are on the outside.

  41. 36. James

    Just because someone has been ordained to a position of leadership in the Church, even the highest, doesn’t mean everything that comes out of their mouth is from God. Understanding this in no way denies revelation or the Church’s claims the restored Priesthood. I can’t tell if you are being sincere or fascicious, but either way there is plenty of room to admit mistakes while continuing to uphold the fundamental beliefs of Mormonism.

  42. Gwennaëlle — that was a great story.

    The Joseph Smith quote is perfect here, because it comes from a lesson about how creeds, current beliefs and a failure to challenge them can lead us to rely on logic and come to false conclusions (among other things — that is how the lesson developed when I taught it Sunday).

  43. Re #11 “it was mentioned by another missionary that people born in China must have been less valiant in the pre-existence since the Gospel cannot be taught there”

    I never bought this and don’t see how it could ever make sense in the LDS plan of Salvation theology. I do remember an MTC instructor relating the pressure he was under when he married a Japanese woman, but he did marry her and he brought his wife and kids to the MTC one night to meet our class. That meeting became a testimony to us that what he was subjected to was wrong. Now observing missionaries who did marry Japanese women was also a testimony that the cross-cultural marriage has hurdles to jump that marriages within the same culture do not.

    What difference does the degree of pre-mortal valiancy really make? Everyone born to Earth had the necessary degree of valiancy. The mission of the church is perfecting the Saints, so we assume that everyone must have had potential valiancy and has infinite worth to the Father. This is different from non-LDS views that people were born into non-Christian countries without the possibility of accepting Jesus and being saved because that was the plan for them in the mind of God. (Almost quoted directly from a discussion I had with a Presbyterian friend). Uniting people of different culture through Jesus Christ is one of the great messages of the Book of Mormon.

  44. Side comment on missionaries who go back and marry girls from their mission, and then it doesn’t work out:

    I’ve often wondered if this has less to do with cultural differences and more to do with an initial power imbalance, especially in the cases where the missionary has been involved in teaching/baptizing the future bride.

    Also, FWIW on the original topic: I’ve often thought that the fact I was born in the church, white, and in the Americas had nothing to do with premortal valiance. I’m rather inclined to think that I was “placed” where I was because that was the only way I was ever going to have any kind of chance of accepting the things that would be necessary for me to accept.

  45. What if our placement on earth is just totally random? Why would that be so hard to fathom? And life circumstances just bring out who we are through our choices on earth and only through those choices? That frankly makes more sense to me than the notion that we’re just pawns on God’s chess board or that some are set up to succeed and others to fail.

  46. I think there are valid reasons to believe that the pre-existence affects this life. (I don’t have the energy to go into all of them here. If anyone’s interested, I discussed several of them on this thread at Mormon Mentality.) However, the problem that arises is that it’s impossible to know how “advantages” or “disadvantages” would be distributed, or what constitutes either one. Unfortunately, this has become so associated with race that no one will even touch it anymore because of all the baggage it carries.

    The race / prosperity, etc. interpretations are most definitely false doctrine in my opinion. But the underlying idea – “valiance,” for lack of a better word, in the pre-existence affects this life – isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just impossible to know how it affects it and inappropriate to speculate about others’ valiance based on their life circumstances.

  47. #46 I believe it is a mix. I believe there is a general plan with some specific needs at certain times and I believe (this is the gospel according to saint Gwennaëlle, this is a really good book actually) that God has some specific type of spirit on mind that he sends to Earth for this purpose (with an A plan and a B, and a C, and a D etc… backing plan). For the rest of us I think the general rule is more like “Hey, I am sending you there because I think it be good for you. Good luck with your crazy siblings”.
    I have this belief because of what I have been through. I honestly feel that something that was not the plan happened in my path of life but that despite the consequences of it God was able to pull something out still. I mean, no wonder He is God. I am glad it is Him and not someone else. Oh my gosh, I am in such a funny mood. I need to check out if my friends did not sneak pot (again) in what I have been taking lately.

  48. I hate to belabour the point, and subject your readers to something they might have come across ad nauseum: that the pre-mortal existence world view serves perfectly to put the native hordes in their place. That’s how it is folks, and there’s nothing you or I can do about it. Personally, I happily join the ranks of the native hordes, and would smack my pre-mortal existent self silly if I would even think of becoming white and delightsome.

  49. 46 Hawkgrrrl

    What if our placement on earth is just totally random? Why would that be so hard to fathom? And life circumstances just bring out who we are through our choices on earth and only through those choices? That frankly makes more sense to me than the notion that we’re just pawns on God’s chess board or that some are set up to succeed and others to fail

    Your in tune with our family!! Last night we discussed Mark E Petersons talk and my son who has muscular dystrophy felt that it was all wrong and that even his illness didn’t mean that he was valiant in the pre existence it just happens its totally random.

  50. Okay, it’s been said here, but here it goes again: in April 2006 Conference Pres. Hinckley denounced racist thinking. He begins his Priesthood session talk by saying that racism has no place among the Saints.

    Those who belong to the “dead prophets’ society” can now adopt that teaching, since pres. Hinckley is dead now, too.

    I believe that our mortal environment is such as will give us opportunity to grow. Our needs are different, so our attempts to guess what others’ situations mean are doomed to fail. Our choices are more important than the environment where we make them.

  51. I’ve posted on this before, but I personally think that our current life conditions are mostly related to our tastes in video games or theme parks.

    To someone who has lived a hundred years, the time between one Christmas and the next is similar to the time a young child has between Sundays. By the time one has hit ten thousand years, a hundred years is like a week-end camp. From a long existence, the span of earthly mortality is very short.

    When I was in France for my 20th anniversary (it was much cheaper than going to San Francisco, which is what we had originally planned), I was struck by how the Sun King’s standard of living, his food, lice and lack of central heating, was so far below mine. I can even afford mirrors if I want them.

    If heaven is ahead of us in terms of technology by only a couple hundred years, then it is much more pleasant than life here.

    The things that being valiant in the pre-existence affects have nothing to do with what degree of relative poverty we are experiencing (as I noted before, from a heavenly perspective we are covering ourselves with mud to keep the insects off, and eating grubs for food — we are all in complete poverty from their side of things) — much like someone who is camping out is in relative poverty — but camping out has nothing to do with our normal lifestyles.

    A minimalist camper in the high Andes is not necessarily someone whose skills, preparation and quality of ability is less than someone who prefers to camp at Circle K Kampgrounds. Renting an RV to camp in doesn’t reflect any particular virtue.

    Anyway, I’ve said this all before, but I wanted to repeat it. It is a real false doctrine (rather than just a silly or annoying one) that our choice of earth experience is related to things it is not.

  52. Oh, come on people. Get back on point.

    For Christmas I’m going to get my BYU attending daughters t-shirts that say “I’m that hot girl your Mission President said you would marry if you worked hard.”

  53. Mr Li-I love you just the way you are.
    I think the brethren have been teaching equality and unity for some time now,and if the church as a whole is slow to make changes then I assume we are under condemnation.As individuals we can choose to change that by heeding their counsel,and earnestly seeking to put right the wrongs of the past.What matters is how to change.We need to challenge these attitudes as lovingly as possible,and then get on with the business of building Zion.I can’t really judge God’s work with a mother dying of Aids in Africa,but from the little I’ve seen and heard those women have been in relationship with the same God that I have.She’s my sister,and I don’t need anyone else to tell me that.

  54. #50 “What if our placement on earth is just totally random?”
    A very smart man once said ‘God does not play dice’.

    “That frankly makes more sense to me than the notion that we’re just pawns on God’s chess board”
    But would a loving, and all knowing, Father do this? I for one doubt that it is the case.

    “my son who has muscular dystrophy felt that it was all wrong and that even his illness didn’t mean that he was valiant in the pre existence it just happens its totally random”

    While I acknowledge that this is a difficult situation, at the same time I recall what Jesus told his apostles when they asked about a man blind from birth, if he or his parents had sinned. Jesus’ answer says it all when he said ‘neither’ but so that Gods works may be seen by the world through him (John 9)

    Maybe Elder Peterson was just like the apostles of old, those who placed the blame of a mans blindness on his or his parents sins. (note that to ask this shows that the apostles also believed in a pre-existence, since they asked if he had sinned before birth)

  55. I’m inclined to give a pass to prophets from my youth and earlier. I seem to expect more from living/recent prophets. I am convinced that many things that GAs, apostles and even the FP says are intermingled with their own opinions. I know that has caused huge problems with my family.

    Just last December a GA in our ward stopped our son w/ disabilities from doing the sacrament prayer due to his disability. (We have never experienced such discrimination in all of his 17 years) This GA then got letter from the FP stating that those doing the prayer like my son was about to do isn’t allowed. Then in the March New Era of this year, there is an article of another priest doing the prayer the exact same way that our son was going to. When we tried to get clarification from our Bishop, SP we were told to never question and just accept. Our SP told us we weren’t to write church headquarters for clarification and if we did they’d just send the letter to him.

    I truly feel that the church needs to set the record straight on many issues that are hanging out there. I would have more respect if they could just say “we were wrong in the past, this is what we believe.” I know we have stopped attending church over this issue. If the FP really feels the way the letter says, we don’t want our family attending.

  56. I personally believe that each and every one of us was placed in a life with a specific set of circumstances designed to give us and those around us the greatest possible chance at exaltation. In the end, no person will be able to point to another as the cause for their failure. No one will be able to point to an event to say “this is why I didn’t do what was asked of me.” We are all uniquely situated according to our unique spirits, but not everything that happens to us is for our edification and opportunity. Sometimes it is for the edification and opportunity of those who surround us.

    I don’t believe this is a comfortable concept, but I think it is an eternal one.

    Because I believe this, I think the Church allows some speculations because it is according to God’s plan. If everything were told to us exactly the way we wanted to believe it, we would have no room to discover for ourselves to distinguish good from evil and truth from error. That is, after all, the purpose of this life.

    Along with that is the understanding that one is to follow the living prophet of one’s day. Those in Brigham Young’s time were blessed and benefited by his bigotry. That doesn’t mean it was right, but it DOES mean that it was according to God’s will. That, I believe, is what the promise means that the Church’s leaders will never lead the Church astray: God’s will is paramount in this Church, and He has promised to remove those who damage His work. We as individuals do not need to buy into all the Prophet’s words, but we ought not to dismiss them simply because they do not align with our understanding. We as individuals MUST turn to God and develop a relationship with His Spirit to know how to apply the words of the Prophets to our circumstances, and utterly refrain from teaching that personal application as God’s will for others.

    It’s a delicate balance, but that is why the road to heaven is a narrow one.

  57. FtWD: “For Christmas I’m going to get my BYU attending daughters t-shirts that say “I’m that hot girl your Mission President said you would marry if you worked hard.”” Those would sell faster than Chad Hardy’s upcoming Mormon MILF calendar.

  58. #56 “Our SP told us we weren’t to write church headquarters for clarification and if we did they’d just send the letter to him”

    Yes, unfortunately that’s what happens. And even if the SP writes a letter about it or passes on your question up the chain, they will probably just give a generic non-binding answer. One guy in our stake asked why he couldn’t be a temple worker anymore after he divorced (since the temple president had taken the slip off his recommend as soon as he found out about the divorce, told him there’s a 5 year waiting period and he needs to remarry) and the letter went via the correct channels but he only got back a 3 paragraph answer signed by a secretary to the first presidency, not Monson or a counselor, which didn’t answer the question at all but only said that he had the ‘blessing and opportunity’ to serve as a patron! And that no further correspondence would be entered into.

    It seems that the first presidency just isn’t interested in one off questions. I don’t know how they can claim to be current and up to date with members’ problems because they certainly don’t talk to members, and in stake conferences when a GA requests questions one really can’t ask too much or go to deeply into a problem, its all very brief and artificial. Elder Bednar had a general questions and answers session here when he visited but the questions were so censored that they were useless, like the only ones to get through were: ‘how can I prepare myself for the Aaronic priesthood?’, ‘how can we serve the ward more?’….etc.

    Its all one way traffic in our church, all from the top down. They just guess at what members are going through, and usually address what Utah or surrounding members face in life. Just how it is.

  59. “Its all one way traffic in our church, all from the top down.” That’s one perspective on it. But another is what Joseph said about “teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves.” What is clear from JS’s example is that he didn’t manage AT ALL. People asked him to make decisions and he just wouldn’t get involved. He said they knew how to make decisions as well as he did plus they knew the particulars. That attitude might be the best course, but it can also have negative consequences. Decisions should be made at the lowest level possible, even down to the individual. We all have access to personal revelation. If you ask me, the problem isn’t that the high level church leaders should get more involved but that the SPs and bishops should do less managing, wisely declining to intervene whenever it’s feasible.

    The real issue is what do you do when lower level leadership either 1) is controlling and wants to make decisions about every little thing, or 2) when we preach conformity instead of wisdom and prayerful decision-making. While most SPs I’ve had the good fortune to know are great and not meddlers and tacticians, I’ve heard enough stories of those who are to know the problems it can cause for members in their stewardship.

  60. I agree that decisions should be made at the lower levels. I know with our family situation much prayer and fasting was done with regard to our son and having him baptisized/given the priesthood and such. Our local leaders (priest quorum advisor/bishop) were on board and in fact personally asked him to give the sacrament prayer that Sunday.

    My issue is when upper levels intervene/express their opinions it would be nice to have a response from them explaining the doctrine they are basing their decisions on. I sometimes think they have no idea the devastation they can cause families.

  61. Hawk… as far as things “happening at random.” I came across this question when my friend John, a little over a year ago, was hit by a car and killed. Everyone got up and bore their testimonies at church, and they were all trying to figure out some “meaning” behind why he was killed. For some reason, none of the “reasons” rang true with me, I just didn’t see why God would kill John in a car wreck “so we could learn kindness” or something like that, it sounded ridiculous. It was at that time when I worked in my mind that maybe… John just got killed by a car. And God’s plan is so perfect that it can take random acts into account and still work out in the end. God’s plan takes entropy into account. I found a lot of comfort in this, my own self-doctrine. It makes less sense to me that God controls all these things and more sense to me that God emerges victorious no matter WHAT happens…

    In that way, and because of that, I can see how, in most cases, we COULD have come to Earth at random and God’s plan would still work for all of us.

  62. “He has promised to remove those who damage His work.”

    Fwiw, I don’t see it that way. All of us “damage His work” in one way or another – and I believe the priesthood ban damaged His work greatly. I see it as not letting the top leadership lead “astray” (off the path to Heaven and down to Hell) – that He won’t let their actions and statements and beliefs derail our salvation / exaltation. In a way, it says that we are not accountable for anyone else’s actions – just out own. Worded differently, it means we can’t blame them in the end, since ultimately we are responsible for our own decisions.

    I know that’s not the way it has been interpreted by many over the years, but I do believe it – and I think it fits reality better.

  63. Ray—Well, I’d have to disagree. Although I’m extremely thankful that the ban is over, I don’t think it did damage His work.

    I never lived when the ban was in place. I have, however, heard the testimonies of several who were denied the priesthood and experienced that being extended to them. After hearing those testimonies, I can’t feel that the ban at that time and place was not part of the work of God. Much like the current work of the Church to restrict gay marriage, I feel it illustrated a vital eternal concept that would be impossible to understand otherwise. I realize that most people disagree with me on that point, and that my reasons for feeling that way don’t translate well to logical exposition.

  64. Re: #51 – A very smart man once said ‘God does not play dice’.

    Today, a lot of very smart men, including Stephen Hawking, believe that God did play dice with the physics of the universe and might still be playing. Given the most recent evidence, Einstein would probably change his mind.

    I find that the plan of salvation and the atonement makes more sense to me, if our placement on earth is more random than not. Our genetic strengths and weaknesses certainly appear random. Some of the individual trials, tragedies, and sucesses that we experience alos appear to be random.

  65. There is a much more fundamental concept here. Our church, run by prophets, seers, and revelators; is run by mortal men. As any woman out there will tell you, mortal men are flawed and make mistakes on a regular basis. It’s a good thing we don’t have an official “doctrine of infallibility” or we would be in real trouble.

    We teach potential converts to pray and ask God if things are true or not (James 1). That same concept is easily applied is this situation we are discussing. I have heard complete and utter hogwash from the pulpits of many a ward and conference and out of many a book as well as some extraordinarily fascinating and spiritually edifying stuff from the very same speakers and authors. I sift between the two via fasting, careful study and prayer. While I’m sure I don’t get everything right on the first try, I have gained a fair amount of understanding on several issues. Doctrine vs. False Doctrine in particular.

  66. Silver Rain, I have lived during the ban. That is a big part of why I see it how I do.

    I also have a “son” whose grandmother’s family won’t give her religion even a glance or a sniff because of the ban. She is the unquestioned leader of that extended family, and her word is law (“So let it be written; so let it be done” extreme) – except when it comes to her religion, “cause there ain’t no way I’m going to that racist church”. I believe as a church, in general, we are less racist now than most other Protestant religions, but that persepctive is deeply ingrained, and even her own testimony can’t touch that.

    Her example is not isolated. I believe the Church would have exploded in the African-American community years ago if not for the ban – and particularly how long it lasted and the justifications that were promulgated for it. I know we can say that it will be made right in the afterlife, but that is ZERO comfort to those who watched their families disintegrate without the binding blessings of the Gospel in their lives. I believe pain and suffering and the destruction of the family in this life cause “damage to His work” – and all of that happened on a grand scale due to the ban, imo.

    I respect you greatly, and I admire your testimony and insight just as greatly, but this is one area where we disagree.

  67. Thankyou Arthur,you have articulated something that has been gestating in my mind for some time.But may be we can square the circle-God created entropy after all?

  68. Arthur, I agree with wayfarer that you said that extremely well. When my wife’s aunt was killed by a drunk driver, I couldn’t accept the “it must have been her time” rationalizations. She left behind 7 children, and some of them suffered emotionally for years as a result, so I chose to explain it by saying, “Some idoit got drunk and drove home,” and, “She was distracted and didn’t see that drunk coming as she turned.”

    Anything more “arranged” than that just doesn’t resonate with me, although I am fine with others believing otherwise – since I don’t have any pretentions about being able to see the beginning from the end.

  69. I think maybe the real lesson we need to learn about God’s intervention (or lack thereof) is that stuff happens. It’s like when my daughter leans back on her kitchen chair, falls, and then says, “Why did you let me fall???” And of course, I was busy elsewhere, and there’s this thing called gravity that is good if used properly. But there’s no guarantee we’re not going to fall in life or that God’s going to catch us every time, whether we are righteous or not. I’m glad for that. We have to learn to take responsibility for our own choices and to just deal with the crap life throws at us and bolster each other through our trials.

  70. And yet, we have scriptures that talk about foreordination. so, while it is not outside the possibility to think that some are in fact chosen to some specific calling or life, I too am a believer in “randomism” Otherwise, God would be a respecter of person, given a better deal to some than others.

  71. #60, I see what you are saying here and I generally agree with it when it comes to personal revelations or guidance for our life and life events, like choosing what to study or who to marry or when to have children etc.

    The problems happen when we ask why the church as an organisation does this or that. Like the example of the the disabled stopped from doing the sacrament or the guy in my stake. In those questions if we pray and fast, we are actually asking God to explain for them, on their behalf, when I think they could do that themselves (GA’s) with a simple statement, like they did with Prop 8 (although it wasn’t in answer to any member’s question)

  72. #73 “I too am a believer in “randomism” Otherwise, God would be a respecter of person, given a better deal to some than others.”

    What a difficult question this is. One the one hand we have scriptures that say that God knows even when a sparrow falls to earth and that ‘all’ things are present in him, but then why would he send one of his own children to become the son of drug addicted aids patients?

    I tend to thing that he does plan everything and that baby who is born to a drug addicted mother is one way God actually helps that mother and answers some of her prayers. But prove it…? don’t know how.

    I think that the God who does play dice seems to be too much of a gambler and not all that powerful or omnipotent. At least to me.

    (#54 “including Stephen Hawking” -who tends to be agnostic, keeps asking ‘what need for a creator?’ Not that Einstein was very religious either.. )

  73. Ray—I think you’re right in that we’ll have to disagree. I suppose the disagreement finds its roots in the perception of what God’s work is and what really damages it. My perspective on that has changed drastically in the last two years.

    When meeting this and other such questions, I always have to ask myself first whether or not I believe God is really in control of His work, and second what that work is (immortality and eternal life of man.) I believe that most of the things we see as damaging in mortality really cause little to no eternal damage, and actually end up engendering eternal benefit. I think we understand so little of eternity.

    And believe me, I’m fully and painfully aware of how excruciating this doctrine can be to an individual in the midst of something that feels spiritually damaging, whether it is rejection of the gospel by family members because of a departed doctrine, or desperation at knowing that one’s good, eternal aspirations are crumbling around them.

  74. I beleive that Heavenly Father takes the doctrine of agency very seriously. Otherwise, He could easily create a path that always brings us back, ala Lucifer’s plan. But He does not.

    So, in some cases, He is more involved than in others. But, I think He never intervenes to take away our agency or that of another person, which can affect us, positively or negatively.

  75. Well said, Sliver Rain. I respect that viewpoint and think we probably are addressing more extreme views espoused by others – not held by each of us personally.

  76. I have only perused the discussion thread, but it doesn’t seem like anyone has mentioned the 1949 First Presidency statement:

    “The position of the Church regarding the Negro may be understood when another doctrine of the Church is kept in mind, namely, that the conduct of spirits in the premortal existence has some determining effect upon the conditions and circumstances under which these spirits take on mortality and that while the details of this principle have not been made known, the mortality is a privilege that is given to those who maintain their first estate; and that the worth of the privilege is so great that spirits are willing to come to earth and take on bodies no matter what the handicap may be as to the kind of bodies they are to secure; and that among the handicaps, failure of the right to enjoy in mortality the blessings of the priesthood is a handicap which spirits are willing to assume in order that they might come to earth. Under this principle there is no injustice whatsoever involved in this deprivation as to the holding of the priesthood by the Negroes.”

    Given this statement, can we be so quick as to dismiss the said teaching as a “false doctrine.” I don’t think this statement has ever been officially repudiated.

  77. No it hasn’t Jon – they only ‘extended’ the priesthood to all races but they didn’t ‘officially repudiate’ the doctrine as somehow false.

    But now the problem is in the apparent clash between this doctrine of ‘handicap’ due to our behaviour in the pre-existence and the belief that all US presidents are foreordained or chosen to hold that high office -but then again Obama is a democrat, maybe that explains it all 🙂

  78. This is one of the most wearying charges there is, given how forceful the original statement was and how forceful the most recent ones have been.

    The justifications have been repudiated, loudly and clearly, as false (as having been spoken from “limited light and understanding” with the council to “forget everything that I and others have said in the past”) – but it’s not worth spending time and energy repeatedly pointing it out here. Continue this all you want; I’m done.

    (Bill should be happy now.)

  79. Ray,

    He said “forget everything that I said and others have said” etc in the context of a changed policy or changed practice which no longer had any room for explanations such as these by elder Peterson. But they changed the practice not denounced it or declared it mistaken or wrong. And that’s the point here. There is still wide spread tacit belief that those born in africa or china back the 1800’s were somehow disadvantaged, not those born in the 60’s in Hawaii or Soweto. The later have access to all priesthood blessings put the chance of becoming presidents of once racists nations like south africa or the US of A 🙂

  80. McConkie’s dismissive “forget everything…” remark does not constitute official repudiation of a First Presidency statement.

  81. Carlos and Jon, I have NEVER said that McConkie’s statement repudiated the ban itself – only that it repudiated “everything” said to **justify** it. There is a difference, and it’s a line I’ve never crossed.

    It is only recently, with statements by our current apostles and Pres. Hinckley, that the ban itself has come into (still veiled but more open) questioning.

  82. Ray,

    “only that it repudiated “everything” said to **justify** it.”

    I think he didn’t actually do that. The man said ‘forget everything he and others said to justify it’ which is very different to an actual ‘repudiation’ don’t ya think? ‘Forget’ being the operative word here.

  83. Carlos, read the rest of the statement again. Given the overall statement, I think “forget everything (anyone ever) said . . . from limited light and understanding” means they were wrong. I guess we can differ on our interpretations, but I think it says what the words themselves mean – not a repudiation of the ban, but a repudiation of ALL of the reasons that were proposed for the ban. I undertstand that is not enough for many, and I would like to have heard more back then, but that’s a lot to ask of anyone who has spoken so forcefully about any topic. “We were wrong in our explanations” (which is the heart of how I read the entire statement) is quite a step for that time (and for that particular man).

  84. A false doctrine? LDS prophets have been stating for years that darker skinned people were less valiant. Of course, we all know that it has nothing to do with DNA. The most recent prophet that I am aware of is Spencer W. Kimball.

  85. “Given the overall statement, I think “forget everything (anyone ever) said . . . from limited light and understanding” means they were wrong”

    Nope; it means they want us to forget what was said not necessarily declare it wrong. Nor is it a ‘repudiation’. The basic ideology still stands although it is now expanded to include all races and cultures within the ‘blessed few’ who are born LDS. Now the ‘doctrine’ is that a chosen spirit may be born lds in Zimbabwe, Bangladesh or anywhere.

    “I guess we can differ on our interpretations” Don’t we always? Dah? I think we always do! Although we do agree that racists policies are wrong, I guess from your overall comments here.

    ““We were wrong in our explanations”” this is what they should actually say about the entire Blacks/Priesthood issue to repudiate those racists beliefs, but as yet they haven’t, they only say it in the context of a change in practice. GBH said that the leaders of the time decided to do that and we don’t know why….that’s not “we were wrong”

  86. I laughed when I read that you guys actually think this teaching is a false doctrine. This is proof that the LDS church can change their doctrine and brainwash their members that it never happened. Well, chew on this precious gem…

    “Let us consider the great mercy of God for a moment. a Chinese, born in China with a dark skin, and with all the handicaps of that race seems to have little opportunity. but think of the mercy of god to Chinese people who are willing to accept the gospel. In spite of whatever they might have done in the pre-existence to justify being born over there as Chinamen, if they now, in this life, accept the gospel and live it the rest of their lives they can have the Priesthood, go to the temple and receive endowments and sealings, and that means they can have exaltation. Isn’t the mercy of God marvelous?”

    Why is god so marvelous just because he will allow Chinamen to be exalted? Isn’t the gospel supposed to be for everyone anyway? Obviously in Mormonism, if god saves someone of color, what a merciful god he is!!!

    “Think of the Negro, cursed as to the priesthood… This Negro, who in the pre-existence lived the type of life which justified the Lord in sending him to the earth in the lineage of Cain with a black skin, and possibly being born in darkest Africa–if that Negro is willing when he hears the gospel to accept it, he may have many of the blessings of the gospel. In spite of all he did in the pre-existent life, the Lord is willing, if the Negro accepts the gospel with real, sincerer faith, and is really converted, to give him the blessing of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. If that Negro is faithful all his days, he can and will enter the celestial kingdom. He will go there as a servant, but he will get celestial glory.” (Race Problems–As They Affect The Church, An address by Mark E. Petersen at the Convention of Teachers of Religion on the College level; Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, August 27, 1954.)

    Black people, if they are really good, can go to the celestial kingdom as servants!!! Wow! What a merciful god!

    It’s not a false doctrine… It’s a changed doctrine. And that means apostacy!

  87. It’s a changed doctrine (doctrine just means teaching) because it was a false doctrine (borrowed from Protestantism in this case). So, if that equates to apostacy, the question is at which end – now or back then? However that kind of all or nothing view (either 100% error free or apostacy) of doctrine isn’t my personal view.

  88. “This is proof that the LDS church can change their doctrine and brainwash their members that it never happened.”

    I hope you find peace and resolution this new year.

  89. Hawkgrrrl,

    It’s both ends and here’s why. It was taught as a false doctrine by the prophets back then. It was made into a changed doctrine by the prophets now. So, the writing on the wall seems pretty obvious to me. What about you?

    Thank you, Ray, and the same to you, but how does that have anything to do with my comment that you quoted?

  90. Frankly, Mormon411, a comment on a Mormon-themed blog discussing doctrinal change that implies Mormons are brainwashed and don’t know that doctrine has changed just strikes me as more than slightly incongruous. It sends a message of at least some degree of dissonance and unresolved angst – hence my hope you find peace and resolution.

    I apologize if I misread your comment, but the sentiment was sincere.

  91. Mormon411 – I guess I’m not as prone to call people apostate. That could be mere semantics, though. I say mistaken, you say apostate–maybe we mean the same thing.

    All doctrine, regardless of religion, is an attempt to understand the mind, will and teachings of God. Therefore, all doctrine comes through the filter of man’s understanding. Perhaps all doctrine is to some extent mistaken or flawed as a result. That’s why maybe only doctrine that challenges our standard way of thinking is useful. If doctrine confirms our sense of being right, it has no practical value and can actually do us harm if it confirms our own erroneous beliefs.

  92. Pingback: Anomalies and Miracles « Irresistible (Dis)Grace

  93. Ok so, the statement that we all have been placed where we are based on our personality and choices in the premortal life I do believe, but I interpret it differently than many people do. I believe our Heavenly Father knows us well and knows where we should be to use our abilities to our fullest potential. I also believe that just because you were born in the US and in the church does not mean you were the best of all in the premortal existance. Possibly I was born in the US and in the church because if I hadn’t been I wouldn’t have been strong enough to find and join the church on my own. Perhaps people born outside of the US and outside of the church are those who are in fact the strongest and most valued in the pre-existance, and it was that strength and value that allows them to persevere where others might not. Perhaps those with a darker skin color than mine have that skin color because they are more worthy and more able to handle the difficulties that can come with it. God did place us where we should be.. it is only us foolish people that place any increased moral value on ourselves over others, especially based on where or when we were born, or any other physical attribute.

  94. Some of the posts reference the “difficulties of cross-cultural marriage.” Here is an interesting statistic from the Bureau of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIC) formerly known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Using U.S. Census Bureau information for a five year period from 1997 to 2001 the INS reports the divorce rate in America was 48.2.%. 11,975,000 marriages and 5,770,000 divorces. During this time frame the INS reports the divorce rate for cross-cultural marriages was 18.6%. 25,000 marriages and 4,750 divorces. It appears the biggest difficulty in cross-cultural marriages is watching your mutual friends get divorced.

    I’m going to Chengdu China this weekend to put a two carat piece of carbon on my girl’s finger. She is Chinese but her skin is whiter than my skin of Danish and Norgweian heritage. She’s 32 years old and attended the best university is Sichuan Province, lives in a brand new high rise condo with $80,000.00 USD equity, drives a year old BMW SUV and manages 12 people in an advertising company. She is gorgeous and looks just like the actress Shi Qi from the Transporter. She has a live in maid and lives a very comfortable life and prefers I move to China. Yet my devout LDS brother’s response is to suggest she only want’s the U.S. Immigration visa then spouts off about LDS doctrine regarding race and cross-cultural marriages and the perceived difficulties. Some of the comments on this blog represent his beliefs.

    Her English professor told her about Mormons having multiple wives so she calls me and asks me about it. She actually asked if I would consider having multiple wives even though I’m pretty sure she was just messing with me. But,I had to have the polygamy conversation with her. Now I realize that we will need to have another discussion with her regarding the LDS doctrine on race and cross-cultural marriages. Do I address the fact that some of my family member’s attitudes are from the 19th century? I was planning to tell her the doctrine is simply old and outdated and the majority of church members do not adhere its precepts. After reading the blog I’m not sure that my response would be an accurate statement. Any suggestions on how to handle this conversation.

    And to answer Chris J’s question in blog # 6 when he asks, “Can you really blame the members for believing something that their leaders have taught?” The answer of course is YES! If the blame only lies with their leaders it would allow, for example, a racist to explain her racism by saying, “You can’t blame me for being a racist because this is what my leader taught me.”

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