My nephew, Nephi, just came home from his mission and, of course, is planning on attending the Lord's University, even BYU. He stopped by unexpectedly for a chat with Brother Young and myself. He admitted that he had some concerns that needing resolving. He told us about the new essays the church is putting on their website to resolve member's concerns that could other wise be faith demoting to individuals striving to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ in his one true church.
He pulled up a copy of the essay that was giving him concerns. It is the Race and the Priesthood essay. He read to us the paragraph that stated,
"Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects 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."
He turned to us and said, "My problem is that church leaders have actually stated the things mentioned in that paragraph." We have a vast amount of gospel books, and he proceeded to show us quotes.
He showed us this quote by the former prophet, Joseph Fielding Smith in his book "The Way to Perfection" on pages 101-102.
"Not only was Cain called upon to suffer, but because of his wickedness he became the father of an inferior race. A curse placed upon him and that curse has been continued through his lineage and must do so while time endures. Millions of souls have come into this world cursed with a black skin and have been denied the privilege of Priesthood and the fullness of the blessings of the Gospel. These are the descendants of Cain. Moreover, they have been made to feel their inferiority and have been separated from the rest of mankind from the beginning.... we will also hope that blessings may eventually be given to our negro brethren, for they are our brethren‑children of God‑not withstanding their black covering emblematical of eternal darkness."
and we turned to page 43 of the same book and read:
"That negro race, for instance, have been placed under restrictions because of their attitude in the world of spirits, few will doubt. It cannot be looked upon as just that they should be deprived of the power of the Priesthood without it being a punishment for some act, or acts, performed before they were born."
Bruce R. McConkie stated in his book Mormon Doctrine, on pages 107-108:
In a broad general sense, caste systems have their origin in the gospel itself, and when they operate according to the divine decree, the resultant restrictions and segregation are right and proper and have the approval of the lord. To illustrate: Cain, Ham, and the whole negro race have been cursed with a black skin, the mark of Cain, so they can be identified as a caste apart, a people with whom the other descendants of Adam should not intermarry.
and on pages 527-528 of the same book:
Negroes in this life are denied the Priesthood; under no circumstances can they hold this delegation of authority from the Almighty. (Abra. 1:20-27.) The gospel message of salvation is not carried affirmatively to them... negroes are not equal with other races where the receipt of certain spiritual blessings are concerned, particularly the priesthood and the temple blessings that flow there from, but this inequality is not of man's origin. It is the Lord's doing, is based on his eternal laws of justice, and grows out of the lack of Spiritual valiance of those concerned in their first estate."
and from John Taylor in the Journal of Discourses, Volume 22, Page 304."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 as well as God..."
Nephi asked us, "How can the church claim these are just 'theories" when there are many quotes that verify that the church taught that black people are inferior, intermarrying is a sin and that the Curse of Cain was a sign of divine disfavor because of some sin commited in the preexistance?"
Readers, the spirit told me exactly what I needed to say in this instance. "Nephi, have you ever heard the term 'speaking as a man'?"
"well, yeah" he answered.
Brother Young continued, "These quotes were stated before the Lord revealed greater light and knowledge to the prophets who rescind these theories. We know that they were not doctrine at all, but simply theories given by our prophets who were speaking as man."
Nephi raised an eyebrow, "But who could it not be doctrine when it is also in our sacred scriptures?" We then got our well used quad out and looked up scriptures.
Moses 7:22 reads: they were a mixture of all the seed of Adam save it was the seed of Cain, for the seed of Cain were black, and had not place among them.
Moses 7:8 reads: there was a blackness came upon all the children of Canaan, that they were despised among all people . .
Alma 3:6 And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men.
I looked at Nephi and said, "Apparently, Alma and Moses were speaking as men, as well. Our church doctrine clearly states what the inspired essay says. We are not racist, and were never racist. We disavow any racism, no matter where it comes from. The important thing that we need to focus on is that the church is true, not some flecks of history that are behind us."
Nephi was quite for a minute, then decided it was time to leave. I know the spirit helped us reslove his concerns and that he was touched by our words.