Jump to content
Seriously No Politics ×

Skin Color Doesn’t Mean Skin Color


Recommended Posts

15 hours ago, Brant Gardner said:

Things we should know to approach this topic:

1) There was a belief in a dark-skinned race eliminated a white race that was promoted and probably fairly well known in the New York region. It was paralleled by the need to fit the Native Americans into a biblical framework where they didn't  otherwise fit. The lost 10 tribes trope is similar though not as specific.

2) The way the Book of Mormon was read by its earliest reception artist was particularly literal, and influenced by the cultural assumptions about the origins of the Native Americans. Many of those ideas were semi-codified for a long time because they were believed and promoted by prominent Saints (and apostles and a prophet or two--or more).

3) The idea that there was a pigmentation change is demonstrably unscientific. It just doesn't happen. This has led to a more careful reading of the text--with various results.

3a) One of the results has been to find the "real" reason behind a physical pigmentation change. This is where we get the skins argument as well as the tattoo and black body paint. None of those do more than put a bandage on the issue. They really don't explain the text.

3b) The other option has been to see the skin of blackness as metaphorical. That black/white symbolic dyad explains all the verses that fit into this equation (including the reason Joseph changed from "white and delightsome" to "pure and delightsome." 

Personally, I like the black body paint as the reason the metaphor developed as specifically "black." I tried to convince the author of that article that it was best explained as a visual image leading to the metaphor than as a description that reified the black skin. I didn't get him to change.

When you decide that you have to carefully read the text rather than react to the way it was read by the early audience, you find that there is no physical basis for any pigmentation change. The text belies the literal reading as a change in pigment. The need to find the Lamanite is one of the examples. I recently recognized another. After the Amlicite and Lamanite battle, the Nephites have to sort the dead. They determine who is a Lamanite by the shaved head. If they were black and everyone else was white, the shaved head wouldn't be needed as a distinction.

There is no final conclusion to this because we still have those who insist that a skin of blackness must be read as black skin. There are probably Church members who remember President Kimble believing that the Native American skin color actually became lighter. Those ideas will persist for a while longer. However, there is no way to consistently read the text that allows for pigmentation change.

On the other side of black is white. As the Nephite apostles and Christ are praying, they become white! I thought they already were. 😉

So in other words the LDS leaders were (once again) mistaken on what that most correct book and keystone of their religion was saying.  I will add this to my very long list of why we cannot trust what  comes from the LDS leaders mouths any more than we can trust what anyone else says.  Thank you for your help with my list.

Link to comment
15 hours ago, Brant Gardner said:

Things we should know to approach this topic:

1) There was a belief in a dark-skinned race eliminated a white race that was promoted and probably fairly well known in the New York region. It was paralleled by the need to fit the Native Americans into a biblical framework where they didn't  otherwise fit. The lost 10 tribes trope is similar though not as specific.

2) The way the Book of Mormon was read by its earliest reception artist was particularly literal, and influenced by the cultural assumptions about the origins of the Native Americans. Many of those ideas were semi-codified for a long time because they were believed and promoted by prominent Saints (and apostles and a prophet or two--or more).

3) The idea that there was a pigmentation change is demonstrably unscientific. It just doesn't happen. This has led to a more careful reading of the text--with various results.

3a) One of the results has been to find the "real" reason behind a physical pigmentation change. This is where we get the skins argument as well as the tattoo and black body paint. None of those do more than put a bandage on the issue. They really don't explain the text.

3b) The other option has been to see the skin of blackness as metaphorical. That black/white symbolic dyad explains all the verses that fit into this equation (including the reason Joseph changed from "white and delightsome" to "pure and delightsome." 

Personally, I like the black body paint as the reason the metaphor developed as specifically "black." I tried to convince the author of that article that it was best explained as a visual image leading to the metaphor than as a description that reified the black skin. I didn't get him to change.

When you decide that you have to carefully read the text rather than react to the way it was read by the early audience, you find that there is no physical basis for any pigmentation change. The text belies the literal reading as a change in pigment. The need to find the Lamanite is one of the examples. I recently recognized another. After the Amlicite and Lamanite battle, the Nephites have to sort the dead. They determine who is a Lamanite by the shaved head. If they were black and everyone else was white, the shaved head wouldn't be needed as a distinction.

There is no final conclusion to this because we still have those who insist that a skin of blackness must be read as black skin. There are probably Church members who remember President Kimble believing that the Native American skin color actually became lighter. Those ideas will persist for a while longer. However, there is no way to consistently read the text that allows for pigmentation change.

On the other side of black is white. As the Nephite apostles and Christ are praying, they become white! I thought they already were. 😉

I appreciate the facts, and your honesty. 

Link to comment
16 hours ago, blackstrap said:

When I see a group of Hell's Angels riding down the street, I can see how "skins of blackness " can be both literal and metaphorical. Mind you some of them are actually just big soft teddy bears ,right? 

Yes, but how do you create a whole society of people with that demeanor? The motorcycle club scene attracts a certain type and is probably healthier for that type than being on their own. There are cultures like Sparta where they attempted to literally traumatize their elite into that kind of predator mindset but all of Lamanite society? Unlikely.

Link to comment
15 hours ago, Calm said:

If you want to say it doesn’t have to make sense because it’s fiction and not about a real event and Joseph messed up a plot point, then just say it.

I understand your point now and while I was not using this I do think this demonstrates where Joseph was not getting his story straight.

Link to comment
1 hour ago, BlueDreams said:

it was artificially simple for decades, yes. But It was never a simple reading for me. If I had more access to voices and quotes like the ones shown in this thread, I wouldn't have had a moment of difficulty with having the clarification, because the other option was contradictory on a good day and this one leads to a far more coherent read. I assume I would have been similar to my spanish ward this weekend, who largely had no difficulty taking in my comment and a couple similar ones when it came up. 

Thanks for taking the time to share your perspective, @BlueDreams. It is much appreciated!

Link to comment
16 hours ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

If Latter-day Saints want to renegotiate the meaning of their sacred texts to root out racism, more power to them.

In a legal context, there is a concept called "legislative intent," which came to mind as I reviewed this threat.  It is described here:

Quote

In law, the legislative intent of the legislature in enacting legislation may sometimes be considered by the judiciary to interpret the law (see judicial interpretation). The judiciary may attempt to assess legislative intent where legislation is ambiguous or does not appear to directly, adequately address a particular issue, or appears to have been a legislative drafting error.

The courts have repeatedly held that when a statute is clear and unambiguous, the inquiry into legislative intent ends at that point. It is only when a statute could be interpreted in more than one fashion that legislative intent must be inferred from sources other than the actual text of the statute.

This is an important component of "statutory construction," that is, how the courts are supposed to interpret a statute when they are applying it in a legal dispute.  The "default" approach is to first ascertain whether the statutory language is "clear and unambiguous."  If it is, then the Court does not "look beyond" the statutory text, and instead just applies it in its "clear and unambiguous" form.  However, if and when a statute is found to be "ambiguous or does not appear to directly, adequately address a particular issue, or appears to have been a legislative drafting error," then the court moves past the default "just apply the statute as written" approach

See also this Utah case, which sums it up well:

Quote

“When interpreting statutes, our primary goal is to evince the true intent and purpose of the Legislature.”  State v. Martinez, 2002 UT 80, ¶ 8, 52 P.3d 1276 (internal quotation marks omitted).   The first step of statutory interpretation is to evaluate the best evidence of legislative intent:  “the plain language of the statute itself.”  Id. “When examining the statutory language we assume the legislature used each term advisedly and in accordance with its ordinary meaning.”  Id.
...
Normally, where the language of a statute is clear and unambiguous, our analysis ends;  our duty is to give effect to that plain meaning.   However, “[a]n equally well-settled caveat to the plain meaning rule states that a court should not follow the literal language of a statute if its plain meaning works an absurd result.” 
3 Savage v. Utah Youth Vill., 2004 UT 102, ¶ 18, 104 P.3d 1242.   The absurd results canon of statutory construction recognizes that although “the plain language interpretation of a statute enjoys a robust presumption in its favor, it is also true that [a legislative body] cannot, in every instance, be counted on to have said what it meant or to have meant what it said.”  FBI v. Abramson, 456 U.S. 615, 638, 102 S.Ct. 2054, 72 L.Ed.2d 376 (1982) (O'Connor, J., dissenting).
...
Thus, as is common to all rules of statutory construction, the guiding star of the absurd results doctrine is the intent of the pertinent legislative body, which limits the application of this canon of construction.   Rather than controverting legislative power, the absurd results doctrine functions to preserve legislative intent when it is narrowly applied. Pub. Citizen v. United States Dep't of Justice, 491 U.S. 440, 470, 109 S.Ct. 2558, 105 L.Ed.2d 377 (1989) (Kennedy, J., concurring) (“When used in a proper manner, this narrow exception to our normal rule of statutory construction does not intrude upon the lawmaking powers of Congress, but rather demonstrates a respect for the coequal Legislative Branch, which we assume would not act in an absurd way.”)
...

3.   In Savage v. Utah Youth Village, we also recognized that this court will disregard the plain language of a statute if it is “ ‘unreasonably confused, inoperable, or in blatant contravention of the express purpose of a statute.’ ” 2004 UT 102, ¶ 18, 104 P.3d 1242 (quoting Perrine v. Kennecott Mining Corp., 911 P.2d 1290, 1292 (Utah 1996)).   Because we hold that Utah Code section 76-5-404.1 produces an absurd result in this case, we do not address other exceptions to the plain meaning rule.

See also here:

Quote

A. The Absurdity Doctrine Is "Strong Medicine."

¶ 43 The absurdity principle has two branches. "We apply the absurd consequences canon to resolve ambiguities in a statute. If statutory language lends itself to two alternative readings, we choose the reading that avoids absurd consequences." Utley v. Mill Man Steel, Inc. , 2015 UT 75, ¶ 46, 357 P.3d 992 (Durrant, C.J., concurring in part and dissenting in part) (footnote omitted). "The absurdity doctrine, by contrast, has nothing to do with resolving ambiguities. Rather, we apply this canon to reform unambiguous statutory language where applying the plain language leads to results so overwhelmingly absurd no rational legislator could have intended them." Id. (Durrant, C.J., concurring in part and dissenting in part). Invocation of the absurdity doctrine is a "far more momentous step" than invocation of the absurd consequences canon. Id. ¶ 47 (Durrant, C.J., concurring in part and dissenting in part).

¶ 44 The absurdity doctrine serves as a crucial safety valve in our system of justice. Nevertheless, it "is a drastic step, one we have described as ‘strong medicine, not to be administered lightly.’ " Id. ¶ 48 (Durrant, C.J., concurring in part and dissenting in part) (citation omitted). Because the text of an unambiguous statute "is almost always irrefutable evidence of the legislature's intent," we will override the plain language under the absurdity doctrine only where the result it mandates is "so overwhelmingly absurd that no rational legislator could have intended the statute to operate in such a manner." Id. (Durrant, C.J., concurring in part and dissenting in part).

¶ 45 "In defining the parameters of what constitutes an absurd result," we have "note[d] the inherent tension in this canon of construction between refraining from blind obedience to the letter of the law that leads to patently absurd ends and avoiding an improper usurpation of legislative power through judicial second guessing of the wisdom of a legislative act." State ex rel. Z.C. , 2007 UT 54, ¶ 12, 165 P.3d 1206. "Thus, as is common to all rules of statutory construction, the guiding star of the absurd results doctrine is the intent of the pertinent legislative body, which limits the application of this canon of construction. Rather than controverting legislative power, the absurd results doctrine functions to preserve legislative intent when it is narrowly applied." Id.

¶ 46 However, the doctrine is virtually standardless. "Other than the directive that a result must be so absurd that the legislative body which authored the legislation could not have intended it, there is no precise legal standard to determine what legislatures would consider to be an absurd result." Id. ¶ 13 (citing Veronica M. Dougherty, Absurdity and the Limits of Literalism: Defining the Absurd Result Principle in Statutory Interpretation , 44 AM. U. L. REV. 127, 128 (1994) ). Frequently the determination of absurdity "requires a further reference to a variety of underlying values that are deeply embedded in our legal system and in our culture," Dougherty, supra ¶46 at 164–65, or, otherwise stated, "an ill-defined set of background social values identified on an ad hoc basis by the Court," John F. Manning, The Absurdity Doctrine , 116 HARV. L. REV . 2387, 2486 (2003). Accordingly, "the difficulty of defining absurdity, and the historical lack of attempts to do so, can ... be explained in part by the fact that the principle represents a collection of values that are fundamental to our legal system, yet seldom made explicit in the course of the principle's application." Dougherty, supra ¶46, at 165.

¶ 47 A relatively non-controversial use of the absurdity doctrine is to correct obvious linguistic errors.

Take the scrivener's error. Sometimes a statute will misspell "third party" as "third partly." Or provide that the "winning party" rather than the "losing party" must pay the other side's reasonable attorney's fees. In cases like these, the error in the statute is so "unthinkable" that any reasonable reader would know immediately both (1) that it contains a "technical or ministerial" mistake, and (2) the correct meaning of the text.

Lexington Ins. Co. v. Precision Drilling Co. , 830 F.3d 1219, 1223 (10th Cir. 2016) (Gorsuch, J., writing for himself alone in this portion of the opinion) (citing ANTONIN SCALIA & BRYAN A. GARNER, READING LAW 235 (2012)).

¶ 48 But a more substantive use of the doctrine, though legitimate, nevertheless exists in tension with both the doctrine of separation of powers and the textualist approach to statutory interpretation. See, e.g. , Manning, supra ¶46 at 2391 ("The Constitution's sharp separation of lawmaking from judging reflects a rule-of-law tradition that seeks to preclude legislatures from making ad hoc exceptions to generally worded laws. By asking judges to carve out statutory exceptions on the ground that the legislature would have done so, the absurdity doctrine calls on judges to approximate the very behavior that the norm of separation seeks to forbid."); id. at 2392 ("Thus, for those who accept ... the textualists' premises about the legislative process and the constitutional structure, a principled understanding of textualism would necessarily entail abandoning the absurdity doctrine."). For example, one federal judge has argued that deploying the absurdity doctrine to overrule plain statutory text would "risk offending the separation of powers by purporting to endow a court with the power to disregard a possible statutory application not because of its linguistic implausibility but because of a judgment about the implausibility of its consequences as a matter of social policy." Lexington Ins. Co. , 830 F.3d at 1222 (Gorsuch, J., writing for himself alone in this portion of the opinion). 

¶ 49 The absurdity that the majority sees in section 201 is not of the non-controversial, linguistic sort. Section 201 is not "linguistically incoherent." See United States v. Head , 552 F.3d 640, 643 (7th Cir. 2009), superseded by statute on other grounds, as recognized by United States v. Anderson , 583 F.3d 504 (7th Cir. 2009). Rather, in the majority's view, it "makes a bad substantive choice," see id.

In other words, I think the process kind of goes like this:

  • Step 1: Evaluate whether the statute, as written, is "clear and unambiguous."  If it is clear and unambiguous, go to Step 2.  If it is not (that is, the language of the statute is unclear and ambiguous), go to Step 3.
  • Step 2: Evaluate whether applying the clear and unambiguous statute "as written" would (A) necessarily lead to absurd results, or (B) render the statute "unreasonably confused, inoperable, or in blatant contravention of the express purpose of a statute."  If such application would lead to (A) or (B), go to Step 5.  If such application would not lead to either (A) or (B), then apply the statute as written.
  • Step 3: Evaluate whether the statute is "ambiguous" only insofar as it lends itself to two alternative readings, one of which "avoids absurd consequences."  If a non-absurd reading exists, go to Step 4.  If all readings lead to absurd results, go to Step 5.
  • Step 4: Having ascertained that the ambiguously-worded statute lends itself to two alternative readings, one of which "avoids absurd consequences," interpret and apply the statute according to that reading.
  • Step 5: Having ascertained that applying the unambiguously clear statute as written necessarily leads to "absurd consequences," or else having ascertained that there are no ambiguities which might create a non-absurd reading of the statute, depart from applying the statute as written and reform the statutory language so that an absurd result is not reached.

This stuff came to mind as I considered the various perspectives on the BoM text's treatment, or apparent treatment, of "skin" color.  Unlike a statute written by a legislature well-versed in English and living in our era, the Book of Mormon purports to be a divinely-administered translation of an abridgement of a large number of ancient texts written by many different authors in different contexts and at different times over the course of about 1,000 years.  Some ambiguity and lack of clarity must be anticipated by the reader.

Given these considerations, we cannot resort to simply applying the text "as written."  We must construe.  We must interpret.  In so doing, the foregoing analysis may be helpful.

Are there interpretations of the text that render it "unreasonably confused"?  I think so.  Consider this comment:

Quote

Are prophets in the Book of Mormon racist?

Yes, in that some of them expressed ethnocentric[4] beliefs against different tribes using racist language.[5] However, some of those same prophets also taught against racial prejudice.[6]
...

The text has both A) indications of ethnocentrism (and/or "racism" as we understand it), and B) denunciations of such types differentiation (“all are alike unto God,” including “black and white, bond and free, male and female” (2 Nephi 26:33); "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" (Jacob 3:9).  A reading of the text that involves both seemingly endorsing X and condemning X would, in my view, be absurd.

Given this ambiguity and lack of clarity, I think the next step is to evaluate whether we can construe the text to reach a non-absurd result.  Is that possible?  I think so. 

  • We can acknowledge that the authors of the BoM text, being "Nephite," and being imperfect human beings, may have harbored some problematic perceptions of the Lamanites.
  • We can acknowledge that the authors of the BoM text lived in a variety of milieus, all of which were substantially different from our own.  We can also acknowledge that the transmission of the text may have created impediments to having a fully-formed understanding of authorial intent.  Consequently, we ought to take pains to avoid presentism and similar fallacies when interpreting their written statements.
  • We can acknowledge that several passages in the BoM text which speak to "skin" and "blackness" and/or "darkness" lend themselves quite readily to a non-racist and/or symbolic interpretations and meanings.
  • We can acknowledge that early Latter-day Saint leaders, and even some more recent ones, may have erroneously viewed the BoM text through a lens smudged and distorted by the "cultural assumptions about the origins of the Native Americans" referenced by Brant Gardner, and by the broader racialism prevalent in America in the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • We can read the text of the Book of Mormon, while at the same time allow ourselves to be influenced by modern prophets and apostles, who are situated to guide and correct us as necessary and appropriate.

And so on.  

I think these acknowledgments create room for a readily plausible and "non-absurd" interpretation of the BoM text.  Indeed, I think this interpretation makes a lot more sense than a strictly literal approach.

16 hours ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

I just wish, while they were at it, they would hurry up and accept their gay brothers and sisters too.

We do.

I suspect that, like as we do with the Book of Mormon, we must interpret and construe what you are saying.  I suspect that when you say "accept," you mean "exempt them from the Law of Chastity."

I am open to the theoretical possibility that the Church will "disavow" its teachings regarding homosexual behavior, but only in a de minimis sort of way.  "We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God."  (AoF 1:9). 

That said, I doubt it will ever happen.  It just does not seem to be part of The Plan.  The Church's teachings about the Law of Chastity have not changed in any substantive way, even though we are half a century into the Sexual Revolution.  The Church has changed its tone and tenor of how it treats members of the Church who engage in sexual sin.  But the designation of things like fornication and homosexual behavior has not changed one lick.  So speculation about the Church being on some sort of inexorable trajectory toward ratifying same-sex behavior is, in my view, unwarranted.

16 hours ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

There is WAY more scriptural support for God using skin color as a marker of disfavor than there is of divine displeasure with homosexuality. 

Reasonable minds can disagree about such things.

As it happens, though, we are not limited to scriptural authority.  Living prophets and apostles are, in my view, one of the greatest features of the Restored Gospel.  If any of them were giving indications of a sea change in the Law of Chastity, I'm sure you would be shouting it from the rooftops.  As it happens, they have not done this, nor have they given any indication that they will in the future. 

From then-Elder Oaks' October 13 talk:

Quote

There are many political and social pressures for legal and policy changes to establish behaviors contrary to God’s decrees about sexual morality and contrary to the eternal nature and purposes of marriage and childbearing. These pressures have already authorized same-gender marriages in various states and nations. Other pressures would confuse gender or homogenize those differences between men and women that are essential to accomplish God’s great plan of happiness.

Has the Church substantially altered its position on any of this in the decade+ since Elder Oaks said this?  I don't think so.

Quote

Our understanding of God’s plan and His doctrine gives us an eternal perspective that does not allow us to condone such behaviors or to find justification in the laws that permit them. And, unlike other organizations that can change their policies and even their doctrines, our policies are determined by the truths God has identified as unchangeable.

Our twelfth article of faith states our belief in being subject to civil authority and “in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” But man’s laws cannot make moral what God has declared immoral. Commitment to our highest priority—to love and serve God—requires that we look to His law for our standard of behavior. For example, we remain under divine command not to commit adultery or fornication even when those acts are no longer crimes under the laws of the states or countries where we reside. Similarly, laws legalizing so-called “same-sex marriage” do not change God’s law of marriage or His commandments and our standards concerning it. We remain under covenant to love God and keep His commandments and to refrain from serving other gods and priorities—even those becoming popular in our particular time and place.

I think this is a fair point.  The Church is no more likely to ratify same-sex behavior than it is to ratify extra-marital heterosexual sex.

Quote

In this determination we may be misunderstood, and we may incur accusations of bigotry, suffer discrimination, or have to withstand invasions of our free exercise of religion. If so, I think we should remember our first priority—to serve God—and, like our pioneer predecessors, push our personal handcarts forward with the same fortitude they exhibited.

"We may incur accusations of bigotry."  Boy, ain't that the truth.

Quote

A teaching of President Thomas S. Monson applies to this circumstance. At this conference 27 years ago, he boldly declared: “Let us have the courage to defy the consensus, the courage to stand for principle. Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God’s approval. Courage becomes a living and an attractive virtue when it is regarded not only as a willingness to die manfully, but as the determination to live decently. A moral coward is one who is afraid to do what he thinks is right because others will disapprove or laugh. Remember that all men have their fears, but those who face their fears with dignity have courage as well.”

I really like this quote.  It is mirrored in one I have had in my signature line for many years now (attributed to Evette Carter):

"'Conformity' is doing what everybody else is doing, regardless of what is right.  'Morality' is doing what is right, regardless of what everybody else is doing."

Quote

I pray that we will not let the temporary challenges of mortality cause us to forget the great commandments and priorities we have been given by our Creator and our Savior. We must not set our hearts so much on the things of the world and aspire to the honors of men (see D&C 121:35) that we stop trying to achieve our eternal destiny. We who know God’s plan for His children—we who have made covenants to participate in it—have a clear responsibility. We must never deviate from our paramount desire, which is to achieve eternal life. We must never dilute our first priority—to have no other gods and to serve no other priorities ahead of God the Father and His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Sage words, these.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
Link to comment
3 hours ago, Teancum said:

THe scriptures, it they really are a message from God, should not be come difficult to understand what they mean.  For the Bible it seems that one needs a degree similar to what Dan McClellan has in order to understand the words.  It seems like a sloppy way for an all powerful supernatural being to get its message out.

I agree for living better lives’ principles…though with some qualifications I won’t address here unless you want me too (essentially I don’t see the eternal purpose of life being fulfilled when stuff is easy).  The storytelling part which acts as a framework for teaching principles and often seems to be irrelevant to morality or spirituality except for transitioning between such teachings in many cases is, imo, more dependent on the author than on God and there is no reason the difficulty level shouldn’t vary with the quality of the author and editors and/or translator.  There are a lot of the Book of Mormon war stories that I find pretty useless unless one is into the story.

As for a Ph.D being needed for a book that was written thousands of years ago and given how culture can change dramatically in even 100 years (though of course it would change slower with less change in the physical and social environment and how language change overtime, why would you expect something easy to read?

I would expect something like the Family Proclamation and conference talks dating back 100 years to be easily understood for 2020 English speakers.  Once the culture starts changing, then idioms may create issues as well as changing definitions, so difficulty should increase the further back you go for any text.  When using a different origin language and translation is required, it would depend on how congruent each language is with each other, is there a lot of overlap or not.
 

I don’t see why God would inspire Nephi or Joseph Smith to write in text that was easy for people in 2020 to understand  because it would be difficult for their own people to understand. 

Edited by Calm
Link to comment
2 hours ago, BlueDreams said:

This seems like a misuse of the word gaslight. No one is saying that these passages were never taken to mean skintone or race and that there weren't commonly accepted interpretations that was apart of mainstream LDS thought for much of church history that assumed this to one degree or another. That would be "gaslight-y." 

Shifting positions and saying let's move away from a modern lens that over focuses on race as a defining marker Is not gaslighting. Pointing to a less contradictory and more internally consistent interpretation of scripture is not the same as a psychological shorthand for a form of emotional abuse. Personally it really annoys me when people over extend the definition of gaslighting to mean just about any form of argument or discussion that encourages people to re-examine beliefs and perceptions. That is a healthy and necessary activity. No one grows if that can't be a thing. 

That form of mental shift is not the same as the mental manipulation I see my clients who are emotionally abused go through. Its a real phenomenon that is really dangerous to the person's mental health and grasp of reality. This tik tok vid is by no means that, even though I somewhat disagree (I'm not a fan of promoting it as a single tangible thing. My personal interpretation was that it was a shorthand for several things that was antithetical to nephite customs and safety). Disagreement about the meaning in a book is not a sign of being gaslit. It's a sign that we can differ in opinion in the church. 

As for actual church position, the current one is the one in the gospel topics essay about race and priesthood. 

There isn't an asterisk saying *except in the book of Mormon where it clearly states otherwise and no other interpretation could reasonably be made of said passages. 

The current method that it is taught in come follow me is with this statement, which quotes extensively from gospel topics: 

So basically the official statement is we don't fully know what was meant. There's no statement saying that people shouldn't explore the context to better understand the language used from a non-racialized lens. 

We are in a church that believes in continuing revelation and restoration. We're not beholden to everything past leaders assumed. Reinterpreting scriptures was there from the start and was a foundational concept in our faith. It shouldn't be surprising that an old racist interpretation is dying out as an explanation for these passages as we collectively grow away from that aspect of our past. It shouldn't be surprising that as old theories are disavowed new ones are sprouting up that are more consistent with the actual context of the BOM texts, let alone the Church's current position. It's not a bug, it's a feature of the church.*

 

 

*Also not saying there are ways the church could potentially do this better. 

 

With luv,

BD 

This argument could work if the church was an organization practiced at the above attitude: 

"We don't know, we were wrong and we are likely still wrong about many things."

But it is not, and so when someone who is promoting the church also promotes these apologetics, it does in my opinion feel abusive. The psychological abuse draws from the authority it proclaims to have and which the church exercised in the past and still exercises. 

Tell me, at what point these type of apologetics are supposed to matter according to the church? The church does not move position based on an argument's merits. 

That's the crux here.

We've been taught that we should seek truth from any source (wonderful) and that we are to receive continuing revelation, but we've also been taught that we should obey for obedience's sake, that we should obey leaders even if they're wrong, and even that maybe God intentionally inspired us to go the wrong way for our own good, further entrenching the concept of obedience not based on what is right.

 

 

Link to comment
1 hour ago, BlueDreams said:

For better and worse, this is not how the church tends to shift on things. They're not into big repudiations. What usually happens is that it goes quiet and theres a quiet correction in how contemporary material words things.

Of course they are not into repudiations. It brings into severe questions their claims to be prophets, seers and revelators.  I

1 hour ago, BlueDreams said:

 

That's what's happened in the last 20 years or so. Find me a single statement in the last 2 decades from an apostle or prophet that talks about this topic to the general people. I can't think of a single one. 

Likely you are correct.  I would imagine talking about how the American Indians are turning white as they accept Mormonism is probably not in vogue much following the change on the priesthood ban in 1978. It like McConkie sates-"Just forget everything we ever said" about the priesthood ban. 

But you know this ideas that the Lamanites skin was turned dark and that it would become white as an American Indian accepted the LDS gospel had sever repercussions. Just look at the debacle of the Indian Placement Program the church had going on for decades.  I still remember what we called the Indian School when I was small little lad in Brigham City Utah in the 60s. But hey, they just misunderstood the text right? 

Link to comment
16 minutes ago, Teancum said:

But you know this ideas that the Lamanites skin was turned dark and that it would become white as an American Indian accepted the LDS gospel had sever repercussions. Just look at the debacle of the Indian Placement Program the church had going on for decades.  I still remember what we called the Indian School when I was small little lad in Brigham City Utah in the 60s. But hey, they just misunderstood the text right? 

The Indian School in Brigham City isn't related to the Indian Placement Program (IPP).  That school (officially called "Intermountain Indian School") was a government run school that started in 1950.  The IPP didn't start until 1954.  Those in the Indian Placement Program wouldn't have gone to that school.  The Intermountain Indian School was a boarding school while the IPP was a foster home program.  I originally thought that they were the same but the big "I" on the mountain was still being maintained and that caused me to look up why it hadn't been removed (since I knew of the issues with the IPP) and found out that graduates from the school have a reunion every year where they clean up the "I" and that it was different from the IPP.

Link to comment
18 minutes ago, Teancum said:

But you know this ideas that the Lamanites skin was turned dark and that it would become white as an American Indian accepted the LDS gospel had sever repercussions. Just look at the debacle of the Indian Placement Program the church had going on for decades.  I still remember what we called the Indian School when I was small little lad in Brigham City Utah in the 60s. But hey, they just misunderstood the text right? 

I don't see a connection between the "Lamanites skin was turned dark and that it would become white" thing and the IPP.  Could you elaborate?

I am also not sure the IPP can be aptly described as a "debacle."  See here:

Quote

Results[edit]

Although multiple studies have been conducted of the program, not many are from the Native American perspective. One study gathered the oral histories of twenty-three participants from the Navajo Reservation for this study in order to better understand the effects of the Indian Placement Program. All of the subjects were around 33 years old at the time of the study and were born on the Navajo reservation. The sample consisted of 22 interviewees. The group consisted of seven men and fifteen women. At any one time, this ratio indicated the Program's ratio. All of them had completed high school, ten had attended college, and four had received college diplomas. When the program began, all of the participants were of varying ages. Fourteen of the students were under the age of ten, eighteen were under the age of thirteen, and the remaining three were in their senior or junior year of high school. Fourteen percent had three or more foster families, 43 percent had a single foster family, and another 43 percent had two separate foster families. According to the study, the average length of time spent in the program was about seven years. The participants in the study all claimed to be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It looks to be predominantly made up of success stories, according to the study's results.[15] As recorded, about one-third of the participants stayed in the program until graduation from high school. 40 percent of students decided to drop out of the program, and 15 percent of students left the program because of their parents' wishes or needs. Students who did drop out were still more likely to finish high school than were Native American peers who had not participated in the program. Students in the Indian Placement Program had an 82 percent graduation rate. Studies found that the "longer students remained in the program, the more likely they were to be employed and to earn high incomes" and also to marry.[6]

Hmm.

Quote

 

Criticism[edit]

Beginning in the 1970s however, the Indian Placement Program was increasingly criticized. In 1977, the U.S. government commissioned a study to investigate accusations that the church was using its influence to push children into joining the program. The commission found that the program was largely positive, and enjoyed emphatic support both from Native American parents and white foster parents.[16]: 194–195  Critics "view intervention as an intrusion on the right to be fully Native American, a weakening of cultural pluralism, and a cause of psychological damage."[7] Most of the students came from the Navajo Nation.

Again, hmm.

Unfortunately, there were some tragic unintended consequences: 

Quote

Sexual abuse litigation[edit]

On March 22, 2016, two members of the Navajo Nation, (plaintiffs "RJ" and "MM") filed a complaint in Navajo Nation District Court (a tribal court) against LDS Family Services and against the Corporation of the President, alleging sexual abuse during their foster placement in the Indian Placement Program from 1976 to 1983.[17][18] Their complaint was amended April 21.[19]

On May 31, 2016, a third Navajo plaintiff ("BN") filed a lawsuit alleging abuse from 1965 to 1972.[20] On June 6, a fourth plaintiff ("LK") sued in Navajo Nation District Court.[21]

Also on May 31, attorneys for the LDS Church petitioned for declaratory judgement in the United States District Court for the District of Utah (not the tribal court), seeking both a declaration that the tribal court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the Church, and an order enjoining the lawsuit from proceeding in tribal court. Because the Church's suit was filed against the Navajo plaintiffs in the District Court, the Church becomes the plaintiff in the federal jurisdiction.[22] On June 3, LDS Church attorneys expanded their motion to Judge Robert Shelby in District Court to include plaintiff BN, and amended their response to seek a federal order restraining the tribal court from proceeding.[23]

In November 2016, Federal district court judge Robert Shelby denied the church's motion to dismiss and ruled that it first had to "exhaust all remedies" in Tribal Court. Shelby wrote that:

[...] it was necessary to allow the Navajo Nation courts to develop the factual record, because "the existing record is significantly incomplete concerning the nature and scope of the agreements [between the LDS Church and the defendants], and any nexus between those agreements and the alleged conduct" alleged in the Doe Defendants' complaints.[4]

By ordering the LDS Church to first exhaust its legal remedies in tribal court, Shelby said that the Navajo Nation judicial system would then be able to assess the facts of the case and whether jurisdiction was on the table. Further, it would allow the Navajo courts time to analyze the complex legal and factual issues at hand—thus advancing Congress's explicit policy in promoting tribal self-governance and the development of tribal court jurisprudence.[4]

This ruling is considered a major victory for tribal jurisprudence.[4]

Thanks,

-Smac

Link to comment
2 minutes ago, webbles said:
Quote

But you know this ideas that the Lamanites skin was turned dark and that it would become white as an American Indian accepted the LDS gospel had sever repercussions. Just look at the debacle of the Indian Placement Program the church had going on for decades.  I still remember what we called the Indian School when I was small little lad in Brigham City Utah in the 60s. But hey, they just misunderstood the text right? 

The Indian School in Brigham City isn't related to the Indian Placement Program (IPP).  That school (officially called "Intermountain Indian School") was a government run school that started in 1950.  The IPP didn't start until 1954.  Those in the Indian Placement Program wouldn't have gone to that school.  The Intermountain Indian School was a boarding school while the IPP was a foster home program. 

While the IPP was administered by the Church, the Intermountain Indian School was a secular program.

Thanks,

-Smac

Link to comment
20 hours ago, Kevin Christensen said:

>The phrase “skin of blackness” is only used once in the Book of Mormon as part of Nephi’s unabridged account of his life and prophecies. This makes the phrase, as Gerrit Steenblik has pointed out, “unusual” and suggests it might be unique to the ancient Near East culture that Nephi was familiar with. Support for this suggestion comes from the fact that in a prominent treaty dating to around Nephi’s time we also find something similar to Nephi’s phrase “skin of blackness.” In the Succession Treaty of King Esarhaddon, “skin black as pitch” seems to be used as a motif for death in relation to being cursed. Understood in this way, the phrase “skin of blackness” brings to mind the promise found in Deuteronomy of “life and death, blessing and cursing” (Deut. 30:19) and the need to hearken to the Lord and his appointed representative. This understanding is consistent with Lehi’s plea to choose life and not death (2 Ne. 2:27–29) and avoid being cursed by trusting in Nephi’s leadership (2 Ne. 1:21).

My testimony would not be shaken if Nephi and the Nephites had some elements of racism to them. Culturally speaking, it would be surprising to me if they didn't have any of such. Laman and Lemuel probably merged their group with the extant populations quickly and whatever genetic fairness of skin they had drifted darker sooner. Nephi and his initial group may have intermarried less with the extant population (such that Mormon could later say he was a "pure descendant" of Lehi later) and the genetic fairness of skin drifted less quickly. Nevertheless, it inexorably would have drifted so that later authors never bothered with any biases associated with skin color (but they may have found other "race" identifiers).

This interpretation in no way invalidates Kevin Christensen's excellent post. Indeed, I don't see both interpretations as mutually exclusive.


PS: For fun, one can read about White Mexicans.

Link to comment
29 minutes ago, webbles said:

The Indian School in Brigham City isn't related to the Indian Placement Program (IPP).  That school (officially called "Intermountain Indian School") was a government run school that started in 1950.  The IPP didn't start until 1954.  Those in the Indian Placement Program wouldn't have gone to that school.  The Intermountain Indian School was a boarding school while the IPP was a foster home program.  I originally thought that they were the same but the big "I" on the mountain was still being maintained and that caused me to look up why it hadn't been removed (since I knew of the issues with the IPP) and found out that graduates from the school have a reunion every year where they clean up the "I" and that it was different from the IPP.

Thanks for the clarification.  I was only 5 to 10 years old at the time. I knew a lot of Navajo kids.  There was a friend of my older brother that was living with a family that was a Navajo teen.  But thinking back he did not attend the Intermountain Indian School.

Link to comment

 

1 hour ago, smac97 said:
17 hours ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

I just wish, while they were at it, they would hurry up and accept their gay brothers and sisters too.

1 hour ago, smac97 said:

I suspect that, like as we do with the Book of Mormon, we must interpret and construe what you are saying. 

No. Just like modern day Latter-day Saints are attempting to reinterpret their scriptures in a less racist way, they can in reinterpret the law of chastity in a less homophobic way. That is, there is no need for an exemption. There was only a misunderstanding of what the scriptures and lord meant by the Law of Chastity. Just like there was no darkening of the skin, only a misunderstanding of what the scriptures and the Lord meant by those words.

Link to comment
17 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

No. Just like modern day Latter-day Saints are attempting to reinterpret their scriptures in a less racist way, they can in reinterpret the law of chastity in a less homophobic way.

Boy, what an overused rhetorical maneuver this is.  These days it's borderline cliché.

There is nothing about the Law of Chastity that demonstrated fear or hatred of people with same-sex attraction.

17 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

That is, there is no need for an exemption.  There was only a misunderstanding of what the scriptures and lord meant by the Law of Chastity.

Not even you can say this with a straight face, let alone those of us who believe that the Brethren really are prophets and apostles.

The "Law of Chastity" is, like many doctrines, a matter of construction.  Again, we are not limited to scriptural authority.  Living prophets and apostles are, in my view, one of the greatest features of the Restored Gospel.  If any of them were giving indications of a sea change in the Law of Chastity, I'm sure you would be shouting it from the rooftops.  As it happens, they have not done this, nor have they given any indication that they will in the future. 

17 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

Just like there was no darkening of the skin, only a misunderstanding of what the scriptures and the Lord meant by those words.

Nothing like.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
Link to comment
19 hours ago, Teancum said:

Please find me any LDS leader with authority that advocate this approach to the BoM language that talks about the curse being a skin of darkness. 

See this is what LDS defenders do.  They move the goalposts. Constantly.  If the text meant something other than what is says why didn't God inspire Joseph Smith to translate it into the most correct book into what it really means?

The church moved the goalposts when they published the essays on race and specifically stated:  the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.

And since then the church has been trying to get members to catch up. 

Quote

 If the text meant something other than what is says why didn't God inspire Joseph Smith to translate it into the most correct book into what it really means?

Because no one is saying that JS's translation was incorrect.  We are saying that our interpretation of it just needed some work.  BlueDreams has posted a great post on it so I'll just ditto what she has said on the subject.

Link to comment
2 hours ago, webbles said:

The leaders of the church have been dealing with this dichotomy a long time.  We've been taught since the beginning that we can ask God about any questions and get them from Him.  And then, we have many instances of people doing that and being told to stop.  First instance I can think of is Hiram Page in 1830 and we have section 28 to stop him.  I have two instances in my family history where people prayed and received a revelation in direct contradiction with the church's teachings.  Both were around polygamy.  One felt that they must practice polygamy around 1920.  The other (along with most of the leaders in the branch) felt they should practice the Law of Consecration which included consecrating their wives to each other (more of a wife sharing or wife swapping than normal Mormon polygamy).

I feel the church leaders swing back and forth on this.  In sometimes, it is encouraged to think for oneself and other times, it is discouraged.

Maybe the dichotomy exists because, while we must think for ourselves, we are no more foolproof than our leaders are in what we think the spirit is telling us.  If they are likely to get some stuff wrong then we are just as likely to do the same.

That's an annoying position for both members and leaders to be in, but it is what it is.

Link to comment
2 hours ago, Teancum said:

So in other words the LDS leaders were (once again) mistaken on what that most correct book and keystone of their religion was saying.  I will add this to my very long list of why we cannot trust what  comes from the LDS leaders mouths any more than we can trust what anyone else says.  Thank you for your help with my list.

Apostles are “special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world” (D&C 107:23).  

Joseph Smith said: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”

Collectively, the Brethren have never let us down in regard to their being "special witnesses" and speaking of the foregoing "fundamental principles."

Here and there, the Brethren have erred as to "appendages," including about some important - and yet still derivative and secondary - issues.

I just don't have it in me to judge and condemn 19th-century men, and 20th-century men, for their failings and moral blindspots.  Not when I have so many of my own.  So it's Mormon 9:31 on that.  Outside of it, my assessment of the Brethren is that they are overwhelmingly good and decent and wise people, and good leaders.  They are, in most respects, very trustworthy, and particularly as to their "special witnesses" responsibilities.

Thanks,

-Smac

Link to comment
1 hour ago, smac97 said:

I am also not sure the IPP can be aptly described as a "debacle."  See here:

Success, as defined by the church, was not merely based on educational and economic success, but also on a "lifelong commitment to the faith".   It was a proselytizing tool. 

In that sense it was a debacle in the same way that baseball baptisms were a debacle.  "If you want to participate, let me introduce you to Elders ______".    Missionaries had quotas, and they would "baptize children to go on placement just to fill their quotas". 

It was a miserable debacle in that sense. 

It also was a net negative in other areas too, including the loss of cultural identity and traditions by many native children.  As compared to those who didn't enter the program, those who did were statistically more likely to not identify as Native American. 

Cut your hair, change your clothes, remove you from your home, your parents, your culture, your heritage, require baptism to participate you into a church and place you with a white family that knows nothing of your culture and traditions who are being guided by a prophet who is attempting to eradicate their "superstitions" - Ya, there is the effects of all that too that needs to be taken into account.   Some of it is addressed in the links I provided. 

 

 

Link to comment
30 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Apostles are “special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world” (D&C 107:23).  

Joseph Smith said: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”

Collectively, the Brethren have never let us down in regard to their being "special witnesses" and speaking of the foregoing "fundamental principles."

Here and there, the Brethren have erred as to "appendages," including about some important - and yet still derivative and secondary - issues.

I just don't have it in me to judge and condemn 19th-century men, and 20th-century men, for their failings and moral blindspots.  Not when I have so many of my own.  So it's Mormon 9:31 on that.  Outside of it, my assessment of the Brethren is that they are overwhelmingly good and decent and wise people, and good leaders.  They are, in most respects, very trustworthy, and particularly as to their "special witnesses" responsibilities.

Thanks,

-Smac

Just as Elder Uchtdorf mentioned in the following talk. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2013/10/come-join-with-us?lang=eng

And, to be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles, or doctrine.

I suppose the Church would be perfect only if it were run by perfect beings. God is perfect, and His doctrine is pure. But He works through us—His imperfect children—and imperfect people make mistakes.

Link to comment
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...