I’m 1/16 th Chippewa and don’t even look a little Indian! I figure from my knee down is pure Chippewa and for whatever reason I am pretty proud of that. In the afterlife if possible I would like that section preserved if God sees fit. Below is my Great Grandmother and Grandmother — you can see even from one generation to the next how things change.
I would also like to see my ancestors who are pure Chippewa with all their beautiful dark skin and get to know them as they were living on the earth before God changes their skin colour to white.
We have met an Elder who the sisters of all ages seem to swoon over — he is half Tongan and half Hawaiian. There is no other way to put it but he is a lady killer! We discussed this subject, and it doesn’t seem to bother him if the doctrine does literally mean white and not pure. He doesn’t mind if he becomes white in the afterlife. It seems to disturb me more than it does him. It’s something he and his family have come to grips with.
I guess I better get down to what has caused my dissonance. Here are some statements by the prophets about a Book of Mormon passage found in 2 Nephi 30:6 regarding a change Lamanites would experience if they embraced the Book of Mormon. In every edition save one (1840), the words “white and delightsome” were used. In the 1981 edition, the editors reverted to the 1840 edition’s “pure and delightsome” wording.
President Brigham Young
“You may inquire of the intelligent of the world whether they can tell why the aborigines of this country are dark, loathsome, ignorant, and sunken into the depths of degradation …When the Lord has a people, he makes covenants with them and gives unto them promises: then, if they transgress his law, change his ordinances, and break his covenants he has made with them, he will put a mark upon them, as in the case of the Lamanites and other portions of the house of Israel; but by-and-by they will become a white and delightsome people.” (Journal of Discourses 7:336)
W.W. Phelps to Brigham Young quoting Joseph Smith:
“It is my will, that in time, ye should take unto you wives of the Lamanites and Nephites that their posterity, may become white, delightsome and just.'” In the 8 December 1831 Ohio Star, Ezra Booth wrote of a revelation directing Mormon elders to marry with the “natives.” (Sunstone, November 1993, footnote #5, pg. 52)
Apostle Spencer W. Kimball
“I saw a striking contrast in the progress of the Indian people today…. The day of the Lamanites is nigh. For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised. In this picture of the twenty Lamanite missionaries, fifteen of the twenty were as light as Anglos, five were darker but equally delightsome. The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation. At one meeting a father and mother and their sixteen-year-old daughter were present, the little member girl–sixteen–sitting between the dark father and mother, and it was evident she was several shades lighter than her parents–on the same reservation, in the same hogan, subject to the same sun and wind and weather….These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness.” (Apostle Elder Spencer W. Kimball, General Conference Address, April 1, 1967)
2 Nephi 5:21
“And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, and they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.”
3 Nephi 2:12-15 teaches that dark-skinned Lamanites who converted unto the Lord had their curse taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites.
“White” versus “Pure” (Maxwell Institute)
According to the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, Nephi, speaking of the latter-day restoration, discussed the future conversion of Lehi’s descendants: “And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a white and a delightsome people” (2 Nephi 30:6). In 1840 the Book of Mormon was “carefully revised by the translator,” Joseph Smith, and in that edition the expression “white and delightsome” was changed to “pure and delightsome.” This change seems to reflect the Prophet’s concern that modern readers might misinterpret this passage as a reference to racial changes rather than to changes in righteousness. Possibly his sojourns in Ohio and Missouri had altered his perspective of the racial connotations of the term white in the contemporary United States, particularly among slaves and slaveholders. He may not have gained much understanding of this matter during his upbringing in New England and New York State, where slavery was not as common.
Unfortunately for subsequent Latter-day Saint interpreters, following the Prophet’s death the changes in the 1840 edition of the Book of Mormon were not carried over into subsequent printings, which were instead based on an edition prepared by the Twelve Apostles in Great Britain after a copy of an earlier edition. The apostles, being in England, were not familiar with the 1840 edition. Consequently, Latter-day Saints did not reap the benefit of the Prophet’s clarification until it was restored in the 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon. Some critics have been fond of citing statements of earlier Latter-day Saint leaders, who once interpreted 2 Nephi 30:6 to mean that conversion leads to a change of skin color; however, to use such statements today is anachronistic at best and disingenuous at worst since these statements were all expressed previous to the 1981 correction and merely echo a misinterpretation of the Book of Mormon text rather than the authoritative text itself. Moreover, a change in Lamanite skin color was clearly never intended by the “white/pure and delightsome” passage that the Prophet Joseph modified because it does not refer to the Lamanites at all, but to the Nephites and Jews in the latter days who turn to Christ (see 2 Nephi 30:1—7).
But is the Prophet’s change from “white” to “pure” justified in the scriptural context? The answer is yes. The terms white and pure are used synonymously in Daniel 7:9, Revelation 15:6, and Doctrine and Covenants 110:3. They are also found together in a number of passages where they clearly refer to those who are purified and redeemed by Christ (Alma 5:24; 13:12; 32:42; Mormon 9:6; D&C 20:6). Similarly, Mormon expressed the hope that the Nephites “may once again be a delightsome people” (Words of Mormon 1:8).
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Where I have dissonance or questions
- Is from how I understand the Book of Mormon and statements of past prophets contradict our view of it being pure today.
- There has been no church conference talk that I am aware of clarifying the teachings of the past prophets i.e. President Kimball white vs pure. Many members I would suggest aren’t clear on our past beliefs and our current progressive belief on pure.
- If these were president Kimball’s own personal views why haven’t the church come out with a statement expounding on this?
- As a church, are we resolute that this was a clarification of the word white — never meant to refer to a person with dark skin pigmentation who would turn white upon a conversion to the gospel; but referring to a cleaner state of heart? This hypothesis in my mind fails to make clear other passages in the Book of Mormon that still make a connection with “iniquity” and skin color. See, for example, 2 Nephi 5:21 as well as past prophet statements.
- Why did it take God 140 years to clarify this misunderstanding?
- If we quote what President Kimball said in 1967 conference would we be considered anachronistic today?
- Is FARMS saying Apostle Kimball’s views are out of date , old fashioned, obsolete?