Question: How does the revelatory process work in the case of something like the lifting of the priesthood ban?

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Question: How does the revelatory process work in the case of something like the lifting of the priesthood ban?

Revelation is a process which generally follows a model in which "man inquires and then God inspires"

In other words, mortals must generally seek guidance before they receive inspiration. God will generally not provide answers to questions which have yet to be asked.

Furthermore, if we are unable to receive and implement an answer regarding a given issue, due to personal limitations or circumstances which would prevent obedience, God will generally refrain from communicating with us about it. This is not due to any limitation or lack of desire on his part, but due to mortal limitations.

God rarely—if ever—uses his prophets as "teletype machines" who mindlessly transmit God's will word for word—he requires his prophets to inquire with some thought as to potential answers (DC 9:7-9). After they seek confirmation, the Lord can gently correct or confirm. A striking Biblical example of this principle comes from King David: He announced to Nathan, the prophet, that he wished to build a temple. Nathan thought this a grand idea, and replied "Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the LORD is with thee." However, despite Nathan's sincere belief that God concurred with David's plan, he later received a revelation which contravened his initial enthusiasm. (See 2 Samuel 7:2-17.) God corrected his prophet and enhanced his imperfect understanding of the divine will.

Viewing revelation as a process often requiring patient preparation helps us understand why the priesthood ban wasn't lifted sooner

Lester Bush points out "three principle factors," while allowing for others, that created obstacles: "...the authority of decades of vigorous and unwavering First Presidency endorsement of the policy; a preconceived and highly literalistic reading of several verses in the Pearl of Great Price; and an ambient culture which was indifferent to, if not supportive of, Mormon attitudes toward blacks."[1]

Notes

  1. Lester E. Bush, Jr. and Armand L. Mauss, eds., Neither White Nor Black: Mormon Scholars Confront the Race Issue in a Universal Church, (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1984), 209–210. ISBN 0941214222. off-site