Thursday, January 24, 2008

Priesthood ordinations and Africans

[From another conference. The topic at hand was the restriction, prior to a 1978 revelation, that prevented members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who had any amount of (black) African blood from receiving temple ordinances, and also prevented males of said descent from being ordained to the priesthood. This is commonly perceived, even among members of the Church, to have had something to do with racial prejudice. For a variety of reasons I find this implausible as an explanation for the policy, although I think it likely that attempts to explain the policy may have been influenced by or even strengthened racism within segments of the Church. -B.C.]

I guess it's time for me to post a substantive opinion rather than just commenting on others' opinions: for much of human history, the priesthood was restricted in its dessimination. Not just ordaining to the priesthood (e.g. non-Levites excluded, barring Melchizedek exceptions), but even the receiving of ordinances. Consider the poor deceased Roman who believed the gospel when he heard it and has been waiting for over 2000 years for his baptism! If, for whatever reason, it's appropriate to make many, many people wait, why not some living ones as well as dead ones? If some living people must wait, isn't the most convenient way of signalling that by arranging bloodlines? This doesn't say anything about "valiancy" (Christopher Columbus had to wait at least 400 years for his baptism), and it's quite plausible that some African saints, like that preacher in Nigeria that they tell about in Sunday school, were placed where they were specifically because they were capable of handling the job to be done at transition. Anyway, I don't see the priesthood issue as a group-identity thing at all--it's all about individuals, most of whom I haven't met and don't know nearly as well as Heavenly Father does.

So, yes, in terms of substantive position I agree with you. I think the Church policy was inspired, on purpose, and not because of concern about the opinions of Man (even members of the Church). It's an issue far more consequential than typos in the Book of Mormon (which Heavenly Father is perfectly willing to overlook until they can be corrected by [church leaders], perhaps at the instigation of Royal Skousen or whoever :)).


"The presentation or 'gift' of the Holy Ghost simply confers upon a man the right to receive at any time, when he is worthy of it and desires it, the power and light of truth of the Holy Ghost, although he may often be left to his own spirit and judgment." --Joseph F. Smith (manual, p. 69)

Be pretty if you are,
Be witty if you can,
But be cheerful if it kills you.

No comments: