Good morning everybody. How are you? (audience: yeah.) Try that again! Good morning, everybody. How are you? (audience: Great!) Thank you very much.
I would like to thank Kerry for that incredible presentation. I really appreciated that and I really appreciated you staying within the time and everything. And since we’re getting started five minutes late into my presentation, I’m letting you know I’m going five minutes over – OK?
Very, very happy to be here with you today and I wanted to share with you my experience. When I investigated the Church over twenty-five years ago this issue almost kept me from joining. And so I was dead set on finding answers so that I could help my family and my friends because I knew, based on the things that were being told me, the Church members and missionaries would not be able to help my family and friends. And so it was going to have to be on me. [microphone problem] Hopefully you’ll be able to benefit from some of the things that I’ve been able to gather from our Father through study, through prayer, and through service.
The goals for our time together today are to provide answers to very valid questions. This is one of the most vexing questions and one of the most common questions presented to Church members and missionaries today, yet one of the ones they are most unprepared for and uncomfortable answering. Also, another goal is to create a greater reliance upon the scriptures and a greater reliance upon the Holy Ghost in order to find truths. My intentions are pure, and they are good, they’re only to help, but I’m a man and no man can give another man a perfect knowledge on gospel principles. That has to come through the Holy Ghost. We’ll accomplish this by shattering some long-standing paradigms that you may have developed over the years. We will also identify some of the blockages, some of the things that get in the way of us understanding and learning truth and actually give you the fix for it as well. We’ll also utilize the psychological, the social, and the scientific to help you to get a better understanding and grasp of what you’re reading in the scriptures. One of the things that you’ll find is that all things testify of Christ.
Tell me, how many circles do you see on this (slide) image? One? Four? Three? Four? There are actually twenty-two circles on this image. Isn’t that interesting? Let’s go back and take a look at that. It’s cool, isn’t it? A good start. I show you this, why, just simply to tell you that some things seem really obvious on the surface, but not until you take a deeper look are you able to see the deeper meaning and gain the deeper value. Also, in order to gain a deeper value and understanding of the scriptures you have to understand what an idiom is.
Here’s the dictionary definition for what an idiom is. What in essence an idiom is – when you see something labeled an idiom, basically tell yourself, “That doesn’t mean what I think it means. It means something totally different in another language or culture.”
Let’s define racism if we can. So racism is defined as, “a belief or a doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior or has the right to rule others. 2. a policy or system of government, etc. upon fostering such a doctrine; discrimination. 3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.”
And so the first thing to ask is – investigators, critics want to know –and they’re challenging our missionaries, our members with, “Your church is racist. Your doctrine is racist. Your past policies are racist.” So the question is – are they? Here are the things that I was taught by members and missionaries trying to help me into the Church back in 1988.
As you can see, (slide) these things are clearly racist:
Fence sitters in pre-existence
Seed of Cain, a murderer
Representatives of Satan here on earth
Lowly, uncouth, lazy & detestable to others
Would not receive the priesthood in this lifetime
Dark skin is a mark of unworthiness
Any who marry them should be killed
It was time for everybody else but you
That we were “fence sitters in pre-existence; cursed; Seed of Cain.” Now they said all these things with smiles on their faces and they said them in a kind, very kind manner. I’m not sure if that matters. “Representatives of Satan here on earth.” Some of this stuff can still be found in books that are sold in the bookstore. That puts us in a very peculiar position because here we have when we come into—I’m talking about my experience and the experience shared by many–we come into the Church and there’s something about reading that Book of Mormon where you have a feeling that’s just kind of – it gets you. You’re reading it and there’s something special that’s taking place. The members are incredible. They’re warm in most places. They receive you well. There’s such a good feeling as you are studying this gospel. But then you have those statements that you just saw. And as soon as we tell family members and friends that we are investigating or looking into the LDS Church – they say, “Don’t you know that’s the racist church?” Really? Then they start handing us all of these racist documents by leaders and members that have been taught, you know, over many decades. And so this image represents us. Every investigator, regardless of the culture, who has to deal with this on the top we have our family and friends saying, “No! Stay away from them!” And on the bottom we have the missionaries and the members saying, “Hey! This is an incredible place to be! Come, come, come!” And we’re stuck. We don’t know what to do.
Now, there’s a feeling that we’ll talk about – a concept called (slide) Cognitive Dissonance – (We’ll pick a side and then only accept what supports our choice.), that kicks in, and this is one of blockages to truth that we talked about. So in most situations or in many situations, millions per year, with that conflict, in order to rid themselves of that internal conflict, that internal struggle, many people just walk away from the Church and stop investigating it – not only people of African descent but of all cultures.
I chose to pray though. And as I prayed and I studied, the Lord had me act on what he had already given me. He had already given me a firm spiritual witness that this was truly the restored gospel and the Book of Mormon was truly of him. And so I acted on that in faith that, “OK, if that’s true, the rest of this has to be at least of Him, but there could be things that are wrong, because these things are obviously wrong. But there are answers and I need to figure those out.” So that’s how I got here.
This is a man by the name of Leon Festinger. In 1957 he coined a phrase after studies “cognitive dissonance.” Cognitive dissonance is when you try to hold two conflicting views. And there is a great discomfort that comes as you try to hold two conflicting views. So in order to rid yourself of that discomfort you’ll choose either one or the other. Whichever one you choose, what happens next is a lockdown. Because if you choose left you are only going to receive things after that– that support that you made the right decision to the left. If you choose right, you’re going to lock down and say – OK, I’m only going to receive information here that proves that I made the right decision.
We have this case with buying (forgive me) a mini-van. And so we were studying the Toyota and the Honda and we couldn’t figure out which one was best. And finally it got down to the navigation system (spiritual guide?). So with the Toyota you had to stop to program it. And we move too fast. We don’t want to stop, especially with all the gospel work that we have to do. And so we chose the Honda because you could program the navigation system by voice. After we bought the vehicle we’re happy with our choice. We got rid of our cognitive dissonance by making a choice. Then an article came out that said that Toyota was better and I didn’t want to read it. But then there was an article that came out that Honda was better – not only did I want to read it, but I wanted to share it with everybody. So there you see cognitive dissonance in effect. We have that in the gospel as well.
Festinger wasn’t the first person to talk about cognitive dissonance. Jesus actually talked about it back in the Sermon on the Mount. He said, “No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one and love the other or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” So, as in Joshua 24:15, we all will be faced with a choice. So “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.”
White shirts – I love this (slides with different colors of shirts and faces). If I had more time we’d do a live example, but I don’t so let’s do it this way. Tell me, what color is the shirt this young man is wearing? (White) What’s on the opposite end of the color scale? (Black) If you were to gradually darken that shirt and stop in the middle, what color would it become? (Gray) Absolutely! Now, tell me, what color is his face? Some are tempted to say white. I thought I heard it over on this end somewhere just a little bit. But it can’t be. So, either his face is white or his shirt is white because they are two totally different colors. Only one of them can be white. So, as you gradually darken this young man’s face, what color does it become? Tan, as in what color scale? (Brown) Beautiful. So this man is just light brown.
How about this young man? What color is he? (Dark brown) You learn fast. This is why I love doing FAIR. So basically, you have one man on the left and one on the right – I don’t know if it is on your left or right, but it is on my left or right—but they call this man white and this man black and they’re just different shades of brown. How did we begin calling each other black and white if we’re all just different shades of brown? Well, we have white shirts. We have brown people. This man helped us with that (Johann Friedrich Blumenbach – 1775). Anybody recognize him? Come on! Somebody has got to recognize Johann! This is Johann Friedrich Blumenbach. I was going to be really surprised if you knew who this guy was. This is Johann Friedrich Blumenbach. He was actually graduating from medical school in 1775. He wrote his doctoral dissertation and titled it, “On the Natural Varieties of Mankind.” He was the first to suggest that the human family should be broken down into a phrase he termed “races.” He gave us the coloring scheme: black, white, yellow, red, and brown and purported that you can tell the personality, character, and aptitude of an individual by the color of their skin and the size and the shape of their heads.
So Blumenbach is known as the father of scientific anthropology. He started all these new sciences trying to figure out the differences in the races – published his work in 1776 and guess what they found out. All in the human family are 99.99% alike. There are no races. So race, even though we run around calling each other black and white, it is a creation of man. It’s not a reality. And so when you think about priesthood, how can you restrict priesthood based on race when it is a man-made concept as late as 1775? Non-members love to hear this. They really love to hear this. Missionaries are empowered by this – and like, dog-gone-it. So Heavenly Father has always been no respecter of persons.
Absolutely, we’re all the same! As a matter of fact, we’re so much the same… By the way, Blumenbach did the responsible thing. He published his later work saying that “I was wrong.” But, unfortunately, he had opened up Pandora’s Box and given man what he had always been looking for which is a way to elevate himself or separate himself from his brother. So, there are no races. We are all same.
As a matter of fact, this is how skin color changes. Skin color changes are on the surface of the melanocyte (slide). On the skin we have the melanocyte and you have two things that are going to be on the surface of that melanocyte. One is going to be a constant and that’s the Melancortin-1 receptor. It’s always going to be there waiting to fuse with one of two things – either the Melanin Stimulating Hormone or the Agouti Signaling Protein. So, when it’s really hot outside, the Lord commanded the body to produce the Melanin Stimulating Hormone. When it fuses with the Melancortin-1 receptor it fuses to Eumelanin, which is the brown to darker brown melanin in the skin that gives a gives us a natural sun block so that we can stay alive in the hot areas. This is before Coppertone and all those other things. When we moved out of the hot area and there was less sun, the Lord commanded the body to produce the Agouti Signaling Protein. When the Agouti Signaling Protein when it fuses with the Melancortin-1 receptor, it produces the Pheomelanin which is the yellow to red melanin in our skin which lowers the natural sunblock so that the little bit of sun that’s there can actually get in and synthesize vitamin D within our bodies or we won’t be able to procreate or survive. So basically, the differences in our complexion is actually one of the greatest signs of the Lord’s love for us. But Satan and the world has taught us how to use it as a way to divide ourselves and forget who we really are.
Every time you use the term “black” or “white” relative to man you are putting a brick of deception on the wall that separates man from understanding that there is no difference between us. We’re all the same. The only difference between us is where our parents spent the most time. Every time I see somebody of a different complexion I smile because it reminds me of how much the Lord loves us all.
This is a skin color map of the world (slide) as provided by The American Journal of Physical Anthropology. As you look at the areas where Lehi and his family would have come from you can see that he would have had a darker skin like that we see of the Lamanites. So we got the Lamanite skin color right, we just didn’t get the Nephite skin color right. Isn’t that good stuff? Brothers and sisters, there’s black and white. (slide) Have you ever seen anybody look like that? Then stop using the term today. It will be uncomfortable, but stop using the term, unless you’re a tare. So we’ve got wheat and tares in here. If you are a tare, keep using it. If you are wheat stop using it. You’ve made covenants not to lie and to take the truth forward. That’s bold talk isn’t it?
There’s the human family and it’s all shades of brown. (slide) Tell me how beautiful that is. Excellent!
So again, what’s an idiom? It doesn’t mean what you think it does. It means something totally different in another language or culture.
Now, let’s get into the scripture part of this. If I wasn’t rushed for time I’d have you read these scriptures. I’d just be calling them out. That’s what I’ll do at the fireside I will do tonight and the fireside I will do tomorrow. We will have a couple of hours so we can just go through this without racing – like somebody’s chasing me.
We’re going to cover the doctrine, the word of God, and kind of separate it from the philosophies of men, the widely accepted views. This is really helping us with missionary work. Because when it comes down to it, when we’re out there, all we are using is the scriptures. We’ll set the tone with the race and the skin color and so on and so forth, but for the most part, we are just using scripture.
First of all:
Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Matthew 22:36-40, we learn something that’s key to understanding this issue. This is the first and great commandment. When he was asked the Savior said – “Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself.” What’s really key about this is verse 40. The very next one says, “On these two commandments hang all of the law and all of the prophets.” So you can know whether something is a principle of God, a true principle of God, by matching it up against the first and the second great commandment.
Secondly, black and white, people are using those terms, it’s false. It’s not actual. It’s not a reality. People also say if your prophets made mistakes then they can’t be true prophets. Well, that’s not a reality. Just because they’re saying it over and over again doesn’t make true. And you can’t fall into that trap. Understanding your scriptures can help because first of all what I do, I said, “Oh, is that the case?” And they said, “Oh, yeah, yeah.” I said, “Well what about…?” and I start going through the Old Testament and into the New Testament naming all the prophets and apostles who sinned and made mistakes. Then they say, “Ok, I get it. You’re right.”
Then I take them to Doctrine and Covenants section one, verses 24 through 28:
Ok with the Lord, Ok with me …
And inasmuch as they erred it might be made known; And inasmuch as they sought wisdom they might be instructed; And inasmuch as they sinned they might be chastened, that they might repent; And inasmuch as they were humble they might be made strong, and blessed from on high, and receive knowledge from time to time.
Where the Lord says – “I know they’re going to make mistakes. I know sometimes they’re not going seek me. I know they’re going to sin, you know, sometimes not be humble.” I mean, it’s right there. Anybody having a problem with prophets and apostles making mistakes – you’re just admitting that you’re not studying your scriptures on a daily basis. Because it’s there. So, if the Lord is OK with it, then I’ve got to be OK with it. Now here’s the thing. Knowing that the prophets and apostles are imperfect is actually a good thing because: number one, it emphasizes and really helps us solidify the divinity of Christ. He was the only perfect one who ever walked the earth. Second, it’s a key reminder to us to do our duty, to study the words out, pray about them and get our own testimony.
Here in Doctrine & Covenants 35:23, the Lord tells us that very clearly:
D&C 35:23 And inasmuch as ye do not write, behold, it shall be given unto him to prophesy; and thou shalt preach my gospel and call on the holy prophets to prove his words, as they shall be given him.
“And inasmuch as ye do not write, behold, it shall be given unto him to prophesy; and thou shalt preach my gospel and call on the holy prophets to prove his words…” Where are we going to get the words of the holy prophets? Well, they’re in the scriptures. So when the prophet speaks compare that against all of the other holy prophets and what they’ve said. There you can get good articulation for your prayers to find out from the Lord what he would have you know is true.
Plan of Salvation:
(For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.)
Lived with God as spirits > The Father presented a plan > Bodies for those who chose the plan > Be tested and accept Christ > Priesthood power and ordinances
All right, the Plan of Salvation: As we explain the plan of salvation, a very simple plan: we lived with our Father as spirits; He developed this plan; He wanted to give us all that He had; He presented this plan; those who accepted it got bodies, had a chance to come here to earth to be tested, to accept the testimony of Christ. And the key: to get the priesthood and the ordinances through the priesthood that would allow us to get back into his presence. If you restrict the priesthood you’ve got a big hole in the plan of salvation.
CURSE: A separation from God, His path, His ways
So, what’s a curse? What surprises me is how many times I was told, lovingly, that I was cursed. And then when I asked members, they can’t even explain it. They don’t even know what it means. It’s like – how can you use such a damning term without even understanding its definition? So it’s a little ludicrous. A curse is actually separation from God, His path, or His ways due to sin.
So, I am a missionary. I need the Spirit. I teach on the most sensitive subject of the Church in my mind. So I really need to live by the Spirit, but as soon as I sin, what takes place is a separation between myself and the Lord. I cannot see what he wants me to do so clearly. I cannot receive of the inspiration clearly. If my sin continues, I can’t teach. Because I can’t have the Spirit I can’t teach. I might not be able to operate in my calling – I work as a temple worker. I don’t feel comfortable about going into the temple. So this distance that I’ve put between me and the Lord, and his path and his ways – that distance is actually a curse. That’s what it is. How can that affect skin color? It can’t.
Alright, so how do I remove this distance between myself and the Lord? Absolutely: repentance. Webster’s Dictionary actually even gives this right in definitions number 9 and 14:
Webster’s Dictionary of Curse – noun, verb, cursed or curst, curs‧ing.
8.Slang. the menstrual period; menstruation (usually prec. by the)
9. an ecclesiastical censure or anathema.
10. to wish or invoke evil, calamity, injury, or destruction upon.
11. to swear at.
13. to afflict with great evil.
14. to excommunicate.
15. to utter curses; swear profanely.
where number 9 says, “an ecclesiastical censure or anathema”, and number 14 “to excommunicate.”
Both are separation from the church due to transgression. But we also see it in the scriptures:
In Reference to Cain
36 And now thou shalt be cursed from the earth which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand. 38 And Cain said … my punishment is greater than I can bear. 39 Behold thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the Lord, and from thy face shall I be hid;
Moses 5:36, 38-39
Here in Moses 5:36-39: “And now thou shalt be cursed from the earth which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand. And Cain said … my punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the Lord, and from thy face shall I be hid;”
Cain separated because of his transgression.
But now, this is in reference to Adam:
In Reference to Adam
Wherefore, I, the Lord God, caused that he should be cast out from the Garden of Eden, from my presence, because of his transgression, wherein he became spiritually dead, which is the first death, even that same death which is the last death, which is spiritual, which shall be pronounced upon the wicked when I shall say: Depart, ye cursed.
“Wherefore, I, the Lord God, caused that he should be cast out from the Garden of Eden, from my presence, because of his transgression, wherein he became spiritually dead, which is the first death, even that same death which is the last death, which is spiritual, which shall be pronounced upon the wicked when I shall say: Depart, ye cursed.”
So a curse is simply a separation from God, his path, or his ways due to sin.
Black & White
Spiritual darkness, gloominess, dejected
Now, let’s talk about “black and white.” When you read “black and white” in the scriptures we’ve been thinking, relative to man, we’ve been thinking it means race or skin color. Not the case. Remember, Blumenbach created those terms in 1775. How many books of scriptures do we have that could have benefited from Blumenbach’s flawed theory? One, The Doctrine and Covenants and that’s the only book of scripture that doesn’t have any confusing language about black or white. Idioms. You like that, that’s good.
Black and white are dealing with spiritual darkness, gloominess, or being dejected, they are dealing with an emotional or spiritual state. The word “white” is dealing with righteousness or purity. Nothing to do with skin color at all. We know there are no black people. We know there are no white people. We understand Blumenbach’s theory.
Let’s take a look at this:
Jeremiah 8:21 – For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am ablack; astonishment hath taken hold on me.
21a: Heb. idiom meaning ‘gloomy.’
Jeremiah 14:2 – Judah mourneth, and the gates thereof languish; they are ablack unto the ground; and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up.
2a: OR Dejected
Jeremiah 8:21 – For the hurt of the daughter of my people I am hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me. What’s interesting is that only in the LDS version of the King James Bible are you going to find a footnote that gives you clarity on that word “black” that says it’s a Hebrew idiom meaning gloomy.
Let’s go to Jeramiah 14:2 –“Judah mourneth and the gates thereof languish….” Again, more anguish, people are suffering here, having problems. “Judah mourneth, and the gates thereof languish; they are ablack unto the ground; and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up.” Again, only in the LDS version of the King James Bible are you going to find a footnote referring to “dejected.” It’s also a Hebrew idiom.
I am constantly petitioning the Lord to make sure I’m on the right track because I’d never want to get so much into a groove that I’m just doing my own thing and I’m going on auto-pilot. So I’m always checking in. This is new stuff that he gave me and so he inspired me to look up all the different translations of the Bible and I found several charts.
NASB New American Standard Bible (1971; update 1995)
AMP Amplified Bible (1965)
ESV English Standard Version (2001)
RSV Revised Standard Version (1952)
KJV King James Version (1611; significantly revised 1769)
NKJV New King James Version (1982)
HCSB Holman Christian Standard Version (2004)
NRSV New Revised Standard Version (1989)
NAB New American Bible (Catholic, 1970, 1986 (NT), 1991 (Psalms)
NJB New Jerusalem Bible (Catholic, 1986; revision of 1966 Jerusalem Bible)
NIV New International Version (1984)
TNIV Today’s New International Version (NT 2001, OT 2005)
NCV New Century Version
NLT1 New Living Translation (1st ed. 1996; 2nd ed. 2004)
NIrV New International reader’s Version
GNT Good News Translation (also Good News Bible)
CEV Contemporary English Version
Living Living Bible (1950). Paraphrase by Ken Taylor. Liberal treatment of ‘blood.’
Message The Message by Eugene Peterson (1991-2000s)
As you can see (slide) on the right those are more thought for thought trying to explain what is meant and on the left are more word for word. One thing that struck me with this one is that with the King James Version there are five more versions that are more direct translations. So I said, “Why don’t I go all the way to that Interlinear Bible to find out what it is saying on these particular terms, black & white.”
I think you’ll be interested in seeing here:
Jeremiah 8:21 – For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am ablack; astonishment hath taken hold on me.
21a: Heb. idiom meaning ‘gloomy.’
where the LDS Bible has the footnote that says it’s a Hebrew idiom meaning “gloomy”, you can see the word down there is “somber.” (slide) Kind of hard to read from this screen here– on “breaking of daughter of people of me, I am somber, I am broken, I am somber, desolation, she holds me fast”
So on the top you have the Hebrew, the second line is the Greek, then you have the most direct translation from both the Hebrew and the Greek. So it tells us very clearly, confirms that the LDS Inspired Version of the Bible is absolutely correct.
How about Jeramiah 14:2?
Jeremiah 14:2 – Judah mourneth, and the gates thereof languish; they are ablack unto the ground; and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up.
2a: OR Dejected
You can see it again where it says “she mourns Judah and the gates thereof they are feeble they are somber.” There’s your “black” again. They’re talking about a mental, emotional, or spiritual state of the individual and not of his physical sense at all.
How about Joel 2:6?
Joel 2:6 – Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather ablackness.
6a: Heb. idiom meaning ‘gloom.
“Before their faces there shall be much pain and all faces shall gather blackness.” Follow the footnotes you’re only going to find in the LDS version of the King James Bible and it tells you that it’s a Hebrew idiom meaning gloomy. So brothers and sisters hopefully this is enough support to help you to understand that black and white do not refer to skin color or race. There are no black people and race is a creation of man as late as 1775. But, look again at the Interlinear Bible translation and it tells you that “black” means “frustration” down there.
How about Nahum 2:10?
Nahum 2:10 – She is empty, and void, and waste: and the heart melteth, and the knees smite together, and much pain is in all loins, and the faces of them all gather ablackness.
10a: Heb. idiom meaning ‘gloom.’
“She is empty, and void, and waste: and the heart melteth, and the knees smite together, and much pain is in all loins, and the faces of them all gather blackness.”
Again, have your missionaries and members teach this before they get into the MTC. Have them sit down and ask the investigators to pull out their Bibles and compare. It’s a really impressive thing when they’re sitting down knowing that the Church that has one of the worst reputations with race is actually giving you the most clarity on it. In the Interlinear Bible you’ve got the same thing here where you see “black” is “frustration.”
Job 30:30 – My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat.
Lamentations 5:10 – Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine.
These don’t have footnotes.
The most commonly misquoted or attacked scripture in my experience is in the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 5:21 where it talks about a skin of blackness. So when I’m out there teaching and explaining about this, they are saying, “No, it’s racist, you’ve got to change it – you changed the policy, but you didn’t change the doctrine.” I say, “We don’t need you to change the doctrine, we just need to change your understanding of it.” They say, “Well, it talks about a skin of blackness.” I say, “Well, we’d have to get rid of the Bible too then.” “No we don’t. Why?” “Because it talks about a skin of blackness too.” “No it doesn’t! Where?” Well, Job 30:30 and Lamentations 5:10 – and so it says “My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat.” So, was Job black? You can comfortably say “no.” Why? Because there’s no such thing as black people. Get the concept out of your mind – it’s a fallacy. There are no black people. Would Job have had a darker brown? Yes, because he lived in a hot area. In a hot area you’re going to have a darker brown unless you are using sunscreen.
Have you ever had your bones burned with heat? Your skin would have to be off your body, right? So this has to be figurative and not literal. Again you have got your Hebrew idiom there.
How about Lamentations 5:10? “Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine.” You ever get really hungry and your skin turns black? Again, we have more support that they’re talking about the gloominess, depression, the emotional, mental, or spiritual state of the individual because of their situation.
Let’s go to 2 Nephi 5:21.
2 NEPHI 5:21
And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a dskin of e blackness to come upon them.
Follow new footnote “d” to 2 Nephi 30:6 to get an idea of what is meant by “skin”.
What’s really cool about this is I’ve highlighted every last one of the idioms that are in there. Members just can’t explain this. I think after today – by the way, my disclaimer is, don’t believe a word that I have to say. Seriously! I want to help, but you can’t get a perfect knowledge from me. You’ve got to study this out on your own and get your own testimony. You have to do the work on your own. I cannot give you a perfect knowledge though I desire to. I know that it’s impossible. So you’ve got to study this on your own. Just use this as a guide to study what you want to study and articulate your own prayers which you’re going to ask Heavenly Father and he will tell you what is true.
As we read 2 Nephi 5:21, “And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity.” So the separation because of their sin. “For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.”
So, one passage of scripture with ten idioms in it! How many idioms are on that whole column, how about the whole page, how about the whole chapter, how about the whole book? Understand now how the understanding of idioms is really going to aid in your scripture study and your understanding of what you’re reading?
Now, the question is what does this mean? Well, we already know, based on what we’ve studied, that that “skin” might be a Hebrew idiom meaning spirit of man and that the “blackness” is talking about a spiritual darkness. But this is how you share it with your friends because in 1981 we received a new edition of the scriptures and there was a brand new footnote placed on that word “skin.” And we’re going to follow it over to 2 Nephi 30:6.
And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their bscales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure and a delightsome people.
2 Nephi 30:6
Follow new footnote “b” to the bottom of the page
bscales – TG Darkness, Spiritual, TG Spiritual Blindness
“And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure and a delightsome people.” Follow your new footnote on the word “scales” and it tells you clearly that they are talking about “Darkness, Spiritual,” “Spiritual Blindness.”
So the Lamanites never had a darker skin than the Nephites. They were always talking about a spiritual darkness. And some of you are going to need a little more scriptural support for that statement. So here you go, 1 Samuel 16:7:
1 Samuel 16:7
But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
The Lord is trying to teach the prophet not to look on the outward appearance to judge someone’s worthiness. So why would he change someone’s skin color for some men to look on the outward appearance to judge their worthiness? It’s contrary to the law of God for the Lamanites to have a darker skin than the Nephites or a skin color changing as a result of sin.
All right, so how about Jacob 3:8?
O my brethren, I fear that unless ye shall repent of your sins that their skins will be awhiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God.
Follow new footnote “a” for “whiter”
8a 3 Ne. 2:15
“O my brethren, I fear that unless ye shall repent of your sins that their skins will be whiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God.” What’s the event that takes place before we are brought before the throne of God? Judgement – absolutely. And is the Lord going to judge us on our physical appearance? No, we know that especially based on the one we just read, 1 Samuel 16:7.
How about 3 Ne. 2:15:
And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became bwhite like unto the Nephites;
3 Nephi 2:15
Follow new footnote for “white” b
2 Ne. 5:21; 30:6; Jacob 3:8
“And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites;” If you follow your new footnote on the word “white” it’s going to take you to three of our favorites: 2 Ne. 5:21; 2 Nephi 30:6; Jacob 3:8. So if you are doing a thorough and complete scripture study there’s been new footnoting added that will help you. A study of idioms makes the footnotes kind of unnecessary, but the help is there for you.
How about Alma 3:4-6?
4 And the Amlicites were distinguished from the Nephites, for they had marked themselves with red in their foreheads after the manner of the Lamanites; nevertheless they had not shorn their heads like unto the Lamanites.
This is a great one that as we are out teaching missionaries they get it right away. “And the Amlicites were distinguished.” If they had had different colors of skin they would not have had to distinguish themselves. Anybody can walk into this room and quickly find the African Americans. “And the Amlicites were distinguished from the Nephites, for they had marked themselves with red in their foreheads after the manner of the Lamanites; nevertheless they had not shorn their heads like unto the Lamanites.” So one group has no tattoos and has their hair. The other group kept their hair, but they have a tattoo. And the third group shaved their heads and have the tattoo. Again, if skin color was different they wouldn’t have had to go to those lengths to distinguish themselves.
This is one of my favorites. This is Alma 55:8 & 9.
Alma 55: 8, 9
8 And when it was evening Laman went to the guards who were over the Nephites, and behold, they saw him coming and they hailed him; but he saith unto them: Fear not; behold, I am a Lamanite. Behold, we have escaped from the Nephites, and they sleep; and behold we have taken of their wine and brought with us.
9 Now when the Lamanites heard these words they received him with joy;
This is where Moroni gets upset. He’s wants to go take some wine to the Lamanite guards to get them drunk to get their prisoners back. But he has to cause a search to be done amongst his people to find a descendant of Laman. So, if they had different colored skin they would have stood out so there would be no need to do a search.
A lot of times I ask people, “How many African Americans are there in your ward?” “There’s two, there’s one, there’s none”– no search necessary, right? “Yeah, you’ve got a point.” So they find one, his name is Laman and they send this one guy along with Moroni’s men to the Lamanite guards with wine. So, the small number of Moroni’s men, as soon as the Lamanites see them, based on the old thinking, the Lamanites should know that they’re Nephites, right? So let’s see what happens “And when it was evening Laman went to the guards who were over the Nephites, and behold, they saw him coming”– so they could see him. “and they hailed him; but he said unto them: Fear not; behold, I am a Lamanite.” Was he a Lamanite? No, he wasn’t. Lamanite is not a culture, it’s not a race, it’s a belief system. If you believed in the Church you were called a Nephite. If you didn’t believe in the Church or didn’t want to live gospel principles you were called a Lamanite – a belief system. So family members could be totally split – some of them could be Nephites, some could be Lamanites. So, “Behold we have escaped,” so he’s acknowledging that there are more than one, “have escaped from the Nephites, and they sleep; and behold we” again, “have taken of their wine and brought with us.” So as they get closer, look how the Lamanites respond. “Now when the Lamanites heard these words they received him with joy.” So now here they are in the presence of Lamanites and the Lamanites can’t even tell that all these guys are Nephites. There was no skin-color-changing in the Book of Mormon. They are always talking about a spiritual darkness.
This is one of the most beautiful string of trios that we have.
This is still the most commonly misquoted scripture by members trying to prove that our doctrine is not racist:
For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the fheathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.
2 Nephi 26:33
2 Nephi 26:33 “and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.” Well, you now know that this has nothing to do with race. They’re talking about the wicked or the righteous, those who, you know, have left the fold, or those who stay in the fold. Now, the beautiful thing about it is that he gave (“he” being the Lord) gave Joseph Smith the same pattern to translate with a slight twist in each of these three. So, here you have the same pattern with your – “black and white, bond and free, male and female.” Now compare that to Alma 1:30 and Alma 11:44.
Alma 1:30 & 11:44
Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous;
…and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need.
Now, in Alma 1:30 and behold “…they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young,” (there’s your pattern) “…bond and free… male and female, whether out of the church or in the church,” There’s your black or white.
How about Alma 11: 44? “Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free… male and female,” (again, there’s your pattern) “both the wicked and the righteous.”
He knew when he restored the gospel that we would have a great problem with the equality of man – or should I say the in-equality of man. And he gave us everything that we do need to know in the scriptures to read, study and compare to be able to know his will and his word.
All of this is confirmed by changes that were made in October 2010 when the new lds.org web site was built.
Mormon, chapter five, the chapter heading, it removed the term “The Lamanites shall be a dark, filthy, and loathsome people,” and replaces it with “Because of their unbelief, the Lamanites shall be scattered and the Spirit shall cease to strive with them.”
How about Moses? The words “black” and “blackness” get new footnotes that take to 2 Nephi 26:33 where we have our new understanding.
I’m running short on time, so I’m going to push through this part and get to the Priesthood. All right, Priesthood. Most members are totally unaware and it’s really refreshing for the missionaries to know, and non-members, that for the first twenty-two years of the restored gospel, everybody was holding the priesthood. Here’s a list of some of those:
AFRICAN AMERICANS WERE ORDAINED TO
THE PRIESTHOOD IN THE 1800’S & 1900’S
Black Pete 1832
Joseph T. Ball 1833 by Brigham Young
Elijah Abel, by Joseph Smith in 1836
Isaac Van Meter 1837
Walker Lewis in 1844
William McCary 1846
Enoch Able 1900
Elijah Abel (Grandson of the first Elijah Abel) 1934, 1935
This was confirmed by the March statement, the March 2013 changes to Declaration Two, it tells you that in the early days of the Church there were a few black male members of the Church that were ordained and the Church records offer no clear insight into this practice. The last statement: “Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice.” What does that say to you? To me it says we have no record of a revelation to start restricting what the Lord commanded and what Joseph Smith did. But that’s my interpretation. You get yours.
What qualifies one for the priesthood?
And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God,
gqualify him for the work.
Follow the new footnote for “5g” to the bottom of the page to find the following:
TG Priesthood, Qualifying for
What qualifies one for the priesthood?
All right, so here in Doctrine and Covenants Section 4, verse 5 it tells us that “… faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.”
You follow your footnote for the word “Qualify” they’re talking about Priesthood, Qualifying for.
More direct revelation on who to give the Priesthood
And now this calling and commandment give I unto you concerning all men—
That as many as shall come before my servants Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith, Jun., embracing this calling and commandment, shall be aordained and sent forth to preach the everlasting gospel among the nations—
5a D&C 4: 3 (3-6); D&C 63: 57; TG Priesthood, Ordination.
More direct revelation:
This is D&C 36:4-5, “And now this calling and commandment give I unto you concerning all men…”
This is the only place in all of scripture where something is labeled as a calling and a commandment. Something is labeled as a commandment or a calling. This is the only place in all of scripture where it’s labeled both: a calling and commandment… concerning all men. Very clear language. This is also about the ninth or tenth time – there are at least twelve direct revelations for Joseph Smith to give all men the priesthood and that’s why he did it.
“That as many as shall come before my servants Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith, Jun., embracing this calling and commandment, shall be ordained and sent forth to preach the everlasting gospel among the nations…”
More direct revelation on who to give Priesthood
And this commandment shall be given unto the elders of my church, that every man which will aembrace it with singleness of heart may be ordained and sent forth, even as I have spoken.
7a TG Commitment; Priesthood, Magnifying Callings within; Priesthood, Qualifying for.
“And this commandment shall be given unto the elders of my church, that every man which will embrace it with singleness of heart may be ordained and sent forth, even as I have spoken.” Even as I have already told you.
Let’s give you one more:
Clear guidance on priesthood repeated
And again, verily I say unto you, athose who desire in their hearts, in meekness, to warn sinners to repentance, let them be ordained unto this power.
Follow the new footnote “57a” for “those” which says:
D&C 4:3 Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;
D&C 36:5 That as many as shall come before my servants Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith, Jun., embracing this calling and commandment, shall be ordained and sent forth to preach the everlasting gospel among the nations
“And again, verily I say unto you, those who desire in their hearts, in meekness, to warn sinners to repentance, let them be ordained unto this power.”
So again, the first twenty-two years of the Church the Lord had laid it out very clearly who should have the priesthood. There’s only one place in the Doctrine and Covenants, the Book of Commandments on how to build the restored gospel – there’s only one place that says “these people should not have my priesthood.” It’s in DC 121:21-23 where it says:
21 They shall not have right to the priesthood, nor their posterity after them from generation to generation.
22 It had been abetter for them that a millstone had been hanged about their necks, and they drowned in the depth of the sea.
23 Wo unto all those that discomfort my people, and drive, and murder, and testify against them, saith the Lord of Hosts; a generation of vipers shall not escape the damnation of hell.
“They shall not have right to the priesthood, nor their posterity after them from generation to generation.” As you can see, they’re talking about those who persecuted the Church. Now what’s kind of interesting is just over in chapter 124 he says I’ll even forgive them if they repent:
However, the Lord speaking of the same people:
And I will answer judgment, wrath, and indignation, wailing, and anguish, and gnashing of teeth upon their heads, unto the third and fourth generation, so long as they repent not, and hate me, saith the Lord your God.
Remember, the purpose of the priesthood is to give the ordinances necessary to get back into the presence of the Father, which is the whole Plan of Salvation.
1. Race and black and white terms – 1775
2. Black and white skin in the scriptures refer to spirits of man, not literal skin
3. How skin color changes – A sign of God’s love
4. Idioms and their use in scriptures
5. A curse is a separation from God, His paths or ways
6. Several direct revelations to give all men the priesthood
7. Changes to scripture helps in 1981, 2010 & 2013
So, in conclusion, race, black and white, those are terms that were created in 1775 by Blumenbach. They have nothing to do with reality or with our scriptures. Black and white in skin color refer to spirits of man, either wicked or righteous. You know how skin color changes now. It’s a great sign of the Lord’s love for us, not something to use to separate.
Idioms. You’ve got to use them and understand them in order to understand any text that was written not in our day.
A curse is a separation from God, his path, or his ways due to our choosing to sin.
We have several direct revelations commanding Joseph to give priesthood to all men and that’s why he did.
There have been changes to the scriptures in 1981, 2010, and 2013. And most of these are changes to the help resources, not the actual scriptures themselves, but the help resources to better help us to understand.
We do believe we’re a Church of continuing revelation, correct? That means we’re not going to get everything right at once, but it’s got to keep going. You’ve got to embrace that. It’s OK. It really is.
Q. If “black” is an inappropriate term for people of African ancestry, what is an appropriate term?
A. Brother or Sister.
Q. Will you write a guide book on the subject? This talk has helped me. We need more enlightenment, a new way of thinking about interpreting the scriptures.
A. I really appreciate that question. I don’t want to. I don’t. We’re too busy helping people in the Church. As Cody told you, we are helping to bring hundreds of people into the Church all over the globe every year. And we are just busy – my family and everything else. But the Lord has been impressing upon me that we need to write our experiences and I feel like we are neglecting that. So, we have published the “Blacks in the Scriptures” DVD series which is a great start for that. And so, I know Scott and FAIR have some of those here. So that’s the best place. If you write us or go up on the web site there is a scripture reference guide for that. So, everybody can have access and that’s a great starting place.
Q. What about the scriptures in Abraham that address priesthood – blacks and Pharaoh?
A. If you read those, first of all, you have your understanding of what priesthood is. In the Book of Abraham it talks about Egyptus, leaving, separating herself and then they feign claimed the priesthood. So you’ll have to do your own study and get your own testimony on this. But in my mind, in my experience, what’s taken place is Egyptus has left her family and the priesthood, taken her sons out. They saw it done before, and now they’re trying to re-create what they saw. So they just weren’t doing it through proper authority. And because of that, they could not have it (priesthood).
Q. How should we explain Genesis 4:2, “…the Lord set a mark upon Cain”?
A. It was spiritual darkness.
Abraham 1—we just covered that.
Q. If there is no race, why do we still use race as a social construct?
A. To use the words of Malcolm X, played by Denzel Washington, “We’ve been bamboozled.” You have been deceived. There is no such thing as race. You can continue using something that’s false and adding to the wall of deception if you like – or you can honor your covenants and what you’ve promised to do and take truth forward.
Q. Was cognitive dissonance used to make early choices in the Church that raised skepticism about [Adam’s belief?] ancient American society?
A. Cognitive dissonance is always going to be in place since the dawn of time. And you have to understand, we are products of our environment and what we seek. So that’s always going to be an issue.
Q. Has the Book of Mormon had any language changes regarding black and white?
A. OK, we already answered that one. By the way, there doesn’t need to be any changes.
2 Nephi 30:6 has one word change in the actual scripture. Where at the end of that statement it says, “…save they shall be a pure and delightsome people,” that used to say, “white and delightsome.” So, Joseph Smith actually changed that back in 1840, but it never made it into the changes in the Book of Mormon. We have the archives, so we made that change in the 1981 edition.
Q. What can you do with the Book of Mormon verses – “we are all alike”?
A. We covered that.
Q. This one does seem to go back to color.
A. Actually, no. Very, very consistent. Match it up. Do the little test. When you get to the word “black” and “white,” see if it makes sense, then replace “skin” with “spirit,” and “black” or “white” with either “wickedness,” “gloominess,” or “purity,” or “righteousness.” Do a little simple replacement test and it becomes really clear.
The final one, unless you have more—that’s good!
Q. 2 Nephi 5:21. The Lord caused a skin of blackness to come upon them.
A. We talked about that. Cursing came upon their “skins”, their spirits, separation from the Lord. We covered that. 3 Nephi 2:15. Became white—we covered that with the footnotes that tie in 2 Nephi 5:21, 2 Nephi 30:6, and Jacob 3:8. And then we also know 1 Samuel 16:7, where the Lord was trying to teach the prophet not to do that. Alma 6—we covered that and how the Amlicites changed themselves.
Q. Why do you use the term “black” in your DVD title?
A. To get you to buy it. Seriously, I mean, that’s the term you know. And the fact of the matter is, if we put, “What you thought you knew about the priesthood that was really not correct,” it’s not going to have you picking it up. Not only you, but remember, we have a very delicate balancing act because not only are we trying to help the members, we’re also trying to reach the non-members as well. So trying to create a work that has a delicate balance enough to edify the members and yet inspire the non-members – it’s challenging. So every single thing we do we pray about. And so, there’s not a thing that we do in this work that we don’t pray about and receive inspiration. So if there is something there, the Lord gave it to us and he wants it done in that way for a reason.
Q. Is there any of the tribes that African Americans descend from in patriarchal blessings?
A. Remember, we’re all the same. You’ve just been made to believe that we are different – we’re not.
Q. How should we respond when some say persons of color want to be called “black?” Anything else is an insult.
A. Teach them. Teach them. I come across people who say, “Hey, I’m black, I want to be black. I’m proud I’m black and that’s that.” I say, “Really?” And then I teach them what I just taught you. And then, “Wow!” They’re changed. As a matter of fact, I go into other churches. I’m invited into other churches to teach this and to African American congregations – they are blown away. I have had several job offers (laughter). Exactly! And they have agreed to lower my tithing. (more laughter) But it’s true I just got to pay it, it’s true.
Q. So, when a search was made to find Laman to go to the Lamanites with the wine, what distinguished him and why did they have to search for someone?
A. How many of you have been to south-central LA? How many of you want me to go with you when you go? So I understand – we’re going to go into the “hood.” I understand the culture. I understand what you’re going to need to say.
I can remember taking a girl that I was dating before I got married. We went to a concert – it was like a Luther Vandross concert or something. It was out in LA and she was Caucasian and African American girls have a real tough time seeing a guy that looks like he has something going on with a Caucasian girl. So there were a couple of girls that were angry and they said something. And I hadn’t had a chance to educate her first. And this girl said something and it’s like – oh, man, she’s going to get us killed out here.
And so I believe, it’s my personal belief — you figure it out on your own through prayer, why. But I believe they needed someone who understood where the guards would be, some of the culture, some of the language, some of the things that were specific to the Lamanites so that they could help pass themselves off as Lamanites. They might have had a Lamanite accent. Yes. See, the Lamanites were very proper. Even though they were rough and un-cultured, they spoke proper, like British. (laughter) Remember, you can’t believe a word I say, right?
Q. What were they looking for, Alma 55, Laman?
A. They were looking for someone who knew something about the Lamanites so they could pass themselves off.
I’ve been teaching students for twenty years that our position on race is because of racism. And that it’s OK, understandable, to have people in the culture and the Church dealing with racist ideology.
OK. I don’t know if you’ve seen the new essay that came out December 6, 2013, but it’s by the Church on lds.org. It basically says that the priesthood restriction was rooted in the racist American culture that was taking place at the time – and it disavows all the teaching of the past. Here’s the issue, guys – everybody else knows that it was because of racism. The only people who don’t know are the members. You’re the last to find out. Everybody else knows. So when you go out and just tell them – “Yeah, it was because of racism,” the argument is over. It’s like “Wow, you guys have been defending that for decades.” Look, the Lord does not need us to steady his Ark. He does not need us to steady the Ark. We can tell the truths, some of them are unsavory, but the truth is the truth. This is truly the restored gospel; nothing is going to change that. The only way they’re going to know that is by praying about it and getting that confirmation through the Holy Ghost. We have made mistakes. We’ll continue to make mistakes.
And the last one.
Q. Were the prophets of the Church from Brigham Young to Spencer W. Kimball, prior to the revelation on priesthood, teaching false doctrine?
A. You can answer that question yourself. Do you believe the scriptures? Are they of God? You answer the question yourself. That’s a question for you to answer. You study the scriptures. You pray about it. And you find out from Heavenly Father whether what they were teaching was of him or it was a doctrine of men.
I really appreciate all your questions and the time.
I really cannot believe we covered all of that in less than an hour. Thank You.