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cinepro

Was the Priesthood Ban a "Good Idea"?

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I think the dietary restrictions in the Law of Moses were probably a good idea at the time.

what made shrimp cocktail impure one minute then just fine the next minute, that is my point. but not limited to shrimp cocktail.

Certainly invading a land, killing the inhabitants and keeping their stuff has obvious benefits.

the just good plundering business. but i do not understand what that would have to do with dietary restrictions, unless you meant that not eating what you captured is a good idea because it could be poisoned.

Male circumcision was a way to visibly (and until recently, permanently) differentiate one group of men from another.

I know of a story in the OT wherein one group was trying to figure out who another group was, so the first group made the second pronounce a certain word, and the second group gave themselves away in speaking that word.

However, I do not see how it would be too difficult to just view physical appearance to make a determination of who was who, its not as though men ran around with their willy hanging out so each man could identify the next man as friend or foe. certainly there were more obvious ways of "marking" people rather than having to lift someone clothes.

For who those people were and what they were trying to accomplish, each of those practices seem to align with their goals and principles.

Can the same be said for the Priesthood ban?

it can not be said of dietary restrictions, as we have not the "why" certain foods were unclean and any "why" created by man is meaningless considering that one day they can't shrimp the next day they can.

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as for the priesthood ban, there is no reason to suggest that allowing Blacks full faith and fellowship would have caused more troubles for the early Church. Can things get much worse than tar and feathering? run out of ones home time and time again? having effectively a "shot on sight" order against you?

Yes, they most definitely could have gotten worse than that.

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One of the things that appeals to me most about the Church is the abundance of "good ideas". Meaning, almost every doctrine or policy that I can think of has, at its core, some degree of goodness, apart from any belief in the theological origin of the idea. By "goodness", I mean sensibleness or logic, or obvious benefit to Church members apart from just being obedient.

For example, I think the doctrine of the Sabbath is a good idea. The Law of Chastity is a good idea. I think Temple Work is a good idea. The Word of Wisdom is a good idea.

I would even admit that in the time and place in which it originated and was practiced, polygamy had elements of being a good idea (primarily for its ability to increase the number of children born to faithful Church members).

I think missionary work is an incredibly good idea, both for the general benefits to the men who serve the missions and for the growth it adds to the Church.

As I thought about it yesterday, I just couldn't convince myself that the Priesthood Ban (wherein black people of presumed African descent were denied the priesthood and Temple blessings from the mid 1800's to 1978) was a "good idea".

I've heard the theoretical explanations for it, but I'm curious if anyone actually looks at it and thinks "Yes, that was a good idea"?

On the flipside, I think ending the priesthood ban was a tremendously good idea (on many different levels).

For that matter was it a good idea to have the Priesthood resticted to just Jews along before it was opened to gentiles?

Are we really debating the mind of God?

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For that matter was it a good idea to have the Priesthood resticted to just Jews along before it was opened to gentiles?

Are we really debating the mind of God?

apparently so, there are very few things we can say we know why God commanded things as He has.

as for Law of Moses and dietary restrictions we do not why God commanded such. As for we are not to drink coffee or tea, we do not know "why". The preisthood, we do not "why" it was the way it was nor do we know "why" women are not given the priesthood in same capacity as men. We can speculate all day long and come up with some very touchy feely philosophy of man.

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That's my point. I can't think of another example of something claiming to be a revelation that also isn't a good idea at some obvious level.

Other than the suggestion that the non-black members of the Church benefited from the ban in some way, does anyone have any other theories about how the ban might have been good?

The book of Abraham does say that Pharaoh was of a lineage that was barred from the Priesthood (Abraham 1:21-27).

So perhaps you need to start your question there: Was that a "good idea"?

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So only white men can be racist?

Where did I say that?

Caucasians were merely the dominant race in power at the time, who also happened to be either racist or complicit with racist practices and running a slave trade on the Lord's promised land. Even Joseph Smith believed in segregation. It was part of his presidential platform. I defy anyone to explain to me how the first Mormons didn't in fact inherit many of their cultural mores from the dominant culture of their time.

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Hi cinepro,

Joseph Smith allowed blacks to receive the priesthood, so I see the ban as originating with Brigham Young. It is my understanding that there never was a revelation or official change of doctrine that brought about the ban--it was simply a policy that Brigham Young implemented. Why President Young did that, it's hard to say for sure, but we do know from the records they left behind that many early LDS (including Brother Brigham himself) did not view black people as equal to whites, so I suspect he made the change simply because he was bigoted, or because he was pressured to by other LDS bigots. Even with no revelation or doctrine to back up the ban on blacks receiving the priesthood, it just became the way things were done until later prophets started questioning it and President Kimball finally removed the ban, restoring things back to the way they were in Joseph Smith's day.

In short, the priesthood ban was most definitely not a good idea!

Peace :P

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There is no rational explanation why why could not have enjoyed a bacon cheese burgher.

I can think of one: cannibalism is really uncool. I don't know where the city of "bacon cheese" is located, but I am fairly certain that its citizens taste no better than, say, Limburghers or Bolognesi.

Lehi

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So only white men can be racist?

Pretty much. That's why I've rejected America's sacred cow from the time it was first slammed down my throat in grade school. And I do see a big difference in the level of morality practiced between people of different races even today hundreds of years later.

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. . . Joseph was not racist, especially as measured for his time. Brigham Young was no more than Joseph, nor were John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff.

Perhaps my understanding of what constitutes racism is flawed, but consider the following:

"You see, some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, un-comely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence [emphasis by the source] that is generally bestowed upon mankind." (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 7:290-291, Oct. 9, 1859)

"You may inquire of the intelligent of the world whether they can tell why the aborigines of this country are dark, loathsome, ignorant, and sunken into the depths of degradation [emphasis by the source]. (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 7:336)

"And after the flood we are told that the curse that had been pronounced upon Cain was continued through Ham's wife, as he had married a wife of that seed. And why did it pass through the flood? Because it was necessary that the devil should have a representation upon the earth [emphasis by the source] as well as God. . . ." (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 22, p. 304)

"And if any man mingle his seed with the see of Cain [emphasis by the source] the only way he could get rid of it or have Salvation would be to come forward and have his head cut off and spill his blood upon the ground--it would also take the life of his children [emphases by the source]. (Wilford Woodruff Journal)

(Source for all of the foregoing quotations is Mormon Think, "Blacks and the Mormon Priesthood.")

Many other quotations in the same vein are readily available. It saddens me--indeed, shocks me--that some of our early leaders made such statements. I cannot believe they were speaking under divine inspiration. Were they great men? Yes! Were they without flaw? No!

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How can anything God decrees be a bad idea? How do you determine what is good or bad?

I have no problem trusting God. He had His reasons. It's His Priesthood. He can choose whom He wants to serve in it when He wants to serve in it. When you understand the plan and realize that all who live have the opportunity to recieve the blessings, it's more a matter of timing and less a matter of God making mistakes.

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On balance it was not a "good idea" it was a trial. To me the question is was it a trial for the Blacks or for the Whites?

You and I often disagree, tss, but not on this one. This one really bugged me and that's the main reason 1978 was so very welcome when it came. I imagine you felt much the same.

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[emphasis by the source]

...

[emphasis by the source].

...

[emphasis by the source]

...

[emphasis by the source]

...

(Source for all of the foregoing quotations is Mormon Think, "Blacks and the Mormon Priesthood.")

The "source" you cite is not the work of the original speakers. They obviously were not there when the discourses were delivered, either. The emphases are the opinions of your source, and we are under no obligation to assume they represent the intent of the speakers.

Furthermore, it is obvious that these are merely quote-mined snippets of the speeches, devoid of context. Notice, for instance, that the first one, wherein Brother Brigham makes an observation that African blacks are "black, uncouth, un-comely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence" (unsaid, but implied, because of their status as slaves, which he attributes to the curses found in the Bible, not to their inherent worth as children of God), the paragraph preceding the one you quote mined says this: "The whole object of the creation of this world is to exalt the intelligences that are placed upon it, that they may live, endure, and increase for ever and ever. We are not here to quarrel and contend about the things of this world, but we are here to subdue and beautify it. Let every man and woman worship their God with all their heart. Let them pay their devotions and sacrifices to him, the Supreme, and the Author of their existence. Do all the good you can to your fellow-creatures. You are flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone. God has created of one blood all the nations and kingdoms of men that dwell upon all the face of the earth: black, white, copper-coloured, or whatever their colour, customs, or religion, they have all sprung from the same origin; the blood of all is from the same element."

After your seeming racist quotation, Brother Brigham says: "[African blacks] never can hold the Priesthood or share in it until all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the Priesthood and the keys thereof." I'm sure you noticed that he implicitly says they will receive the Priesthood and its blessings, although that was not in his time. As Elder McConkie said, all that was said in the past about the Priesthood ban was said without full knowledge. But this statement, echoed by all the Presidents of the Church, was correct: African blacks did receive the Priesthood, and, as Brother Brigham said, they are all part of the human family, our brothers and sisters and of the race of God, just as we are. I can't see that as "racist", and certainly not in the context of his time.

Please show me where even the abolitionists of the day acknowledged that African blacks were even human, let alone their brothers and sisters. Abraham Lincoln did not consider them equal to whites, nor did Harriet Stowe. In fact, her book was subtitled "Life Among the Lowly". Do you consider that to be racist, because it is in the same voice that Brother Brigham's statement about the "aborigines" was made.

Chronocentrism is an ugly form of bigotry, and is very prominent in these days of political correctness. The Brethren of the XIX and XX were very forward thinking and liberal (the classic liberal, not the modern corruption of the title) compared to their contemporaries. Those who try to paint them as bigots and racists in our modern sense are guilty of a virulent bigotry themselves.

Lehi

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How can anything God decrees be a bad idea? How do you determine what is good or bad?

I have no problem trusting God. He had His reasons. It's His Priesthood. He can choose whom He wants to serve in it when He wants to serve in it. When you understand the plan and realize that all who live have the opportunity to recieve the blessings, it's more a matter of timing and less a matter of God making mistakes.

The point is that some of us think that it was not God's idea to ban blacks from holding the priesthood.

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The point is that some of us think that it was not God's idea to ban blacks from holding the priesthood.

The problem is that we just do not know. I recall someone posting a quote from one of the first presidencies, think that of Davis O. Mckay, that in effect said that the reasons for the ban had not been revealed.

All I know, after all of these years, is that there was a ban for over a hundred years and that it was lifted by revelation in 1978. That is all any of us know at the moment. And I am among the many who am glad that it was lifted.

Glenn

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Please show me where even the abolitionists of the day acknowledged that African blacks were even human, let alone their brothers and sisters. Abraham Lincoln did not consider them equal to whites, nor did Harriet Stowe. In fact, her book was subtitled "Life Among the Lowly". Do you consider that to be racist, because it is in the same voice that Brother Brigham's statement about the "aborigines" was made.

As I see it, the big moral issue of the day was the morality of slavery.

The abolitionists considered slavery to be immoral.

Young proclaimed that slavery was a divine institution.

Frankly, I don't know how anyone can consider Young to a latter day prophet of God, when he botched the greatest moral issue of his times, unless of course you think he got that issue right.

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The "source" you cite is not the work of the original speakers.

Boldfacing text from an original source does not change "the work of the original speakers"; it merely calls attention to salient points.

: The emphases are the opinions of your source, and we are under no obligation to assume they represent the intent of the speakers
.

The emphases do not change the words. If you underscore, or italicize, or boldface the title of a book, have you changed the title? Obviously not.

: Furthermore, it is obvious that these are merely quote-mined snippets of the speeches, devoid of context. Notice, for instance, that the first one, wherein Brother Brigham makes an observation that African blacks are "black, uncouth, un-comely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence" . . . .

No amount of "context" can change/mitigate BY's characterization of blacks as he viewed them in his day. BY's statement that "[we] have all sprung from the same origin" doesn't annul his characterization of blacks as ". . .uncouth, un-comely. . .low in their habits," etc.

: After your seeming racist quotation, Brother Brigham says: "[African blacks] never can hold the Priesthood or share in it until all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the Priesthood and the keys thereof." I'm sure you noticed that he implicitly says they will receive the Priesthood

and its blessings, although that was not in his time.

The quotation discriminated against blacks; hence, it smacks of racism. They were, in effect, to be seated at the back of the bus as second class children of God. William E. Gladstone's statement is apropos here: "Justice delayed is justice denied."

Even Church teachers of youth were taught that blacks were inferior; hence, this from The Juvenile Instructor, Vol. 3, p. 157: "Their skin is quite black, their hair woolly and black, their intelligence stunted, and they appear never to have arisen from the most savage state of barbarism."

: Please show me where even the abolitionists of the day acknowledged that African blacks were even human. . . ."

Here you tacitly acknowledge that early Church leaders--whom we believe to have been inspired men--were no different than the "world" in practicing racism.

: Chronocentrism is an ugly form of bigotry, and is very prominent in these days of political correctness.

"Chronocentrism" doesn't appear in my 2,662-page dictionary (Webster's Third New International Dictionary Unabridged). I assume, though, it refers to judging the past based on the present (something like that). How, I wonder, does that absolve BY, John Taylor, and other early Church leaders of making racist comments about their brothers and sisters?

: The Brethren of the XIX and XX were very forward thinking and liberal (the classic liberal, not the modern corruption of the title) compared to their contemporaries. Those who try to paint them as bigots and racists in our modern sense are guilty of a virulent bigotry themselves.

I have taken the liberty of boldfacing your last sentence because it is a groundless, reckless charge; moreover, it doesn't change one syllable of what early Church leaders said (and felt) about blacks.

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Are we really debating the mind of God?

Ah, that is the question. It looks to me that this all makes much more sense if you remove God from consideration.

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Ah, that is the question. It looks to me that this all makes much more sense if you remove God from consideration.

I guess that depends on if you beleive that Christ really leads the Church or if you believe it is just a religion of men.

If it's just a bunch of Octogenerians leading the church, I'll just for go getting re-baptized and go back to my heathen ways. What's the point if it isn't the true Church?

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I guess that depends on if you beleive that Christ really leads the Church or if you believe it is just a religion of men.

Some LDS seem to believe that while Christ "leads the Church" (whatever that means), they allow for fallible leaders given latitude to make mistakes. Thus, it would still be possible for the Church to be "led by Christ" but for the Priesthood Ban to be a man-made, mistaken policy.

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Some LDS seem to believe that while Christ "leads the Church" (whatever that means), they allow for fallible leaders given latitude to make mistakes. Thus, it would still be possible for the Church to be "led by Christ" but for the Priesthood Ban to be a man-made, mistaken policy.

I would like to think that the Lord keeps the Bretheren on a shorter leash than that.

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I would like to think that the Lord keeps the Bretheren on a shorter leash than that.

We all would, ELF1024.

We all would.

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As I see it, the big moral issue of the day was the morality of slavery.

The abolitionists considered slavery to be immoral.

Young proclaimed that slavery was a divine institution.

Frankly, I don't know how anyone can consider Young to a latter day prophet of God, when he botched the greatest moral issue of his times, unless of course you think he got that issue right.

A cleverly constructed dilemma.

False, of course; but still cleverly constructed.

Slavery was not "the big moral issue of the day." It was the big political issue of the day.

And apart from that: please point out the scripture that tells us that we can distinguish true prophets from false ones by how well they have their finger on the pulse of the times.

Regards,

Pahoran

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Boldfacing text from an original source does not change "the work of the original speakers"; it merely calls attention to salient points.

The emphases do not change the words. If you underscore, or italicize, or boldface the title of a book, have you changed the title? Obviously not.

By convention, we underline or italicize the title of a book in any case.

Emphasis does change the meaning of the words though it may not change the words themselves. That's why we use emphasis.

No amount of "context" can change/mitigate BY's characterization of blacks as he viewed them in his day. BY's statement that "[we] have all sprung from the same origin" doesn't annul his characterization of blacks as ". . .uncouth, un-comely. . .low in their habits," etc.

Of course it mitigates his words.

You ignore completely the fact that Brother Brigham said that all men (including, explicitly, African blacks, were his brothers and sisters ("you are of my bones and of my flesh") and that that he explicitly said they would receive the blessings of the Priesthood when the Lord allowed it. He was in error as to the timing, but that was minor in comparison to the notions, then prevalent, that African blacks were not even human, that they had no souls, could not be saved, etc. A racist would have taken a much harsher position than any of the XIX and XX brethren did.

The quotation discriminated against blacks; hence, it smacks of racism. They were, in effect, to be seated at the back of the bus as second class children of God.

You have yet to make any argument (at least one that does not use circular reasoning: "it's racist because God would not be racist") that accounts for the possibility that Brother Brigham was doing God's will and that, therefor, his view of African blacks as children of God, although "in the back of the bus", was correct.

Why did Brother Brigham see them as his brothers and sisters, but identify them as being servants and slaves, and that due their their state as slaves, they were ignorant, uncouth, etc? Because, aside from the accurate description of their facial features, skin, and hair, everything he said about them came about because they were denied education, culture, and association with others, and he said that was the reason.

Even Church teachers of youth were taught that blacks were inferior; hence, this from The Juvenile Instructor, Vol. 3, p. 157: "Their skin is quite black, their hair woolly and black, their intelligence stunted, and they appear never to have arisen from the most savage state of barbarism."

Is any of this false? Do African blacks have "skin ... quite black"? Is their "hair woolly and black"? Was their "intelligence stunted*"? Was their an African culture that could be described as "arisen from the most savage state of barbarism"?

* "Stunted" means that, under normal conditions, the thing stunted
by some intervention
, would have been greater than it actually turned out to be. It is not the nature of the thing that made it smaller, but the intervention

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