Blacks and the Priesthood
- We believe that all are alike unto God. The church has never condoned racism but has always desired equality. Joseph Smith, our first prophet, was strongly opposed to slavery. Our faith is and always has been integrated, and people of all cultures, races and ethnicities have always been welcomed into our church.
- When Joseph Smith was the prophet, some black men were ordained to the priesthood. None during that time were denied this right if worthy.
- In 1852, President Brigham Young placed a ban on men of black African descent receiving the priesthood, receiving the temple endowment or being sealed in the temple. They could still be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Nobody knows why Brigham Young made this change. However, at the time he placed this restriction, he said that at some future day, black Church members would “have [all] the privilege and more” enjoyed by other members.
- There have been many explanations given over the years as to why there was a priesthood restriction for black men, such as the curse of Cain or blacks being less valiant in the war in Heaven, but none of them is church doctrine. There has been no revelation as to why the priesthood ban was ever put in place.
- When prophet, President David O. McKay prayed and asked if the ban could be lifted. He did not feel impressed that it was the right time.
- As the church continued to spread worldwide, and a temple was announced in Brazil, a country with a very integrated culture, church leaders pondered Brigham Young’s promise again. In June 1978, after “spending many hours in the Upper Room of the [Salt Lake] Temple supplicating the Lord for divine guidance,” Church President Spencer W. Kimball, his counselors in the First Presidency, and members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostlesreceived a revelation. “He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come,” the First Presidency announced on June 8. The First Presidency stated that they were “aware of the promises made by the prophets and presidents of the Church who have preceded us” that “all of our brethren who are worthy may receive the priesthood.”20
- Church members were joyful and gladdened at this new revelation, and ordination for black men of African descent began immediately, and from then on black men and women could receive temple ordinances. African membership in the church has grown rapidly over the years, and continues to do so.
- The church does not believe any of the theories about blacks being disfavored or less valiant. Mixed-race marriages are not a sin, and no race is inferior to any other.
Gordon B. Hinckley -“There was a hallowed and sanctified atmosphere in the room. For me, it felt as if a conduit opened between the heavenly throne and the kneeling, pleading prophet of God who was joined by his Brethren. . . . Every man in that circle, by the power of the Holy Ghost, knew the same thing. . . . Not one of us who was present on that occasion was ever quite the same after that. Nor has the Church been quite the same.”21
David B. Haight – “I was the junior member of the Quorum of the Twelve. I was there. I was there with the outpouring of the Spirit in that room so strong that none of us could speak afterwards. We just left quietly to go back to the office. No one could say anything because of the powerful outpouring of the heavenly spiritual experience.
But just a few hours after the announcement was made to the press, I was assigned to attend a stake conference in Detroit, Michigan. When my plane landed in Chicago, I noticed an edition of the Chicago Tribune on the newsstand. The headline in the paper said, “Mormons Give Blacks Priesthood.” And the subheading said, “President Kimball Claims to Have Received a Revelation.” I bought a copy of the newspaper. I stared at one word in that subheading—claims. It stood out to me just like it was in red neon. As I walked along the hallway to make my plane connection, I thought, Here I am now in Chicago walking through this busy airport, yet I was a witness to this revelation. I was there. I witnessed it. I felt that heavenly influence. I was part of it. Little did the editor of that newspaper realize the truth of that revelation when he wrote, “… Claims to Have Received a Revelation.” Little did he know, or the printer, or the man who put the ink on the press, or the one who delivered the newspaper—little did any of them know that it was truly a revelation from God. Little did they know what I knew because I was a witness to it.”
- The church believes in the marriage of one man and one woman as God’s standard, and polygamy is only acceptable at times when God commands it. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and Solomon were all commanded to practice plural marriage, for example.
- In the early 1840s, Joseph Smith received a revelation to institute plural marriage for some members of the church. This revelation came upon asking God why plural marriage was practiced in the Old Testament. Only he was able to authorize the performance of any plural marriages.
- Plural marriage was a huge sacrifice and very difficult for those who practiced it. They were used to monogamous relationships, so this idea of polygamy was foreign and uncomfortable for them. However, it was a great blessing because children were able to be born and raised in faithful LDS homes, marriage was available to all who desired I, ethnic intermarriages increased, making a more diverse population, and there was more financial stability rather than inequality of wealth. With plural marriage came a sense of cohesion and group identification among the saints.
- The practice was based more on religious belief that this was a commandment from God than romantic love. Church leaders taught that participants in plural marriage should be unselfish and show the pure love of Christ for all in the family. It was not easy to practice polygamy, but they believed if they lived it, they would be blessed in this life and in the life to come.
- Not everybody practiced plural marriage. Those who didn’t practice it were not condemned. Women could choose their spouses, whether monogamous or polygamous, or not at all. Some men practiced polygamy because they were asked to by church leaders, while others initiated the process. However, they had to receive approval to do so.
- Two thirds of polygamist men only had two wives at a time. Church leaders new plural marriage would be hard for women especially, so divorce and remarriage was available.
- As the years went by, the percentage of polygamous families went down. In 1857, 50%; 1870, 25-30%; and so on.
- In 1862, the US government passed laws against polygamy. Many LDS women defended polygamy saying they were willing participant, not forced. In 1879, when the US Supreme Court ruled anti-polygamy laws constitutional, federal officials started to prosecute polygamous husbands and wives. LDS polygamists continued to practice it because they felt the law was unjust. When caught, they would pay fines and go to jail for a time.
- In 1890, President Woodruff received revelation that LDS families should stop practicing plural marriage. In a statement, known as the Manifesto, President Woodruff declared his intention to abide by U.S. law forbidding plural marriage and to use his influence to convince members of the Church to do likewise.3
- After the Manifesto, monogamy was advocated in the Church both over the pulpit and through the press. On an exceptional basis, some new plural marriages were performed between 1890 and 1904, especially in Mexico and Canada, outside the jurisdiction of U.S. law; a small number of plural marriages were performed within the United States during those years.4In 1904, the Church strictly prohibited new plural marriages.5
- President Hinckley in 1998 about the Church’s position on plural marriage:
“This Church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy. They are not members of this Church…. If any of our members are found to be practicing plural marriage, they are excommunicated, the most serious penalty the Church can impose. Not only are those so involved in direct violation of the civil law, they are in violation of the law of this Church.”
- Some people think Mormons are polygamists still because of the show Sister Wives. These people are members of Apostolic United Brethren, which is unaffiliated with the LDS church. This church, and the FLDS church, were formed by former members of the church who thought the church abandoned plural marriage and the law of consecration due to societal pressures and not revelation.
- There are many polygamists in Utah, but they are not members of the LDS church. They would be excommunicated if they were. Utah does not equal Mormon.
From www.mormonsandgays.org: 1. SSA is not a sin, but acting on it is. 2. People do not choose SSA, but they do choose how to respond to it. 3. It would be easier for the church to accept homosexual behavior, but we won’t because it is God’s law and not ours to change. However, we should focus on being sensitive and thoughtful when SSA is encountered in families, work, etc. 4. Elder Cook said, “Let’s not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender.”5. Nobody knows the roots of SSA. It is extremely complex. It is not a disease or illness. 6. We should not judge anyone for these feelings. Members of the church who are gay, but don’t act on it, can have callings, hold the priesthood and attend the temple. 7. The church does not necessarily advise gays to marry someone of the opposite sex. 8. Every human being has worth and dignity as a child of God. We are all equal in that sense. 9. SSA is a mortal test, and isn’t permanent. There is hope in an eternal perspective. Anyone who does not have the chance to marry in this life will be able to in the next. 10. Sexual attraction is not all that makes us who we are.
- Same sex marriage is not just a social issue. Religious freedoms are at risk, and those who disagree should be able to still preach as such without criticism, lawsuits and imprisonment.
- Everyone, even Jesus, was tempted. Temptations are not easy to resist, but with the Savior’s help, they can be. It is a challenge among many, and it is not who you are. Regardless of these feelings, one with SSA is a child of God and is loved.
- God expects celibacy to anyone who does not marry, not just those with SSA.
- Gender orientation is a core part of a person, but not the only important part. All members of the church with SSA can do anything any other member can do, except marry, unless it is with someone of the opposite sex.
- Homosexual feelings are controllable. If you cater to feelings, temptation increases, leading you to unacceptable behavior. However, you can control your behavior. If you have an inclination to do something, you still have the power to stop yourself from doing it.
- God gives everyone the opportunity to have eternal life. Nobody will be born into a condition with the inability to control it, that will prevent them from attaining eternal life.
- The church doesn’t encourage its SSA members to seek professional therapy. They aren’t against it, but focus more on a person recognizing his own will and agency. The church doesn’t endorse specific treatments.
- Marrying a person of the opposite sex will not cure someone of SSA. However, if someone has pushed aside the feelings and desires to be married and have children, it would be appropriate then.
- There is no SSA in the premortal world or in the next life. Elder Oaks said, “There is no fullness of joy in the next life without a family unit, including a husband, a wife, and posterity. Further, men are that they might have joy. In the eternal perspective, same-gender activity will only bring sorrow and grief and the loss of eternal opportunities.”
- It is tragic that some people have no hope for marriage in this life. That isn’t just for gays, but also for many others, such as those with severe mental and physical ailments. Elder Oaks said, “If we believe in God and believe in His mercy and His justice, it won’t do to say that these are discriminations because God wouldn’t discriminate. We are in no condition to judge what discrimination is. We rest on our faith in God and our utmost assurance of His mercy and His love for all of His children.”
- There are very few callings in the church that require marriage, so those with SSA can enjoy nearly every blessing and responsibility of membership in the church.
- People choose different characteristics of themselves to be the “defining fact of their existence.” For some, it is their orientation, for others where they are from, what their career is, what color their hair is, etc. Elder Oaks said, “The ultimate defining fact for all of us is that we are children of Heavenly Parents, born on this earth for a purpose, and born with a divine destiny. Whenever any of those other notions, whatever they may be, gets in the way of that ultimate defining fact, then it is destructive and it leads us down the wrong path.”
- If your child tells you he/she wants to live with a same sex partner, you should first remind your child of your love. Then explain the Lord’s standards and how this act will compromise those standards, and lead him/her onto the wrong path. Express that if your child still makes this decision, that you will love him, and that the atonement is real for him just as anyone else. Repentance is hard, though, so it is best not to sin. However, if you do choose to repent, we will be right there to help you.
- If you have a family member that has a same sex partner, what do you do? It needs to be a case by case decision process. The important things to remember are you don’t have to condemn the partnership every time, but you also shouldn’t defend it to others. Always remember the Lord’s way. Love your child, but do not forget the law of the Lord.
- Parents should not be blamed if their child has SSA. Parents should also be careful of moving away from the Lord’s way in order to love and support their child.
- Marriage is not political or social. It is an institution of God. No government can revoke God’s law or authority. God does not honor or recognize same gender marriages. Marriage was one of the purposes of creation, to be able to multiply and replenish the earth.
- Many say that homosexual behavior is not condemned in the Bible and the Lord would surely embrace it because of his compassion for humanity. Jesus said “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife and they twain shall be one flesh. What God has joined together let no man put asunder.”
- Many believe that same sex marriage doesn’t affect anyone. However, you can’t have two types of marriages co-existing without changing the character of the institution. For thousands of years, marriage has only been between a man and a woman. Now, those who believe it should stay that way have to prove that it is the best way, even though thousands of years of experience show that it is.
- There may be some in same-sex relationships that are good people, and are not a threat to society. However, one must not forget that genderless marriage is not of God. We can’t condone a change to His definition of marriage in any circumstance. We can’t condone or encourage the legalization of something just to make its participants feel better. They can be happy together without getting married.
- The church doesn’t really have a stance on domestic partnerships and civil unions of same-gender folks. The church does not condone adoption by same-sex couples because children deserve to be raised by a mother and father.
- Some LDS people disagree with same sex marriage, but don’t think that the church should take a political stance on it. Elder Oaks said that law has two functions. “One is to define and regulate the limits of acceptable behavior. The other is to teach principles for individuals to make individual choices.” The church has no desire to have anyone locked up or prosecuted, but simply to help teach correct principles to the world. An important point to make is that the church did not shove same sex marriages into federal politics. It was already there, put there by those who wanted same sex marriage.
- The church’s doctrines and practices come from revelation. It is not ironic that though we once used to practice polygamy that we not advocate strongly for the marriage of one man to one woman.
- Support groups for those with SSA can be bad if they encourage living a homosexual lifestyle. Elder Wickman said, “The more a person can look beyond gender orientation, the happier and more fulfilling life is likely to be. The worst possible thing for any of us — no matter what our temptations, no matter what our mortal inclinations may be — is to become fixated with them, to dwell on them. When we do that, not only do we deny the other things that comprise us, but experience teaches that there will be an increased likelihood that eventually we will simply succumb to the inclination.”
- Elder Oaks: “God loves all of His children. He has provided a plan for His children to enjoy the choicest blessings that He has to offer in eternity. Those choicest blessings are associated with marriage between a man and a woman by appropriate priesthood authority to bring together a family unit for creation and happiness in this life and in the life to come.
We urge persons with same-gender attractions to control those and to refrain from acting upon them, which is a sin, just as we urge persons with heterosexual attractions to refrain from acting upon them until they have the opportunity for a marriage recognized by God as well as by the law of the land. That is the way to happiness and eternal life. God has given us no commandment that He will not give us the strength and power to observe. That is the Plan of Salvation for His children, and it is our duty to proclaim that plan, to teach its truth, and to praise God for the mission of His Son Jesus Christ. It is Christ’s atonement that makes it possible for us to be forgiven of our sins and His resurrection that gives us the assurance of immortality and the life to come. It is that life to come that orients our views in mortality and reinforces our determination to live the laws of God so that we can qualify for His blessings in immortality.”