Wednesday, May 25, 2016

More Comments from Readers – Part III

Here are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog:  
   Comment #1: “I read on a website that “Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.” And that “The "curse of Cain" resulted in Cain being cut off from the presence of the Lord. The Genesis and Moses accounts both attest to this. The Book of Mormon teaches this principle in general when it speaks about those who keep the commandments will prosper in the land, while those who don't will be cut off from the presence off the Lord. This type of curse was applied to the Lamanites when they rejected the teachings of the prophets. The exact nature of the "mark" of Cain, on the other hand, is unknown. The scriptures don't say specifically what it was, except that it was for Cain's protection, so that those finding him wouldn't slay him. Many people, both in an out of the Church, have assumed that the mark and the curse are the same thing.” What is your take on this?” Carlson S.
Response: We live in a different world than that of the past. Political correctness today demands certain behavior and attitudes or the disfavor of people, critics, and media come down hard upon the individual, group or people. What the Lord had in mind when “the Lord did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them” (2 Nephi 5:21) is a question that has wrought numerous answers for years. Nephi said only that it was done to keep the Lamanites from becoming “enticing unto my people” and Moses said the mark placed upon Cain was to protect him. In fact, Cain bemoaned the fact that “whoever finds me will kill me" (Genesis 4:13-14), to which God responded, "Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over." Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him" (Genesis 4:15-16).
    The Hebrew word translated "mark" is אוֹת ('owth) and refers to a portent—a sign or signal, i.e., “distinguishing mark, miraculous sign, omen or warning.” It can also mean “token, ensign, standard, miracle, or proof.” Of the 79 times in 77 verses of the Hebrew Scriptures, 'owth is used 43 times for “sign” and 30 times for “signs,” and once each for banners, omens, pledge, standards, witness and wondrous. It is found in Genesis  (6 times), Exodus (15), Numbers (5), Deuteronomy (12), Joshua (3), 1 Samuel (4), 2 Kings (3), Psalms (7), Isaiah (11), Jeremiah (4), Ezekiel (4), and once each in Judges, Nehemiah, and Job.
    So, the Hebrew word does not identify the exact nature of the mark God put on Cain. Whatever it was, it was a sign or indicator that Cain was not to be killed. Some propose that the mark was a scar, or some kind of tattoo, but most today reject that it was a black skin; however, Nephi definitely tells us that the mark on the Lamanaites was a black skin (2 Nephi 5:21).
    Whatever the case, the precise nature of the mark in Genesis is not the focus of the passage. The focus is that God would not allow people to exact vengeance against Cain because of his evil and his whining complaint that he would not survive God’s curse. Whatever the mark on Cain was, it evidently served the purpose of others not killing him. Nor should we interpret this to mean that God was protecting Cain despite his evil in killing his brother. Cain was undoubtedly punished severely by the curse and mark placed upon the man who committed the first murder.
In the past, many believed the mark on Cain to be dark skin—that God changed the color of Cain's skin to black in order to identify him. Since Cain also received a curse, the belief that the mark was black skin caused many to believe that people of dark skin were cursed. Many used the “mark of Cain” teaching as a justification for the African slave trade and discrimination against people with black or dark skin. On the other hand, nowhere in the Hebrew Scriptures is 'owth used to refer to skin color. The curse on Cain in Genesis chapter 4 was on Cain himself.
    In the 3rd century, the Greek scholar and early Christian theologian, Origen Adamantius (184-253 AD), a prolific writer, claimed “Ham’s discolored posterity and the ignobility of the race he fathered” (Origen, "Genesis Homily XVI," in Homilies on Genesis and Exodus, translated by Ronald E. Heine (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1982), p. 215, referenced in Haynes.)
    Unlike many church fathers, he was never canonized as a saint because some of his teachings directly contradicted the teachings attributed to the apostles, notably the Apostles Paul and John, particularly his teachings on the pre-existence of souls, the final reconciliation of all creatures, including perhaps even the devil (the apokatasis) and the subordination of God the Son to God the Father, were extremely controversial.
    In LDS doctrine, there has never been an attitude that certain people in mortality were punished for their pre-mortal behavior, or that there were “fence sitters” during the war between God and Satan. On the contrary, it has always been taught that all who earned the right to come to this earth were valiant in their defense and participation during that controversy. The problem sometimes arose when people decided on their own that such was not the case.
    During the pre-mortal ages we dwelt in the presence of God, the Father, and not only developed our various characteristics and showed our worthiness and ability, or the lack of it, but we were also where such progress could be observed. It is reasonable to believe that there was a type of Church organization there. The heavenly beings were living in a perfectly arranged society. Every person knew his place. Priesthood, without any question, had been conferred and the leaders were chosen to officiate. Ordinances pertaining to that pre-existence were required and the love of God prevailed. Under such conditions it was natural for our Father to discern and choose those who were most worthy and evaluate the talents of each individual. He knew not only what each of us could do, but what each of us would do when put to the test and when responsibility was given us. Then, when the time came for our habitation on mortal earth, all things were prepared and the servants of the Lord chosen and ordained to their respective missions” (Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection, 50–51).
“When the time arrived for us to be advanced in the scale of our existence and pass through this mundane probation, councils were held and the spirit children were instructed in matters pertaining to conditions in mortal life, and the reason for such an existence. In the former life we were spirits. In order that we should advance and eventually gain the goal of perfection, it was made known that we would receive tabernacles or bodies of flesh and bones and have to pass through mortality where we would be tried and proved to see if we, by trial, would prepare ourselves for exaltation. We were made to realize, in the presence of our glorious Father, who had a tangible body of flesh and bones which shone like the sun, that we were, as spirits, far inferior in our station to him” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:57).
    “From this revelation found in Abraham (Abraham 3:23), two things can be inferred:
1) that there were among those spirits [in premortal life] different degrees of intelligence, varying grades of achievement, retarded and advanced spiritual attainment;
2) that there were no national distinctions among those spirits such as Americans, Europeans, Asiatics, Australians, etc. Such ‘bounds of habitation’ would have to be ‘determined’ when the spirits entered their earthly existence or second estate. …
    “Now if none of these spirits were permitted to enter mortality until they all were good and great and had become leaders, then the diversity of conditions among the children of men as we see them today would certainly seem to indicate discrimination and injustice. On the other hand, since we had developed different levels of intelligence, achievement and willingness, our place in this world would then be determined by our own advancement or condition in the pre-mortal state, just as our place in our future existence will be determined by what we do here in mortality.
“When, therefore, the Creator said to Abraham, and to others of his attainment, ‘You I will make my rulers,’ there could exist no feeling of envy or jealousy among the millions of other spirits, for those who were ‘good and great’ were but receiving their just reward” (David O. McKay, Home Memories of President David O. McKay, 228–30).


  1. Well, I know that my views are not held by the Church today, but I'm going to say it anyway. The Lamanites are of the House of Israel and will be gathered to the New Jerusalem in the last days. The Blacks on the other hand are a cursed race as it says in Abraham 1:24 "...FROM HAM,sprang that race which preserved THE CURSE in the land. Also Abraham 1:27 Now, Pharaoh being of that LINEAGE (HAM) by which he COULD NOT have right of Priesthood. Sorry folks, but because the government leaned on the Church in 1978 the prohibition against Blacks holding the priesthood was changed. That's a fact. EG Smith was kicked out of his office of patriarch to the Church because he opposed the phony revelation. You can wiggle and flap in the wind on this issue all you want to but the truth is clear from the scriptures. The blacks are a cursed race and have no right to the priesthood. That black skin came as a result of the murder of Cain. This is very clear in the scriptures and you are reinterpreting the scriptures because of the position of the Church on this issue. I don't blame you, even Hugh Nibley changed his views after the so-called revelation (read phony).

    That isn't true of the Lamanites because they are of the House of Israel and that curse is temporary and will be lifted at some point as it says in the scriptures. That isn't true of the blacks however. Political correctness has taken over parts of the Church. Sorry to be so blunt but that's the facts. If you want more facts from the scriptures about this I would be happy to accommodate. Ira

    1. iterry, while I do believe that the curse of Cain was dark skin and that that is why african americans have been denied the priesthood in the past, there is never any evidence that the curse was permanent. This is the dispensation of the fullness of times in which all things were to be restored. The priesthood is removed from people who have lost it due to curse at times, but in the end is to be restored to all. First it was forbidden to the race of Cain. Then it was taken from all save the descendants of Abraham. Then, God had to remove it from all save the select few prophets and the descendants of Levi who were given the Aaronic Priesthood. Christ came with the restoration of the priesthood to all worthy Jews, and eventually to all worthy Gentiles. God has set up his prophet and will not suffer the head of the church to lead the church astray. (Amos 3:7,D&C 28:7, Official Declaration 1, 2 Nephi 26:33) If Spencer Kimball had revealed what you claimed to be a phony revelation he would have been removed from office. Even Balaam, despite disobeying God and going with the king of Moab, could not Curse Israel as God would not let him. Yes he led the Israelites to sin with the midianitish woman, but he was not acting as prophet at the time, while Kimball was definitely acting as the prophet when he announced this. Yes african-americans had been cursed as to the priesthood but that curse has been removed, just as the curse upon the promised land in which all things became slippery was removed when the Nephites took over residence from the Jaredites, or whenever either party repented. Does Saul and Uzziah being chastised because they were not entitle to either priesthood mean that we should keep it solely to the Levites (1 Samuel 13, 2 Chronicles 26). Do not be like the Jews of the early christian church who refused to accept the Gentiles as fully accepted of God. To continue to disavow a revelation from a man who held all the proper keys and authority, as well as the entire quorum of the twelve who agreed with him, is apologetic denial and apostasy, even if a Patriarch didn't agree with him (after all, Oliver Cowdry, second elder in the church, was still wrong when he left the church). I testify that I know that African Americans hold the priesthood and have seen them administer in such offices and know them to have literally healed the sick through the power of the Melchezedick power. Not to mention the fact that Joseph Smith ordained several African Americans to the Melchezedick Priesthood long before Brigham Young was instructed to do otherwise. Once again I state that yes the had the curse of cain and were denied the priesthood but the curse has been removed by a prophet of the most high, who, if he had led the church astray would have been removed from office. Don't let the curse of Cain become your version of the Jews' Circumcision. If you have any doubts about this, do what God has instructed. Study out official declaration 2 in your mind, keep your opinion or form a new one, and ask God whether or not your opinion is right. If you do not get the peace promised but merely wish to come back and argue with me about this, then I think you know your answer whether or not you want to admit it.
      Above all else don't end up like Miriam (Numbers 12, paying especial attention to 6-8). In short, leaders acting on their own can lead a few astray, a la the golden calf or the Kirtland safety society crisis, the but church leadership acting for the whole church will not lead the saints astray in official policy and doctrine. Thank you for reading through this rabble, assuming you bothered to suffer through my bad writing to reach this point.
      scott Bruening

    2. Scott, one reason why I trust what Ira said and do not trust what you say is because the church for a long time puts up the idea that God guarantees that the church President will never be allowed to lead it astray, and thus completely rejects anyone who claims a controversy over the church President based on D&C 107:81-84 and JST Mark 9:40-48. The church leaders are not superiors to the non-leaders, they are equals. D&C 38:25-26 The non-leaders have the same responsibility and rights to bear off the kingdom as the leaders do. The leaders are called as SERVANTS to use the authority that is given to the entire Priesthood body. If they fail, another faithful members can replace them. Sustaining is not so the non-leaders can prove their allegiance to the leaders, but it is the way the non-leaders can deal with problems that come up among the leaders. Everything you say about how certain the Lord will never allow the leaders to fail is always based on hearsay. What I am saying is based on scripture. Should we hold to the rod, or to the hearsay? I am on this blog because I believe the scriptures always trump the ideas of men that contradict the scriptures. Here is an evidence that what I say about the church leaders seeking to place themselves above the law is correct:

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