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December 10th, 2013
What the New Statement on Blacks and the Priesthood Means to Me
You’ve heard about it by now, I’m sure—the LDS Church’s new explanation on the previous ban that existed for African members of the church preventing them from holding the priesthood and participating in certain ordinances in the temple. Though not accompanied by the signature of any general authority, nor being read in general conference or over the pulpit, the commentary (expounding on a previous statement) nevertheless has the gravitas of an official statement by being published on the church’s website under its “Gospel Topics” study section. It is meant to clarify history and contextualize a controversy.
A couple things stand out to me in this article. While noting the church’s embrace of “the universal human family” and that God is “no respecter of persons,” regardless of their race, the text explains that the church’s establishment in 1830 came “during an era of great racial division in the United States.” This repugnant reality “influenced all aspects of people’s lives, including their religion.”
“People” includes, of course, members and leaders of the fledgling church. While Joseph Smith supported abolition and ordained black men to the priesthood, other “Mormons” both then and since did let the color of one’s skin affect their religious views and actions.
“In 1852, President Brigham Young publicly announced that men of black African descent could no longer be ordained to the priesthood,” the text reads. We are not told whether this action was a result of revelation or society’s “racial division… influenc[ing]” Brigham’s behavior. This subject has been heavily debated by apologists and critics since that time, with no concrete answer. We simply don’t know. And this commentary leaves the door open for the possibility of a divine mandate, though with the qualifying text regarding racism affecting one’s religion, it appears that a subtle message is suggested, namely, that it’s more likely that Brigham had no revelatory experience instructing him to act as he did.
Whatever the reason for the ban, it carried on for over a century. Naturally, given the intimate way in which it affected the lives of God’s children, church leaders made authoritative attempts to explain God’s reasons for withholding his power from black people. This commentary, however, is now rejected outright:
Over time, Church leaders and members advanced many theories to explain the priesthood and temple restrictions. None of these explanations is accepted today as the official doctrine of the Church.
What’s interesting about this is that at the time, such statements carried a weight of authority. But this is as much the fault of church members as it is the leaders who advanced such theories—the cultural perception that every word spoken or written by a general authority is The Will and Mind of God (a perception debunked by many past church leaders) leads God’s children to deny their own ability (and mandate) to discern truth from error, and act accordingly.
Brigham Young himself advocated for personal revelation regarding instruction given and policies implemented by church leaders:
I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation… Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not.
More recently, the church has issued this statement relative to establishing church doctrine:
Individual members are encouraged to independently strive to receive their own spiritual confirmation of the truthfulness of Church doctrine. Moreover, the Church exhorts all people to approach the gospel not only intellectually but with the intellect and the spirit, a process in which reason and faith work together.
While many might suppose that members are merely encouraged to receive their own confirmation while presuming that the teaching or policy is true and divinely approved, the new statement regarding race and the priesthood suggests that this may not be the case. But more important than the issue itself is our own reaction to it, as Henry Eyring once wrote:
The Lord uses imperfect people… He often allows their errors to stand uncorrected. He may have a purpose in doing so, such as to teach us that religious truth comes forth “line upon line, precept upon precept” in a process of sifting and winnowing similar to the one I know so well in science.
Over the years, many Latter-day Saints have abandoned their faith, some of them disillusioned by a racist policy. They conclude, incorrectly in my view, that because a fallible prophet instituted an incorrect policy, that therefore everything the prophet said and did is suspect and worth rejecting. In the process they not only throw the baby out with the bath water, but they take a sledgehammer to the entire bathroom. This is an unfortunate reaction to an admittedly complex issue.
God’s leaders are not infallible, and despite a cultural near-deification of the church’s general leadership, ours is the obligation to “prove all things.” While it may be theologically safe, and intellectually comfortable to operate on a general presumption that anything said by church leaders in an official or quasi-official venue is The Will and Mind of God, this simply is not true.
That does not mean that the gospel is not true. It does not mean that church leaders are being deceptive. And it doesn’t give cause to be critical. As one writer has put it, such fallibility should elicit compassion more than criticism:
I generally believe that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. I believe that church leaders are authorized by God to direct the church and the administration of our salvific liturgies. I also believe that these authorized agents of God at the general, local, and personal levels, like all of us, can be mistaken. I hope that we can be charitable and empathetic with our leaders and coreligionists, past and present.
Whatever his children end up doing, God is still at the helm.
46 Responses to “What the New Statement on Blacks and the Priesthood Means to Me”
January 5, 2014
[…] Connor Boyack: What the New Statement on Blacks and the Priesthood Means to Me […]
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I like this from Elder Anderson:
” The doctrine is taught by all 15 members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve… True principles are taught frequently and by many. Our doctrine is not difficult to find.”
I think it’s a bit disingenuous to act as though the church now, let alone in past decades, truly encourages individual interpretation of church doctrine on any meaningful scale. In the second half of the 20th century, general authorities were regularly making comments such as “when the prophet speaks the thinking is done.” Specifically respecting the issue of race, no less an authoritative body than the first presidency stated unequivocally in the late 1940s that the church’s policy on the inferiority of the african race was “doctrine”. To blithely suggest that members, to any degree, are responsible for ascribing more weight than is appropriate to such statements is intellectually dishonest. To set onesself up as the sole mouthpiece of god for mankind, declare a certain matter to be established “doctrine”, and then turn around and tell members it’s their fault for getting it wrong because they’re too rigid in their belief is the religious equivalent of victim blaming.
As relates to the infallibility of church leaders, it’s all well and good that the church now wants to pay lip service to individual members’ right to receive their own interpretation of church doctrine, but share those interpretations with others and you’ll still find yourself in a church disciplinary hearing with your membership at stake. Pretending that the LDS church supports a system of individual revelation denies the well established mormon doctrine of priesthood stewardship, which is alive and well in the church. No member has the right to receive revelation for another member over whom he or she has not been granted stewardship. So yes, on a purely personal level members are free to receive their own interpretation of doctrine; but if they share it they risk excommunication, and if that revelation leads them to behaviors contrary to institutional doctrines, they will forego their rights to the enjoyment of all the blessings of the gospel. So what is the right to individual revelation really worth to a faithful mormon?
Just because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true, doesn’t mean the Church still is.
Just because Joseph Smith was a true prophet, doesn’t mean Brigham Young was or any who followed him.
Just because the Church still uses the Book of Mormon, doesn’t mean it follows it.
Just because the Church’s Prophets claim authority to carry on the Church since Joseph died, doesn’t mean they really have any.
Just because church leaders may lull the people into thinking they can’t lead them astray, doesn’t mean they haven’t.
The Priesthood Ban was hardly the only thing that Brigham got wrong, to put it mildly. He preached and practiced numerous doctrines that were completely contrary to what Christ and Joseph Smith preached. Many things considered whoredoms by Christ, Joseph and Book of Mormon Prophets.
So to say that Brigham could have been wrong, yet still consider him a true prophet or any who supported or followed him, is to deny what history and Christ and his scriptures and true prophets teach.
The Priesthood Ban is just one of numerous examples of how so-called Prophets not only can, but often do, lead many people and churches astray throughout history and the history of the Church.
Few ever stop to prove if Wilford Woodruff was speaking truth when he declared that ‘God would not allow prophets to lead us astray’. Just a casual review of church history, not to mention world history and the Bible, will show us how Prophets have often fell and have taken whole congregations of blind followers along with them.
Even though the Priesthood Ban is one of many things Brigham got wrong, it alone is enough to cause him to lose the Spirit and any and all authority he may have possessed to lead the Church, which I don’t believe he ever had any in the 1st place. For wickedness, like racism in withholding spiritual blessings from worthy people and slavery with all it’s horrific abuses that he supported, will cause an immediate ‘Amen’ to any man’s Priesthood and power.
The same goes for any leader or member who was duped to support Brigham and those leaders who followed him, in his and their serious errors. No one can support evil and maintain the Spirit or Priesthood authority, even if they do so blindly.
So I agree, it is compassion to speak the truth about Brigham and not pretend that this Priesthood Ban and his other evil teachings and practices, are not enough to brand him a false prophet.
The largest problem I have with the new explanation is that it does not fully account for statements from Brigham Young, and why his statements became church policy. It took the LDS revelation of OD2 to change the policy. Doesn’t this imply that the policy had some weight of revelation recognized by the Church?
The BOM does identify a darkening of skin as being a curse, not in reference to Blacks, but of Native Americans, but oddly enough I do not know of there ever being an LDS restriction on priesthood for NA. There is also an obscure passage in the POGP on the topic. The new explanation does not seem to address these issues.
This might be the tip of the ice burg so to speak. Acts 10:34(God is not a respecter of persons) sums Peters visionary experience, allowing him to have contact with someone other than a Jew. A relaxing of some cultural things which separated jews from other people. Its kind of like someone LDS being told by vision to drink coffee, tea, or alcohol. Or accept some other practices which are taboo. And not to call anyone common or unclean.
I learned that the name ‘Jesus’ does not have an intrinsic meaning in English. The original name was Yeshua, and perhaps might be better rendered ‘Joshua’.(the lord who is salvation) Some have suggested that jesus is a result of misunderstanding and poor translation, and may also have been purposely introduced into Christian literature for some suspect reasons.
Just one minor correction. It has never had anything to do with “skin color”. People in the South Pacific are as black as they come and have held the priesthood for as long as I can remember.
Good Point Jay.
Has anyone stopped to think that maybe the racism in the Bible was because even some of those prophets and people were unrighteous and racist too? Just because something is said in the Bible doesn’t mean it was translated correctly or that the person it was about was righteous or right. They all were as fallible as us.
Just look how many times Joseph Smith was wrong, as good as he was.
I find this latest explanation from the Church and the ensuing discussion very interesting. As I currently see it, it presents somewhat of a conundrum for us members.
To illustrate, pretend that you’re a church member during the time when Brigham Young first instituted the priesthood ban on black members. Now assume that you question the truthfulness of this new policy/doctrine. So you follow Brigham’s council and carefully ponder and pray to know if it’s from God and you receive personal revelation that it’s not… Now what? What do you do? Do you speak out and condemn this practice? If you do surely you’ll be accused of not upholding and sustaining the prophet. What obligations are you under to uphold and sustain the prophet in this regard?
I’m really curious what others think of this situation and its implications.
Connor, I mentioned on your Facebook thread regarding this blog post that I had a few things to bring up. Many of them have since been addressed by others, and so I will only mention a few again briefly, expounding slightly more where I feel there are valid items to be addressed.
1. The submission of an essay disavowing previous practices and all accompanying apologetic theories for said practices is, at the very least, lacking real, substantive recognition of (aka public apology) and restitution for mistakes and harms made against those labeled to be of the race of Cain. Much more has been suggested by others, much of which I agree with, but I believe this is the very least the Church could do in addition to the essay. I know you agree on this point, but it stands to be said again.
2. Disavowal of the racist practices (I’m going to shy away from calling it doctrine for sake of common ground and courtesy – though I believe it was preached with sufficient emphasis to warrant the label, or at least consideration thereof) and attendant apologetics does bring into severe question the (supposedly) divinely given prophetic utterances of ancient prophets in canonized scripture that laid the doctrinal foundation for the racist practices now attributed to have begun with Brigham Young. In other words, if Brigham was racist and wrong, as were many many others in his day, the blame cannot logically end with him and his contemporaries, but must be levied against those ancient prophets whose words inspired the “divinely appointed” racist views (quotations are to highlight my skepticism and do not necessarily provide a direct quote). It is my strong belief that the doctrine was never divinely inspired or desired, and a holistic view of human history, including anthropological theories and evidences, DNA, etc., gives this belief a much more logical and comprehensive basis.
3. It then follows that, if the race doctrine was never divinely given—or even if it was divinely given at one time, but is now disavowed by the Church—the question of ‘how to determine prophetic voice from mortal opinion’ has been validated and amplified tremendously. Though debate about personal witness from the HG could be held, I submit that the same mortal filters that call prophetic voice into question are at least just as influential with every other human seeking divine personal assistance. The compounding variances possible are too many to quantify, making this method for coming to a unity of faith and common understanding a tenuous and fragile one, at best.
There are others, but this is enough for me for now. As a side note to each, the reason this is such a deep issue that goes far beyond mere institutional error is because of the depth of the truth claims made by the Church, along with all the attendant doctrines and ordinances of salvation that are required and held within the “one true church.” When we have to call into question whether the prophet speaks for God or not, or at least when can we know if and when he does, the basis for faith in the one true church is no longer one that can be compared to stone.
Very good points and questions Richard. We are to liken the scriptures and history, especially ‘church history, to ourselves and imagine if we had been there and what would we have done.
The problem is, that by the time Brigham officially announced the Priesthood Ban, it was almost 10 years since Joseph died and they were all out in Utah by then. Of course though, it was probably very apparent way before that time, that Brigham supported slavery and didn’t allow blacks the Priesthood. And he was living polygamy. So those who had followed him out west, wanted to believe in such things as slavery and polygamy, or they would have seen through Brigham and not followed him.
You have to go farther back to the days right after Joseph died, to know what you would have done. All the Saints had to make a choice of who to follow, or follow no one and just go off on their own.
Everyone remembered Joseph’s teachings and actions supporting Priesthood for blacks, and his teachings against slavery and polygamy, etc. So those who believed in Joseph’s & Christ’s teachings did not follow Brigham Young out west, they stayed behind and went other places in the East. Only part of the members followed Brigham out west. Emma refused to follow Brigham, for she did not like or trust him and said neither did Joseph trust him anymore. It appears from studying church history, that Joseph was about to excommunicate Brigham and other church leaders for polygamy, but he died before he could do so.
Many Saints followed some of the former Apostles after Joseph died, into other new Churches, like the RLDS, like Emma and her children and Joseph’s relatives did. But those churches weren’t the true continuation of the original Church either, anymore than Brigham’s apostate group was.
The true church had gone into apostasy after Joseph died, the people lost their prophet because they refused to listen to him. Just look at how many supported the whoredoms of Brigham Young that Joseph had constantly warned them about.
The BoM foretells this apostasy of the ‘Holy Church of God’, where all are deceived to support evil, except a few humble followers of Christ. Who after Joseph died, had to just go their own way, teaching their families by themselves, relying on the scriptures Joseph had given them and personal revelation from the Holy Spirit to guide them.
Soon Christ will return to reestablish his true Church in Zion, and it will be so different from the LDS Church today that we wouldn’t even recognize it.
Your suggesting that there will be a second restoration of the LDS church? That would be a difficult concept for most LDS, and an even more difficult idea for those outside. For instance my catholic friend states over and over again that JS and the LDS church are not needed as the Catholic faith has been here all along.
Lilli, Joseph practiced polygamy and polyandry, and while his treatment of those of African origins was much different than that of Brigham’s, he also held similar views about their lineage in the race of Cain. I’m just not sure the points you bring up have a sufficient basis in actual history to hold credibility.
The Book of Abraham says the lineage of the Canaanites was cursed from holding the Priesthood. Joseph Smith said the modern-day blacks in America were of that very same lineage. (See Abraham 1:22-27; see also Latter-day Saint’s Messenger and Advocate, vol. 2, no. 7 [Kirtland: Apr. 1836], p. 290, for just one of many examples of Joseph Smith’s identification of modern-day “negroes”).
The Book of Moses also states that “the seed of Cain were black” (Moses 7:22).
Once again, Brigham Young is blamed for something God is the author of.
This new article by the Church condemns official statements of the First Presidency and of the individual members thereof, going back over a hundred years. This new article condemns what were, according to the Church’s own standards, official and inspired doctrinal pronouncements. Are we not, therefore, duty-bound to reject this new article? When a lay member publicly condemns and opposes official statements made by the First Presidency, they are charged with “apostasy.” Shouldn’t we give this new article the same treatment?
By the way, Joseph Smith never ordained any black man personally, despite what Wikipedia says. Look up the original sources that are always referenced in these claims, and you will see that they say nothing of the sort. I have photos of Elijah Abel’s Elder and Seventy ordination records (which I obtained from the Church History Library), and neither of them indicate ordination by Joseph Smith’s hands (although Joseph was presiding at the meeting where Elijah was ordained an elder).
Yes, it is a difficult concept for most LDS to accept, for they are so ingrained to believe that it’s impossible for the Church to fail and go into apostasy, even though the Church has done so and usually quickly every other time it was established on the earth, except for in Enoch’s Day.
So it shouldn’t be such a far stretch of the imagination, but people have wanted to buy into the idea that prophets can’t fall or be wrong or lead the people astray, which is easy to see is false if one does just a little study in the scriptures and church history. But hardly anyone bothers to ‘prove all things’ before they believe them, thus we have a whole church of members thinking ‘all is well’ and that they can follow blindly and not have to think or study for themselves.
As you have found with your Catholic friend, this same thing happens in other churches that teach the same idea that their leaders can’t be wrong or lead them astray. The Adversary loves churches to teach that idea, for it makes his job so much easier to lead them astray and they never suspect it.
Joseph Smith was always one to speak up when he disagreed with something, so it really doesn’t matter if he ever ordained a black man himself, that he allowed it to happen and went along with it says all we need to know.
I’m sorry you believe the vile accusations against the prophet Joseph Smith, and I’m sorry you don’t believe in Christ’s teachings against polygamy or the Book of Mormon’s prophets who taught polygamy was an evil in every instance. but I believe in their testimonies and the scriptures and teachings they left as a witness for us.
Joseph constantly preached and warned against falling for polygamy or anything like it, and warned that if we fall for it or for even a prophet, even if it was himself, who came preaching or practicing it then we would be damned along with the prophet who preached it.
Those are pretty strong words to be lying with. I don’t believe true prophets lie and deceive their followers or their wife, and run around on her behind or in front of her with other women. With true prophets like that who would need false ones?
I believe Joseph told the truth about his innocence with polygamy and it was everyone else who lied and passed on vile hearsay about him, when there is no proof he ever preached or practiced polygamy. Most people who said Joseph lived polygamy had alot of reason to lie about it, to cover for their own whoredoms.
But we have tons of documented published proof that Joseph was totally against polygamy, and that he testified over and over that it was an adulterous evil. We have many scriptures against it, both in the Book of Mormon and the D&C. But after Joseph died, Brigham took out those scriptures against polygamy in the D&C and replace them with 132, and the rest is history.
That most people would rather believe vile accusations against Joseph then his own words and testimony and scriptures, is just a testament to what is really in the hearts of those people.
I think that there are a few here (based on the intensity of their comments) who are suffering from a case of cultural relativism. What is truly disingenuous is to view things like race with the cultural sensibilities of the 21st century and then posthumously judge and execute those from older times. It’s easy to do. But it should be recognized for what it is: a fallacy. The article is accurate in its description of the attitudes of people at the time (obviously, a whole war was fought because of race and slavery). The attitudes of racial inferiority cannot simply be pinned on a few people, but on America as a whole and the world at large. Even after Emancipation, Jim Crow laws were created and enforced until the 1960’s. One man, or a dozen men didn’t “get it wrong.” Almost everyone “got it wrong” and it took time for people to come around. It is absurd dish out harsh criticism about an issue that still exists (although to a much lesser degree) today.
Lili, to take your evolved view on race (which mostly came from your 21st century culture), apply it to Brigham Young, and then try to quote scriptures to somehow prove that his priesthood was “amen-ed” is also absurd. You’ve also made many incorrect assumptions in order to mold your view, such as Joseph’s mind on the subject (as well as polygamy, in which the evidence to me can’t be explained away as a conspiracy). Once in a letter, Joseph answered a series of questions about the Mormon movement. He was asked if Mormons were abolitionists. He responded:
“No, unless delivering the people from priestcraft, and the priests from the power of Satan, should be considered abolition. But we do not believe in setting the negroes free.”
History of the Church, v.3, p. 29
Does this mean that he believed that people should be enslaved? No. Other sources suggest otherwise (as you have pointed out). But he did realize the reality of the country at the time as well as the prevailing attitudes. Some have suggested that the church may not have survived long with abolitionist teachings and intentions. I think there is merit to that line of thought, though no one can say for sure. Again I say, one man is not responsible, but the culture of the time.
I think racism is reprehensible. But I think that lots of things in our human nature is reprehensible. I think that God has to shepherd people to greener pastures, and it takes time. I don’t think any of us should be taking for granted our station in time, because we arrived to where we are on the backs of our parents, grandparents, and so on.
Pierce, I think this is an acceptable viewpoint, so long as anyone who adheres to it agrees to never again use platitudinous phrases like “god is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.” According to your construct he is not; at least not in any meaningful way. When society holds viewpoints that are offensive to allegedly eternal principals of truth, such as racial equality, does god instruct his prophets to take a principled stand against the majority? Of course not. He either a) instructs them to also be racists so they will fit in (a peculiar people indeed), or b) mysteriously keeps quiet while his supposed spokesmen issue declaration after declaration of erroneous doctrine in his name. Oddly enough, pretty much all of western society had a homogenous view on polygamy, but I don’t recall the lord instructing or allowing the church to adopt a “go along to get along” policy on that particular issue. If anyone has thoughts as to why polygamy was important enough to risk global annihilation but racial equality didn’t warrant so much as a peep, I’m all ears. The undeniable truth is, either god was a racist himself (reformed, I’m sure) or he sat idly by for over a century while his prophets spewed hate and bile towards the African race. accountability has to lie somewhere. In my experience most members want to place it on society. This is comical for a religion that pays so much lip service to personal accountability, yet requires none from its leaders.
I’m sorry but I disagree. There were many many people humble and righteous enough to realize back then that slavery and racism was wrong ( and that polygamy was wrong too for that matter) Just because a majority of the people believe in evil, doesn’t mean they aren’t held accountable for it and that it’s not possible to still know what’s right. There were many who proved one could still know slavery was wrong, even then. Today is the same, the majority believe in evil, but we are all still accountable for knowing right from wrong.
If Brigham had been a true prophet he would have realized that too, for prophets have to prove they are righteous and have charity, perfect love, and worthy of such a position if they expect others to listen to them or follow them.
No righteous person would have followed Brigham back then for the Spirit would have told them he was wrong, deceived and evil, not just for his views and practices with blacks, but for so many other abominations as well.
And yes, even Joseph was still learning line upon line, but at least he came to understand that slavery was wrong and that blacks are entitled to all the blessings of the Lord, just like anyone else. And he definitely knew how evil polygamy was and was far too smart to fall for it.
As far as polygamy, we all believe what we want to believe. Those who want to believe in men collecting and controlling women will believe in such a thing as polygamy and will believe Brigham Young, while those who believe in love, respect and equality for women will believe in Joseph Smith, Book of Mormon prophets and Christ’s teachings about polygamy, for they all agreed it was always an adultery abomination.
We don’t disagree that there were many people that believed that slavery was wrong. It was a prevailing attitude in the church at the time, and that includes most of the leadership. But you would be applying too much of your own cultural upbringing to think that it was so black and white (pardon the pun) that you can apply “good” and “evil” to everyone in that era. You simply cannot. I’m not talking about slavery at this point, because slavery isn’t the issue. I’m talking about social equality and status being extended to blacks in the same way they were to whites. Even when slavery was no longer the issue, America didn’t even begin to start granting that status for 100 years. Your comments are better directed at racists in our time.
“Just because a majority of the people believe in evil, doesn’t mean they aren’t held accountable for it and that it’s not possible to still know what’s right.”
If you have ever studied any kind of psychology, you will understand that people are mostly a result of their genetics or their social environment. If your version of God punishes people (holds them accountable) for growing up in an environment that taught that other races are inferior and they continued to believe it, then God is not very just, is He? The doctrine of our church actually allows for these kinds of variables in accordance with judgment vis a vis everyone will be judged by the light and knowledge we have received. It’s like Christian doctrines that punish people for not being Christian, even if they did not know any different.
“If Brigham had been a true prophet…”
According to what standard? Yours? You’re entitled to it, but to me this is not realistic, nor is it what we have concluded from the scriptures. Every evidence concerning the prophetic mantle from the Old Testament to the LDS church points to a fallibility in prophets. They are men, and their brain did not get completely reprogrammed when they assumed the mantle. Show me some scriptures that support your standard for a prophetic calling, which includes the complete disregard for their cultural surroundings. (Hint: don’t start with Paul. He also had a similar viewpoint regarding the subject).
Concerning polygamy, I’ve heard other people take that approach that Joseph didn’t believe or practice polygamy and I have only concluded that that is a viewpoint that adherents simply want to believe. The Reorganized Church eventually disavowed that position because of the mounds of evidence pointing to the contrary that cannot be explained by a mere conspiracy theory. It’s not that I “want” to believe that Joseph Smith practice polygamy. It’s just a fact that I’ve learned to come to grips with.
May I make a suggestion? Have you researched what Joseph Smith’s polygamous intentions and marriages were like? A Thoughtful Faith has done several podcasts on the subject that I found to be very enlightening.
Let me get to couple of your comments, though my time is limited:
“God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.”
At what point does this viewpoint contradict the idea that God doesn’t change? The whole issue has always been with man, the culture that man finds himself in, how it affects his thinking and behaviors, and how, over time, he becomes more enlightened. The Church has not claimed that God changed his mind about the African race. It was man that changed. And for all we know, it was God that groomed us over time until we could come to that understanding on our own.
Personally (this is purely my viewpoint), I think that people overestimate God’s direct hand in the affairs of people. He has given them principles and has let them govern themselves. But I like to think that He subtly pulls the strings and brings us around in a way that we will accept higher principles on our own. And I think that takes time. If you have been in management or been a parent, you have probably found that simply telling your underlings how to be and expecting them to just be that because you said so is not effective. It takes a belief in it on their part and they have to come to those conclusions themselves while some grooming happens along the way. Look where we are today. You cannot say that it has not been effective. I think this addresses your b) scenario.
“Oddly enough, pretty much all of western society had a homogenous view on polygamy…”
Comparing the priesthood ban and polygamy in this way is weak for one reason. Polygamy was based on revelation while the priesthood ban was man’s policy. So yes, there will be times when there is a “go along” policy and a time when it is “stand your ground.” And if you really want to get technical, when the stakes got high enough, the Church did adopt a “go along” policy in regards to polygamy with the Manifesto. I don’t say that the idea of annihilation absolutely justified the ban. I simply offered it as a possibility and still stand by it being a mere possibility. But based on my comments, you’ll find that I take the more “cultural” explanation for the ban. It’s not right, but it’s what it was.
I also think that labeling the attitudes of the time as “hate” is disingenuous. I don’t believe these men were fueled by hate and there is no evidence to suggest that their ideas were motivated by hatred, nor did it incite any kind of violence. You don’t invite people you hate to your church and make them members of the congregation. You don’t send missionaries to people you hate. And you don’t plead with the Lord for the ability to make people that you hate equal to you. Sorry, but “spewing hatred” is a gross overstatement of a policy based on a certain interpretation of scripture and the culture of the time. More accurately, you could say “spewing incorrect ideas and policies towards the African race.” Maybe it’s the same to you, but it is not to anyone giving it a fair assessment.
“This is comical for a religion that pays so much lip service to personal accountability, yet requires none from its leaders.”
So what do you do Newton? Crucify the dead? The whole point of this article and website update was to own up to the decisions and statements made by past leadership. The Church doesn’t support these views now, nor has it attributed them to God. It has identified the reality of the issue and moved on. Not much more you can do as an institution without making huge assumptions.
Lilli (and others),
First, I’m not anti-Mormon nor do I just go with every wind of disgruntled or anti “evidence” thrown at the church. There aren’t just unfounded accusations of JS practicing polygamy. There are documented accounts of it. Yes, I do believe he lied, whether maliciously or otherwise, about his involvement therein at various times. Emma knew about at least some of it and it was one of the major strains on her life and testimony.
Second, I don’t believe we can use feelings as an effective way of validating historical or empirical data (e.g. to have a testimony that JS never practiced polygamy based on some of his documents and teachings when there are actual documented cases of these unions otherwise, etc.). My father was an instructor for CES and taught for years that JS practiced polygamy, and it wasn’t just his opinion. We could go around and around on this, but I implore you and others to take blinders off concerning his practice of polygamy and other less savory practices. Feelings help to guide us in moral issues, but intellect is a much better judge of empirical evidences and claims of an objective nature. To state that one knows something by the feelings of the spirit that has been proven empirically to be untrue is not a reliable or honest way of determining truth claim veracity.
Also, the idea of human weakness and general fallibility as being appropriate apologetic rationale for dissonant areas of history or doctrine, both in ancient and modern scripture/history, including God allowing said weakness and cultural norms to significantly influence prophetic word, is a very tenuous argument at best because of the nature of the truth claims the Church espouses. I’m not saying weakness and error in history and doctrine aren’t possible, even though there are a multitude of statements made by many of the prophets stating that doctrinal errors shouldn’t exist, nor am I saying that these aren’t just a part of the overall plan for testing us; but the issues of belief the church requires of members is of such weight and significance that there should be no room for such errors in these key doctrines. The Race and the Priesthood essay opens the doors of question wide open in this regard. To claim otherwise, in my opinion, is irresponsible.
I appreciate your response, but I’m sorry but I believe it is you who has the ‘blinders’ on. For you assume that just because a lot of people ‘claimed’ and even ‘testified’ that Joseph lived polygamy, (when he wasn’t there to defend himself) that they were telling the truth. Most of these people had every reason to lie. Their documented claims are not proof, but Joseph’s published writings and warnings ‘against’ polygamy is ‘proof’ that he was against it. Joseph Smith constantly said we can take his scriptures to the bank and trust them and judge everything we hear from others or even him by what his scriptures said. So to think he lied is saying he lied in his scriptures too and deceived us on how we are to tell truth from error.
It doesn’t sound like you have really studied much of Joseph’s teachings and scriptures ‘against’ polygamy, otherwise how could you believe that he would say all that if he thought the Church would just have to come to accept polygamy later? For he set the members up and conditioned them to reject any later prophets who might preach in favor of polygamy.
So to think that Joseph lied all those years to the Church and his wife, not only goes against common sense, for who would put faith in a prophet who lies, let alone runs around after other women and abuses his wife, but also shows you think he led the people astray, for most members wouldn’t follow Brigham later on, because they remembered Joseph warned them not to follow a polygamous prophet. Only those Saints who refused to listen to Joseph Smith followed Brigham, cause they like his idea of polygamy.
You also seem to believe Prophets of God can do horrific things that I believe you yourself would not do to your wife, nor would a woman with an ounce of self-respect want you to do such things to her. Nor does polygamy stand up to the ‘Golden Rule’ for you know very well that you yourself would not want done to you what those polygamous leaders did to their wives. You would not want to sit home your whole life, raising the children and doing all the chores alone while hardly if ever seeing your spouse, while she is out being wined and dined and living with all her other husbands. Yet you would have to stay faithful to her. You really wouldn’t mind this? The Golden Rule reveals the lies and falsehoods and false prophets, though I understand how hard it is to accept that you have been deceived your whole life, but so it is.
And again, it isn’t about feelings, it’s about common sense and proof. There is no proof that Joseph ever preached or practiced polygamy, just a lot of claims that he did, which is to be expected if he was a true prophet and didn’t believe in polygamy, for then those who wanted polygamy would have spent the rest of their lives trying to justify their whoredoms and pin it on Joseph. So of course we have tons of documents where they all lied and passed on rumors they wanted to be true. Such is to be expected if Joseph wouldn’t support their evil and abuse of women.
I implore you to use your intellect and prove all things, study the truth and also study 1st and foremost Christ’s teachings on polygamy, see Matt. 19. and study the Book of Mormon’s teachings against it. The BoM never allows polygamy in any instance.
The proof is that Christ said we are to judge to see if a person or prophet is really his disciple by whether they have true Christlike love or not, Charity and whether they teach his exact words or not. If not, then we know for sure they are not a true prophet. That is how I know bottom line BY was not a true prophet, for he abused people and his wives, I do not believe he had an ounce of Charity or love in his soul. And he preached and practiced completely contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ, just as the LDS Church continues to do even today. It is one of the most unChristian Churches I know of.
If you think BY was a true prophet then with prophets like that, who needs false ones or even a devil?
And yes, I believe in a God what expects us to be righteous and know and choose the right no matter what kind of environment we grew up in. I know people who grew up in the worst of homes, yet they are some of the most humble righteous people I know and they know right from wrong despite all the evil everyone around them, including their parents and the church, taught them.
God expects this because he has given all of us the light of Christ, our conscience. Everyone knows when they do wrong, (even Elder Packer said this). A person can be born in any age of time or out in the middle of no where and if they are humble and follow their conscience they can grow in righteousness and gain the Holy Spirit which can teach them the truth of all things and they can even become a prophet, without ever reading a scripture or going to a church in their life.
If your belief on our environment was true then everyone in ever age of time could and would just claim they weren’t accountable, for evil has always been the prevailing norm of the day in every society. It has always been very rare to find a righteous man throughout the history of the world, there have just been a few in every society.
And of course the RLDS Church caved, for they weren’t a true church either, though at the start they were alot closer to Joseph’s Church then Brigham’s Church was or is. Most everyone falls for the false claims about Joseph, for people rarely want to do their own homework and search or even believe in the truth, nor do they want to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and have true Charity, for falsehoods are usualy alot easier to believe then the truth,
And it does take Charity and righteousness to know if Joseph was telling the truth or not, for as Joseph and Christ have taught, only those with Charity will not be deceived by falsehoods, and false prophets. Charity is true love, it has always been very rare, so of course few people, then or today, will understand how impossible it was that Joseph could have ever preached or practiced polygamy, ‘IF’ he was a true prophet and disciple of Christ.
Lilli, this isn’t just about JS polygamy, but that his doctrines and teachings did, in fact, morph over time. There are several, including his own documented accounts of the First Vision and it’s attendant monotheistic to polytheistic views about the nature of God, including changes to the BoM during his lifetime. There are so many things, and I’m not blind. Now, I have studied (your insinuation otherwise isn’t appreciated) and his teachings about polygamy don’t match other teachings of his about the restoration of all things, which became the basis for polygamy. He didn’t want to practice it (his word) initially, but he was commanded to do so. My point in all of this is that prophets, including Joseph, were just trying to do the best they could with what they felt was right, at least most of the time, and their biases and thoughts about God and his word were not consistent – just as the word of God appears to change throughout ancient scripture. I wager that the church in coming days and weeks will continue to roll out teachings and “clarifications” to doctrines that will cause members’ heads to spin and drive additional confusion for TBMs. I’ve seen and felt it my whole life. I was ridiculed and called a sinner and heretic by my own family, and yet I have seen so many things come to light in recent years that I was adamant about before that give me cause to believe that the “feelings of the spirit” I had about different scriptures and doctrines will continue to unfold as I believed they should. I’m no prophet, but I believe that truth will stand independent of those claiming it to be otherwise. Please note that while I’m confident of certain things, I am not the owner of the truth I seek, and I have and will continue to follow truth wherever it leads, even if that means I must reconsider and go against previous beliefs, such as the ones I have currently.
Lilli, did the Holy Spirit confirm to you that Joseph wasn’t a polygamist? Have you prayed about it?
You’ve got some homework to do. Joseph practiced polygamy. He said he didn’t but he did.
Chew on this:
If you’re just a troll, quit wasting our time.
Matt. 19 is speaking about divorce and adultery, not polygamy. I am not sure I understand why you support a belief in the BOM but not any authority following JS, so no branch of the LDS restoration has it right? what about D&C and POGP?
In any case the new statement about priesthood seems like an attempt to deny history and distance themselves from the words of particular LDS authorities. Its like OD2 never happened or at least never had any real purpose. I am not sure I understand this statement and what its attempting to accomplish.
The reason that you don’t seem to understand it is because of the false conclusion that you’ve come to. I agree, why would a church officially attempt to deny history out of the blue? It wouldn’t. Quite the opposite happened. The church is actually owning up to the history, explaining it, and identifying incorrect ideas that may still exist today. I don’t understand the complaint. What else would a church do as it becomes more enlightened?
If it really wanted to deny history and distance itself from past LDS authorities, it wouldn’t say anything, right? It is only officially saying what we as a people have been saying for a long time.
At the age of 17 in the month of October 1971 I was converted to the Gospel. I grew up in Rigby Idaho (95% LDS population)as a member of a totally inactive Mormon family. Not unlike Alma the older being influenced by the life, example and teachings of Abinidi I was influenced by an individual 9 years my elder. How he handled his life, the happiness he exuded and his kindness towards me caused me to reflect and I found myself one night needing to kneel and pray individually for the first time in my life. Almost immediately it seems I seemed to be in a place where I was going from a darkness to a light. I have no idea how long I was kneeling but during this time I was given to know five things in a way that I never knew something before and have never known since (these five truths are commonly recited but it’s rare that I feel the truth from the people speaking) that God lives, Jesus is the Christ and mediator, Joseph Smith was the Prophet who restored the Church, The Book of Mormon is true and that the church is true. That Heavenly Father was so kind as to allow this knowledge to be given to me was a gift nearly beyond my comprehension. From that day I knew I would serve a mission if to do nothing more than to repay in some very small way the gift of having been born of God. Those five truths which are the crux of my life and testimony have sustained me since and I have never felt prompted to re-inquire of the truth of the Church. It has always been obvious to me that if I want to be nearer to Heavenly Father I should be about helping someone else get closer to Him. I accept that this is the last dispensation and though the Church may go through tough times I will not forsake the gift and I will not do something different unless I am guided by the same type of event that brought me to the Gospel in the first place. I am forever grateful for having been born again.
The squabbles on this article surely seem to be people hacking at the leaves of a problem versus the roots which is allowing the Gospel to fulfill itself by being spread to people who have yet to feel the joy of knowing of its truth.
As to anyone being perfect or arguing that they are not misses the mark and keeps us from growing closer to Heavenly Father and Christ.
To the extent that any of us are going to grow in the direction of the light it seems a different route than the banter above is required?
I would guess that most of the members here ultimately feel how you do and have had many similar experiences to what you have had. The actual Gospel is what is ultimately important. But you have to consider that there are those who cannot turn a blind eye to difficult issues and be 100% faithful to the Church. Misunderstandings and unexplained doctrinal and historical parts of our religion can also be off-putting to those investigating the church. We live in the information age now, and the old paradigm of ignoring issues won’t work since you don’t have to go far to find information.
So it is an assumption that “arguing that they are not” perfect misses the mark and keeps us from growing closer to Heavenly Father and Christ. For many, it is our lack of understanding that is doing it, not simply discussing it, and they have to be reconciled in some way. Obviously the Brethren also feel this way since they are the ones who just put out the statement.
I am thinking that OD2 would have been the finish to this issue. A revelation completed promises made at an earlier date. Except this statement is saying that there wasn’t a real reason to have the policy in the first place, and OD2 was based on a false foundation. If there was a step forward it was in 1978, I am just not understanding why there is a need for clarification.
The other thing is I don’t understand is the idea that LDS leaders are inspired, …except when they are not. Its almost as if there is an internal Mormonism and and external Mormonism. For example Gordon B. Hinckley in public statements appears to have denied the doctrine of eternal progression, a very central doctrine to LDS theology. So that is a bit confusing, and it does negative things to trust. Trust that they are being truthful about LDS belief. It seems a little dishonest for some reason.
This is how I see OD2 and this new statement. I first ask what the point of the declaration is. It is apparent that the purpose of it is to reveal that they believe they are fulfilling many statements concerning the priesthood being available to all (even as early as Brigham Young) by receiving a revelation from the Lord. The declaration does not attempt to address the origins of the ban, nor does it justify its existence. Its purpose is to simply acknowledge there has been one, and that it is over– and it was worded as such. What was important for Kimball at that particular time was breaking down the wall, not to muse on why it was built. If anything, I find a hint in OD2 that suggests that the ban was a policy vs a revelation:
“We declare with soberness that the Lord has now made known his will for the blessing of all his children throughout the earth who will hearken to the voice of his authorized servants, and prepare themselves to receive every blessing of the gospel.”
I think the key phrase is “now made known his will.” OD2 was not based on a false foundation, it was based on a very real foundation–a revelation. Again, it does not address the origins of the ban, just that it existed. But the new statement does. People these days aren’t talking about 0D2, they are talking about the ban itself and are trying to understand why it was there to begin with. The church is seeing it for what it truly is, and publicizing it is a good thing. Are you complaining that the church is over-saturating us with information??
There are a lot of lessons to learn for Mormon individuals to learn that stem from an understanding of the ban–like being careful to not teach opinion, recognizing that we need to seek understanding for ourselves, the doors are still open to church-wide revelation, God truly loves everyone even if humans do not, God does not force us to action, etc.
I actually sympathize with your second thought. President Hinckley’s interview with Larry King where he side-steps deification was disappointing to me as well. That’s all there is to it. It hasn’t changed our doctrine. It’s still an eternal truth and ultimately the core doctrine of our faith. Pres. Hinckley didn’t try to overturn it in Conference or anything. Personally, I feel that we throw around the title “Prophet” a little too loosely. More than anything, these men Preside. They are Presidents. They are inspired. How often do they draw on the mantle of “prophet?” I’m not sure. Who knows what goes on in private. All I know is they don’t seem to publicly use on that mantle very often, even if it is liberally applied and over-used by church membership. It makes sense that the GA’s will let people feel this way so that they the people are always prepared to receive instructions from On High when they come. One might argue that the last time the mantle was used was with Kimball, since 0D2 was an accepted revelation. But I think that other things are inspired and possibly revealed, such as the new mission age.
In any case, “a prophet is only a prophet when acting as such.” Sounds convenient, but really it is the reality and nature of prophets.
“The squabbles on this article surely seem to be people hacking at the leaves of a problem versus the roots which is allowing the Gospel to fulfill itself by being spread to people who have yet to feel the joy of knowing of its truth.”
A major root of your religion is continuing revelation. That’s what is being discussed. It’s a significant thing if so-called prophets get big stuff wrong on a regular basis. I understand having faith and looking forward, but if the base of your belief is wobbly, it’s time to reexamine things. Faith has its limits, believe it or not.
I mean what if we found definitive proof that Joseph Smith made up his visions? Would such a detail be worth considering, or would pondering it “keep us from growing closer to Heavenly Father and Christ”?
I accept OD2 as being a step forward, but the later commentary is a denial of history and it doesn’t seem responsible. Ultimately it will undermine the faith of many LDS members, especially those that may have examined this issue in depth. Perhaps its a strategy to remove members who look too deeply into church history, not by excommunication, but by voluntary inactivity by disillusionment.
If you carefully read OD2 and the June 8, 1978 letter by the first presidency, it clearly acknowledges that promises were fulfilled, like a prophecy. To me its difficult to accept a fulfillment of a prophecy, without accepting the original sources, and the original statements and teachings. To claim that it was just a cultural misunderstanding and opinion doesn’t sound correct.
I am willing to over look President Hinckley’s interview with Larry King because maybe he was having a senior moment, or was caught off guard or what not. Maybe he didn’t know how to express himself doctrinally to the general public, especially during a broadcast interview. He wasn’t making an official statement or giving a general policy or teaching to the LDS church body. Still it was rather disappointing. So its substantially different than what LDS leaders have made in establishing churchwide policy and teaching.
But I think the LDS body is working overtime to ‘mainstream’ with the general Christian body of believers, and to a lesser extent the general consciousness of the public. There is another PR repair statement made recently, but thats another topic.
I’m just going to have to go ahead and say that you just aren’t correct in saying that this is a “denial of history.” What is being denied? To me a denial of history means we are pretending like there was no ban. I count myself as one who as looked into this issue more than others I know. Most who have looked deeply into church history honestly have generally come to the same conclusion that this message conveys. I don’t understand at all why this would cause an intelligent person a crisis of faith. You’re acting like this is big news, but it’s not in the slightest. We’ve been having this dialogue for years now. All that’s new is that information on the official LDS page was updated and this position is more officially recognized. To me, there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
I also think that your comment about fitting into the mainstream has too many layers to be viewed as something negative. I think the church is just doing a better job at making what we believe more accessible, and that is something that even Jesus did. He often taught in parables so that people would have a better understanding of eternal truth. The church will also do things to make the gospel easier to understand. If by this statement you mean that we’re cleaning house of previous misconceptions and explaining things that we’ve officially failed to acknowledge, then all the better. That to me is a sign of a living church.
Pierce, What I feel is being denied or diminished is the idea that the priesthood ban didn’t have a doctrinal basis accepted by the church in general. It would be as if the Church came forth with a statement about polygamy that said it was just started with the opinion of a few LDS leaders, but it was never really a doctrine. Certainly its nothing we recognize today. That would seem a little bit off. So, its not that they aren’t recognizing it didn’t happen, but that they are saying it was never an official LDS idea. At least that’s how it sounds to me.
Sounds like vatican II or something. Well, sometimes its difficult to see what is really being done and why. There was some commentary about that in a book I read about relics. Maybe sometime in the future this statement will make sense, but for now I don’t understand it. I was also thinking about the LDS church webpage on same sex attraction. To outsiders it looks vaguely like a PR statement to smooth over some bad feelings around ssm. Thats rather a step forward in many ways, as far as getting church members to perhaps be more careful, more ethical in treatment of gays, especially family of church members.
I also think of the WWCoG. It used to be so distinctly different, but after the death of the founder, its been overhauled and lost most of its distinct features, and basically became another evangelical church, with a few little extras that sort of remain. I used to watch the show ‘the world tomorrow’ but I dont even know if its still being aired.
I think racism is reprehensible. But I think that lots of things in our human nature is reprehensible. I think that God has to shepherd people to greener pastures, and it takes time. I don’t think any of us should be taking for granted our station in time, because we arrived to where we are on the backs of our parents, grandparents, and so on.
That is an interesting statement, Pierce (sp?/correct screen-name?)–
There has been an ongoing discussion on another Mormon blog about whether or not it was God who cursed the “blacks”–
or was it people who did? The Pearl of Great Price states that it was Noah who did it. Noah did some pretty fine things, but maybe he had his decline.
I remain confused about Brigham Young. I remain confused about Joseph Smith.
Yes, Joseph Smith was certainly ‘sealed’ to many, many women–even before he died.
But, where are the children?
I agree; we believe what we want to believe. I used to believe that the trek west was much like the Israelites leaving Egypt, and Brigham Young was like Moses.
Moses made some pretty huge mistakes himself. I have come to see that the ‘saints’ never accepted the fullness Joseph had to offer them from God–
and so *we* have what *we* now have, a quagmire. And a lot of confused people.
The Book of Mormon is the most correct book. Joseph Smith didn’t say that about the Pearl of Great Price, even.
But, though the P of GP states that Noah cursed his son, Ham–
the Pearl of Great Price does not say that God did. The Old Testament might, for all I know–
it says all sorts of scary things–
and Joseph Smith that it was the word of God “as far as it is translated correctly”–
I live in a part of the U.S. where there are very few LDS–
Quite a few of our devout Christians are coming to see that the Bible is heavily flawed–
some of them are more open to the Book of Mormon as a result of that–
and I think the church’s new statement is very good.
I thought I had posted on here a response to someone (was it Connor) who asked about what blacks in the intermountain west did after Brigham Young declared they would no longer use (if they had it) the priesthood or receive it if they did not–
but, apparently, I did not.
There were not many blacks left in the intermountain west; even Green Flake left–
there were a few women.
Some of them went to Grays Lake, Idaho–
Others of them hid or ‘passed’. Basically, they went underground.
And they did depend on personal revelation.
I don’t know what the LDS church could do to ‘make it up’ to historical blacks, since it’s not the modern day ‘whites’ who are persecuting the historical blacks–
it’s all a big mess–
I do know, however, that there are LDS today who are white supremacists. They may deny being racist, but they cling to the old traditions about blacks being cursed. You never know what sorts of traditions a person will have.
At least *they* are trying to explain.
But there is a group of LDS (I don’t know any personally, but I know they exist, because they have, *shudder*, blogs, and they say they are LDS)–
who believe that the church is in apostasy, because President Kimball gave the priesthood to the blacks.
My personal opinion about that–
I hope I don’t ever meet any of those people.
OTC, Thank you for your comments. You have such a good way of being honest, yet trying to bring the best out of the LDS faith. I will give them credit for trying. Thats the closest they have come yet to admitting being wrong about something, and for once making error in the right direction.
Thanks, iimx; I do believe there is truth to be found in the LDS faith–
but I think it gets covered up a lot–
Bottom line is, the Church can’t be completely truthful in it’s explanation about the Priesthood Ban, for I believe they know, just like I believe we all know, that the Emperor Brigham had no clothes, no Priesthood himself, but no one wants to admit it. I believe the Church knows that Brigham Young was a racist and abused the Black people, (it appears he even supported evil slavery), just like he abused women and many other people.
The truth about Brigham is so blatant to anyone who believes in Christ, yet still so many refuse to see or admit it, for it means they would have to take personal responsibility for their own salvation and not be able to depend on a man or a church to tell them what to do.
Just Brigham’s ‘racism and the Priesthood Ban’ alone was far and away enough unrighteous dominion for an immediate ‘Amen’ to any and all of Brigham’s or other leader’s Priesthood Authority or Keys, as D&C 121 says, if he ever held any in the 1st place to continue the Church, which he didn’t. For it is impossible that such a wicked man who would treat anyone the way he did could have an ounce of the Spirit of God, let alone an ounce of authority or keys to lead or continue the true Church.
True prophets are completely different than men like Brigham Young. Brigham Young was a false prophet that Joseph had warned the people about falling for, but few listened to him. Thus God took his Church and Priesthood and Prophets away once again, and let the people dwindle in unbelief and evil til this day.
That Brigham had no Priesthood to use himself or deny the Blacks is very apparent, but few want to admit it. And there was no excuse of his abuse of the Black people (or women or anyone), for there were many righteous people in his day who knew racism was wrong, Joseph Smith himself believed differently than Brigham about the Black people and believed in giving Blacks the Priesthood.
I believe Joseph was about to excommunicate Brigham for this and other evils he was involved in (like his secret polygamy), but Joseph died before he could do it. Joseph apparently even talked to others about doing so, but no one would listen to or believe them after Joseph died. Too many people (men) wanted to collect and control women too with polygamy, and gain those perks, so Joseph’s teaching’s fell by the wayside and the Church went into the apostasy foretold by the Book of Mormon, because the people chose whoredoms and evil instead of living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Today many members are finally putting the pieces of the puzzle together because truth is coming out on the internet, things the Church has apparently tried to keep quiet for over 150 years.
The Priesthood Ban alone proves the Church is not true (amid the countless other evils the Church promoted and continues to promote, that proves it’s also false) and that Brigham Young and all the leaders around him and since him, have not followed Christ and his Gospel or had any authority or true Priesthood, because they have supported the vilest of evils, completely contrary to the Gospel of Christ.
The Emperor had no clothes then and has no clothes now. Joseph was the last true prophet who restored the true Church but like every other time in history, except Enoch’s day, the true Church fell into apostasy, for that is the usual nature of man. The early Saints rejected the Prophet God sent them and rejected the Gospel of Jesus Christ and wanted evil and whoredoms instead.
Many members today have fallen for the falsehood that the Church can’t be untrue, can’t fall, can’t go into apostasy, that the Prophet can’t lead us astray, etc., while it can and it has and prophets can and do and have fallen throughout history and have lead all the blind unthinking people with them that they can.
Only those who follow God’s command to ‘prove all things’ and only hold fast to that which what they ‘know’ for sure is ‘good, right and true’ will see the errors and evils of the Church and it’s leaders.
Very few are willing to take the time and effort to ‘prove all things’ for it’s so much easier to just play ‘follow the leader’ and believe the lie that they can’t be lead astray. This is the Devil’s lie, that he knows most people fall for, he has used it in other religions too, for he knows few people want to take personal responsibility for their own salvation and seeking of truth. The Devil knows that most people would just rather have someone else give them all the answers so they don’t have to go searching for the truth themselves.
Lilli, I would agree that Brigham Young isn’t the man most of *us* grew up thinking he was–
but recently I read on another Mormon blog an interesting thing–
God uses even evil men–
not long ago in the Book of Mormon I was reading about this, too–
but I can’t remember the passage, and I’ll look for it–
God will try His people with evil leaders, even; I do believe that.
The idea of ‘all or nothing’ is where LDS get into trouble.
There are and have been righteous people among the ‘saints’; the trouble is that many continue to be filled with pride and think they can’t learn anything new or that they have ‘it all’, etc.
That sort of pride and vanity is why so many LDS hold onto the “all or nothing, and we are the chosen people” false belief.
As for Brigham Young, I am trying to be careful. Though at times it appears he was a really evil man–
and though it is very easy for me to believe that he painted Joseph Smith badly and may have even contributed to his death . . .
I didn’t know him. I do know that my ancestors had no kind regard for him, and, yet, they still went West.
They didn’t go because of Brigham; I know that. When I was a seminary student and reading about the “Lion of the Lord” who was a “Moses” who led his people out of bondage–ha . . .
I was also reading my ancestor’s journals, and they thought little of the man; they certainly did not ‘follow’ him; a few of them accepted mission calls from him, but the outcome of at least one of those was disastrous–
they were not close to him in any way, and all of my ancestors got as far away from Salt Lake as they could–
I remember thinking, “was something wrong with my ancestors?”–
As I read what they wrote I was impressed that they were not fools and they were not ignorant; I think they knew the church was not headed in the right direction either in Utah or in the midwest–
and they went where they felt they could have a fresh start–
raise their families, etc.
Some of them were powerfully drawn to the Indians, and they did treat them well–
others were afraid of them (native Americans)–
but they were not very impressed by Brigham–
it does seem that he kept himself to himself and was quite aloof–
he had very little to do with my ancestors or they with him.
This has made me wonder a lot–
It’s interesting to think about now, after so much unique information has surfaced–
OTC, The other day when I was shopping and at the register I saw a photo of Nelson Mandela on the cover of a magazine. It dawned on me that his death may have been the reason for the new statement about the priesthood. Is this the LDS way of saying good bye to him? in a round about way, without direct acknowledgement or mention of him, or anything associated with him. It seems that way, or maybe it just coincides with something else?
I agree that God uses evil leaders and false prophets to test people to see who can be deceived by them. It’s his way of revealing the difference between the truly ‘righteous’ and those who may be ‘good honorable people but who can be deceived. I don’t believe God uses or could use evil men or false prophets to lead his Church, that would be impossible anyway, for it would be an immediate ‘amen’ to any Priesthood authority, power or keys they may hold. So it is all or nothing. And righteous people would not be a part of any church that such men led either, for the righteous don’t follow or support unrighteous men or leaders, they quickly see through them.
Righteous people did not follow Brigham Young in Nauvoo or out west, they saw through him like Emma and Joseph did and as many other Apostles, leaders and members of the Church did. They stayed behind and went elsewhere in the U.S. and did not support or follow Brigham. They knew that his branch of the Church was not a true continuation of the original.
I had many ancestors who followed and supported Brigham Young and I think it is sad and unfortunate that they were so deceived by him and that they led their posterity to believe in Brigham’s Church also and it’s many falsehoods.
For Joseph taught that if they/we are deceived by or support or follow a false prophet we will be damned, so those who can/could see through Brigham would not have risked their salvation to follow Brigham, for they knew what Joseph had warned.
While righteous people were not deceived by Brigham, (for they had the Holy Spirit to warn them about him and his polygamy etc., just as Joseph warned them), there were still many good people who allowed themselves to be deceived by Brigham and his doctrines and thus they followed him West, even if they didn’t like him or agree with everything. Just like there are many good sincere people in the Catholic Church who are sure it is the true continuation of Christ’s original church. It’s the same with members of the current LDS Church.
We must make sure we are not willingly supporting evil or unrighteous leaders or false prophets or false churches, for that is how Joseph said we lose our Exaltation. He taught that if we are deceived we will have to go to the Terrestrial Kingdom. We must gain the Holy Spirit as our guide so we don’t need to lean on anyone else, but be able to receive all instruction and truth directly from the Holy Spirit ourselves. We must study the words of Christ and only follow him and use his words to discern who is righteous and who is teaching truth or not, so we aren’t deceived.
This was always false doctrine, simultaneously contradicted by another true doctrine which was in place the whole time and still is. And yet none of the living prophets and apostles who supported and kept this ban in place ever saw the hypocrisy. Wonder why?