Thursday, August 15, 2013

Is the Book of Mormon Racially Prejudiced?

A reader sent in an article written by a non-member claiming that the Book of Mormon was racially oriented and prejudicial toward blacks, etc. It is not the first time this type of comment has been made. However, the reason for the belief, centered around the scriptural record citing a skin of blackness came upon the Lamanites and that the black skin was a sign of a lower status among people, is simply not understood by those who cite prejudicial attitudes.
One of the things that modern man forgets to consider is that “God is the same yesterday, today, and forever” as Paul wrote to the Hebrews (Hebrews 13:8). He does not change. His concepts, doctrine, and actions are always based upon the same criteria. He is a man of truth (Psalms 31:5; John 14:6; Ephesians 4:21), and if mortal man is to know truth, he must bring his thinking in line with that of God (2 Corinthians 10:5). For many, this is a foreign concept, for many of God’s truths and actions are in opposition to the thinking of modern man—perhaps best described in the modern term “Politically Correct.”
What God has determined about his creations (man) is for him to know and us to accept. Many find that a difficult concept to accept and embrace. Many would like to see God as a modern, politically correct God who is just and fair based upon man’s concepts of these traits. However, God does not think like man, nor can man often understand the thinking of God. As for what is called racial today (a relatively modern term), God has determined who is white and who is black, brown and yellow. Man’s skin color does not determine his worth, ability, or capability, and it certainly does not determine his spirituality. Nowhere in the Book of Mormon is there found a single racial comment and, I would think, those who wrote in Nephite times would be startled and chagrined to think that anyone would consider their writing to be along racial lines. To them, and to us today, if any categorizing of people is to take place, it is along the lines of righteous (those who believe in and follow God), and those who are not (those who reject and fight against God).
That was the difference in the time of the Nephites, between them and the Lamanites—one group was righteous and followed and were obedient to God, and the other was not. When those who were not became righteous and joined with the righteous, they were not considered separate in any way. When those who were righteous and then rejected God, they were cut off from the righteous and had no more in common with them. This separation was not caused by the righteous, but those who rejected that righteousness—they physically went over to the unrighteous people and joined them.
Nephi explains in perfectly understandable terms that God did not want the Nephites (the righteous) to intermarry with the Lamanites (the unrighteous), so he placed a mark upon the unrighteous so they would not be physically enticing to the Nephites. As Nephi wrote: “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 skin of blackness to come upon them” (2 Nephi 5:21). Nephi went on to say “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 heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile” (2 Nephi 26:33).
Neither God nor his commandments are racially oriented, for he loves us all equally since we are all his children—that is, we are his offspring and he is our spiritual father. His love extends to both the righteous and unrighteous—however he simply rewards the righteous differently because of their obedience and willingness to follow him.
Of course the term “righteous” is also not a common term for modern man. It means, in its simplest form, to be “morally right or justifiable, virtuous,” that is, just, right, upright, rightful, fair, honest, guiltless, etc. In its more understandable form, it means to act and live in accord with divine or moral law, to be free from guilt of misconduct, and characterized by uprightness or morality. Even the best of modern man has some difficulty with that concept. As early as the 1970s, we saw in our society a separation from most people who lived uprightly and led moral lives, to a swing in the opposite direction under the guise or justification of “do your own thing,” “If it doesn’t harm anyone else, it is all right,” “If it makes you feel good, do it.” etc.
But the morality of God has never changed. As he has said, "Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding" (D&C 1:24). Brigham Young stated it even more succinctly when he said, "I do not even believe that there is a single revelation, among the many God has given to the Church, that is perfect in its fullness. The revelations of God contain correct doctrine and principle, so far as they go; but it is impossible for the poor, weak, low, groveling, sinful inhabitants of the earth to receive a revelation from the Almighty in all its perfections. He has to speak to us in a manner to meet the extent of our capacities" (July 8, 1855, Journal of Discourses, 2:314). In short, man has such a tiny miniscule understanding of God’s workings and mind that it is evidently impossible for God to reveal the entire depth (meaning) of his revelations and commandments.
If this is true, and it obviously seems to be, then man is so far removed from God’s knowledge and reasoning, that it is ridiculous when man tries to interpret why God does what he does and claims to think he knows more than God on a this or that point. Consequently, terms of fair and unfair can never apply to God by man since man cannot fathom the purposes for God’s actions. In Genesis, God places a visible mark upon Cain, along with a curse for his actions in killing his brother Abel. The Jews were told to move into Palestine and kill every man, woman and child there (Deuteronomy 7:2). The Lamanites had a black skin placed upon them as a mark along with the curse God placed upon them.
However, when God decrees something, it is the responsibility of man to obey, whether he agrees with it or not, for God is God, the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is just and almighty and his laws, actions, and decrees are not capricious. Man, on the other hand, lies, cheats, dislikes, hates, and has limited knowledge and understanding. How arrogant and unworthy man is to question the workings of God, the creator of all things.


  1. Wow.. That is all I can say. It explains it perfectly. Yet.. I fear there will still be those who will place man's political correctness above God. Or.. they will reduce the book to a mere instrument of fiction with the purpose of continuing to put the man of color in his place by a racist author. This I have experienced first hand.

    There is always another angle for those that see what they want to see. Withholding the priesthood from the seed of Cain is considered in today's world as racist. Yet giving the priesthood to only the seed of Levi.. is not.

  2. When a man's mind is made up, there is no changing it with facts. The Spirit can change such a mind, but evidently, not facts.