Interracial Marriage

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?

I’m barely 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?

167 comments for “Interracial Marriage

  1. July 22, 2005 at 6:39 pm

    Someone who believes that inter-racial marriage is wrong or sinful is a bigot. Period. I could see during the pre-OD2 era how the church might not encourage it. That does not change the fact that the contemporary belief equates to bigotry; and I submit that such a belief is itself sinful.

    Now, I had a French girl friend in France when I was working there. Communicating the most difficult things in our souls to someone in a second language and bridging cultural chasms is difficult. There are many obstacles to such relationships. The result is that they are challenging; but we are encouraged to do allot of challenging things.

  2. MDS
    July 22, 2005 at 6:47 pm

    There is definitely a generation gap. I know older members who are still adamant about this in Utah. I have no problem telling them they are wrong, and have done so when the issue arose Living in Miami during law school permanently erased for me any argument that interracial/intercultural marriages can’t work. Our ward there was full of counterexamples, including both bishops who served in the ward during the time I was there. (One a Brazilian married to a Cuban, and the other a Caucasian who originally hailed from California and had married a Puerto Rican). It was a beautiful thing. And yes, language and communication issues are a concern in some of these marriages, but not a huge one. The fact that a couple shares the same religion should be more than enough to make up for any racial and cultural differences.

  3. blaine
    July 22, 2005 at 6:47 pm

    I think we have to believe that any counsel against interracial marriage is bunk. I would add to the apologetic arguments that we live in a different world where the cultural differences between races are far less drastic than they used to be. After 1978, I don’t think there is any possible argument that minorities should be viewed as second-class citizens in the church, and the different world point makes any functional argument that interracial marriage won’t work as well far less meaningful.

    All that I think can be said is that marrying someone from another race may mean that there are customs and traditions that one is not familiar with that one should understand before marriage.

    But, I don’t think there are very many traditions beyond cultural reasons for not keeping the commandments for which I can see a gospel reason not to get married. A propensity not to keep various commandments is, obviously, an independent reason not to get married, so I don’t know what work the person being from another race does in the analysis. Furthermore, cultural issues with a spouse and spouse’s family are not necessarily tied to race. Marrying someone from another part of the country, or even more so, someone from another caucasian country, is sure to present far more issues than marrying someone from your home town who happens to be a minority.

  4. JKS
    July 22, 2005 at 6:58 pm

    Currently, I would say that the church does not teach that inter-racial marriage is “wrong.” It does not preach against it in practice or in theory.
    The closest thing would be suggestions to single young adults to look for someone who has a similar backgroud so there aren’t so many differences to work through.
    It can be a valid issue when marrying someone from another country, another ethnicity, etc. My friend married a man from Mexico. I personally would not like to have to deal with certain cultural differences, but they have made a happy marriage by working together to deal with those differences. She has yet to see a successful marriage like hers-American woman, hispanic man. But surely they can’t be the only one who succeed.
    I also think language differences would be a challenge.
    I think “race” isn’t the only difference that should be put in the category of “are you sure you can deal with the challenges” when considering marrying a person with a significantly different background.
    From a practical point of view, who would Tiger Woods marry if inter-racial marriage was “wrong”? We have many people with multiple heritages. Of course they are free to marry whoever they choose!
    Your biggest clue should be that interracial marriages take place in the temple. These marriages are forever with all the promises of the temple sealing.
    The only other thing I can say is that people who choose to marry should have personal revelation that God approves of their choice. That will be my main advice to my children.

  5. July 22, 2005 at 7:08 pm

    1995 Conference, Elder Nelson mentioned the idea in a footnote (he is a big footnoter):

    ” The commandment to love our neighbors without discrimination is certain. But it must not be misunderstood. It applies generally. Selection of a marriage partner, on the other hand, involves specific and not general criteria. After all, one person can only be married to one individual.
    The probabilities of a successful marriage are known to be much greater if both the husband and wife are united in their religion, language, culture, and ethnic background. Thus, in choosing an eternal companion, wisdom is needed. It’s better not to fly in the face of constant head winds. Occasional squalls provide challenge enough. Once marriage vows are taken, absolute fidelity is essential—to the Lord and to one’s companion.”

  6. A. Greenwood
    July 22, 2005 at 7:19 pm

    I have a hard time seeing what interracial marriage has to do with feminism. I’m pretty sure that no one agrees with this saint, or takes the flipside (i.e., that us traditional supporters of sex roles and stay-at-home moms are intrinsically racist).

  7. Steve Evans
    July 22, 2005 at 7:30 pm

    Adam, you racist, cool it.

    And J. Stapley: whatever happened to “Lock Your Heart,” brother? That’s what my Pres told me to do when I was in France….

  8. A. Greenwood
    July 22, 2005 at 7:54 pm

    Race it, cool guy,

  9. Julie in Austin
    July 22, 2005 at 8:11 pm

    I wonder if previous counsel against interracial marriages was related to the fact that marriages involving men or women of African descent could not take place in the Temple?

    And I agree with Adam: I’m having a hard time seeing the link to feminism here.

  10. July 22, 2005 at 8:33 pm

    President Kimball discouraged it on several occasions (also here), as did Elder Packer during the 1970s. For instance, in 1979, while speaking to American Indian students at BYU, Elder Packer said: “We counsel you…to marry…within your race. Now inter-racial marriages are not prohibited but they are not encouraged, for the blood that’s in your veins is the blood of the children of the covenant” (qtd. in Mauss, All Abraham’s Children, p. 136).

    The June 17, 1978, issue of the Church News, which announced the new priesthood policy, also featured a small article entitled “Interracial Marriage Discouraged,” quoting several statements given by President Kimball discouraging interracial marriage.

  11. yossarian
    July 22, 2005 at 8:36 pm

    I think that we are mostly talking about a generation gap here. I have been present for several disagreements where an older member has said something to the effect that “rabbits should marry rabbits and racoons should marry racoons and chipmunks should marry chipmunks,” (that is a verbatim quote). The younger folks are really angered by these types of statements.
    Personally, I see even the comments about the ease of marrying within “culture” as anachronistic for the most part. American consumer culture is pretty much hegemonic, in my opinion, and i would say that there are far greater potential gaps between socio -econonmic groups than racial groups. However, I would say that this issue is likely to be more salient with the globalization of Mormonism and the increased size and acculturation of ethnic groups within American society at large. The church (and its members) better make peace with interracial dating and marriage if it wants to have any credibility with its growing number of non-Caucasian members.

  12. danithew
    July 22, 2005 at 9:18 pm

    Numbers 12:1
    And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.

  13. Josh KIm
    July 22, 2005 at 9:38 pm

    I don’t see the problem with interracial dating and quite frankly I don’t see the General Authorities today having a problem with dating or marriage.

    Elder Bruce R. McConkie himself said that he was wrong about Blacks after the 1978 revelation on the Priesthood.

  14. Josh KIm
    July 22, 2005 at 9:38 pm

    I don’t see the problem with interracial dating and quite frankly I don’t see the General Authorities today having a problem with dating or marriage.

    Elder Bruce R. McConkie himself said that he was wrong about Blacks after the 1978 revelation on the Priesthood.

  15. JKS
    July 22, 2005 at 9:53 pm

    The link to feminism is not that hard to see.
    How many missionaries who go to other countries marry a woman from that country? A few. And, it is not beyond my comprehension that some of these women come from cultures where women do all the cooking, cleaning, housework and childcare. So, the critic of feminism referred to in the OP is jumping from that to men making a concious or unconsious choice for a less feminine wife, which means they are choosing a slightly darker skinned person than the presumed white American that the critic is so concerned about.

  16. JKS
    July 22, 2005 at 9:54 pm

    Sorry poor proofreading. Should be:
    “making a concious or unconsious choice for the MORE feminine (traditional) wife of another culture

  17. manaen
    July 22, 2005 at 9:55 pm

    As a BYU undergrad from California in the ’60s, I sometimes was treated as a member of an inferior race: the quasi-legitimate California-Mormon. Nobody said I couldn’t marry someone from the pure mountain strain, but they probably didn’t feel that I, in particular, posed that threat.

    This was during the protests against BYU by other schools — black armbands by Stanford’s team, protests at the Wyoming basketball game, and the Molotov cocktail that burned on the court and stopped the game for 45 minutes at the CSU basketball game (Pres. Wilkinson tried to point out the thrower to security, but they didn’t act). One of my most vivid memories was the Black protesters marching among the Cougarettes during the half-time performance and giving clenched-fist power salutes and dropping their pants.

    BYU’s students responded by wearing red armbands to protest the other schools’ failures to promote opportunities for Lamanite students, as did BYU. There also was a flurry of Confederate flags in dorm windows. I heard shocking comments among BYU’s students about minority races, but these mostly seemed to be more from ignorance — I met students from Idaho that never had seen a Black person — and defensive emotions than from true animus. I had one small act to counter this: a student from Louisiana had a large Confederate flag tacked to his dorm room’s ceiling. It wasn’t ’til he moved out that he found the NAACP literature I had resting on it.

    One student that I admire from that time was Cheryl Lynn Townsend. She was one of the few Black LDS students. Her peaceful gratitude for the blessings she then received and her patience with the other student’s missteps, accidental and intentional, still press me to treat others better. I still have a copy of her poem, “I Will Wait.”

    All this was an interesting environment for me during my ‘phone calls to the last girl I’d dated in high school, who happened to have black skin. (My roommate from Utah wasn’t sure what to do with me). We’d started dating because she and I were the only ones not drinking at the Senior class’s beach parties. Her dad liked me because in the Navy he’d reported to an LDS officer who treated him well enough that it stood out in his memory. This was when the Black Panthers were running alternate schools and giving free breakfasts to inner-city kids. I saw a different side life when I talked with some of her young cousins from Chicago who lionized the Panthers, especially in contrast to the mean nuns they had at their Catholic school.

    My parents told me to stop seeing this girl after they met her at our high school’s graduation. They said that it was because I couldn’t marry her in the temple, but I wondered why the hadn’t objected to me dating girls of other religions. I still regret deeply that I wasn’t kind enough to handle it more gracefully with her — instead, lost in my own anger and confusion about the situation, I just blurted out that my parents didn’t want us to see each other because of her skin’s color and then talked about how much I owed them. The look on her face of stunned pain — that the situation existed, that I handled it so poorly, that I didn’t (then) have the courage to stand up — still pains me.

    So, why take you back to all that? I still believe the prejudices I described were contrary to the gospel. I wish we LDS had been more leaders than followers in helping our Black siblings join mainstream society (not that we were mainstream then). But, I hope these experiences help you understand that inter-racial marriage in that environment would be more difficult, but not wrong, because the usual supports of a successful marriage — family, society, and church — would be active hindrances.

    An inter-racial marriage then also was a crusade. Were you marrying your spouse or a noble cause? I found in the marriage that I did have that using the marriage for a cause — in my case, a platform for Church service — makes it not a marriage. The external pressures from family, society, and church would be daunting for an inter-racial marriage then. The internal pressure from fighting against them for the marriage could transform the marriage into something else. If you spend that much of your time fighting for the marriage, is your relationship a marriage or partners in combat? The Church teaches that marriage/family is this life’s priority. If marriage is the priority, then it’s wrong to use it as a weapon or tool to serve some new priority, regardless of how right is the new priority. Rereading the warnings from those days, I don’t have the anger I had then about them. Now, I choose to see them as warning of how the pressures coming then with an inter-racial marriage could cause the marriage to fail even though the pressures were wrong.

    With all that, would I as I am now consider an inter-racial marriage then? Yes, but I now am confident in gospel truths, in my ability to have intimacy, in the Lord’s support in walking a different path that’s right, in my ability to turn to those that would persecute and try to help them find peace, in my ability to discount external challenges to a relationship. Would I consider it as an untested, unsure 20-something. Probably, but I shouldn’t. Who I then was blew up a marriage that didn’t have this added challenge.

    We have an active and growing share of Black LDS members here in SoCal. At the Genesis firesides, occasionally a speaker will suggest that it was wrong to deny their progenitors the priesthood after Joseph Smith’s time. Some more-moderate voices say that the Blacks weren’t ready to hold the priesthood and that the Church wasn’t ready for them to do so. I do not believe that Brigham and his successors erred. However, after experiencing what I related above, I do wonder whether the waiting was for the Blacks or for the Church to become ready.

  18. July 22, 2005 at 10:00 pm

    A Hike to Eternity (1990)

    “We had lived just below the Oakland Temple for more than a year, but we had never gone near it. We were an interracial family and, though we had heard the Mormons now allowed blacks to hold the priesthood, we were certain we wouldn’t be welcome there. Besides, we really weren’t interested in going anywhere near a church with such a well-known image of discrimination against blacks.

    “Michael, I don’t think we’d better go there,” I said. “Mormons don’t like blacks, and they especially don’t like mixed families.””

    Four Who Serve (1992)

    “It was at BYU that he met his wife, Susan Bevan. They were married on 21 April 1978, after careful consideration of the difficulties they might face and after receiving counsel about the challenges of interracial marriage.”

  19. danithew
    July 22, 2005 at 10:22 pm

    Genesis 41:45

    It is impossible to be sure, but it is likely that Ephraim and Manasseh were children of an interracial (certainly an intercultural) marriage. Joseph married Asenath, who was the daughter of an Egyptian priest. Certainly Egyptian culture was different from the house of Israel. It is likely there were racial differences as well.

  20. danithew
    July 22, 2005 at 10:28 pm

    That also brings to mind Abraham and the Egyptian handmaid, Hagar.

  21. Kaimi
    July 22, 2005 at 10:35 pm


    But isn’t the applicability of interracial marriage scriptures from the Old Testament rather questionable?

  22. danithew
    July 22, 2005 at 10:43 pm


    When we speak of persons as prominent as Abraham, Joseph and Moses, then we have to at least stop and pause and think.

  23. Heather Bigley
    July 22, 2005 at 10:45 pm

    In general, I feel that whether or not inter-racial marriage is deemed “wrong” or “unadvisable” is secondary to individual church members’ racism. An African-American friend of mine at BYU said that as a freshman and sophmore, she dated quite a bit—mainly pre-mission boys. But once her dating group became returned missionary boys, the dating stopped. She felt like the white boys at BYU saw her as fun and exotic and something to experiment with (sexually intriguing and different) but not the kind of woman you would marry.

    I witnessed her go through the same thing in a singles’ ward (not in Utah). A lot of men would ask her out for one or two dates, nudging their buddies in the arm, but when they found she was just as committed to the Law of Chastity as most other girls in the ward (Hispanic, Asian, or Anglo), they were much less interested.

    These boys/men’s attitudes were of course both racist and highly misogynistic. The idea that a woman’s sexual behavior would be solely determined by her skin color, socio-economic background, or education level is something I’d thought our American society had gotten past, but I’m always being proved wrong.

    I myself have never dated a white boy (so perhaps this same judgement could be passed on me?), and rarely date church members, but I do tend to stick to people with my same class, educational goals, and interests. In my experience, the race issue is important to both parties—my present boyfriend is just as concerned about my race and its impact on our relationship as I might be about his. I bring this up because I think white people tend to valorize themselves—“I’m white; of course, he/she will want marry me…but do I really want to marry someone so different….”

    At any rate, with Mormon divorce rates as high as they are, I don’t think the race issue is really much of a problem. All those white couples getting divorced (about half of the white Mormon, temple wedding couples I know) don’t have race to blame their irreconcilable differences on.

  24. July 22, 2005 at 11:24 pm

    Put me with those who don’t think interracial marriage is wrong. But no one has answered Kaimi’s question, “And what sorts of official counter-statements to this idea (if any) have been made by church leaders?” And I don’t think anyone is going to be able to. (Though I’d gladly be proven wrong.)

    The issue then, is how long does it take for prophetic teachings to expire? Can we safely assume that anything that hasn’t been taught formally for 25 years is also not doctrine? How do you put a time-limit on church teachings anyway?

  25. Prudence McPrude
    July 22, 2005 at 11:42 pm

    I believe that intra-racial marriage is wrong.

  26. Kevin Barney
    July 22, 2005 at 11:46 pm

    Anyone who is older (I’m 46) knows that it used to be an issue. And I recall it being specifically emphasized in the immediate wake of the 1978 Declaration (as if to say, “let’s not go *too* crazy with this thing”). I think anything post-78 has been couched in neutral terms of concern over differences in culture or whatever, but the concern was still there.

    As time has gone on, official statements to such an effect have ceased, and the de facto discouragement that once existed has gone away. As several have mentioned, this has resulted in a generation gap; older Saints may well still harbor attitudes frowning on miscegenation. My experience is that younger Saints don’t see it as a problem at all. (We have lots of mixed race couples in our ward, although admittedly I live near Chicago and not in the hinterlands of Utah.)

    I’m not sure that you’re going to find an official *encouragement* of mixed race marriage. But that’s not the way the Church works; changes in policy are effected much more subtly than that and to really take root at the grass roots level requires time.. I think the lack of continued semiofficial discouragement speaks volumes. For my money, that is tantamount to an official position of neutrality on the issue. As with so many other things (birth control, for instance), the Church has (very wisely) gotten out of the business of dictating and has left the decisions up to individuals.

    In another generation or two, with any luck it will be a non-issue throughout the Church. As of now, if you live in a place like I do, it’s a non-issue now. But I don’t doubt that in more conservative or homogenous environments it is still looked down upon by many of the older generation.

  27. July 23, 2005 at 1:18 am

    Kaimi Wenger wrote:
    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?

    I am the “commenter” that you refer to, but I did not intend to suggest that interracial marriage is wrong. I myself married a Lamanite of primarily Mayan ancestry in the Los Angeles temple in 1978, less thans three month before the revelation granting the priesthood to blacks. Never at any time did our respective Bishops or stake presidents suggest that it was sinful or even inappropriate. With only a few exceptions, we have been well accepted in every ward we have belonged to. And with even fewer exceptions, we have been embraced by the leadership. Both of us have served in stake as well as ward leadership callings.

    But with that said, I deliberately married outside of my race and culture partly because I was offended by the feminist attitudes among the educated women of my own culture. And over the years I have met other faithful brethren who have married Hispanic, Asian, and Native American women for the same reasons. Feminist LDS women are free to agitate for their views, but the men don’t have to marry them. There are other options. Unfortunately, many of the men just decide to avoid marriage altogether.

  28. Aaron Brown
    July 23, 2005 at 2:20 am

    John, are you seriously suggesting there is a significant contingent of Mormon men who would get married, but for the swarms of feminist Mormon women around them who have ruined the whole institution for them? I’m sorry, but I think that’s rather doubtful. I’m sure that if a Mormon man wants a woman who’s “chained to the bed with enough slack to get to the kitchen” (pardon the expression), there are plenty of them in Mormonism that he can pick from. Show me a Mormon man who finds LDS women, on average, so “feminist” that he can’t endure the thought of marrying them, and I’ll show you a guy whose solitary marital status is most likely due to his being “damaged goods” in the Mormon marriage market, with an “I’m intentionally avoiding marriage” stand as his cover.

    Aaron B

  29. claire
    July 23, 2005 at 3:21 am

    I remember taking Teachings of the Living Prophets as a religion class at BYU in the early 90’s. The prof was really conservative and his constant harping on ‘secular humanism’ irked me. One of our assignments was to research a church topic and present a list of relevant GA quotes to the class. After weeks of hearing about not using birth control, etc. I chose interracial marriage as my topic. After researching it and rethinking it, I expanded it to the Worldwide Church. I have the paper somewhere in my attic, but I do know I found some good stuff from Hugh B. Brown (of course). He would be a good place to start looking, Kaimi.

    No one in my family ever really thought twice about my marrying a white British man, but my FIL about hit the roof when my sister in law brought home her black fiance. They are happily married 19 years later and he is a Bishop. She told me that she reminded her father that he’d told her to marry a returned missionary and he’d told her to marry a man who could take her to the temple, but he never told her to marry a white man.

  30. JKS
    July 23, 2005 at 3:25 am

    Your post describing your experiences in college was extremely interesting. Thank you.
    I also think that perhaps the people in the church were not ready for blacks to have the priesthood. Racism was so much a part of society that very few could think outside of it until just a few decades ago.
    I am very happy that my memory of the 1978 revelation is of my parents, and others at church, crying tears of happiness.

    I have often felt sad over what I have only assumed to be the plight of single African Americans in the church.

  31. Kaimi
    July 23, 2005 at 3:33 am

    John Redelfs,

    If you didn’t mean to suggest that interracial marriage is wrong, you sure picked a strange way to say that. You wrote:

    Feminism as a world movement is inspired by the devil. It breaks up families, and encourages single men to marry outside their race and culture. It also encourages many men to avoid marriage altogether. President Boyd K. Packer, a prophet of God, has identified feminism as a threat to the Church.

    Thus, among a laundry list of ills that you attribute to feminism (inspired by devil, breaks up families, threat to church) you say that it encourages men to marry outside their race. It’s awfully hard to read that paragraph as anything other than an implied statement that marriage outside one’s race is a negative (possibly sinful) thing. Why else would you situate that list item in the midst of a list of such negative things, and in the context of condemning the perceived harms of feminism?

  32. Wilfried
    July 23, 2005 at 3:42 am

    Manaen, I’d like to join JKS in congratulating you for a most interesting and valuable contribution to the discussion (#17).

    As has been said, it’s a generation issue. It will take time, several generations, to eradicate even mild forms of racist reactions. And (sub)conscious feelings of cultural supremacy. Western towards the rest of the world. European and American towards each other. Country towards country, region towards region. It’s ingrained in us by so many factors. I guess the Church itself, inasmuch as it also led by searching and growing humans, becomes part of that long educational process towards celestial norms. If our leaders are able to say they were wrong on certain issues, and each of us can say that too, it’s part of the process.

  33. July 23, 2005 at 5:38 am

    Kaimi, you can throw my own words back in my face if it pleases you. Still, I am the authority on what I meant, not you. My words, which you obviously did not understand the way I meant them, were intended as an indictment of feminism, not interracial marriage. Undoubtedly I did not express myself clearly. It is a good thing I have this opportunity to correct the resulting confusion.

    I still think that the philosophy underlying modern feminism is one of the “false philosophies of men” that is inspired by the devil. But I do not believe that interracial marriage is a sin or even a bad idea in many cases. You may feel that there is a contradiction between the two statements. I do not.

    And Aaron, my wife is not “chained to the bed with enough slack to get to the kitchen.” I was the stay-at-home parent in our family during the years that our three children were growing up. My wife, on the other hand, has a post graduate degree and is less than two years away from retirement after a long and illustrious career in social work administration with the federal government. Yet largely because she was raised in a more traditional culture, she feels as I do about the organized feminist movement; and we both regret that she was unable to stay at home with the children instead of me.

    We were born during the Second World War, and American culture has become disgusting since then. And to the extent that Latter-day Saint culture in the USA reflects the greater American culture, it too is disgusting. Feminism has played a large role in that by promoting divorce, abortion, children born out of wedlock, single parent families, unmarried cohabitation, children growing up in daycare without full-time parenting, the decline in family size and a host of other social ills arising from mothers being unavailable to take care of their children.

    I do not believe that interracial marriage is a sin. I believe that feminist philosophy is a sin. I also believe that feminist philosophy has driven men to marry women from more traditional cultures. I believe this because I am such a man, and I have met others like me. There are probably many.

  34. danithew
    July 23, 2005 at 7:15 am

    John, I think you should be careful about calling feminism a philosophy inspired by the devil. There are too many women today, even LDS women, who are incredibly grateful for the opportunities that are afforded them due to the progress made by the feminist movement. The feminist movement forced men and society to confront many of the historical ills that women have faced. I felt President Hinckley himself made a nod towards those historical ills in his recent remarks in a talk titled “The Women In Our Lives”:

    Notwithstanding this preeminence given the creation of woman, she has so frequently through the ages been relegated to a secondary position. She has been put down. She has been denigrated. She has been enslaved. She has been abused.

    The world needed (and continues to need) a feminist movement to aggressively confront and change centuries and even millenia of chauvinistic policies and sadly there are many parts of the world that are desperately in need of more equality of the sexes and are still relatively untouched by the feminist movement.

  35. obi-wan
    July 23, 2005 at 8:59 am

    John, I think you should be careful about calling feminism a philosophy inspired by the devil . . .

    Please don’t feed the troll!

  36. July 23, 2005 at 9:10 am

    Random thoughts:

    Clearly, a part of the problem with offficial policies regarding interracial marriage is that they simply don’t make sense in a worldwide church, or even in our modern American society. What does interracial even mean anymore? The traditional American conception of race, in which whiteness is privileged and blackness impure, so that if your ancestors aren’t all white to the sixth generation (by some definitions), you’re black, essentially means that many of you white folk are actually black (I’m East Asian). And does a prohibition against interracial marriage mean that Japanese shouldn’t marry Koreans or Chinese? Race, for the purposes of defining suitable marriage partners, is an arbitrary concept, and unless the church wants to be in the position of assigning racial labels to its members, it can’t really be in the business of proscribing interracial marriages.

    My mission president strongly discouraged his missionaries from marrying across cultures (specifically Americans marrying Japanese). This was due to the cultural barriers, however.

    A couple of months ago I ran into a friend of mine (not LDS) whom I hadn’t seen in a year or so. He’s black, his wife is white. I asked him how he was doing, and he said “one exciting thing is that Angela’s family is finally talking to us”. This after fifteen or so years of marriage. I took this as a sign that people can change, but also as a reminder of the potential costs to an interracial couple even in our day and age.

  37. July 23, 2005 at 9:12 am

    And consulting with my wife (I’m Asian, she’s Caucasian), neither of us generally think of our marriage as interracial. Our kids are beautiful, though :)

  38. comet
    July 23, 2005 at 9:24 am

    Interracial marriage is a dead issue outside of Utah. It seems pretty clear that it was rarely, if ever, taught as “eternal doctrine” by the highest councils in the church; instead, such sentiments basically amounted to advice that sought to prevent undue marital tension in the individual and social service burdens within the institutional church. Whatever force it had a generation or two ago is gone. But what continually amazes me is the power of folk religion to raise socio-cultural taboos to the level of formal doctrine. (forgive the testiness).

  39. Julie in Austin
    July 23, 2005 at 9:55 am

    Br. Redelfs,

    I find it ironic that you don’t see how feminism has benefited your own family: without it, it is highly unlikely that your wife would be about to retire from a prestigious career and likely that she had spent the last several decades engaged in poorly paid drudge work while your family lived in poverty.

  40. Larry
    July 23, 2005 at 10:18 am

    The issue of feminism and it’s philosophy needs to be recognized for both the good and the bad that it introduced. To foster one side without recognizing the other is wrong.
    Opposition in all things etc.

  41. MIke
    July 23, 2005 at 11:25 am

    I live in a ward with probably 10-20% Black members in the Deep South. Also a smattering of other people from around the world. We have had a few mixed race couples move in and out. I do not think they were discriminated against, but maybe quietly they were beyond my awareness. The most respected older Black man in the ward who has served in the Bishopric a few times has an interesting view. He was a Black Panther hanger on as a youth and a Baptist minister before his conversion and has worked for the LDS church in the past going through the lesson manuals and pruning out the latent racism, many years ago. He can get on a hobby horse about rooting out racism in the church from time to time and it really irritates some of the members, but I think it is a small price to pay for the atrocities of the past. He told me that we should not ever treat mixed race couples with anything but the same charity and love we should treat everyone else with. But it was his private opinion that mixed race marriages were a bad idea and should be discouraged. Part of the generation gap?

    I know that although it seems all right with me if other people’s kids marry across racial lines, I certainly do not want my kids doing it. This represents my feelings, not my rational thoughts and I admit that they are not consistent. This might be the real litmus question, would you welcome in your heart one of your daughters or sons marrying a person of African descent? And I don’t pass it, either does my friend described above.

    Another rumor that floated around the ward was that President Hinckley had a son or grand son who served a mission in Japan and married a Japanese woman and the prophet was not amused. I noticed that during his wife’s funeral that none of the family members were Asian. Does President Hinckley pass the test in his own personal life?

    I have a friend who lives in Brigham city where Elder Packer is from. He told me that Elder Packer referred to a missionary marrying a girl from Japan as a “Jap lover.” Elder Packer was a pilot in WWII in the Pacific and this comment was made quite a few years ago (and just a rumor). My father of the same era and worse war experience still refers to them as “Japs” which is not nice. Our church leaders are human and not without faults.

    I well remember the fear and tension before the revelation in 1978. We must not return to those times. I recall a High Counsel speaker saying to our ward that you can give Blacks the Priesthood but they still are not going to make it to the celestial kingdom. I remember another leader telling me that we didn’t have to home teach inactive Black members.That we have gotten beyond these kind of remarks is real progress and I hope that we can continue to do better.

  42. annegb
    July 23, 2005 at 11:41 am

    Manaen, I also appreciate your comments, and I’m so sorry for your regret. That’s a hard emotion to live with.

    I wouldn’t have any objection to anyone my daughter would marry, if he was/were a good person, but I think it would bother my husband. He would be courteous and kind, but I think it would bother him. Like Kevin says, we are older than he is and a different generation. It’s more a societal thing from the 50’s than a religious issue, I think.

    I disagree that inter-marrying is sinful or wrong. I think that, back in the 50’s, inter-marrying was risky and extremely difficult, people were cruel. Even now, marrying a person from a different social strata or heritage can be problematic. I, for instance, was raised white trash, with alcoholic parents, my husband was strictly middle class, honorable parents and family. Problems? yes. Insurmountable? No. And we have both grown.

    Times have changed. We have evolved. I saw a brief clip of President Hinckley saying that God loved all His children equally. In the end, that’s all that really matters.

  43. bryan
    July 23, 2005 at 11:45 am

    Maybe I’ve just been lucky, but even inside Utah, I think interacial marriage is mostly a dead issue. In all the wards I’ve been in, we’ve had at least one family that was “mixed”, and they were loved and appreciated like any other family. Many held “high” positions in the church, both husband and wife. I really haven’t seen any signs of racism in the church. I think it’s rare to find anyone who thinks there’s anything wrong with it.

  44. Andrea Wright
    July 23, 2005 at 12:29 pm

    John, I too have really big issues with feminism and despise some of what it’s responsible for, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. People take our doctrines to extremes and make something evil out of it, but that does not mean those doctrines are corrupt and evil.

  45. Jack
    July 23, 2005 at 1:09 pm

    I agree with Larry in that there are both the “good” and the “bad” of feminism. And I hope that there are few around here brazen enough to deny either. I think we should also consider the “ugly” as well–or in other words, the indirect effects of feminism which are caused by it’s struggle against a cultural tradition that resists what’s good about it (with the understanding that some of that resistence is do to a fear of what’s bad about it). It’s complex–lot’s of grey area.

    That said, I think the greater evil is careerism and is indeed the well spring of the “bad” in feminism. Yes, it’s only fair that women should have an equal shot at self-fulfillment in our wealthy society. The problem is that we’ve placed to much value on that kind of fulfillment. It’s the great test of our age (in the west anyway). How are we doing in our struggle against the temptations of abundance? Not too well, I’d say. I attribute most of this evil to men.

  46. manaen
    July 23, 2005 at 1:33 pm

    Wilfired, JKS, annegb, thank you for your comments on my posting.

    That was a difficult time for people that cared about racial harmony. There were very few Black people in my pre-1978 mission’s area. In a zone conference, someone asked what to do if a Black person were interested in our message. The mission president’s wife answered, “Just teach them the prayer dialogue, that’s all they need anyway.”

    I see signs of healing now. I’ve received counsel and priesthood blessings from Black priesthood holders without anyone showing a sense of novelty about it.

    Our Heavenly Parents must wonder about us seeing an issue here. If we all have the same parents, are we not all of the same race — of God? Someone said that if we awoke one day to find that all the bases of discrimination had disappeared, we’d have developed a new set by 10:00 am. I believe that most discrimination comes from a wounded soul’s perceived need to make someone else inferior in order to kid one’s self into feeling superior. It’s pride instead of charity.

  47. Milo
    July 23, 2005 at 3:17 pm

    When I was 15, my best friend and I went skiing in Idaho and on the slopes was the most beautiful black girl. We couldn’t stop talking about her, even after we got home. My friend’s mom overheard us talking and interjected, “Well, that’s fine, but don’t you ever think about marrying one.” We were shocked, frankly. I’d never had such a teaching from my parents, and apparently, he hadn’t either until then.

    When I was in college, I had a few friends who had married interracially, and it never crossed anyone’s mind that there was anything wrong or even abnormal about it. This issue, it seems, is largely driven by our pwn personal experiences. Probably because, as Kaimi pointed out, there haven’t been any definitive statements recently by the GAs, so we’re left with our own personal experiences (and the surrounding culture’s instructions) to guide us.

    Interracial marriage is not wrong or sinful. I think if someone were to say, “Be careful in choosing a mate to be sure you are as compatible as possible” and listed cultural heritage as one item to be in harmony about, this doesn’t mean they are discouraging interracial marriage. But, YMMV.

  48. Jud
    July 23, 2005 at 4:38 pm

    John, well said. Here, here.

    44. “John, I too have really big issues with feminism and despise some of what it’s responsible for, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

    Now that doesn’t sound like embracing the philosophies of men mingled with scripture.

    All, just a side note to those heralding the accomplishments of the liberal feminist movement. It is logically fallacious to assume that because some positive things came out of the movement that those same things wouldn’t have been accomplished by some other (more productive) means. We didn’t need Nazi Germany to advance our knowledge of neuroscience by experimenting on Jews, but advance our knowledge it did. Should they be praised? To assume that without the rise of liberal feminism women would still be where they were 50 years ago is arrogance at its best.

    John is spot on. The rise of liberal feminism has all but decimated the American family on many different levels. Oh, but women have better jobs.

  49. danithew
    July 23, 2005 at 5:09 pm

    Jud, you made a comparison between the social advances brought about by liberal feminism and progress in neuroscience due to Nazi Germany experiments. I believe you have triggered Godwin’s law.

    Thus, this thread is over and you have lost the argument.

  50. Jack
    July 23, 2005 at 5:16 pm

    Only according to Godwin…

  51. Stephanie
    July 23, 2005 at 5:26 pm

    I think the bloggernacle equivalent to Godwin’s Law should be referring to Bruce R. McConkie’s book “Mormon Doctrine”. This book has some very interesting commentary on segregation and interracial marriage.

    From the 1991 printing of “Mormon Doctrine”:

    “To illustrate; Cain, Ham, and the whole negro race have been cursed with a black skin, the mark of Cain, so they can be identified as a caste apart, a people with whom the other descendants of Adam should not intermarry. (Gen. 4; Moses 5).”

    Not sure if this statement is what we want to look to for current revelation on the issue of interracial marriage, but I sure do wish someone would publish an annotated version of “Mormon Doctrine” to correct any confusion that might arise as to the real doctrine of the LDS church.

  52. Kristine
    July 23, 2005 at 5:38 pm

    Jud, Jack, JWR, here’s a quote from a General Authority, Orson F. Whitney:

    “This great social upheaval, this woman’s movement that is making itself heard and felt, means something more than that certain women are ambitious to vote and hold office. I regard it as one of the great levers by which the Almighty is lifting up this fallen world, lifting it nearer to the throne of its Creator.”

    How would you reconcile that with your personal opinions of feminism?

  53. July 23, 2005 at 5:44 pm

    I myself don’t want to “throw the baby out with the bathwater.” I am thankful for some of the blessings that American women, including many who are LDS, have realized because of feminism, so-called. I am glad that women have the vote, that those who must work can find decent jobs, that those who work receive pay equal to what a man makes, and that men no longer feel as free to abuse their wives. How many of these improvements are attributable to modern feminism is debatable, but I am glad that the improvements have occurred.

    With that said, for reasons that I have already stated, I believe that feminism has done a lot more damage to our culture than good. The net result is a disaster and may yet bring about the end of western civilization. I believe what God’s living prophets teach about the equality of the sexes. Women are equal to men in nearly every way, and superior to them in some ways. But they have a different role in the ideal family, and a different responsibility and privilege in the bearing and rearing of children.

    I love the Proclamation on the Family. It is inspired of God.

  54. Jack
    July 23, 2005 at 6:08 pm


    Did you lump me in with that crowd because my name starts with a “J”?

    I spoke of the “good”, the “bad”, and the “ugly” of feminism–purposely drawing on the theme of Leone’s movie. Perhaps I wasn’t very clear, but I tried to convey the idea that much of what some consider to be “bad” is really the ugliness that emerges in the battle between the old and the new–a new ideology working against an established cultural tradition (which IMO accounts for a huge grey area).

    As to your question, is there no point on which you disagree with Orson F. Whitney?

  55. July 23, 2005 at 6:09 pm

    I agree with Orson F. Whitney’s statement on the women’s movement that led to women receiving the right to vote. I am not confident that the women’s movement that he refers to is the same movement that goes by the name of feminism today. I believe that the destructive feminism that is advocated by the movement’s most visible authors today is inspired by a different philosophy, an evil one. It may be that the movement has been hijacked. Women in Utah had the vote before any other women in the nation. I believe that was because of the gospel. Modern feminism, on the other hand, seems to be primarily informed by some form of materialist secularism, or in other words, atheism.

    I think it would be profitable to research the ideological and philosophical roots of the modern movement to see if it is indeed the same movement that Elder Whitney was referring to. Ideas are not neutral. Some of them are true and good, while others are false and evil. The gray areas are the result of our not understanding the philosophical basis of the various ideas that compete for our opinions. For myself, I don’t see the gospel of Jesus Christ as the philosophical basis for most of what is taught by modern feminism. Too much of it directly contradicts the teachings of the Lord’s prophets and the Proclamation on the Family. I think that is why many modern feminists in the Church are unhappy with the Brethren. Some of them despise and even hate the Brethren. I’ve seen a lot of that online over the last thirteen years.

  56. JKS
    July 23, 2005 at 6:16 pm

    Feminism started with the good stuff. Yes, some women have gone farther than I personally agree with. But I am very grateful for feminists of the past who have made it possible for me to have the opportunities that I have.

  57. Larry
    July 23, 2005 at 6:16 pm


    Orson F. Whitney is one of my favourite authors. I doubt that it ever entered his mind the downside that has been referred to. Let’s acknowledge the good that it has done. Let us also examine the great harm that it has done…that’s all.
    And it will yet be surpassed by the men’s movement in terms of harm to the family. More men are refusing to marry these days, whether it’s in response to the feminist movement or not, and they are leaving a legacy of destruction behind.
    We need to recognize the great evil that has overridden our society and start doing something positive with respect to our children, because there is no turning back the clock now.

  58. Kristine
    July 23, 2005 at 6:28 pm

    Jack, there are plenty of points on which I disagree with Orson F. Whitney (and lots of other General Authorities, too), unabashedly. And you’re right that your point was more subtle and you probably didn’t deserve to be “lumped in” to my question. Sorry.

    Larry, I don’t think any of the defenders of feminism here have suggested that it (as if there were a monolithic “it”) is perfect; we have objected to the totalizing effect of asserting that feminist philosophy is inspired by the devil.

    I’ll happily critique many different feminisms–they all have their flaws–but I think it’s both simplistic and just plain wrong to blame all the world’s (or even just the United States’) troubles on some imagined feminist bogeyman. Er, bogeyperson.

  59. Jack
    July 23, 2005 at 6:33 pm

    While we’re on the subject of what’s bad about feminism, let me just say that what really, REALLY irks me is when some try to use it as a standard by which all else is measured. That’s when I find myself having almost zero tolerance for feminism. Instead of looking at the “Proclamation on the Family” as inspired, there is an immediate search made for the ways in which it may NOT be inspired because of how it doesn’t “measure up”. That approach is worthy of the same kind of ridicule we so freely dish out on those who, because of their arrogance, are suspicious of anyone or anything that doesn’t match their own cultural bias.

  60. Jack
    July 23, 2005 at 6:37 pm


    Kristine, why do you always post something nice when I’m in the process of posting something vicious?! I’m trying to be angry here…

  61. JKS
    July 23, 2005 at 6:54 pm


  62. Larry
    July 23, 2005 at 6:55 pm


    The monolithic “it” I was referring to was the evil that came from feminism, not feminism as a whole. Who can deny the good that came from it. You’ll note that my reference to men’s lib immediately afterwards addressed the evil in it.

  63. Kristine
    July 23, 2005 at 7:01 pm

    “I think it would be profitable to research the ideological and philosophical roots of the modern movement to see if it is indeed the same movement that Elder Whitney was referring to.”

    I agree. Why don’t you get back to us and let us know what you find out.

  64. danithew
    July 23, 2005 at 8:03 pm

    LOL Jack. As we can all see, Godwin’s rule isn’t so decisive after all. :)

  65. Lex
    July 23, 2005 at 8:40 pm

    “Someone who believes that inter-racial marriage is wrong or sinful is a bigot.”

    How does one reconcile this position with, say, 2 Nephi 5:21-23?

  66. danithew
    July 23, 2005 at 9:26 pm

    Here’s a link to the above verses mentioned by Lex: 2 Nephi 5:21-23

    Lex, some people (like Nephi) still think a “skin of blackness” (Nephi’s phraseology, not mine) is a curse and don’t want to pass that trait on to their children. Some of us differ from him in that opinion though, finding that those of other races are beautiful. From that perspective then, it is a blessing that is being passed down to the children. Mixed-race children are some of the most beautiful children I’ve seen.

    Near the beginning of this thread I quoted a verse where Moses was married to an “Ethiopian woman.” I feel that people are very hesitant to discuss this verse, but it appears clear to me that Moses (perhaps the ultimate example of a prophet in the world’s history) did not find a “skin of blackness” unbecoming or he wouldn’t have married a black woman.

  67. Mark N.
    July 23, 2005 at 9:30 pm

    Until we discover other races besides the human one, I’m not sure we have a problem here. : )

  68. Jud
    July 23, 2005 at 9:31 pm


    I actually have never heard of Godwin’s law, but I like it. I did cringe when I resorted to the Nazi’s–a tired analogy if there ever was one. I don’t think, however, that forfeits me the argument.


    Well, quite frankly, I agree with Elder Whitney, but let’s be fair. The 20th century began quite a bit differently than how it ended and the woman’s movement in Elder Whitney’s era bears little resemblance to where it evolved. It is the great social pendulum. There has been, perhaps, no group that has been oppressed, degraded, and abused throughout the history of time more than women. At long last, the pendulum began to swing and women rose up and took a stand. This is, in my opinion, what Elder Whitney had in mind. It has, however, gone much too far. This is by no means a unique social phenomenon– both on a societal level and on an individual level. The feminism of the era of modern liberalism propagated pernicious doctrines. I think that may be why you had to go back 100 years to Elder Whitney to get a positive comment about feminism from an apostle. You get a much better idea about what the Church thinks about feminism if you read comments on feminism from general authorities from the 60’s on. They don’t leave too much up to interpretation.

  69. danithew
    July 23, 2005 at 9:39 pm

    After so many years of oppression, I don’t want to complain too much about the women’s movement being guilty of overcorrection. Yes, the feminist movement had its extremists. Yet after a single generation we have already seen that feminists have become self-critical and many feminists have demonstrated that they still have a wish to marry, to have children and even to stay at home with the children — but without completely forfeiting the rightful privileges and opportunities they had gained by the good fight.

    I look at my sister who has a master’s degree in social work. She has three boys and is a full-time stay-at-home mother. One night a week she has a case load that she handles for a few hours so that she can maintain her license and credentials. I don’t know if earning that degree and maintaining those credentials would have been such a priority to her in an earlier age. My mother was a credit or two away from getting her master’s degree when she married and everyone (including her professors) had the attitude that she wouldn’t need the degree. Later she had to do all that work all over again. She did it … but how sad that the prevailing attitude in her day led her to not finish that degree. It isn’t a sin or anything … but I like the attitude today better.

  70. Prudence McPrude
    July 23, 2005 at 9:44 pm

    Yes, there are many evil, feminist women. But the problem is not that feminists are evil. The problem is that women in general are evil.

  71. Kristine
    July 23, 2005 at 9:53 pm

    Jud, there actually aren’t all that many GA discussions of feminism–everyone assumes that it has been denounced but, especially if you limit your searching to conference addresses, there aren’t nearly as many explicit condemnations as one might expect from the prevailing attitudes among church members. The one extraordinarily forceful denunciation by Elder Packer was made in a closed leadership meeting and has not been published (not officially, anyway). The leap to blaming feminism for the decline of family life is one that I think is made more often among the general membership than by leaders.

    (This is not a carefully researched opinion, by the way, and it might not be too difficult to prove me wrong with some more careful sleuthing than I’m willing to do just now. I’m engaged in that ultimately feminist act of folding the laundry and laying out my children’s clothes so they’ll be ready to attend our patriarchal church tomorrow morning:) )

  72. Jud
    July 23, 2005 at 10:03 pm


    I appreciate your concession that your opinion wasn’t carefully researched, because yes, there are plenty of examples where the general authorities denounce feminism–at least everything feminism stands for without saying the word feminism. One example–President Benson spoke at the General Relief Society meeting in 1981. You can find it on and I believe it is pretty explicit.

    And, for the record, already put the clothes away, and am settling in to prepare my lesson for NURSERY tomorrow.

  73. Jud
    July 23, 2005 at 10:13 pm


    It’s interesting you brought up your sister, because I also have a master’s degree in social work, although it was in another life that I used it. My experiences working in mental health lead me to challenge your reluctance to hold feminism completely culpable for the wrongs it has committed. At the very least, it seems you want to give extremists a pass because of the wrongs that have been committed them for so long. Give them some time to work it out, if you will. Going back to my experiences in mental health, I worked largely with abuse victims who became abusers themselves. A touchy subject I know. We constantly worked with those kids on their ‘overcorrection’. It times it seemed almost cruel to be so critical (though done in a supportive way) of someone’s response to a such an unspeakable hurtful situation—but it had to be done to make sure they learned to respond in a healthy way. It is altogether right and appropriate to be extremely critical of the overcorrection modern feminism has made as it is very often overcorrections that lead to situations worse than the original.

  74. Kristine
    July 23, 2005 at 10:15 pm

    I don’t know the 1981 talk, but his later one (87?) that is widely cited as anti-feminist is at least as much anti-materialist. My point is that maybe they don’t say “feminism” because they really don’t mean feminism–they are pointing to larger issues, but it’s a lot easier for members to simplify by pointing at “feminists” because they are supposed to be “out there” and not in the church.

    Anyway, we should maybe try to focus this discussion so it doesn’t just become scattershot dueling GA quotes (not that I don’t enjoy a good game of SDGAQ as much as the next girl!)–I’ll try to come up with some intelligent questions (or at least a framework where other, more intelligent people can ask questions) and post something soon.

  75. Lex
    July 23, 2005 at 10:27 pm


    So, a “skin of blackness” was once a divinely bestowed curse (since God is doing the cursing here, not Nephi) but now is not (after ’78?), or might be open for interpretation (“some of us differ ..”)? I’m just wondering if we are free to assume that God has completely removed any association of dark skin with spiritual inferiority, or what? If the darkness itself constituted the curse, why would he not discontinue its use since essentially its function was a means of punishment? Shouldn’t one completely disavow the notion that skin color is/was associated with spiritual standing? Is this doctrinally problematic?

  76. Jud
    July 23, 2005 at 10:39 pm


    I look forward to it.

  77. Jack
    July 23, 2005 at 10:56 pm

    Boy, this place is crawling with trolls.

  78. danithew
    July 23, 2005 at 11:02 pm

    Lex, I concede that I’m uncomfortable with that portion of the Book of Mormon. I don’t know how the understanding of darker skin color as a curse is helpful to us. There’s no denying that Nephi puts the words of the curse in the mouth of the Lord. But is cursing the explanation for all the variations and differences between different races and ethnicities? Do we really understand this as we should? And does it justify any condescension, disfavor, distaste, bias, prejudice, feelings of superiority, etc. on the part of those who have a lighter skin color? I really don’t think so. Nephi’s brother Jacob warns the Nephites that they are making a mistake in hating the Lamanites because of “the cursing which hath come upon their skins” and warns them that they are lacking the essential quality of love:

    Jacob 3:5,8
    5 Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you …
    8 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.

    Clearly if we draw any ultimate conclusions about the worth and righteosness of a person’s soul, because of his or her skin color, we are in serious danger of deluding ourselves. A person with a darker skin can certainly be more righteous that a person with a lighter skin. Even if a person is disposed to believe that a darker skin is a curse (based on the verses you mentioned), there is a sense that this is due to a sin of forefathers rather than anything contemporary. And we do not have a comprehensive scriptural explanation of why there are differences in skin color and features between so many races that exist. A person is rather simplistic if he or she expands this to explain all the differences that exist in the world.

    I’m grateful for those examples of Nephites who were able to love the Lamanites and see the good in them, and who were even disposed to live out their days among the Lamanites. I like these Nephites far better than those who were plainly racist.

  79. Jack
    July 23, 2005 at 11:56 pm

    I believe the fact that the dark skin is no longer “loathesome” to us (as it was to the Nephites) is a sign that the “curse” is lifted. According to verse 21 of 2Ne chapter 5 the reason the dark skin came upon the Lamanites was so that they would not be enticing unto the Nephites. The dark skin is beautiful to us nowadays! (generally speaking–some still struggle with it, of course) And as such, a change in skin color should no longer be necessary in order to convince the world that the curse no longer exists.

  80. Julie in Austin
    July 23, 2005 at 11:57 pm

    Re Mike #41–

    I am very uncomfortable with you sharing two “factoids” about the Brethren that you acknowledge are rumors. This is nothing more than gossip. Please refrain from attributing opinions/statements to Church leaders (or anyone else for that matter) than cannot be verified or falsified.

  81. Lex
    July 24, 2005 at 12:04 am

    “.. is cursing the explanation for all the variations and differences between different races and ethnicities?”
    Exactly! I’m just concerned that the BoM’s approach to “skin” is potentially a bit unsofisticated in precisely this way, and so basically i’m just wondering if/when there’s going to be GA acknowledgment that the approach to race in the BoM is potentially a bit backwards and not at all descriptive/representative of the present Church’s approach to said topic.
    what’s a troll? is that me?

  82. Jack
    July 24, 2005 at 12:16 am

    For the meaning of the word “troll”, see comment #70.

    For an answer to the BoM’s alleged lack of sophistication on curses and how we are to deal with that problem in today’s culture, see comment #79

  83. July 24, 2005 at 12:29 am

    Umm, did everyone skip over Frank’s comment (#5)? Elder Nelson’s quote was from just ten years ago, and was pretty disturbing. Here it is again, for all you comment skimmers:

    ” The commandment to love our neighbors without discrimination is certain. But it must not be misunderstood. It applies generally. Selection of a marriage partner, on the other hand, involves specific and not general criteria. After all, one person can only be married to one individual.
    The probabilities of a successful marriage are known to be much greater if both the husband and wife are united in their religion, language, culture, and ethnic background. Thus, in choosing an eternal companion, wisdom is needed. It’s better not to fly in the face of constant head winds. Occasional squalls provide challenge enough. Once marriage vows are taken, absolute fidelity is essential—to the Lord and to one’s companion.”

    Elder Nelson seems to be saying it’s not okay to discriminate “generally,” but we should discriminate when choosing a marriage partner. I find this offensive. So much for everyone’s comments that this is a thing of Church Past.

  84. July 24, 2005 at 12:42 am

    Flanders, he is saying: robabilities of a successful marriage are known to be much greater if both the husband and wife are united in all factors. That is pretty well established science. He isn’t calling for discrimination in favor of a particular group, but in favor of sameness, to the degree possible. I don’t get the point of what you find offensive about his saying virtually “hey, the science and the numbers are pretty solid, the more like you a partner is in background, the more stable the marriage seems to be, so Californians should marry Californians, etc.”

    In many areas those factors are not important, but in marriage they are. Why take offense at what any one who can read the math could tell you?

    As for Yes, there are many evil, feminist women. But the problem is not that feminists are evil. The problem is that women in general are evil. — that was just funny, assuming it was meant in a silly fashion.

  85. Jack
    July 24, 2005 at 12:44 am


    In order to justify your being offended at Elder Nelson’s counsel you need to prove that his statement: “the probabilities of a successful marriage are known to be much greater if both the husband and wife are united in their religion, language, culture, and ethnic background” is not true.

  86. Jack
    July 24, 2005 at 12:45 am

    Or at least was not true at the time the counsel was given

  87. Jack
    July 24, 2005 at 12:50 am

    You’re right Stephen, about comment #70. My immediate reaction was to chuckle. My next reaction was to hope that it was said in pure jest.

  88. Lex
    July 24, 2005 at 12:58 am

    So a divine “curse” is defined as bad relative to human experience (nothing objectively bad/unpleasant about it)? Isn’t that a tad subservise in this context? “oh yeah, Lord, well we kind of LIKE dark skin after all!” ..

  89. Kevin
    July 24, 2005 at 12:59 am

    NFlanders, E Nelson is saying to be “united in … religion, language, culture, and ethnic background.”

    In other words — and I’ll go over his points one by one — if one is a Mormon from Utah that has never lived anywhere else except as a missionary; says “melk,” “modren,” “hunnert” and “mount’n”; thinks culture is what happens in the cultural hall; and socializes only with others with a heritage of Wales, Scandinavia or other Northern Lands; then this person should not marry a normal person.

    Or, is it possible he was saying, “You Mormons that aren’t all that open-minded, don’t fool yourselves into thinking that you are, especially for life-changing decisions. (The rest of you, marry whom you will.)”

  90. Larry
    July 24, 2005 at 1:08 am

    It seems that some are arguing from the perspective of the ideal rather than the real world.
    Some cultures still treat women as inferior. Physical, emotional and sexual abuse are not uncommon. Abuse of children is not uncommon either.
    If you understand that, then you will understand why Elder Nelson said what he said.
    There is nothing wrong in marrying a person of another culture, just be prepared in the event that things don’t go exactly the way you want them to. Unless they have exactly the same values and customs that you have you could be in for a rude awakening. I know, because someone very close to me married a beautiful convert, from another culture; a very well educated girl, who gave every indication of being a faithful Latter-day Saint, as well as a charming and loving person. When the vows were over the gloves came off, and the only way to describe his existence is pure h….
    She has a jealous and controlling personality that did not exhibit itself during a courtship of over 2 years, but evidently is culturally driven in marriage.
    Think of it.As an example of marrying in a white race: If you were to marry a beautiful Swedish girl who has the current moral values that they seem to advocate, then you could well end up raising children that you did not father. They see you as a good father figure and mate for life, but not good stock for breeding purposes.
    Now, not all relationships are that way, but the warning is out there. There are a lot of adjustments that have to be made if someone is culturally and morally different from you.. If they are culturally, and morally integrated into our society (LDS), then the warning is off, because they can make every bit as good a spouse as any one else.

  91. Lex
    July 24, 2005 at 1:10 am

    er, “subversive” rather (re #88).

  92. July 24, 2005 at 1:12 am

    Although it would be enlightening and interesting to see some interracial marriage divorce rate statistics, I don’t think that is the point. Are you really saying that it’s okay to discourage interracial marriages as long as they have a marginally higher divorce rate? I find this offensive as well.

  93. Lex
    July 24, 2005 at 1:21 am

    speaking of subversion, doesn’t Elder Nelson’s admonition to consider “specific .. criteria [in the] selection of a marriage partner” pretty much undermine the notion of the love marriage (not that i necessarily believe in such a thing!)? is there a t&s consensus on that one?

  94. Steve S
    July 24, 2005 at 1:28 am

    One of the counsels in my patriarchal blessing was to be subject to the direction of my mission president. As it happened, my mission president (or at least my last mission president) instructed us to each marry someone from our own country. I probably passed up at least one potential marriage partner because of that advice. Since you can never live out the consequences of a different choice, I have no way of knowing whether or not he helped me to avoid real problems by giving such a specific instruction about a personal choice that had nothing to do with the mission itself. I don’t have a record of perfect obedience or a problem-free life, but in that particular case, it seemed to me that it was wiser to pay attention to the advice than to willfully ignore it.

    As I was writing this, my daughter, looking over my shoulder, asked if I would have preferred that she and her siblings had not been born, because that is what the idea of a hypothetical different choice would have meant. No, I think that I made a good choice, and I am glad that she is here. I doubt that the same instruction applies to everybody else, but it obviously applied to me.

  95. Jack
    July 24, 2005 at 1:44 am

    “So a divine “curse” is defined as bad relative to human experience…?”

    Why not? What other experience is there? Look, all you have to do is reverse engineer verse 21 wherein it is explicitly stated that the reason the dark skin came upon the Lamanites was so that they would not be enticing to the Nephites. If, therefore, the dark skin is no longer loathsome to the Lord’s people (if it’s not too much of a stretch to equate Nephites with Latter Day Saints as the Lord’s people) it can only be for one of two reasons. Either we have collectively fallen from grace because we no longer find dark skinned people loathsome, or the fact that dark skin is beautiful to us today is evidence that the curse no longer exists. And if it not longer exists, who’s to say that our collective human experience over the last while has had nothing to do with the change?

  96. Jack
    July 24, 2005 at 2:03 am

    I should further clarify that because there was a general loathing of people of “color”, it does not necessarily follow that those people were cursed. My only consideration, as it relates to 2Ne 2, is that we need not look further for anymore evidence of the curse being lifted–such as a change in skin color as per the Lamanites prior to Christ’s visit.

  97. Lex
    July 24, 2005 at 2:44 am

    on your reading the skin darkening was a positive action benefiting the Nephites. Ok, but i thought “curse” had explicitly negative connotations. that’s like saying women are “cursed” by being obliged to where modest clothes so that men are not too sexually tempted, no? basically, i just don’t see how dark skin is not inherently bad in the BoM.

  98. danithew
    July 24, 2005 at 3:12 am

    It’s interesting that Lex starts talking about the nature of curses. What curses do we live under and how much control do we have over the curses? Scripturally we read that men are cursed to work by the sweat of their brow and with weeds and thorns. Scripturally we read that women are cursed with labor pains. We don’t tend to look at either men and women as spiritually inferior for these reasons (though historically many women may have suffered prejudice due to the blame placed on Eve). Rather, we tend to gloss over these curses or perceive them as merely a part of the human condition.

    Whatever curses are associated with a particular skin color may have just as much or as little to do with individual spirituality.

  99. Jack
    July 24, 2005 at 4:21 am

    “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.”

    There it is. Verse twenty-one. Nephi tells us why the Lord caused a dark skin to come upon the Lamanites. Now an argument could be made for the curse actually being something other than the skin of blackness–the change of color being a deterrent from the mixture of seed, and by extention, false traditions, and by further extention, the curse which may be nothing more or less than being cut off from the presence of God. But regardless of that argument, inasmuch as dark skin no longer serves as such a deterrent (generally speaking), can we not assume that God is no longer concerned with the mixture of seed because of a “curse” of sorts?

  100. annegb
    July 24, 2005 at 10:01 am

    So what I wondered aloud once in Sunday School is why didn’t God cause a curse of dark skin to come upon Hitler and his minions, or Stalin? There are a lot of evil people in the world whose skins are lily white. That just doesn’t make sense to me, and I never did buy it.

    When I said that, everybody just stared at me and nobody could answer the question, then they just went on ignoring me.

  101. Julien
    July 24, 2005 at 10:10 am

    Haven’t had time to read all the posts, so it might already have been said. I heard a statement by a church authority one time, that said that it’s not so much interracial marriage that’s discouraged, but marriage between people that clash culturally (I’m NOT a supporter of the Clash of Civilizations idea!), meaning for example an African with a highly patriarchal cultural background marrying a feminist white woman (I’ve seen more than one such marriage getting divorced, one being the one of my interracial girlfriend’s parents). Basically partners should be compatible, so a black and white marriage with compatible partners may have a better “chance” of lasting than one between somebody from an “noble” family and a working class person. (I think that was the example the authority mentioned). Although we know that nothing is impossible…. ;)

  102. alamojag
    July 24, 2005 at 10:43 am

    A couple of thoughts:
    First, I have enough “cultural” issues in my marriage between a fifth-generation LDS Irish-American (my wife) and a fifth-generation LDS Swedish-American (me) that I am glad I didn’t marry even farther out. Sometimes, the differences between men and women are enough to be responsible for a pretty good percentage of the divorce rate.

    Second, Kaimi states in his post that he is the product of an interracial marriage. I’m not sure much more needs to be said for the relative merits of interracial marriage.

  103. danithew
    July 24, 2005 at 2:17 pm

    Major applause for Annegb’s comment #100.

  104. Jack
    July 24, 2005 at 4:39 pm


    Your argument–as it relates to the BoM–would suggest that the vast majority of Germans and Russians were like unto wicked Lamanites or Nephites and therefore were, as an entire group, worthy of the kinds of calamities that came upon such in the BoM when the entire population (not just the ruling party) was ripened in iniquity. I think it’s a little off base to suggest that most citizens of those countries–especially those of the former Soviet Union–were wicked like unto their governments.

  105. APJ
    July 24, 2005 at 5:08 pm


    I think Annegb’s comments were not misguided, since they specifically refer to Hitler, his minions, and Stalin, personally. She didn’t imply anything specifically as to the multitudes of Germans or Russians. And the dark-skin curse, i think, was just put on laman and lemuel originally. The later-calamaties in the BofM were linked to the iniquity of the masses, but came much later than the original skin-darkening curse. I think annegb is right, and the fact that her class would ignore her seems to show that many can’t come up with a counter-argument or explanation.

  106. July 24, 2005 at 6:02 pm

    When did the Lord bind himself to darken the skin of all wicked people? I’ve never heard that one before.

  107. Jack
    July 24, 2005 at 6:58 pm


    You’re right that I read too much in to annegb’s comment in terms of numbers of people. When I read the word “minions” I reacted knee-jerkedly because of the stereo-typed “nazi” image that many folks have of Germans from that era. Sorry, annegb.

    As for the other points of my comment–

    Alma 3:7 Speaks of a mark being placed upon Laman, Lemuel, the sons of Ishmael, and the Ishmaelitish women in conjunction with a curse. (Perhaps the “mark” is different than a dark skin, but inasmuch as the following verse makes it clear that the purpose for such was to keep the two groups from mixing one can probably assume because of 2Ne 5:21 that it was indeed a “skin of blackness”) This indicates (to me) that the entire group was cursed.

    Also, the land is cursed to those who rebel against God. Therefore, what we have–as it relates to those whose “skins are lily white” in the BoM–is a move toward extinction as well as being cut off from the presence of God. In that light, how fairs the Hitler regime? Or Stalin’s regime? The Nazi regime was destroyed much in the same manner as that of the wicked Nephites.

  108. Chad too
    July 24, 2005 at 9:31 pm

    Somebody please notify the Godwin’s Law people at on T&S, the magic number appears to be 100 posts.

    I’d do it myself, but I’m still trying to figure out how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.

    one.. a-TwoHOO…

  109. danithew
    July 24, 2005 at 10:08 pm

    I don’t think that Godwin’s Law really has to mean the end of a thread. I think it is simply an ingenious reminder to curb rhetorical excess.

  110. Kevin
    July 24, 2005 at 11:56 pm

    Don’t know if this is germain to E Nelon’s remarks, but didn’t E Oaks recently say he was a “general” authority and gave “general” advice and was sick of getting letters about how so-and-so’s situation was different and so his advice didn’t apply. He knows his advice is not one-size-fits-all, he said, but he’s still called to give “general” guidance and he trusts most people can realize that.

    Seems like crazy liberal talk, this idea of his that people are different. Seems like crazy talk, too, the idea that Mormons could hear a general authority’s talk, not follow it and not be guilt-ridden — unless they’re bad Mormons.

  111. AdamJ
    July 25, 2005 at 11:57 am

    The fact that people still general do not understand and believe there ever was a curse against all African people is proof that the Church still has a lot to do in this area. I am afraid that their current stance of we don’t know why the priesthood ban can in to existence and that is all in the past can we just move forward isn’t sufficient.

    Although F.A.R.M.S. seems to be a bad word with some people here they have a very nice article on the charges of racism in the Book of Mormon. here.

    As for the priesthood ban against people of Africa decent there is a nice article at FAIR (I know more bad words) by Armand L. Mauss that is very informative.

    There was a priesthood ban that was put into place in 1852 by Brigham Young. There is no evidence of it being of any type of revelation. It came out of a racist people in a racist country. As time went on the people who knew about how the ban came into existence were long dead. The apologists of the church looked for reasons and explanations for why it existed. This is where we got the Curse of Cain, and fence sitter doctrines. The Scriptures don’t back them up. They even go against the gospel (2nd article of faith).

    It wasn’t until David O Mckay and Hugh B. Brown that brethren started to realize that it was just a policy and not doctrine. But it took a very long time until the brethren actually questioned the beliefs enough to take it to the lord that is was removed.

    These horrible doctrines continue to be taught in the church. I even had a seminary teach tell me that the ban was lifted because “Heavenly Father ran out of fence sitters so it was no longer needed.” The church just hoping that it will go away and not approaching it directly is a mistake, evident in the poor retention rate among our African American brothers and sisters. We should all reexamine what we believe in this regard. Study it, Teach our children the truth, and speak out when this Garbage is taught.

  112. Mathew
    July 25, 2005 at 12:24 pm


    You may want to clarify your first sentence. In light of the rest of your comment, I believe its meaning is ambiguous.

  113. Jack
    July 25, 2005 at 1:03 pm

    I read AdamJ’s comment like this:

    “The fact that people still general[ly] do not understand and [continue to] believe there ever was a curse against all African people is proof that the Church still has a lot to do in this area.

  114. Jack
    July 25, 2005 at 1:06 pm

    …and he’s right (imo), if that’s what he meant.

  115. Lisa B.
    July 25, 2005 at 1:15 pm

    I think we may well be misinterpretting “skin” and “cursing.” Consider Genesis 3:21, the “coats of skins” that Adam and Eve were given to cover their shame/recognized “nakedness” at having disobeyed. To me, this metaphorically “light skin” is a symbol of being “covered” by the atonement and having “put on Christ” (Gal 3:27). They have become accountable (knowledge of good and evil) but also have been give the gift of grace, should they not sin against the light and knowledge they have obtained, and continue to grow in. Cain’s supposed cursing, which occurs in the very next chapter of Genesis, may actually serve as a similar symbol.

    “The Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.” This seems similar to the Tree of Life being guarded so Adam and Eve would not lose the opportunity of a mortal probation. This protection was given Cain in direct response to his concern that his sin was too great to be forgiven (JST v 13), and that someone would kill him in response to his slaying of Abel. In this case, it sounds like the mark was given to lengthen Cain’s probation–his time to repent–while at the same time preventing the continuation of the cycle of evil–in this case violence. It was a spiritually protective mrk, much like the skins given Adam and Eve were spiritually protective. The Lord would have been cursing (ie condemning) Cain had he not marked him.

    I think everyone who reads the BOM scriptures about dark skins has to acknowledge that they sound pretty concrete/physiological, and I don’t know if those were the original peoples’ ideas, the original recorders/writers’ interpretations, Mormon’s read on the account, Joseph Smith’s (based on 19th century ideas about physiognomy), or what. But I believe that collectively, our scriptures teach that all are alike unto God, and that there is neither black or white, bond or free, male or female, Jew or Gentile in Christ. Also, that each of us is accountable for our own works, not the works of our parents–though of course their influence makes a huge impression which we either benefit from or have to overcome (or, in most cases, a combination of the two). Skin tone does not preclude our being able to sense the difference between the “light of Christ” and the “darkness of despair.” Nor does it change our unavoidable accountability for what we pass onto the generation that follows us.

    I think any scriptural marriage advice in relation to “strange women” etc. really has to do with marrying outside the covenant rather than being racial or ethnic advice. Note that Hagar’s offspring were NOT heirs of the covenant even though Ishmael was “firstborn”–since someone brought her up. And Ruth’s loyalty was to first God (to whom she had been converted) and secondarily to Naomi.

  116. AdamJ
    July 25, 2005 at 1:52 pm

    #114 Jack’s rewriting of my first sentence is what i was trying to say. I apologize. I am new to this.

  117. Akash Jayaprakash
    July 25, 2005 at 2:38 pm

    The OP said: “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…” This is the most hilarious, misguided attempt to justify Brigham Young’s rants in the JoD that I’ve ever heard. Oh, so BY only meant that you should impale participants in an interracial relationship when they weren’t *married* yet, I see.

    I can’t *wait* until I hear this one in Sunday School some day, the gloves will come off. :D [Yes, I realize this is not the OPs opinion and that it is just being referred to, which is why I’m not going on a massive rampage now.]

  118. jimbob
    July 25, 2005 at 2:56 pm

    My problem with both much of this thread and nearly every thread over at Feminist Mormon Housewives is that no one ever seems to be speaking about the same feminism, or at least no one ever defines the term. What seems to happen is that someone says that s/he is against feminism, and the other says that s/he is for it, but after much posting figure out that nearly all their views are similar, but with different nomenclature. Is there some sort of accepted view of feminism and what it entails? Otherwise, we’re arguing more about the labels rather than the substance, aren’t we?

  119. Jack
    July 25, 2005 at 3:10 pm

    That’s a great comment Lisa.

    Re: dark skin in the BoM, I think regardless of whether or not it is spoken of literally or metaphorically, there’s room for an argument that a change in skin color is a seperate issue from from receiving a curse. And in light of your comment, I find it interesting to consider the idea that the dark skin may have been placed upon the Lamanites as a means of preserving them as well as safeguarding the Nephites against following after false traditions.

  120. July 25, 2005 at 4:04 pm

    Ahhh…so now the bloggernacle has become aware of the John Redelfs the rest of the LDS online community has come to know and love for many years.

  121. July 25, 2005 at 4:08 pm


    I agree. A careful reading of 2 Nephi 5 (particularly verses 20 and 21) seems to indicate that the skin colour is separate from the curse.

  122. Kristy
    July 25, 2005 at 6:41 pm

    Regarding generational racism in the church, my grandparents were some of the first missionaries (senior couple) to serve in Africa after 1978, and as a teenager I remember my grandmother refering to her time there, and to Nigerians with an attitude of . . .well, not a whole lot of respect, it seemed to me; she called Nigerians “colored”; surely she was one of those older generation racists. Well, when I was at BYU she invited me to go with her and my grandpa to a distant cousin’s wedding. The relative was marrying a man who was a native african, and I expected to hear my grandmother confide that this was a mistake, that she didn’t think it would work out well. Nope. My grandmother visited for a long time with the couple and the groom’s mother, smiled and commented positively about everything. Then she took me aside to show me a wedding cake that the groom’s mother had carried on her lap on the plane from Africa, because it was a very special traditional cake that would be difficult to make here. She wanted to make sure I appreciated the beautiful African touches around us. Not once, ever, has my grandmother breathed a word of not approving of that marriage. I have since realized that my grandparent’s home is filled with African art, fabrics, and mementos because they loved their time there, even though they found the cultural differences inconvenient and frightening at times, and that I misjudged my grandparent’s feelings because of my own ideas about racism. Yes, they were products of their time; but they were vastly better than that as well.

    Obviously, inter-racial marriage is not in-an-of-itself a sin (or else it wouldn’t be permitted in the temple), and we are left to squabble over the significance of various opinions of it’s advisablity, and scriptural references to skin color. I think that for those of us who grew up post-1978, the primary principle is what Lisa mentioned, that we are accountable for our own works, that God is no respecter of persons, etc. Any generational curses seem to be limited, temporary issues. (By the way Lisa, did you ever live in Fremont? It’s a small LDS world, I have to check.)

  123. JKS
    July 25, 2005 at 6:55 pm

    I haven’t seen you post in such a long time. I wasn’t sure you still were around.
    Its a great story about your grandparents.

  124. Mike Wilson
    July 25, 2005 at 6:59 pm

    Kim and Jack,

    That is how I have read these verses for the last few years. Probably because it makes me feel better.

    On another vein, this topic hearkens back to a post by Rosalynde W. regarding a common friend from San Diego. JV is an African-American female and remains single to this day (I’m not sure of her age; never asked; my guess is over 40). Rosalynde indicated that JV felt she wasn’t married because of her race. That is likely part of it. The other part may be due to what has been referred to in other comments as lack of “femininity.” As sincere a person as there is, knowing JV, she could come across as intimidating, spiritually and emotionally. I feel pretty confident in relationships but she could make me feel uncomfortable with myself because of the questions she asked–point blank. It was so refreshing, but difficult.

    These two characteristics (one which she can’t change and one I hope she will never change) have placed her out of the mainstream of “eligible” mates within the church, not because of who she it, but because how she is judged: black and strong. This is unfortunate as she is one of the most wonderful people I have ever met.

  125. annegb
    July 25, 2005 at 7:49 pm

    Soooo…..regarding the second article of faith, do we believe that men– except the descendants of Cain and Ham and Laman and Lemuel–are responsible for their own transgressions?

  126. Kaimi
    July 25, 2005 at 8:18 pm

    I’ve read in many places that the biggest single factor in divorce is the age of the couple when married. If you marry at 18 or 20, you are much more likely, statistically, to be divorced than if you marry at 25 or 28.

    If there is a “discouragement” (whatever that means) of interracial marriage because of a marginally higher divorce rate, then shouldn’t there be a much, much greater policy of discouraging 18-year-olds from marrying?

  127. Maren
    July 26, 2005 at 8:45 am

    Well, I just want to point out that this is not always just a Utah problem, although in my experience the problem in Utah is stronger. I got married in February. I am as white as you can get, my skin never tans, I only sunburm, etc. My husband is from the Philippines. Our bishop, who is also Asian, discouraged us from marrying at first. We received counsel in and outside of the church telling us not to marry. When people understood our determination, they backed away, but some people still did not approve. Our families are fine, and the man who sealed us in the temple thought it was great. Most of all, I know that God brought us together, We both moved to Brooklyn through the blessing and grace of God, and both had been actively praying to find someone to relieve our loneliness. God gave us each other. However, people will feel that they know the answers to our prayers more than we do. We have just learned to smile, nod, and tell them we know the difficulties and have chosen to love inspite of difficulties that arise, just like any other marriage. I personally feel a lot of what people say is really stupid. They often tell me that it is just cultural differences that they worry about, more that different race or skin color. I don’t think this is true. I doubt I would have faced so much opposition had I wanted to marry a man from England or Australia. Or for that matter, the culture of Utah is very different from say, the mountains of Cumberland Maryland where I spent some of my mission days. However, if I had married someone who was born and raised there, I know there would have been no counsel against it. Why is it people believe they know what is best for everyone else? I dated plenty of Americans, plenty of people I grew up with, and I have found that I have much more in common with my husband raised all the way across the world, than the “boy next door’.

  128. Lisa B.
    July 26, 2005 at 12:41 pm

    Yes, Kristy! Where have you been?!

  129. July 26, 2005 at 2:18 pm

    Re: Comment #41


    Rumors and third hand accounts have no place in this type of discussion. Your use of such hearsay to belittle and demean the Prophet and the Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve makes me question the intent of your comment.

    If you have an opinion, let it stand on its own merit. Don’t hide behind alleged third hand accounts to prop up your own arguement.

  130. Kristy
    July 26, 2005 at 3:47 pm

    Sorry for turning this into a personal message board for a moment, but Lisa Bushman and I were MIA Maids together, and lost track of each other about 8 years ago. So what have I been up to? Oh, you know, hanging out on websites like this, neglecting my responsiblities. . . I’d love to catch up with you! My spam email is [email protected], and I will have Bob check it tonight so we can get in touch. And thanks JKS, I’ve been too busy with a new cub scout calling to post recently, but I’ve enjoyed seeing your comments!

    To comment on the real topic of this thread, Maren, your story is really interesting. I hope people’s nosiness will abate now that you are married. Best Wishes.

  131. Lisa B.
    July 26, 2005 at 4:07 pm

    annegb–How do you get THAT read on it? Everyone is under the “curse” of mortality–that is partaking in the garbage of this world both genetically, environmentally (sins of the parents), and otherwise; everyone can learn to prize the good from the bad we all experience and see; everyone can avail themselves of the grace & protection of God or not (the mixed blessing and cursing of mortality); and everyone will be judged post-life by a judge and intercessor with intimate knowledge of every circumstance, difficulty, and desire that went into every decision of our lives.

  132. annegb
    July 27, 2005 at 12:22 am

    Well, my understanding is that the children of Cain were under a generational curse of dark skin, so there wouldn’t be inter-marriage, same with Ham, and Laman and Lemuel. That seems to be contrary to the second article of faith.

    Frankly, I think the whole idea of that curse is just a way to explain racism in the church. I don’t buy it.

    But, if we don’t believe men will be punished for Adam’s transgression, do we need to add the caveat that some men will be punished for their forefather’s transgression by having dark skin, so we can avoid them? I think it’s bunk, but what other conclusion can we reach based upon what we are taught? I’ve heard that kind of argument in Sunday School and it chaps my hide.

    My point is the idea of cursing people with dark skin because of what their forefathers did just doesn’t wash. It doesn’t make sense to me. Well, none of it does. Maybe I’ll figure it out someday.

  133. JKS
    July 27, 2005 at 10:36 am

    The reasons offerred as to why some people have dark skin don’t make sense to me. I assume its because we don’t have the full picture. Even scripture is limited by the language and understanding of the writer. And then again by the language and understanding of the reader.
    I am glad that riight now, the gospel and all blessings are open to all people. This seems to indicate we all have equal opportunity in the eternal things.

  134. Lisa B.
    July 27, 2005 at 11:09 am

    Annegb, I completely agree that the idea of God “cursing” someone’s decendants (in any way) doesn’t make sense given our beliefs about individual accountability, atonement, etc. which is why I propose a different way of reading the “dark skin” scriptures (#115). But I relate to feeling “enlightened” when I grasp a new truth, or having a “darkened countenance” when I am troubled by sin or doubt, and know that my own actions have an impact on my children, and their children. I can also see how this dark/light symbolism can easily be misapplied or misunderstood with spiritually abusive results.

    I too have a hard time believing that God would increased the amount of melinin (sp?) or pigment in Cain or Laman or anyone else’s skin as a result of their actions. Similarly, Jesus didn’t “create” the practice of trodding grapes to make wine, but used that practice as just one symbol of the work of salvation. I don’t think the flood Noah experienced was the first occurance of a rainbow, but that the rainbow was pointed to as a reminder of God’s covenant. I don’t think Abraham was the first to circumcise a son, but that act apparently became a symbol of having a “circumcised” or broken and humble heart. I think there may be something similar going on here. God speaks to us in our “own language”–using symbols and metaphors we understand to point to/ extend our understanding in spiritual things.

  135. Dan Richards
    July 28, 2005 at 1:25 am

    I have a copy of the Church News from June 17, 1978. Amid the many articles about African-American members who were thrilled at the prospect of receiving the Priesthood and attending the temple, there is a prominent headline: “Interracial marriage discouraged.” Three statements from President Kimball follow, including this one delivered at BYU in 1965:

    Now, the brethren feel that it is not the wisest thing to cross racial lines in dating and marrying. There is no condemnation. We have had some of our fine young people who have crossed the lines. We hope they will be very happy, but the experience of the brethren through a hundred years has proved to us that marriage is a very difficult thing under any circumstances and the difficulty increases in interrace marriages.

    Perhaps somebody felt that a caveat was needed to temper the sudden reversal of policy. Indeed, several members left the Church because of the revelation. But I think too many people glossed over the statement “There is no condemnation.” A stalwart sister missionary in my mission fell in love with an African convert, and married him in the temple following her mission. Her family refused to attend, and essentially disowned her. Doesn’t the fact that the Church allows such marriages to be performed in the temple indicate to some of these people that they’re not evil or sinful or or prohibited? I think the answer to Kaimi’s final question is that we can charitably hasten what would otherwise be a long, slow, and torturous death of this false doctrine. Anytime a church member expresses a disapproval of interracial marriage, whether in a church meeting or privately, I think it is proper and right to probe the source of that belief and to point out the inconsistencies with the Gospel. This would take a lot of tact (probably more than I have), but would almost certainly be worthwhile.

  136. ESO
    July 28, 2005 at 2:58 pm

    I have not had time yet to read all of these comments, and most of you have moved on to other topics, I am sure, but I am going to comment anyway.

    When I was married, my husband and I had an interracial, interreligious, international, intercultural, interlinguistic, intergender relationship. The only thing that has changed is his religion, he joined the Chruch last year. But we are still from very very different places.

    In that mix, race is such a superficial distinction, it is hardly worth mentioning. MAYBE if we had more similarities we would agree more often or have a more peaceful union, but since I have no other marriage to compare it to, I have no idea. I don’t think that either of us is very typical of our respective cultures, so marriage within our own cultures may not have been easier.

    We are happy and we are different.

  137. b bell
    July 28, 2005 at 3:04 pm

    I would argue that who you marry is a very private personal choice. Only the two involved can make that choice. If the Spirit reveals to you that a person of a different race is the one you should marry then thats the choice you should make. I see many many successful inter-racial marriages in my home ward including our former Bishop who has a great family and am proud to serve some of their kids in our YM’s program. If both partners have a testimony this will help overcome any minor cultural issues that may arise.

    The key post 1978 is to follow the spirit.

  138. danithew
    July 28, 2005 at 3:13 pm

    I wonder how Hawaiian people perceive interracial marriages and perhaps more specifically (for our interests) how LDS Hawaiians perceive interracial marriages. I was only there once, years ago, for a period of five days. But my impression was that Hawaiian society (at least on Oahu island) is one of the most multiracial and interracial mixing of peoples I’ll probably ever see. At the time I asked about and heard some statistics on this, but I can’t remember them now. I’m kind of hoping that someone who has lived in Hawaii for an extended period of time might offer us some unique insights, if there are any, from that perspective.

    Now I’m craving some pineapple.

  139. danithew
    July 28, 2005 at 3:14 pm

    Oh hello … I just realized that Kaimi (who describes himself as “part-Hawaiian” in his bio) wrote this post. Duh.

  140. Renee J
    July 28, 2005 at 3:48 pm

    I think the Church frowned on *black/white* marriages and not other kinds of interracial marriages. The 1978 addendum to the announcement about the Priesthood revelation is very telling.

  141. Renee J
    July 28, 2005 at 3:50 pm

    P.S. Just read biographical stories such as “A Soul So Rebellious” (by Mary Sturlaugson, the first black sister missionary, who later intermarried with a White saint) and you’ll see what I mean…

  142. manaen
    July 28, 2005 at 4:22 pm

    Like most people whose families have Utah generations, the provenance of my genes is northern Europe. Not being Levite or even from the house of Israel, my family also was denied the priesthood for most of the world’s history. Except for (1) the early time before my ancestors wandered off or the priesthood was concentrated in certain bloodlines and (2) for the few years between Christ’s post-resurrection command to “go ye unto all the world” and the loss of the priesthood during the Apostasy, my family was unable to hold it until its modern restoration in 1829. It’s likely that there only were a few hundred years since the world’s creation in which I could have held the priesthood and my Black brethren could not have held it. This is true for most people with pioneer heritage. All of us non-Israelites, of whatever color, are the ones that are grafted in. From an eternal perspective, there just seems to be a 149-year (1829-1978) phase-in period before all of us graftees are included. It seems pointless to assume relative status among the groups from that. In truth, there is no relative status.

    So why didn’t Blacks’ skin change when they were allowed to hold the priesthood? I suppose it’s for the same reason that my family’s eyes and hair didn’t turn brown and black like the Israelites’ when we were allowed to hold the priesthood. It seems silly for anyone that knows a blue-eyed blond Elder to ask that question.

    Is there some deep sense of racial superiority that causes the rest of us to ask why Blacks couldn’t hold the priesthood and why their appearance didn’t change when they could hold it, but not ask why our families were blocked and why our families’ appearance didn’t change when we could hold it? Deep inside do we naturally assume Blacks have a lesser lot, which we regret and therefore nobly reach down to help them up to our level, and we feel superior in the helping role, but not consider that we might also have a lesser lot? Does it not occur to us because we are just sure that we are above that… hence above them?

    Anyway, a few generations of generally practicing inter-racial marriage literally would produce the solution to the conflict about it. Just ask the hawaiian-mexican-samoan-portuguese-guamanian-english kids of my friends. After a few more generations, who could keep score?

  143. danithew
    July 28, 2005 at 4:33 pm

    Part of the difficulty with refusing to give black people the priesthood was determining who was black and who was not. I heard at least one former missionary to Brazil (serving many years ago, before the Proclamation) describing how in cases where there was confusion (due to a multiracial environment and yes, intermarriage), he would somehow determine this by looking at a potential convert’s hands. Are the lines in the palms of a black person a different color or something? That approach sounded so bizarre to me. Does anyone know more about this? How many of these procedures were official and how many were created locally and randomly?

  144. b bell
    July 28, 2005 at 4:49 pm

    Good point Danithew,

    I learned on mission in South Africa that prior to 1978 you had to prove your ancestry off the continent to be ordained. It led to some funny situations where you would have branches where nobody could prove the ancestry off the continent. I recall one story were nobody could prove it and the local BP was ordained a deacon so he could lead a congregation. I heard this from his son who was later a mission president.

    Also many of the Africaners who originally settled SA had mixed race ancestors many generations before and this fact would be hidden in the geneaology and not mentioned in the family records. Everybody suspected that many of the Afrikaans bretheren who were ordained may have had some mixed race blood somewhere in the past prior to 1978.

    Seems pretty silly in hindsight.

  145. danithew
    July 28, 2005 at 5:16 pm

    B. Bell, how interesting that they would ordain a man a deacon so that he could “lead a congregation.” I guess if need was sufficiently desperate and a man’s ethnic identity was sufficiently questionable, the answer was to compromise by giving him the base minimum of priesthood. I’m not trying to demean the right to “the ministering of angels” mind you. But wow.

    A bishop is an office in the Aaronic priesthood, isn’t it? Deacon, Teacher, Priest, Bishop. Is that right? Or can any person who has Aaronic priesthood, at any level, be made into a bishop? Somehow I think it is the former.

    If so, then assigning a deacon to preside over a branch or ward is quite a stretch.

  146. b bell
    July 28, 2005 at 5:24 pm


    The stories are completely crazy. Imagine being the mission president. OK Jakob van der Merwve you want to be an elder eh?. Lets see that family bible. I see here that one of your female ancestors only has a first name listed in 1727, all your other ancestors have full names. Was she a slave girl? Yes I know this was 230 years ago. Let me pray about it…….. You cannot make this stuff up.

    I am very glad to be past this stuff. It could have been taken to an extreme in the US South but it never was. Many whites in the South have an ancestor or two who were black.

  147. ed
    July 28, 2005 at 5:28 pm

    If you go back far enough, I’m sure we all have “black” ancestors.

  148. danithew
    July 28, 2005 at 5:39 pm

    Ed, I was vaguely pointing in that direction (that perhaps everyone has a black ancestor) in comment #19, where I mention that Joseph married the Egyptian daughter of a priest (named Asenath). I suppose just because she was from North Africa doesn’t have to mean she is black or that she had black ancestry … but it seems like it is a good possibility.

  149. Capt Jack
    July 28, 2005 at 6:48 pm

    Looking at someone’s hands is an old trick–the idea being a black person’s palms are noticeably lighter than the back of their hands, even if they themselves are light skinned. I don’t personally think it makes any sense, but I’ve had more than one racist tell me that’s how you can tell if someone is trying to “pass”.

    I can tell you when I served in Argentina in the 1980s I met more than one man who had been ordained to the priesthood prior to 1978 who had African physical features. Contrary to popular belief that there are no black people in Argentina, there was a tremendous African population in Argentina that intermarried with mestizo and European immigrants. Their descendants should have been ineligible for the priesthood according to pre-1978 rules, but the missionaries ordained them anyway because they’d been told there were no black people in Argentina, ergo they were all eligible.

  150. danithew
    July 28, 2005 at 7:24 pm

    Capt Jack … I’m kind of glad to see that they were able to dodge the rule in some places, perhaps many places. I feel that one of the ways to detect bad doctrine or ideas is to see that they are difficult or impossible to apply them naturally in the practical world — to a point that people find ways to simply ignore them whenever possible. This clearly is one of those areas.

  151. ESO
    July 28, 2005 at 7:29 pm

    My family has been in the church and priesthood-holding since the 1830s. And we (along with just about any American, somehow, somewhere) have black blood!!! I find the race distinction crazy and am not sure I could have been a member in those pre-1978 days. What a spectrum. What about Fijjians? Are they considered black? A lot of them look it. What about dark Indians (I don’t know a lot about India, is it a geographical thing? caste?)–were they denied the priesthood?

    Being a white girl (albeit with some black blood and Native American, too) married to a very black African, I have to admit that I really don’t think of white-hispanic or white-asian relationships as being very interracial. Snobby of me, isn’t it? I guess I just don’t see the same degree of stigma there.

  152. CalZion
    July 28, 2005 at 7:52 pm

    ESO, interesting pun, your use of “stigma” has this:

    (n. pl. stig·ma·ta (stg-mät, -mt, stgm-) or stig·mas
    A mark or token of infamy, disgrace, or reproach

  153. Seth Rogers
    July 28, 2005 at 10:05 pm

    I think our discussion of the “dark-skinned curse” in the scriptures might be getting a little warped by 21st century sensibilities.

    The people in the scriptures didn’t live in the 21st century. They lived a LONG time before that.

    It’s easy to forget that literacy levels among scriptural peoples was probably close to maybe … 5% (or something surprisingly low). Superstition ran rampant. Logical arguments rarely held the day. People felt comfortable with the people in their own village and that was about it. Woe betide the stranger who happened to pass through town right when somebody got sick or a camel died. They’d probably stone him to death.

    The education level of these people wasn’t even close to modern day America. The world documented in the scriptures was harsh, unjust, disorganized, fearful, xenophobic, and generally mean-spirited. These people were a disaster waiting to happen.

    Now imagine that you are God (or even Moses) and you have to deal with these people.

    Suddenly, the harsh and wrongheaded seeming measures taken in the scriptures don’t seem like such a bad idea anymore.

    By contrast, just try and give democracy to the Israelites in Exodus. Just try and institute American notions of rights, equality, open-mindedness on that backward lot. I’d wager that you’d have an unmitigated societal disaster on your hands (if they didn’t burn you as a demon first).

    It’s been my general experience throughout college and grad school, that the students tended to assume that most people in America are just as reasonable, logical, and informed as they were. When they actually got a taste of what real “working class Americans” were thinking, they tended to be unpleasantly surprised at the depth of ignorance, irrationality, and general wrong-headedness prevalent in our society.

    If the educated of America are so out of touch with even their less educated CONTEMPORARIES, it seems silly to propose that we can really understand the situation of ancient Nephites or Israelites. Attempts to impose American liberal societal values on these cultures are grossly inadequate.

  154. JKS
    July 28, 2005 at 10:19 pm

    Seth Rogers
    Perhaps you should also comment on the “ignorance” of the educated elite.

  155. El Jefe
    July 29, 2005 at 1:37 am

    We are all a product of the culture of our times. And at this time, and in America today, our culture has concluded that white racism is a great sin, and should be fought against, tooth and nail (in some ways, the culture of the prevailing elite, which does not consider many things to be sinful, considers it the GREATEST sin). However, we do not feel the exactly the same about other forms of racism. If, for example, a black person was encouraged by other blacks to marry within their race, we would probably conclude that this was not a reprehensible form of racism, but rather, a question of pride in their heritage. In fact, some blacks have stated that it is impossible for blacks to be racist.

    There are probably good historical reasons for this. There is no doubt that reprehensible white racism did exist in the USA, primarily directed against African Americans, but which also included people of other races. And it is wonderful that it has significantly diminished.

    In the main I believe that racism is not good. But where do you draw the line between pride in one’s heritage, and racism? Not easy. It is easy to categorize all forms of racism as evil, but many things in human relationships do not lend themselves to a black and white analysis (ethically as well as anthropologically).

    To judge other cultures, at a different time and place, by the standards which we have established for ourselves, smacks of hubris. As if only our culture, at this time and place, truly has the right handle on what is right and wrong.

  156. July 29, 2005 at 10:29 am

    Funny no one has mentioned or considered the Elijah Able family whose descendants lived up in Logan when I was a kid and I went to school with one of them but I was unaware of their fascinating history at the time.

    Apparently Elijah, an obviously dark skinned African American proved his loyality to Joseph Smith to the point that he was considered worthy of the Priesthood. I don’t think anyone knows what he did, if anything to earn this reward. But he was a friend of Porter Rockwell and an undertaker by trade; that suggests some interesting possibilities.

    At any rate he was clearly of African heritage and he was ordained to the Priesthood (Quorum of the Seventy, if my memory is correct) and he married a white woman. They managed to get to Utah and he had several children and grandchildren, down for a few genertions. At times they were able to do remarkable things like serve missions and at other times they were not allowed into the temple. Many of them were given the Priesthood based on their worthines and faithfulness like everyone else in spite of their racial heritage. Some were ordained by the church leaders and some by father to son as was the custom at various times. At some point fairly late, I’d guess in the late 1960’s when it was becoming a national issue, they were quietly asked to not exercise their Priesthood. The result was they did not receive certain church leadership callings including home teaching, but they could still teach classes and lead auxillaries, etc.(Sound like a good deal to anyone else?) The kids my age all knew some of the descendants of Elijah Able. I recall this family being as active in the church as any other family, their sons served honorable missions and married in the temple and we were entirely oblivious to their situation concerning the Priesthood. I learned about it from reading articles in magazines or from the Internet.

    During any given year from 1840’s to 1978 there has been at least one of Elijah’s descendants who was clearly and openly known to be of African descendent and who held the Priesthood.They were diverted from this unusual stream of history by the 1978 revelation.

  157. Seth Rogers
    July 30, 2005 at 2:20 pm

    Re: 155

    JKS, since you asked … But this is really off-topic.

    I have lived with both the “elites” and the “non-elites.” Both have their good and bad points.

    Of course, I disagree with both labels and I would be hard pressed to apply either label to anyone I actually know. Besides, I also disagree that you have to be college-educated to be an “elite Mormon.”

    “He who is greatest among you, let him become as a little child.”

    In any case, my point was that the educated in America often tend to be woefully unaware of the latent ignorance, violence and despair surrounding them even in their own towns, and certainly in the world at large.

    My comment above might be read as an arrogant condemnation of the meek and lowly of the earth. This is not my intention. Wealth and ease does not automatically grant a person the moral high ground and neither does poverty and hardship. Both may be misused.

    I am reminded of the words of the second spirit in Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” when he lifts his robes and reveals two wretched children. Scrooge asks him if they are his:

    “They are Man’s” said the Spirit looking down upon them. “And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”

    There are of course, many lessons to be taken from the Spirit’s statement. My take is that Want represents the sins of the downtrodden in society and Ignorance represents the sins of the privileged. The poor hunger after what the wealthy have. The wealthy aren’t even aware that the poor exist.

    Want and Ignorance.

    Blindness is the sin of the privileged in America. They don’t know who they are rubbing elbows with and they couldn’t be more detached from the ugly realities their brethren still live with.

    Some poor wretch gets drunk one night and goes and vandalizes a Jewish synagogue leaving vile racial epithets scrawled on the walls. Educated Americans recoil in disgust at such behavior. They offer up long sermons couched in the moral sensibilities they have acquired at school. They theorize about the rightness and wrongness of theoretical anti-Semitism.

    But this is as far as it goes. The educated rarely venture beyond speaking of THEORETICAL evils and actually speak of REAL evils. Few are willing to descend to the level of this poor bigot and really understand the hatred, fear, and despair that he lives with every hour of his life.

    Instead, we separate ourselves from him and erect a barrier of intellectual theories and moral platitudes around him to keep him at a distance. Then we silently congratulate ourselves on our intellectual and moral superiority. But we prefer to keep him caged and intellectually accounted for. We fear to really touch him lest he contaminate us in some way.

    Again, Ignorance belongs to the privileged and usually, the ignorance is willful.

  158. manaen
    July 30, 2005 at 3:04 pm


    Seth, well said!

    It seems that the temporally-comfortable among us frequently look at “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matt 25:40) as an opportunity for some spiritual extra credit beyond a now satisfactory station. Would that we recalled as well the negative of that verse that follows: “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” (Matt 25:45)

  159. manaen
    July 31, 2005 at 4:19 am

    19, 148, 149, 152
    danithew, Ed, ESO, et all

    About maybe we have unsupposed roots, see this recent article in “The New York Times”:

  160. Lini
    August 30, 2005 at 6:25 pm

    I was born and raised in white town in Meridian, Idaho. The population in my highschool was 99% caucasian. I wanted to explore other cultures, so I went to BYU-Hawaii. I have to admit that I had a rough time with all the different cultures my first semester. Here’s the point: When I truely engulfed myself in friendships whith those from other cultures, I felt there were no boundardaries. We all shared a few things in common, one of which is that we were LDS.

    That is the main thing you will share when dating/marrying another LDS individual from another culture/country. I ended up marrying a man from Tonga. He grew up very differently from me. The one thing we both grew up doing was FHE and church. That was basically all we had in common from our childhoods. We have had our ups and our downs.

    My main advice is to discuss EVERYTHING prior to marrying. This includes how you celebrate holidays (i.e. anniversaries, birthdays… etc), how you “help” when family members are in need, where his/her priorities are (i.e. are they aligned: God first, your immediate family, THEN the extended family). These are all things to take into consideration.

    I’m not going to say it has been easy… and even at times, I wish I would have married within my own culture. Particularly when I realized there is no emphases put on anniversaries where he grew up (hint, hint). But praying for your spouse helps a tremendous deal. It is a challenge, but as JKS says all the way at the top, you need to heed the spirit when you pray about it. That’s what I did.

    At BYUH, it is never looked at as “bad” to date interracially, but you find that those who survive will give forums and speeches on the difficulties of inter-cultural relationships. That always helps me. Make sure if you decide to tie the knot that you seek counsel from someone who has been through it before. You will not go into it blindly, and you will feel better about your decision… although every situation is different.

    You will gain great experiences by dating interracially, and you will be stronger having survived it. GO FOR IT

  161. Mike
    August 30, 2005 at 8:08 pm

    Speaking of the generational gap regarding races, when we adopted our first son (he’s half black half white), a ward member held baby shower for us. The elderly lady across the street lovingly stated, “It’s too bad you couldn’t get a white one.” We just laughed about it. Later that week, the bishop’s wife called me and said, “I just want you to know that I just love Tiger Woods.” We laughed again.

  162. manaen
    August 30, 2005 at 9:36 pm

    Mike, Here’s another side to that: when my wife and I looked at adopting a couple decades ago, concerns about something called “racial identity” made it difficult to for us, mainly white, to adopt a black child. White babies went to white parents and black babies went to black parents. Half-black/half-white babies went to black parents. I left-brainedly argued without success that even if it did make sense to segregate kids like that, we had as much claim to a half/half child as did potential black parents. (I now suppose they believed that such a child would be better accepted in the black community). I also was unsuccessful in arguing that a good family of any race was better for a black kid than institutional custody.

    This reached its nadir when we learned that even foster parents were assigned by race. I’m still puzzled as to how a few weeks, that wouldn’t be remembered consciously, with a white family might damage a black infant’s so-called racial identity.

  163. Mike B
    August 31, 2005 at 2:36 pm

    I just realized that there is another “Mike” posting here, and uses only the name “Mike.” For what it’s worth, I’m the Mike who adopted two biracial boys. I’m not living in the South, but in Utah.

  164. ritz
    September 12, 2005 at 6:22 pm

    Im doing a project for school on interracial dating and relationships. I would like some help on statistics and old articles on acts against it so I can show my school how many people really don’t agree with it. I personally don’t have a problem as long as the other person treats you right and you understand what they believe and arent against it.

  165. Will
    October 1, 2005 at 1:35 am

    The main reason that interracial dating/marriage is still considered wrong, it that many people feel that God created three genetically different races of the human species: black, white, and asian, and if He wanted us to interbreed, then we would not be separate races/three genetically distinct creatures as we are now, but instead be once race. All three races are equal before God. Also people feel that if your parents have passed on these morals to you, and if you reject them, then you are dishonoring your parents and violating the 10 commandments. I know it is not something popular to think in a world taken over by the New Age movement, but there is nothing wrong with believing this. I have seen posts of people being judgemental by calling someone who doesn’t support the fact that they think interracialjudgemental. It is true that some people may believe that interracial marriage/dating/creating mixed race offspring is wrong, but they feel this way for the wrong reasons by thinking that there race is the best. You should look at God’s plan that He has someone of our own race out there for us. Some people are not able to wait, and may commit to this lifestyle prematurely. People inherently know that this is against God’s plan, but since the three races are close enough genetically (being three divisions of the human species), they can still produce offspring that is a hybrid of the races or a mixed race, as a consequence of a sexual act performed. Sadly, most people who honor God seek to uphold His will and stand up against interracial marriage/dating/fornication for the right reasons are grouped along with the groups who are truly racist and feel that there particular race is better. It is best to teach the future generations that interracial marriage, though it can produce hybrid offspring, is not God’s plan. We should encourage our own children that while this happens occasionally, this is not the right way, but also that the child can not be blamed for the sin of their parents. Again, seeking God’s view is not popular in today’s society, but the right way often isn’t. Why can’t people just accept that the three races are equal in worth before humans and God, and that God made us into separate races for a reason. Not to try to undo what He had separated, but live as brothers and sisters in Christ. Contrary to some interesting beliefs, the races can co-exist and be friends without have to produce offspring with each other. Any thoughts?

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