A commenter at Approaching Zion suggests that interracial marriage is wrong. The commenter, a critic of feminism, lists as one of the harms of feminism was that it “encourages single men to marry outside their race and culture.” What exactly is the status of church doctrine on interracial marriage, anyway?
There is a lengthy history of Mormon oppposition to interracial marriage. Brigham Young famously taught that interracial marriage was wrong, for example, and Bruce R. McConkie wrote that interracial marriage is discouraged by the church.
(Apologists have suggested a number of explanations, arguing that Brigham Young’s statement may have been a warning not to have premarital sex with Blacks and that Bruce R. McConkie’s and others’ statements about interracial marriage being “discouraged” may be based on a desire to prevent divorce.)
But such teachings are now in the past, and no longer official. Aren’t they?
thirty thirty-one, and I’ve grown up almost entirely in the post-1978 world. I’m a product of an interracial marriage myself (my mother is part-Hawaiian), and I’ve never been taught that interracial marriage was prohibited. This was on a personal as well as intellectual level — when I was dating, I viewed black and hispanic women as potential dating (and potentially, marriage) partners. I’ve long had the impression that any prohibitions on interracial marriage are far in the past. Yet over the years I have run into statements made here and there, often by older members, to the effect that interracial marriage is a sin today, or should be discouraged even today.
So, let’s ask a few questions:
First, is there any part of current church doctrine or instruction that supports a belief that interracial marriage is wrong? I’m not talking about Bruce R. McConkie’s (unofficial) book from 1964 — has Gordon B. Hinckley, Boyd K. Packer, Thomas S. Monson taught this in conference in the past decade? Has anyone? When was the last time any such statements were made?
And what sorts of official couner-statements to this idea (if any) have been made by church leaders?
Can we assume that any teachings against interracial marriage went out the door with the 1978 Declaration?
Or in other words, am I safe in my post-1978 assumption that the idea that interracial marriage is wrong or sinful, is officially bunk? Can we unequivocally declare this idea to be no-longer-good-doctrine — and to the extent that it is held out as such, now false doctrine? Or is there some remaining doctrinal support for the idea?
Second, even if the idea is officially bunk, is the wrongness-of-interracial-marriage a belief that is still prevalent among church members? What is the reception accorded to an interracial couple who moves into a random ward in Mormonville, Utah? What do you say to your friend/sibling/child when s/he announces an interracial engagement? Is there a generation gap? (My casual observation suggests that there is, but that may just be my experiences).
Finally, if the idea that interracial marriage is wrong is no longer good doctrine, and if there is some element of lingering belief in this idea, what should we do, as members, to try to combat this false doctrine? Should it simply be allowed to die a natural death? Should it simply be left alone, as many folk doctrines are? Or should it be a target of more active criticism, the kind of criticism generally leveled at invidious false doctrines?