I live in Augusta, GA. When I attempt to share the restored gospel with friends and co-workers, I am invariably asked about the LDS attitude about Blacks and the Priesthood. Here was roughly one idea that came out of a recent gospel-centered conversation.
Monday, October 14, 2013
Most all Christian religions were guilty of some sort of racism of some sort or another. Racism has no part in true religion. God is no respecter of persons but religions are filled with imperfect members as well as imperfect leaders.
That said, I think the LDS Church should be praised for being way out in front on the slavery issue. Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon both came out in absolute condemnation of slavery. Joseph Smith in his presidential bid proposed the US purchase all slaves and predicted the War between the States would be fought over the slave question. Joseph Smith even began to ordain blacks to the priesthood.
America's response to the LDS opposition to slavery was the "Mormon War" in Missouri and the LDS being mobbed and expulsed from the state after Governor Lilburn Boggs signed the infamous extermination order legalizing the killing of any Mormon found within the State.
At some point, no one knows why, the LDS stopped ordaining Blacks to the priesthood. The exact reasons were never given by God through Joseph Smith. However, some LDS leadership have speculated on the reason over the years. Could it be that prohibition was felt necessary for the preservation of the LDS Church.
As it was, Mormons were forced to leave the US , the supposed land of religious freedom, for Mexican Territory. And even after fleeing extermination, the US sent an occupying Johnston's Army to keep their thumb on the Mormons.
Also, let me remind everyone that Blacks were always allowed baptism and baptism is what is necessary to go to Mormon heaven. Also, Mormons have always offered all ordinances and priesthood posthumously in the name of the deceased.
So, how did the LDS Church who started out so ahead on racial issues fall so far behind following the civil rights movement? One possible major reasons for the delay is the need for complete unanimity among the 12 Apostles. If the 12 are not unverified on any issue they do not press forward.
However, a wonderful manifestation of the Spirit was received while in the LDS Temple in 1979. The manifestation was such that if there had been any doubt or opposite opinion before, minds and hearts were changed and unanimity was achieved. One such holdout, Elder McConkie publicly retracted all his writings on the issue saying:
"forget what I or Brigham Young or anyone else has said which is contrary to the current light and knowledge we have now received, we spoke without understanding"
Elder McConkie humbled himself, and retracted what had said before. And only after unanimity has been achieved, did the LDS Church reopen the priesthood to all worthy male members. Unlike ecumenical creeds, The Brethren never act on split decisions. Uninimity is a sign of the true Church of Christ and leadership.
After being initially light-years ahead, the consequence of delayed unanimity was the LDS Church lagged behind the rest of Christendom following the civil rights movement.
God truly is no respecter of persons. "All are alike unto God" accord to the Book of Mormon. However, just like the gospel went to the Jew first and then the gentile, the restored gospel has gone to the gentile first and then to all the Earth. God is not racist but I think God understands all too well how we have been born into a prejudice world.
Ultimately, the Lord's Church moved forward offering the Priesthood and all blessings to all worthy male members when the world, LDS members and even LDS leadership were ready.