gonna steal BCC’s idea going to contribute to the fine discussions of the lifting of the priesthood ban with a few thoughts on what we might learn from some responses to the ban.
Let’s start with Elder Holland’s comment in his PBS interview; here’s how he, as a youngish church employee, responded to the news of the revelation:
I started to cry, and I was absolutely uncontrollable. I felt my way to a chair … and I sort of slumped from the doorway into the chair and held my head, my face in my hands and sobbed. …
There’s no issue in all my life that I had prayed more regarding — praying that it would change, praying that it would come in due time. I was willing to have the Lord speak, and I was loyal to the position and the brethren and the whole concept, but there was nothing about which I had anguished more or about which I had prayed more. And for that to be said in my lifetime, when I wasn’t sure it would happen in my lifetime, … it was one of the absolute happiest days of my life. …
Note that he, faithful Church employee and future apostle, had (1) prayed for the ban to end which means he (2) presumably did not like the ban or think it was sound doctrine/practice but (3) had not argued publically against the ban or let it affect his activity in the Church.
Next item. President McKay, from the Prince bio (which, if you haven’t read, you should drop everything and do right now):
[President McKayâ€™s daughter-in-law] Mildred Calderwood McKay, who served on the general board of the Primary . . . expressed her anguish that black male children, who commingled with white male children during their Primary years . . . were excluded from the Aaronic Priesthood when they turned twelve. â€œCanâ€™t they be ordained also?” she asked. He sadly replied, â€œNo.” â€œThen I think it is time for a new revelation.” He answered, â€œSo do I.” [On another occasion Elder Marion D.] Hanks related an incident from a prior trip to Vietnam, in which he had comforted a wounded black LDS soldier. As he told the story, McKay began to weep. Referring to the priesthood ban, McKay said, â€œI have prayed and prayed and prayed, but there has been no answer.”
Church architect Richard Jackson recalled the following:
I remember one day that President McKay came into the office. We could see that he was very much distressed . . . . He said, â€˜Well, Iâ€™ve inquired of the Lord repeatedly. The last time I did it was late last night. I was told, with no discussion, not to bring the subject up with the Lord again; that the time will come, but it will not be my time, and to leave the subject alone.â€™ . . . I can still see him coming in with a bit of a distraught appearance, which was unusual for President McKay.
You’ll note from this that President McKay who was the President of the Church at the time (1) prayed for the ban to end which means he (2) presumably did not like the ban or think it was sound doctrine/practice but (3) had not argued publically against the ban or let it affect his activity in the Church.
Next up at bat: President Hinckley:
It seemed to me that we all rejoiced in the 1978 revelation given President Kimball. (source)
Once again, “rejoicing” suggests to me that he wasn’t a big fan of the ban. Do I need to repeat my numbered list again?
At the risk of draining the lifeblood of the bloggernacle, may I suggest that one approach to doctrines/policies that we don’t like would be to pray for them to change and not air our grievances in public?
The ban caused untold harm to countless Saints and potential Saints. It seems to me that one way we can honor our heritage and reclaim this part of our history is to learn something from our experience with the ban that we can apply to other situations. I made a stab at that here and I think I can now add to my list a pattern for dissent learned from our leaders.
(And, you’ll note, their approach worked.)