Jump to content

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

zelder

Priesthood Ban

Recommended Posts

The topic description says it all. Was the priesthood ban the result of bigotry or was it really an inspired policy? Where did the ban come from?

Share this post


Link to post

BY and the Twelve from +/- 1846-1896 certainly thought it was inspired.

Share this post


Link to post

I have heard people claim that the ban did not originate with Joseph Smith but rather Brigham Young. Is that true?

Share this post


Link to post
I have heard people claim that the ban did not originate with Joseph Smith but rather Brigham Young. Is that true?

Yes. For any and pretty much all questions concerning the history of the ban, and the revelation,read this article from BYU Studies, written by President Kimball's son, Edward.

Seriously. It's all there. It's essential reading on this topic. It's powerful, informative, and inspiring. Definitely worth the time to read through it.

What are you waiting for? Read it now! :P

Share this post


Link to post

The topic description says it all. Was the priesthood ban the result of bigotry or was it really an inspired policy? Where did the ban come from?

As it is always said revelation doesn't happen in a vacuum, remember that Smith sought permission for Martin Harris to take the 116 lost pages of the Book of Lehi. God eventually gave permission, this is a revelation, God allowed it even though he knew it wasn't good.

The same is how I feel with the priesthood ban, God allowed it even though he knew it wasn't good. The why, only God knows, I do know that if he didn't want the Priesthood ban to happen that he would of arraigned for Brigham to no longer be the President of the Church.

We know that God has restricted priesthood in the past based on ethnicity and family bloodline, it doesn't seem ridiculous to me that he would allow it to be restricted on the basis of race either. His will is his will, I agree the reasons behind President Young's desires were bigoted but that doesn't mean that God wouldn't allow it to serve his own purposes.

Share this post


Link to post

I have heard people claim that the ban did not originate with Joseph Smith but rather Brigham Young. Is that true?

One thing worth considering in light of this is the fact that James Strang's church began ordaining blacks to the priesthood in 1849 based on a precedent they found in the 1836 ordination of Elijah Abel, though in my observation there was no definitive doctrine from Joseph Smith either for or against ordaining blacks to the priesthood as a whole.

Joseph Smith III did not believe his father extended the priesthood to the black race as a whole during his lifetime, which may have had an influence on the May 4, 1865 RLDS revelation "ordaining men of the Negro race to offices in [the] church."

http://www.centerplace.org/hs/dc/rdc-116.htm

Share this post


Link to post

I don't think it ever had to do with bigotry. I think it had something to do with fear (see below) and with the power of tradition and requirement for consensus in the leadership decisions.

Brigham Young's rhetoric about blacks was initially constrained to the political sphere --- the debate about letting Utah in as a territory under the Missouri Compromise had to do with whether ti was a slave state or free state. Territorial status came quicker as a named slave state --- and it practically didn't seem to matter much because the slave population was quite small.

But that was preceded by two events that took place a few years earlier. The first was that a man of color in Winter Quarters decided to create his own church, membership in which required women to sleep with him in the daylight. More than a few women did so (and all were excommunicated along with Mr. McCrary). Not long afterward, Massachusetts made interracial marriage legal. And the son of the prominent civil rights leader of color (Walker Lewis, who held the priesthood) promptly married a white woman. Brigham Young heard about both incidents within a matter of weeks. I think Brigham Young was afraid that interraicial marriage would be the straw that broke the camels back as to the persecution. And I think he felt that the only way to prevent interracial marriage was not to give the priesthood. I'd guess he thought and prayed on it and felt he was doing what God wanted. One of the reasons I don't think BY was bigoted is his written response to a widow, which still exists. After her husband died, she wrote asking BY to send her Green Flake, her slave, who for some years had been BY's driver, including driving him into the SL Valley for the first time (maybe as a tithing payment). She said she need to sell him to support herself. BY responded that he didn't know where Green Flake was (yea, right, does anyone believe BY couldn't find anyone in Utah Territory if he wanted to?)

Thereafter people did it because of tradition. The church grew a lot and so it wasn't common that people knew about Brother Able and Brother Walker. In fact, one of the men who attended Elijah Able's ordaining (by some accounts doing it himself), denied that he had been ordained ---- but this was the same guy (Zebedee Coltrin) who lied to JS in the Zion Camp incident, he had proclivity to want to be in favor with the powerful.) There were several investigations of the issue over the years. But I think it wasn't until 1978 that two things came into play --- both all of the quorum be open to such a revelation, and a prophet actively seeking such a revelation.

Further, church leaders had started building the temple in Brazil, and they knew that with the current policy in place, they would not be able to staff that temple because of the intermarriage and the one drop ban. In my mind it is entirely possible that God was waiting for them to take that leap of faith (and clearly have a desire that the members no matter their heritage would be blessed with temple blessings), It wasn't easy for a number of them whose beliefs on the subject were pretty set and even in writing in (which is why Elder McKonkie repudiated everything he had once identified as doctrine, and because of his doctrinal knowledge, had been relied upon by other leaders as the authoritative source).

This is my interpretation of the history and I think this explanation fits.

Share this post


Link to post
I don't think it ever had to do with bigotry. I think it had something to do with fear (see below) and with the power of tradition and requirement for consensus in the leadership decisions.

Brigham Young's rhetoric about blacks was initially constrained to the political sphere --- the debate about letting Utah in as a territory under the Missouri Compromise had to do with whether ti was a slave state or free state. Territorial status came quicker as a named slave state --- and it practically didn't seem to matter much because the slave population was quite small.

But that was preceded by two events that took place a few years earlier. The first was that a man of color in Winter Quarters decided to create his own church, membership in which required women to sleep with him in the daylight. More than a few women did so (and all were excommunicated along with Mr. McCrary). Not long afterward, Massachusetts made interracial marriage legal. And the son of the prominent civil rights leader of color (Walker Lewis, who held the priesthood) promptly married a white woman. Brigham Young heard about both incidents within a matter of weeks. I think Brigham Young was afraid that interraicial marriage would be the straw that broke the camels back as to the persecution. And I think he felt that the only way to prevent interracial marriage was not to give the priesthood. I'd guess he thought and prayed on it and felt he was doing what God wanted. One of the reasons I don't think BY was bigoted is his written response to a widow, which still exists. After her husband died, she wrote asking BY to send her Green Flake, her slave, who for some years had been BY's driver, including driving him into the SL Valley for the first time (maybe as a tithing payment). She said she need to sell him to support herself. BY responded that he didn't know where Green Flake was (yea, right, does anyone believe BY couldn't find anyone in Utah Territory if he wanted to?)

Thereafter people did it because of tradition. The church grew a lot and so it wasn't common that people knew about Brother Able and Brother Walker. In fact, one of the men who attended Elijah Able's ordaining (by some accounts doing it himself), denied that he had been ordained ---- but this was the same guy (Zebedee Coltrin) who lied to JS in the Zion Camp incident, he had proclivity to want to be in favor with the powerful.) There were several investigations of the issue over the years. But I think it wasn't until 1978 that two things came into play --- both all of the quorum be open to such a revelation, and a prophet actively seeking such a revelation.

Further, church leaders had started building the temple in Brazil, and they knew that with the current policy in place, they would not be able to staff that temple because of the intermarriage and the one drop ban. In my mind it is entirely possible that God was waiting for them to take that leap of faith (and clearly have a desire that the members no matter their heritage would be blessed with temple blessings), It wasn't easy for a number of them whose beliefs on the subject were pretty set and even in writing in (which is why Elder McKonkie repudiated everything he had once identified as doctrine, and because of his doctrinal knowledge, had been relied upon by other leaders as the authoritative source).

This is my interpretation of the history and I think this explanation fits.

That may be the best thing I've ever read on the subject. Nicely done, rpn!

Share this post


Link to post
One of the reasons I don't think BY was bigoted is his written response to a widow, which still exists. After her husband died, she wrote asking BY to send her Green Flake, her slave, who for some years had been BY's driver, including driving him into the SL Valley for the first time (maybe as a tithing payment). She said she need to sell him to support herself. BY responded that he didn't know where Green Flake was (yea, right, does anyone believe BY couldn't find anyone in Utah Territory if he wanted to?)

How do you reconcile this with his teachings known teachings that blacks were inferior to white, that that they could only enter heaven as salves, and that they are the seed of Cain?

I agree that Brigham Young was no more bigoted as any other person of his time, there was bigotry though and it was a result of the times he lived in.

Share this post


Link to post

How do you reconcile this with his teachings known teachings that blacks were inferior to white, that that they could only enter heaven as salves, and that they are the seed of Cain?

I agree that Brigham Young was no more bigoted as any other person of his time, there was bigotry though and it was a result of the times he lived in.

Nowdays, one should not mention the seed of Cain business without showing awareness of the history of Biblical interpretation on this theme. That history of interpretation was the cultural background for the LDS, and not their creation.

http://byustudies.byu.edu/showTitle.aspx?title=7582

Kevin Christensen

Pittsburgh, PA

Share this post


Link to post

Nowdays, one should not mention the seed of Cain business without showing awareness of the history of Biblical interpretation on this theme. That history of interpretation was the cultural background for the LDS, and not their creation.

http://byustudies.byu.edu/showTitle.aspx?title=7582

Kevin Christensen

Pittsburgh, PA

When someone is proclaiming that Brigham Young was never racist, one MUST bring up the fact he taught racial things. President Young was influenced to institute the ban because he believed blacks were the descendants of Cain. If he didn't believe this it would of dramatically effected his decisions, the seed of Cain was the foundation of the priesthood ban. I believe that President Young truly believed that blacks were the descendants of Cain and felt that he had to ban them from the priesthood. Belief is not revelation though, there is no doctrine for the priesthood ban, it was long standing policy that was allowed by God but I can't believe that God ever commanded BY to ban blacks from the Priesthood. His motives were racial so to claim BY was not bigoted is not true.

Share this post


Link to post

I don't think it ever had to do with bigotry. One of the reasons I don't think BY was bigoted is his written response to a widow, which still exists. After her husband died, she wrote asking BY to send her Green Flake, her slave, who for some years had been BY's driver, including driving him into the SL Valley for the first time (maybe as a tithing payment). She said she need to sell him to support herself. BY responded that he didn't know where Green Flake was (yea, right, does anyone believe BY couldn't find anyone in Utah Territory if he wanted to?).

I think you confuse anti-slavery, with not being racist. The north were the greatest supporters of abolishing and also some of the most racist Americans. Boston was segregated way before the South was (in fact the south didn't segregate until after the Civil War) and stayed segregated after the South was desegregated in the 1960's. Does no one remember the riots in Boston over busing to desegregate inner city schools in the 1970's?

Anti-slavery had nothing to do with race but with the belief that no person has a right to own another person. This is ironic because most anti-slavery proponents argued that slavery was against God, when God allowed and even set laws regulating slavery and involuntary servitude. When someone could not pay off there debt in biblical times was forced into servitude until the next sabbatical year to work off there debt.

In fact to this day most public schools have de facto segregation since most minorities are stuck in poorly funded inner city schools while the better off, get better funded suburban schools. If parents can afford to drive there children to the better funded suburban schools they might to be able to if they live in a school choice state but for the overwhelming majority get are stuck in underfunded inner city schools. We just replaced racial segregation with economic segregation.

Share this post


Link to post

I believe that President Smith truly believed that blacks were the descendants of Cain and felt that he had to ban them from the priesthood. Belief is not revelation though, there is no doctrine for the priesthood ban, it was long standing policy that was allowed by God but I can't believe that God ever commanded BY to ban blacks from the Priesthood. His motives were racial so to claim BY was not bigoted is not true.

Authoritative Statements on the Status of Blacks in the LDS Church

Share this post


Link to post

I don't think it ever had to do with bigotry. I think it had something to do with fear (see below) and with the power of tradition and requirement for consensus in the leadership decisions.

This is my interpretation of the history and I think this explanation fits.

Awesome post. Although I think there was some bigotry involved, I think the bigotry stemed from fear and I really really am impressed with this thoughtful look at history. I knew about the Winter Quarters incident and I knew about Walker, but I never put them both together. I also didn't think about why Utah might have decided to become a slave state aside from 'wanting' to be able to have slaves. I think politics were definitely more involved than I had thought before. Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post

I forgot to answer the original post. I don't think it was a commandment or statement from God to deny the priesthood to so many. I don't think the leaders went against God necessarily, but rather didn't have a clear answer from Him and used their own biases. I do believe that once the decision was made for the ban, it took a long time for God to provide the revelation to change the policy because mistakes aren't easily undone and much needed to be learned. So I think the original decision was mostly man made, but I think the dismissal of the ban was definitely a revelation.

Share this post


Link to post

How do you reconcile this with his teachings known teachings that blacks were inferior to white, that that they could only enter heaven as salves, and that they are the seed of Cain?

I agree that Brigham Young was no more bigoted as any other person of his time, there was bigotry though and it was a result of the times he lived in.

The idea that blacks are the seed of cain did not originate with the LDS church. It was tradition that dated back centuries before. The idea was used as justification for blacks being slaves. I think that Brigham Young and other church leaders adopted it from other christian churches.

The Book of Abraham is often used as a reference for the blacks being descendents of Ham, but Bushman points out in RSR that the Book of Abraham only refers to the lineage of Pharoh rather than an entire race.

Share this post


Link to post

I think early LDS leaders would have done well to reflect on this verse before letting their prejudices, and the doctrines of other churches, influence how they administered the Gospel...

Jacob 3

Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, which is the word of God, that ye revile no more against them because of the darkness of their skins; neither shall ye revile against them because of their filthiness; but ye shall remember your own filthiness, and remember that their filthiness came because of their fathers.

Share this post


Link to post

So I think the original decision was mostly man made, but I think the dismissal of the ban was definitely a revelation.

I find this whole thread absolutely fascinating.

I'm probably older than most of you here. I remember exactly what I was taught as a child about the Priesthood ban. As I grew and matured, what I was taught by my parents, my Sunday school teachers, my Seminary teachers, Bishops, Stake Presidents, on up, made less and less sense to me. Notions of blacks being "less valiant in the pre-existence", being "fence-sitters in the war in heaven", being "descendants of the seed of Cain" were all earnestly and repeatedly passed along as part of my Mormon education. Sometimes there were just exasperated explanations amounting to "God wants it that way". About the time I was in high school, these explanations really started to rankle. Still, I dutifully carried the Church's water on this issue, trying to explain to my non-Mormon friends, what the Church's position was with respect to race. Until one day, I stopped doing that. I briefly put on the ---"no, God doesn't want it that way"--- glasses and took a look around. Long story short, once I did that, and determined that the ban originated and persisted because of simple bigotry, I was much less troubled about the issue.

Now, many years later I read a thread like this and I have to marvel at the capacity for the Church and its members to make a shift in their attitudes. I did have Utah relatives who went to their graves not being able to make this shift, but I see the younger generations have incorporated the change admirably.

Share this post


Link to post

The topic description says it all. Was the priesthood ban the result of bigotry or was it really an inspired policy? Where did the ban come from?

It was a mistake. Brigham Young instituted it, but it was a policy, not a revelation from God. BY seems to have been more a temporal leader (getting the saints to Utah) than a revelator. Consider his Adam/God mistake. I think he just liked to speculate a lot and shot from the hip, but didn't go through the normal process of seeking revelation for some of these things. Unfortunately, his mistake took a century to be corrected.

President McKay recognized that the ban was policy and not revelation.

Share this post


Link to post

Priesthood Ban Was it a mistake or was it what god wanted

I dunno. If I ever get to a point where I can read God's mind, I'll get back to you? As noted by nackhadlow, Edward Kimball's article is essential reading on this topic.

I also think that throwing around the accusation that Brigham Young was a bigot is rather uncharitable, particularly since he is dead and cannot defend himself.

I also think that people ought to provide references when they make claims about things someone allegedly taught, 'cause sometimes context matters. :P

Share this post


Link to post

I also think that throwing around the accusation that Brigham Young was a bigot is rather uncharitable, particularly since he is dead and cannot defend himself.

First off Christians don't judge people only Christ judges people, Christians can judge peoples actions, the actions of President Young were bigoted and racist. Only Christ can judge Brigham Young's heart and decided whether he as a person was a bigot. I think everyone here is operating under that presumption that all we can judge his actions not him as a person since we do not know his heart like God does. If they are not operating under this presumption than that is between them and God anyway.

Second, nothing is acusation it is presentation of what the recorded discourses of Brigham Young tell us he said and taught.

Third, any discourse of Brigham Young is ready accessable to the Church membership through various Offical Sourses. All it takes is a little initiative to loin around your local stake library for the Discourses of Brigham Young.

Share this post


Link to post
First off Christians don't judge people only Christ judges people, Christians can judge peoples actions, the actions of President Young were bigoted and racist. Only Christ can judge Brigham Young's heart and decided whether he as a person was a bigot. I think everyone here is operating under that presumption that all we can judge his actions not him as a person since we do not know his heart like God does. If they are not operating under this presumption than that is between them and God anyway.

I don't really understand how you can say that someone's actions were bigoted, and in the same breath say that you are not saying that the person was a bigot. But, whatever . . . :P

Second, nothing is acusation it is presentation of what the recorded discourses of Brigham Young tell us he said and taught.

Ah, if only life were so black and white. (And until you provide a reference, it is an accusation.)

Third, any discourse of Brigham Young is ready accessable to the Church membership through various Offical Sourses. All it takes is a little initiative to loin around your local stake library for the Discourses of Brigham Young.

I am well aware that the Discourses of Brigham Young by John A. Widstoe is available (though I doubt the "stake library" carries that particular volume). I have access to that, as well as the Journal of Discourses through Gospelink.com, a resource I have recommeded to you in the past.

My point is this: When you talk about something someone taught without providing the reference, you are simply showing that you are lazy and would rather cast the onus on someone else to have to track it down, and then forcing them to make the assumption that what they have found is indeed the reference you were relying on. I know that in the past you have been resistant to the suggestion that you provide references. I hope that will change.

Shalom Brother.

Share this post


Link to post

As it is always said revelation doesn't happen in a vacuum, remember that Smith sought permission for Martin Harris to take the 116 lost pages of the Book of Lehi. God eventually gave permission, this is a revelation, God allowed it even though he knew it wasn't good.

The same is how I feel with the priesthood ban, God allowed it even though he knew it wasn't good. The why, only God knows, I do know that if he didn't want the Priesthood ban to happen that he would of arraigned for Brigham to no longer be the President of the Church.

We know that God has restricted priesthood in the past based on ethnicity and family bloodline, it doesn't seem ridiculous to me that he would allow it to be restricted on the basis of race either. His will is his will, I agree the reasons behind President Young's desires were bigoted but that doesn't mean that God wouldn't allow it to serve his own purposes.

Yes, God uses stuff for his purposes, which is why he didn't inspire the brethren for the ban to be lifted immediately, despite the fact that David O. McKay pleaded for it. All things have to be done in order, and according to the Lord's timing. This doesn't demonstrate that the ban was inspired in the sense of coming from God originally. But you cannot forget that Brigham Young used the keys of his priesthood to do what he did, by declaring that Blacks could not have it, right or wrong. And God honored his priesthood keys. which goes to show, when someone has priesthood keys, they need to be incredibly careful with the way they use them. Because if they institute something by abusing their priesthood keys, and heaven is bound to honor it, then they will be ultimately held accountable for the results of what happens when those things are bound in heaven. That doesn't mean that Brigham Young abused his keys. It only means that he used them the best he knew how. That which is bound on earth is bound in heaven, right or wrong. So the use of the keys of the priesthood in this thing is a key to understand why it wasn't just something that could be lifted procedurally, and that it was something that was so weighty, despite the fact that it was based on incorrect tradition. this is the concept that Joseph Smith was referring to here, where, despite what a prophet does incorrectly, the use of his priesthood keys are still honored:

"Noah was a righteous man, and yet he drank wine and became intoxicated; the Lord did not forsake him in consequence thereof, for he retained all the power of his priesthood, and when he was accused by Canaan, he cursed him by the priesthood which he held, and the Lord had respect to his word, and the priesthood which he held"

So whether or not some people like fundamentalists think that the Manifesto was inspired, right or wrong, the priesthood keys have been used to suspend plural marriage. It is bound in heaven that plural marriage is suspended, by the use of those keys. People can argue till they are blue in the face about the rightness or wrongness of something or whether something is inspired or not. But the priesthood ban could not be lifted without using the same priesthood keys that implemented it, and without the Lord saying that it was time, regardless of how it was implemented to begin with. No doubt Brigham Young was doing it with the best light he had at the time. To say that it was bigotry is unfair, because we all do what we do with the best light at the time we had when we did it. We seldom know whether certain things we do were right or wrong until we have hindsight, even though to us at the time we might feel that we are justified, or that we are making the right decision. Now, on the priesthood issue we have hindsight, and certain people are trying to blame Brigham Young for not having the same hindsight. That is silly.

Similarly, a suspension in plural marriage can never be lifted until priesthood keys lift it. Not that it should be. Not that we hope for it. But it isn't a procedural thing. It would take the same kind of revelation that lifted the priesthood ban to lift the suspension on plural marriage. So the fundamentalists are wrong on this point, regardless of how the Manifesto came to be.

Ed Goble

Share this post


Link to post

Yes, God uses stuff for his purposes, which is why he didn't inspire the brethren for the ban to be lifted immediately, despite the fact that David O. McKay pleaded for it. This doesn't demonstrate that the ban was inspired in the sense of coming from God originally. But you cannot forget that Brigham Young used the keys of his priesthood to do what he did, by declaring that Blacks could not have it, right or wrong. And God honored his priesthood keys. which goes to show, when someone has priesthood keys, they need to be incredibly careful with the way they use them. Because if they institute something by abusing their priesthood keys, and heaven is bound to honor it, then they will be ultimately held accountable for the results of what happens when those things are bound in heaven. That which is bound on earth is bound in heaven, right or wrong. So the use of the keys of the priesthood in this thing is a key to understand why it wasn't just something that could be lifted procedurally, and that it was something that was so weighty, despite the fact that it was based on incorrect tradition.

So whether or not some people like fundamentalists think that the Manifesto was inspired, right or wrong, the priesthood keys have been used to suspend plural marriage. It is bound in heaven that plural marriage is suspended, by the use of those keys. People can argue till they are blue in the face about the rightness or wrongness of something or whether something is inspired or not. But the priesthood ban could not be lifted without using the same priesthood keys that implemented them, and without the Lord saying that it was time, regardless of how it was implemented to begin with. No doubt Brigham Young was doing it with the best light he had at the time. To say that it was bigotry is unfair, because we all do what we do with the best light at the time we had when we did it. Similarly, a suspension in plural marriage can never be lifted until priesthood keys lift it. Not that it should be. Not that we hope for it. But it isn't a procedural thing. It would take the same kind of revelation that lifted the priesthood ban to lift the suspension on plural marriage. So the fundamentalists are wrong on this point, regardless of how the Manifesto came to be.

Ed Goble

Wait... so let me get this straight...

One prophet can flippantly use his priesthood keys, without consulting God, to initiate a wrong teaching/action/procedure/tradition (what have you) and God is bound to honor it, but a subsequent prophet, holding the same keys, cannot exercise those same keys to do away with a wrongly implemented action without begging and pleading with God to authorize him to reverse something he already knows is wrong?

Seems you are grasping at straws here, my good man.

Share this post


Link to post
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...