Marvin Perkins is a Latter-day Saint music producer who is currently the Public Affairs Co-chair for the Genesis Group and who has worked to nurture understanding between African Americans and Latter-day Saints and attack misconceptions (see our 12 Questions series with Brother Perkins from 2009). This morning, Brother Perkins circulated the following email to his “Blacks in the Scriptures” listserve (which is re-posted here with his permission):
Many of you have recognized the new LDS.org website. Some of you have recognized that with the new site also came changes to chapter headings and footnotes in the scriptures. Not nearly as significant in number as the changes that were made in the 1981 edition of the LDS scriptures, but equally confirming on the messages being conveyed. Here are a list of the changes that I’m aware of, along with some thoughts and two very compelling short videos below. I’d love to hear your thoughts as you prayerfully review the changes asking “what would the Lord have me understand about these recent changes?”
1. 1 Nephi 12:23– The footnotes for “dark” have been removed (Jacob 3:3 and Alma 3:7 (6-19)) and replaced with 2 Nephi 26:33
2. 2 Nephi 5– the words in the chapter heading “the Lamanites are cursed, receive a skin of blackness” were changed to “the Lamanites are cut off from the presence of the Lord, are cursed…”
3. 2 Nephi 5:21– The footnotes for “curse” (2 Nephi 1:17 and Alma 3:6 (6-19)) were removed and replaced with “TG Curse”.
4. 2 Nephi 5:21– The word “blackness” has a new footnote which is 2 Ne. 26:33.
5. Alma 3:6– The footnotes for “curse” have been changed from 1 Ne. 2:23 and 2 Ne. 5:21(21-24) to 2 Nephi 5:21; 26:33.
6. Mormon 5– the words in the chapter heading “The Lamanites shall be a dark, filthy and loathsome people” have been replaced by “Because of their unbelief, the Lamanites will be scattered, and the Spirit will cease to strive with them.”
7. Mormon 5:15– The footnotes for “become” no longer reference 1 Ne. 2:23 and Alma 3:19(16-19) but are replaced by 2 Nephi 26:33.
8. Moses 7:8,22– The words “blackness” and “black” both get new footnotes which lead to 2 Nephi 26:33.
From prayerfully studying the scriptures laid out in the Blacks in the Scriptures DVD series and the talk on “How To Reach African Americans” we understand that a curse is a separation from God because of sin, including the loss of the spirit, a diming of the light of Christ within, a separation from His path and ways thereof (see 1 Nephi 2:23 then follow footnote for curse to Job 24:13)
We also understand that the skin being spoken of in reference to “black” or “white” is referring to the state of the spirit and not a literal or physical skin color change. There are some that are still in the process of gaining a testimony of these gospel principals. I think that these recent changes should aid in this process. Notice that the changes in the chapter headings of 2 Nephi 5 and Mormon 5 get the reader so much closer to understanding the “curse” as a “separation” than does the earlier language.
Secondly, notice all of the redirecting, in addition to new footnotes pointing us to 2 Nephi 26:33. This is significant because as we’ve studied all of the scriptures laid out in the attached scripture reference guide for “black” and “white”, by the time we get to 2 Nephi 26:33, we understand that Joseph Smith could have easily translated the word “black” as “wicked” meaning the spiritually dark, as well as the word “white” as “righteous”, referring to the state of the spiritually pure and clean. Well I say he could have easily translated it as such and he actually did. See Alma 11:44. You’d think you’re reading the exact same passage, but this time you see the wicked and the righteous, in place of black and white.
So I sincerely hope that this is helpful and that you’ll pass this onto others and engage in productive conversations about these new changes from the Church.
And now for the video. Now the Lord has told us over and over again that He is no respecter of persons. He teaches us in 1 Samuel 16:7 that He doesn’t look on the outward appearance as does man. We see many times in the Book of Mormon where the Nephites, Lamanites and Amlicites had to do specific things to themselves just to be able to distinguish themselves from each other. They would not have had to do this if there were an actual skin color change. (See Alma 3:4-6). We also see in the Book of Mormon times when the Nephites passed themselves off as Lamanites just by telling them that they were Lamanites. (See Alma 55:1-15) This also could not have happened if there were a literal skin color change. By the way, anyone ever seen anyone’s skin color change after a baptism? So this video is riveting. It starts slow, so please be patient and know that it gets really gripping. After viewing it, ask yourself if a loving Father in heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ, would create these dynamics seen in these children in a matter of minutes and hours. I think the scriptural truths will resonate as you view these and confirm the understanding set forth with the newest changes to the scriptures from the Church.
Day two of the experiment saw those who thought they were better, find out that they were worse and that those with different color eyes were better. I was amazed at how quickly the high self worth of that group plummeted. The lower sense of self worth caused them to not apply themselves, believe in themselves or approach their work with undivided thought, instead, partly thinking about their second class status. Even couched in kind tones, today we find many in the church who utilize labels of separation like your people, our people etc. We are one.