Such a nasty word now-days. WE find it appalling. Our ancestors in much of Europe, Asia Minor, and the Southern States of America found it lucrative, productive, and profitable.
It’s interesting how people in our day judge history by today’s standards. WE, who are more “enlightened”, believe all men must inevitably be brought to justice by our own arrogant criteria, not history’s. Critics of the LDS Church use that arrogant criteria to condemn Joseph Smith and the early leaders the church, but fail miserably when looking at the big picture.
Noahide Laws and Racial History
When the floods receded and Noah came forth from the Ark, God covenanted with him that He would never flood the earth again. He gave Noah seven commands, and a sign with seven colors (the rainbow) to seal His covenant.
One of the seven Noachide Laws was to not engage in incestuous, adulterous or homosexual relationships (also known as gilui arayot).
However, today, the LGBT community has hijacked the symbol of God’s covenant with Noah, taking the rainbow for their own flag in the ultimate act of defiance against God and His commandments.
Ironically, it was Noah’s son Ham who broke that law first. While scholars are divided on exactly what sin it was that Ham committed, there is evidence that Ham had incestual relations with his mother.
The Hebrews often used euphemisms when describing certain “offensive” topics. Moses wrote both of these verses:
And the man that lieth with his father’s wife hath uncovered his father’s nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. (Leviticus 20:11)
And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. (Genesis 9:22)
It is very plausible that Moses was likening a Noah’s “nakedness” to the Noah’s “wife”, and “seeing” could refer to Ham having incestual relations with his father’s wife. It is also plausible that a son was born from that incestual act; Canaan. If true, it would explain why Noah cursed Canaan and his seed.
There is a lot of scholarly evidence to support this theory, but whatever happened, the narrative of the Curse of Ham was born as an explanation for black skin. It wasn’t actually Ham that was cursed, but his son Canaan.
This Curse of Ham is not a Mormon invention. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all over the world, and throughout history have used this narrative to persecute Canaanites and enslave blacks.
Racism and the Church
Was the LDS Church and its leaders racist during the 1800’s? The inevitable answer is, yes. But, what right have we to judge them by our standards? EVERYONE was racist back then. Mormons were more racist than some, but a lot less than others.
Remember, the Curse of Ham was taught by all religions. All religions believed it and acted to some degree on it. While those in the Northern States may not have used the Bible to justify slavery, they sure didn’t want to go the to same churches with them. Nobody in the North tolerated a black pastor over them.
Even during the height of the Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s and 60’s, there were few, if any, “all White churches” with “Black pastors”. Black pastors and leaders led Black churches (even though a few White members may have attended).
The LDS Church was following that same lead, the difference was there were not that enough Black Mormons to form “all Black churches”.
That was the whole kit-and-caboodle reason for denying the priesthood to Blacks in the Mormon Church. They were welcome to join, they were included in worship services, they sang with them, rejoiced with them, and blessed them. But, they would have found it intolerable to have a black bishop or stake president lead them. This would have destroyed the Church, and God knew that. God knew His people and their attitudes at the time, and it was by his Sovereign and Revelatory Authority to prevent that from happening.
The REASON “Why”
The reason why God held the priesthood back in the Mormon Church for so long comes from the difference in what Salvation means to a Protestant and to a Mormon.
In Protestant Christianity, salvation comes from God through faith. When they believe, the Spirit indwells within them and they are “saved”. Salvation comes from the top down, from God to man, and is called monergism. So, in Protestant Christianity no authority is needed. A pastor goes to school, gets a degree, and receives his “authority” to preach, but that is essentially all. A Black pastor or priest has no real authority over their members.
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the authority to perform ordinances on behalf of God is real. When baptised by someone holding the authority to do so, sins are literally washed away. When laying on hands, the Gift of the Holy Ghost is literally given. Bread and water is literally blessed by those holding that authority.
It’s sad by our standards, but White members at the time would not have accepted a Black member having that authority over them. While the 1900’s brought about a change of attitude, it was slow. My own grandmother, born in 1916, was self-admittedly racist. She never would have gone to a church with a black bishop officiating. Racism took a longer time for LDS Members to overcome than any charge from God.
Several of the LDS prophets during the 50’s and 60’s specifically prayed to have the ban removed, but God said it was not time yet. It wasn’t until 1978 when President Kimball finally received “modern revelation” that was confirmed unanimously by all 12 Apostles with him. They knew it was time for the ban to be lifted.
Since that time, Black churches have exploded all over the earth, especially in Africa where it is growing extremely fast. If blacks are joining the church at the rate they are, they must understand something that critics of the LDS Church do not. Blacks are the ones that should feel slighted, but it is mostly the critics that feel slighted on their behalf. What’s wrong with this picture?
Myself, I am good friends and neighbor to one of the sweetest woman I know. She’s LDS, and she’s Black (she’s a democrat, too, but I don’t hold that against her). I hold no racism. My children hold no racism. Bringing up the race card only seeks to divide while Christ seeks to unify. We should be more like him. Fortunately, today, we are.