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  1. I have a hard time, John, seeing how the Mormon Church is not discriminating against homosexuals. You say they are not, yet they are not allowed to participate in all the temple ceremonies. To me, this exclusion from participating in the full rites of the Church is discrimination. You may not think so, because you may say: “hey, at least, we’re giving them something. We’re not kicking them out completely.” But, to me, anything less than full equality is discrimination.

    And why should we discriminate based upon whom a person is sexually attracted to? Homosexuals are not sexual predators. They are not molesting children. They do not have some secret agenda to spread their “lifestyle” to everyone. They just want the same rights that heterosexuals have, nothing more, nothing less.

    In my world, god has nothing to do with marriage. Marriage is a social contract between two people to share love, property, and trust. Is there really a good reason for stipulating that the two people must be of opposite gender? I truly doubt it.

  2. ANYTHING less than full equality is discrimination? That’s not true Cheese.

    I know what you are trying to say, but lets not point fingers at the Mormons because they exclude groups. All groups of people in all ways of life exclude others that do not meet their standards.

    Example: A democrat committee will exclude a member that claims he started studying politics and now wants to be a republican.

    You are false in your assumption that if any group excludes then its automatic terms for wrongful discrimination.

  3. KC,

    That analogy is not accurate. The person in your analogy is voluntarily choosing to switch political affiliations. By doing so, they may be excluding themselves from the committee, but there is no evidence that the committee is excluding them against their will.

  4. Cheese, I never said that Mormons don’t discriminate. Of course we do. We also don’t let adulterers or pedophiles into our temples or priesthood leadership either (unlike the Catholics—sad). That said, I’m not knocking the “good” gay lifestyle—the gays who are monogamous and commit to a partner for life. Or any relationship that is worked out between two or even multiple competent adults. But, the Mormon Church requires persons to be legally and lawfully married, or not in a sexual relationship if single, to qualify for temple attendance and full fellowship. This “legal and lawful” union is entirely up to the Mormon Church to decide. In Argentina, for example, the Church recognizes “common law” marriages because the government-sanctioned ones are too oppressive and burdensome on the poor. If gay marriages are made legal, the Church will still not recognize them.

    Yes, the Mormon Church discriminates against gays, and they will freely admit it! They, and I, have every right to think that homosexuality is a sin. You have every right to think otherwise. We are free to choose. Once we start trying to force others to our will, even if we think we know better then they, we loose the whole point of why we are here in mortality in the first place. Christ never forced anyone (accept when He was being forced to do so, like clearing the temple) and if we want to become like Him, we need to do the same. I have no problem with gays getting married. I have a problem with them forcing others who think they are perverted to recognize them as being married. They have every right to think of themselves as normal, or even better if they wish, and others have every right to think they are deviants. I personally could care less. I’ve known enough good well-balanced gay people in my life to know they are no threat, but I don’t know all, either. I’ve also known a gay or two who I would not let around my children. I know good and bad strait people as well. The Mormon Church leadership thinks that legalized gay marriage could be a threat (and they have some case studies to lend credence to that) and therefore oppose it. They don’t hate gays, far from it, they want to help. We’re hear to preach to the sinners, however we each interpret what a sin is, and that is the main purpose of any worthwhile church, in my opinion.

  5. “Once we start trying to force others to our will, even if we think we know better then they, we loose the whole point of why we are here in mortality in the first place.”-John

    Do you not see the hypocrisy in uttering this statement? You and the rest of the people who insist that homosexuality is a sin are the ones doing the forcing. You are forcing them not to marry, and by not allowing it, you are defining all homosexual behavior as sinful. Do you not see that your rigid definitions of what’s right and proper are forcing them into your definition of sin? The problem with your definitions is that you cast a wide net that covers all homosexuals regardless of their intent or character. You are prejudging all of them as sinful regardless if they’re hurting anyone else or not. You are not taking things on a case-by-case basis.

  6. Cheese, what I am saying is that you cannot say a group is wrong if they exclude others because they don’t believe what they believe. Yes, its a correct analogy.

  7. According to the Mormon Church it is threatening the standard definition of marriage. When we change the definition or make it so broad in can include virtually anything, people start defining their “rights” by such an ambiguous baseline and then anything goes, like forcing churches to comply and honor those “rights.” By letting gays redefine marriage in the eyes of the government, and in a democracy by definition the people, we, the Mormon Church, are surrendering the outer perimeter trench and allowing gays one step closer to getting in our house.

    Of course, the same arguments were made in reverse when the whole country came down on the Mormons over polygamy. I guess people don’t like it when we reverse their tactic upon them. I would rather see the government get entirely out of the marriage recognition business altogether, but that logistically can’t happen, so it will ALWAYS leave someone out. Marriage, by its very nature is discriminatory. Who I chose to marry is nobody else’s business and I don’t require their sanction or blessing either.

    So, if we’re stuck with government (the people) defined marriage, we must accept that it cannot be all things to all people. The people have spoken on this. The majority do not want to recognize gay marriage. I for one will not force them. If the majority switches and wants to recognize it then I will not force them the other way then either. We have to go with the majority on this one because these are mutually exclusive options. Otherwise, get the government (the will of the people) out of the business and we Mormons can go back to having multiple wives again. :)

  8. The act of sexual intercourse with a member of the same sex is the definition of sin in this case, according to Mormon theology. Therefore all, yes every single one, homosexuals are sinners. Again this is only according to Mormon doctrine. You are free to believe however you want.

    The Mormons don’t wish to force anyone one way or the other, but as long as we’re bridled with government-defined marriage which will always be exclusionary because it has to reconcile the will of ALL the people, which is impossible, we must work within that system and keep the definition where it will do the most good and the least harm. That is generally honoring the will of the majority.

    Hey, we had to bend our religious ideals to the will of the majority in the practice of polygamy. We are not willing, if we can help it, to bend them again to accept gays into full fellowship in our Church. Therefore, the Mormon Church is on the front to maintain the will of the majority in favor of the standard definition of marriage.

  9. “Who (sic) I chose to marry is nobody else’s business and I don’t require their sanction or blessing either.” You’re making my argument for me, John.

    About polygamy, I don’t really have a problem with it, so long as it’s not coerced and all partners are willing participants and of age. Legalizing polygamy, however, would require us to re-write our marriage laws completely. Homosexual marriage not so much.

    I read a book about one of the survivors of Warren Jeff’s group. She was forced to marry her cousin at age 13. Maybe it wasn’t polygamy itself, but the way polygamy was handled that needed to be outlawed.

  10. The current polygamous off-shoots of the main Mormon body (which were all excommunicated long ago, by the way) do not in any way, shape or form represent the way polygamy was practiced 120 years ago. Every case was voluntary and the permission and blessing of the first wife was always required. Men were generally “called” to the practice by their priesthood leaders and did not choose on their own to take a second or third wife, or at least did on initiate it—they were always free to choose. At its height, barely 20 percent of Mormon families were polygamous.

    The fundamentalist off-shoots of Mormonism are so inbred and deviate (getting more so over the years) that they are an aberration to even normal human decency. Anything, no matter how good or benign, can be corrupted. I’ve dealt with these people growing up. There was a colony of them not too far from my home town. They are generally pretty slow-witted (especially the women) and have many physical problems as a result of marrying their cousins all the time. In addition, they “purge” the males every generation or so, so that the “alpha males” can have their picks (plural) of the female litter.

    When the Mormon Church first stated and moved into the Salt Lake Valley, the women converts outnumbered the men by a good percentage. I think it was almost 3 to 1, not sure. Polygamy could work in such an environment. I think polygamy would have eventually died out on its own anyway, regardless of any laws, once the Church was more established and reached equilibrium. In some ways, though, it is a shame. There are so few good men out there (the vast majority being scumbags like myself) that some women may not mind “sharing” a good one with someone who would not otherwise get a good man. (In almost all cases of Mormon Church sanctioned polygamy the men were financially well off enough to afford another wife and family before becoming polygamous. And, the other wives may not have ever found a man otherwise. Just look up Brigham Young’s wives sometime and you’ll know why Mark Twain said he was one of the most charitable persons on God earth!)

  11. “Legalizing polygamy, however, would require us to re-write our marriage laws completely. Homosexual marriage not so much.”- Cheese

    Re-writing of marriage laws including polygamy is not big issues, if we define marriage is spiritual union of two or more, same or multiple sexes. The whole purpose of marriage is to protect agreement and property. Moreover beside Mormon, Muslim world also believe and practice polygamy marriage. Would you agree, Cheese to accept polygamy, when there would be public pressure from Muslim and Mormon group? I would disagree both unions (same sex, and polygamy) because to me it is sinful nature.

  12. So long as the people entering into the marriage are over the age of eighteen, competent enough to make decisions for themselves, voluntarily doing so of their own free will, and able to obtain a divorce in the event irreconciliable differences occur, then I care not one lick about their number or gender.

  13. John sez: “Mormons believe the family unit is eternal and essential for exaltation.”

    Why can’t that include a family headed by a homosexual couple?

    Certainly the Mormons once believed that the family unit could be headed by people in polygamous unions. All I’m saying, John, is that when you have a church with the kind of history of flip flops yours has, no one knows today what doctrine the church will preach tomorrow.

  14. Nothing flipped or flopped, Caleb. I explained the polygamy and blacks getting the priesthood. And no, homosexuals cannot head a family unit in the eternities. They cannot procreate. They are two of the same half. They need to be of opposite halves to make the whole. Gender is and always was essential to our identity before we were born here and after we leave. As such we are not complete until gender union is made. We cannot be like God. God is both Male and Female. He is a divine coupling that defies our ability to define. We render Him in the masculine because we had to pick one. We do not want to refer to Him as an It. He is eternally beyond being a non-gender thing.

    Suffice it to say, He has however given us direction in the holy scriptures and through prophets. He also gives us the ability to back up or confirm whatever is said in His name if we choose to ask sincerely.

    However, we are not given an explanation of everything, otherwise we would not learn. I don’t know why or how homosexuals are the way they are, what their particular challenges needed to be in this life, or what accommodations, if any, are afforded them in the eternities. I suspect each individual case is different. Some feel they are women “trapped in a man’s body” or vise versa. Could be true, but unless God says otherwise, the chromosomes will tell us. If there’s a Y one in there, no matter what else, they are male, if not, female. Whatever emotional, developmental, or environmental factors are involved, these will be taken into full and complete consideration at the final Judgement where we will all be assigned our cell or mansion. :)

    You can, of course, choose to believe this or not or to ask God for yourself. You apparently think we are all neolithic dunderheads for thinking there is “something not right” about gay people, and you’re welcome to think that way, but it is our belief and we will preserve it and keep believing regardless of what the world thinks or does. That’s the nature of faith and spiritual conformation. Can’t explain it to someone else. They gotta get it for themselves. Why we’re here. Good luck!

  15. John sez: “Caleb. I explained the polygamy and blacks getting the priesthood.”

    Yes, John, and I didn’t buy your explanation, and still don’t. Do you really honestly deep deep in your heart of hearts believe that it’s just a coincidence that the two groups that have been historically excluded from the full benefits of Mormonism, blacks and gays, just happen to be groups that have also been discriminated against by the rest of society?

    Do you really truly believe that those Mormon founders of yours, who referred to blacks in the most derogatory words possible, words that I wouldn’t use on this blog, and who described them as dirty, filthy, and bearing the mark of Cain, were really truly just interpreting Mormon theology with no racism involved?

    I don’t. If you do, that’s fine, but please understand why others are skeptical.

    And, you also say that gays can’t head a family because they can’t procreate. Does that mean that heterosexuals who, for whatever medical reason can’t bear or father children, also can’t head families? Does that mean that single people can’t head families? Some of the finest parents I know are gay and lesbian. I’m sure that about twenty years after gays and lesbians are fully accepted by the rest of society, the Mormons will get around to flip-flopping on that one, too. It would just be nice if just sometimes you all would be in the lead on these things, not always the followers.

  16. Some folks might make a case for saying that the traditional marriage with the “’til death do we part” clause is threatened by certain religious groups that make extravagant claims about marriage extending throughout eternity. John, would you be sympathetic with traditionalists who passed a law banning anyone and any church from performing these “untraditional” eternal marriages?

    Mormons are permitted to perform their peculiar marriages according to their regulations. Same thing for Catholics, and also for backwoods fundies that don’t allow mixed race relations. They should be allowed such liberties, but dang it there is no good reason for letting their theology stand in the way of others who choose NOT to follow such restrictions.

  17. Caleb, I don’t know where you are getting your info on the derogatory comments made by former leaders of the Mormon Church. I am only aware of one or two unfortunate opinions expressed by some a century ago. Those opinions were not the official position of the Church. The Church always said officially that the blacks would one day again get the priesthood. That has always been the doctrine, despite what any individual in the Church may have said.

    If you read my comments more carefully, I did say that it is not necessary that couples procreate in this life. I apologize if I did not make that clear enough. They simply need to “pair up” in preparation for procreation in the eternities if for nothing else. This includes singles, who for whatever reason do not get that opportunity in this life. They will be sealed to a spouse of their choosing by proxy sometime in the future. I don’t know how this is to be done logistically, but it will happen for everyone who desires it according to Mormon doctrine.

    Gay couples may make great parents in this life, but they do not fit in with the eternal plan of exaltation in Mormon doctrine. Many people are raised by uncles or aunts or in foster care who will always have a gratifying and eternal relationship with such caregivers and givers of unconditional love. They just won’t be sealed together in the eternal family relationship necessary to become like God. (Actually, we will all be sealed together in an infinite “chain” to everyone else, so we’re actually one big [really big] family in the eternities. But, that is getting into really deep doctrine—a little over my head.)

    The Mormon Church has no problem with other churches accepting gay marriage—that is their right and freedom. The Mormons would never force them to do otherwise. The Mormon Church however, will never accept it for themselves and is fighting to keep from being forced to do so or any threat that may try to make them do so in the future.

    By the way, many leaders in the Mormon Church today say that in some ways the Civil Rights Movement of the sixties was inspired and meant, in small part, to create the conditions for the blacks to get the priesthood a few years later. This is their “opinion,” of course. You might wish to believe the same about the Gay Right Movement, but this would require a fundamental shift in ACTUAL DOCTRINE in the Church which did not happen with the blacks or with polygamy.

  18. On an interesting side note: The prophet of our Mormon Church said back in 1968 that man would never land on the Moon. A year later after they did, he was asked about it. He said, “I was wrong, so what?” (paraphrasing). He said it was simply an opinion, and that was he not allowed to have opinions, even if they are wrong? He was not speaking for the Lord in that case, and that he would have made it abundantly clear if he were. He is human like the rest of us, just like Jonah, Moses, and every other prophet.

  19. Interesting, John. The real interesting part is that you, an obviously intelligent and articulate person, believe all this stuff. But, follow up, if you will, on one point: What were those “conditions” created by the civil rights movement that allowed blacks to achieve the priesthood?

  20. It’s also kind of ludicrous that an intelligent person should think someone dying on a cross 2,000 years ago has any bearing on forgiveness for the bone-headed things he does today. But, that is what it is.

    As for the “conditions,” they probably mean the culmination of the general public’s attitude development. Racism existed throughout the country and among Church members for many years. By racism I mean the irrational judging of someone’s character or abilities based on the appearance of their skin. This had to be overcome in the minds of a critical mass of the general populace, both in the country and the Church. In Deuteronomy God says He will curse people down to the fourth generation of those who hate Him. I think, really, the hate they have curses themselves. The Civil War and slavery had a great “hateful” impact on both whites and blacks. They passed this hurt and hate on to their children. The next generation may have only picked up on 75 percent of their parents’ hate and their children only picked up on 50 percent. The fourth generation only comprehended 25 percent, and by the fifth generation it was gone for the most part. So, the Civil Rights Movement may not have actually “created” the conditions for full freedom of the blacks, but rather was the culmination or manifestation of the dying out of the “curse.” It was the stamping out of the last little remnants of the hurt of slavery and civil strife. Remember, otherwise good people killed and died based on these cultural elements in American society, however misguided they may have been—much of it taught to them from the cradle. Not to justify their actions, but we should be careful not to judge them too harshly considering their unfortunate circumstances.

    It must be remembered that to act in God’s name (having His priesthood) one must be free and not under someone else’s control. The priesthood could not be given to blacks who were owned by another man. It also could not be given, ideally, to someone controlled by cultural and generational hatred to the point of misusing this power. The conditions had to be proper, in a general sense, for the priesthood to be made available universally to the blacks. For whatever reason, maybe the blacks were not “free” enough in their own minds, the priesthood was withheld from them until the process initiated by the Civil War was complete. Of course, this breaks down on an individual basis, but the “critical mass” probably needed to be reached, which did not occur until after the 1960’s.

  21. Anyone convicted of a felony automatically gets their priesthood revoked until they have done their time, in most cases. The totalitarian regime is a little more tricky since in theory, at least, they are not actually “owned” by another person. The Mormon Church does not preach or do missionary work where the people do not have a certain level of freedom, minimally the freedom of religion. We always go “through the front door” so to speak. We will not do covert missionary work where we are not officially welcome in almost all cases. We are not established in Cuba, North Korea or mainland China for example, and we did not go into Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union countries until we were officially recognized in each.

    On a case-by-case basis the dispersion of priesthood authority is not ideal, but our overall track record is pretty good. Keep in mind that God will not recognize priesthood ordinances or authority by those who are unworthy regardless of how air tight their ordination might be.

  22. “It must be remembered that to act in God’s name (having His priesthood) one must be free and not under someone else’s control.”

    This bugs me more and more.

    Obviously there are counterexamples. Paul writing from prison. The early church, when one’s Christian faith was grounds enough for execution. The last two popes, both having grown up under repressive governments. Few Christians would contend that their lack of freedom prevented them from possessing ecclesiastical authority. While no person is ever completely free from the influences of government and society, it is also true that no law can fully harness the human mind.

    As a Protestant I especially chafe at the idea that ANYONE’S government can rob me of my rights and responsibilities as a member of the church universal. No believer should be comfortable with that notion. The opportunity for abuse is great when a church can work in cahoots with the state to determine who is eligible for church leadership. Ugh!

    I’ve talked before about my own denomination’s regrettable history regarding race relations. It’s interesting that the CME (originally the Colored Methodist Episcopal church, now the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church) was helped into being by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Even the white southerners clearly saw that slaves could exercise valid church authority.

  23. Yeah, José, you might be right, I don’t know all the reasons why blacks didn’t get the priesthood, I’m sure you have ideas on that, but the Mormon Church’s official position is that “we don’t know.”

    Our founder, Joseph Smith, still had his priesthood authority while he was put in prison, as well as numerous other Mormon examples. The government certainly does not have final say in any of God’s dealings, of course, but we do our best to be on the “up and up” with those in earthly power. It’s always complicated, but that’s why we rely on God inspiring and directing us and our decisions in each separate case, even if we don’t know all the reasons.

  24. One other thing just to clarify, José. The Mormons never discriminated against the blacks as far as membership in the Church or attendance of worship services or other activities. They simply could not hold the priesthood. There were many black members of the Church through the years leading up to their getting the priesthood and their numbers were growing despite not being able to fully participate. They were never segregated like in your church with separate worship services and sacraments.

    It is interesting, to me at least, that their was a large congregation of “Mormons” in Nigeria for several years before they got the priesthood. These good people had somehow got a copy of the Book of Mormon and set up their own church. They wrote to Church Headquarters and asked for guidance. The Church sent out missionaries to baptize them officially, and told them to just be patient, that the priesthood and the authority to baptize each other would come soon. It was 5 or 6 years later when the revelation came, and they were ready. The Church membership has since exploded in Nigeria; all originating from this little core of faithful followers who were humble enough and prayerfully, patiently waited upon the Lord. Church leadership knew the time was approaching. There were hints of it in the decades and years leading up to the Announcement.

    It bothers me when others, like Caleb, degrade what for me and others in my Church take as a profoundly spiritual experience. It was like the peace that comes after a long war. It might have even been a necessary war; some are. I remember Church members, very conservative ones, crying (literally) for joy when the Announcement came. The October General Conference of 1978 is one of the most talked about events in the Church. One of the Apostles of the Church described the revelation when it came as “cloven tongues of fire” and one of the most profound spiritual experiences in his long and distinguished life. He was even one who had formerly postulated some not-too-flattering possibilities as to why the blacks didn’t have the priesthood.

    So, please don’t malign my church. You certainly are welcome to your opinions, but please understand that we are all human and are struggling through an imperfect world. Our individual struggles and strengths obtained are worthy of some respect even if yours are different.

  25. John sez: “It bothers me when others, like Caleb, degrade what for me and others in my Church take as a profoundly spiritual experience.” Well, it bothers me to see people take discrimination and try to turn it into a spiritual experience. The fact that even today, after all blacks have been through, that you can still support this process is truly amazing to me.

  26. I’m not supporting the processes. I’m just reporting the facts. That is simply what occurred. I cannot deny what I know. I know for myself that leaders of my Church, both past and present, were inspired. They did not withhold the priesthood from the blacks because they were racist, even if they were racist. They did so because God told them to do so and He had not yet rescinded that order. We don’t know why, all we can do is speculate. Racism was not the issue. Leaders of my Church did not care what color someone’s skin was and most of them felt real angst about the issue. Others may not have given it much thought, it was just the way thing were. In that respect they were like the majority of whites in America at the time. The Civil Rights Movement can be credited for “waking them up” in those cases.

    Once again, we did ordain blacks at the beginning of the Church, but were then told not too. Those that we did ordain still retained their priesthood throughout their lives. Circumstances were not right for it to be spread to all the blacks yet, for whatever reason, but this shows that they were always “worthy” of the priesthood. Maybe (just speculating) the rest of us were not worthy to honer them having it. Now we are. Hallelujah!

  27. I truly am trying to understand, John, but all this seems to me to just add up to the Mormons having institutionalized racism over the years. I mean, you say: “It must be remembered that to act in God’s name (having His priesthood) one must be free and not under someone else’s control. The priesthood could not be given to blacks who were owned by another man.”

    Why? Why could a slave not be a priest? Even the portions of the Bible that support slavery, like the book of Philemon, do not suggest that a slave can’t be a fully participating Christian, and as Jose points out, even in the old South, there was a recognition that physical slavery did not prevent the slave from participating in the church.

    And, let’s remember another fun fact: The change in Mormon doctrine didn’t occur until 1978. I mean, throughout the ’50s and ’60s, as blacks achieved legal, though not social, equality with whites, did you think this was a phase that we were going through and that one day we’d decide it was a passing fad? In 1969, from what I understand, the powers that be of the church voted to end the exclusion of blacks, and the move was blocked by one apostle, Harold B. Lee. That was after the church sparred with the NAACP throughout the sixties, claiming that it would support civil rights legislation, but not following through on the promise. That hardly sounds like the type of pristine God-oriented decision process that you describe.

    And, when the decision was finally made in 1969, to ditch the racist policies of the past, I understand that the factor driving the decision was the fact that the church was about to open a big temple in Brazil, and couldn’t sort out the racial groups there sufficiently well to allow anyone to be a priest. I suppose when you base your priesthood on the race of the priest, you need a pretty bright-line test for what race a person is.

    All I’m saying, John, is that this is hardly as simple as you make it out to be; there were some serious non-doctrinal considerations going on.

  28. “Why could a slave not be a priest? Even the portions of the Bible that support slavery,”- Caleb

    I would appreciate if you show us where in the Bible you found that the Bible supports slavery system. I understand that the Bible teaches us since beginning till now to maintain harmony in between employer and employee relationship. When the Bible teaches slave to honor his/her master and master to honor his/her slave and reminds both that God is the Master of all. It does not indicate the Bible approve or disapprove entrepreneurships system of any type. Disqualification of Mormon priest hood by skin color is also does not sounds good as per biblical teaching. Because of like “he said, she said,” in preparing Church doctrines based on testimony of leader that God had told him to accept or reject an issues, causes to create one more denomination or divide a existing denomination. Many Christian Church are the Bible based means that the Bible teaching would supersede any doctrine that contradicts teaching of the Bible. The Bible is universal but culture and personal experience is local.

  29. I don’t know where you get your stories, Caleb. Don’t believe everything you read on the Web. The Church Apostles do not “vote” on anything. They try to come to a consensus, but the President/Prophet of the Church is the final word and sole dictator of the Church. We have such things as “common consent” within the membership, but God does not need our approval for anything. The Prophet speaks as directed by God. You don’t have to believe that, of course. Harold B. Lee was only an Apostle at that time. The President of the Church in 1969 was David O. McKay. He could, with a stroke of the pen, allow the blacks the priesthood. His successor, Joseph Fielding Smith, did not even feel the blacks would get the priesthood for a few more generations. There was no “vote” taken or Joseph Fielding Smith would have probably also dissented.

    In order to meet the requirements for the building of a temple back then there needed to be 100,000 Church members within its service area. It took many, many years to grow to that number of Church members in Brazil. The sticky issue of whether or not someone had blacks in his heritage would have been being dealt with effectively for quite some time. The priesthood is necessary in abundance to even organize the smallest Branch or Ward of the Church. There are dozens of positions to be filled with priesthood brethren for every congregation. It would not have suddenly become an issue when they built the temple. (One does not need to be temple-endowed to hold the priesthood.)

    One of our black General Authorities (yes we have them), right under the Apostles in authority, was a member of the Church for many years in Brazil and held positions within the the Church that did not require the priesthood. He contributed to the building of the temple there even though he knew he may never live long enough to enter it himself.

    The Church was never insanely strict on having black blood you one’s line. My Grandpa was concerned when my Mother wanted to marry my Dad and he knew my Dad was from the hills of Kentucky where my Grandpa had served his mission when he was young. My Dad had jet-black hair and olive skin and my Grandpa had seen many mixed race people while on his mission. My Dad said he was unaware of any blacks in his line and that simply stating that was good enough for the Church. He later discovered his Great Grandmother was a full-blood Cherokee and that was probably where the hair and skin came from that is so prevalent in his family.

    It wouldn’t have been the “end of the world” if a black person, or someone with black heritage, “accidently” got the priesthood. We had them before and I doubt the Church would have, or did, anything about it in such cases, which I’m sure happened now and then.

    As far as being “free” to hold the priesthood, that is merely speculation. The Mormon Church was having enough trouble just trying to hold itself together in its early history without having to deal with pre-Civil War issues of slaves potentially presiding over whites in Mormon congregations. Mormon congregations (called wards) are not like your church. The entire world is divided into geographical areas and each Mormon must attend the ward within which boundaries he lives. There are no exceptions without the approval of the President of the Church himself. Therefore priesthood leaders within each ward must be chosen from within its boundaries regardless of race. It would have been difficult to appease the political and cultural situations of the time of the Church’s infancy to accommodate blacks in such a structure. Later it was more feasible. Did we wait too long change the policy? Maybe. Believe what you will.

  30. Julian, you put way too much faith in the Bible. You need to put it in God through prayer and not so much on written words of questionable authenticity. The Bible is a useful tool but it is not the final word on anything—that final word rests with God. Whether or not the Bible dealt with slaves is unimportant. Ask God instead. If you’re sincere, He’ll answer.

  31. “Ask God instead. If you’re sincere, He’ll answer.” – John

    John, as per your statement, assuming I am not sincere, so God does not talk with me, but how about Catholic Church, Episcopal Church, Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist or even Pat Robertson, are they not sincere, like me? If they are sincere, my follow up question would be to you why are you not a Catholic? Thanks

  32. Got a different answer from God. That’s why I’m not Catholic. Maybe you got another answer tailored just for you. Maybe you’re not ready to be a Mormon. Maybe I’m not ready to be a Catholic, in God’s eyes. I’m not questioning your own sincerity, only you can do that. Just worried about reliance on only the Bible (a thing) instead of God Himself.

  33. John, I have enjoyed our discussion on this point a great deal, and I believe I have learned something. Don’t get me wrong; I still don’t buy your arguments, but at least now I understand them, though I do think you’re a bit naieve about some of the church’s past policies. But, the bottom line is that the LDS Church is extraordinarily successful, and no doubt will be more so in the future. My views are the views of the past, and the LDS’s views, whatever I might think about them, are apparently the ideas of the future.

  34. John says: “My Grandpa was concerned when my Mother wanted to marry my Dad and he knew my Dad was from the hills of Kentucky where my Grandpa had served his mission when he was young. My Dad had jet-black hair and olive skin and my Grandpa had seen many mixed race people while on his mission. My Dad said he was unaware of any blacks in his line and that simply stating that was good enough for the Church. He later discovered his Great Grandmother was a full-blood Cherokee and that was probably where the hair and skin came from that is so prevalent in his family.”

    Just a note on this: John, I suspect that what your ancestor really was was what are now called “Melungeons,” a group of olive-skinned people living in various parts of Appalachia, though primarily in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia, which are now thought to be descendants of escaped Portuguese galley slaves (I’m not making this up). This is now a big deal in Appalachian studies. Many people over the years in the mountains claimed “Indian” ancestry because they thought this was true, but most were actually Melungeons. Obviously I don’t know your family’s history: They might well have been Indians, but this would be uncommon.

  35. John, your different answer from God in choosing Mormon Church over Catholics is your guts feeling for which you seek answer from God. Because of that nature, you are Mormon, somebody else is Catholics and somebody belongs to different denominations of Protestant, like me. We have no choice of knowing right or wrong of doctrines that evolved from the Bible. If the Bible is the seed of the Christian Church and different denominations are the brunches of the tree grown from the Bible, no branches could produce different fruits that are different from the seed, unless the branch that produce different fruits comes from a seed which is a hybrid variety.

    By the term hybrid I mean some doctrines are taken from the Bible and some are from personal experiences such as book of Mormon. The Bible based Church, I mean, fruits of any branches (denominations) would genetically be same character as of the seed itself (the Bible). If the branch (Church) produces different fruits, then it must comes from a hybrid seeds (i.e. mixture of the Bible and personal doctrine), such as Mormon version of Christianity, Caleb’s version of Christianity etc., etc. They deviated with some doctrines from the Bible, saying partial truth of the Bible. They can not say that the whole Bible is false, and then their faith would be in trouble. And again interestingly Muslim also believes Jesus as a Prophet with a different set of holy book, which they believe came from God. My point is to show how our faith system generates different species of Churches with some doctrinal variation, like “Darwin’s Theory of Evolution”. Life is amazing.

  36. Caleb,

    Yes I’ve heard of the Melungeons. My brother-in-law did a lot of research into them. It is an interesting mystery. Too bad almost everything about their origins is lost. Being Mormon, we’re big into genealogy and my Dad’s family tree has been tracked back quite extensively. My great great Grandmother was indeed a Cherokee Indian “princess” (they were always a “princess” when they married a white man back then). Her name was Moonglow and she has a lot of decedents. We don’t know much about her, but we have confirmed that she was indeed Cherokee. It is amazing what is lost just from one generation to the other. Of course my Dad remembers his Grandpa learning to write his name so that he could sign the deed to his farm. So, we’re left with not-terribly-reliable oral stories and such for much of our heritage. So far, we haven’t found any confirmed Melungeons in our line. Doesn’t mean they are not there, many in the family tree are merely names, we don’t know anything about them. And there are certainly a lot of dead ends. As far is we know, the Hamilton family name just appeared with a man named William in Virginia in the early 1700s (I can’t remember the exact date). Haven’t been able to get across the pond on that line.

    I do know that I am a mutt of the highest order. My great Grandfather was Jewish. Still don’t know how he wound up in the hills of Kentucky. There are two Ute Indians on my Mother’s side (she is 4th generation Utahan). My Mom’s maiden name is French in origin and we’ve got, Danish, Norwegian, a ton of German, English, Scottish, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to find some African in there somewhere. Wonder if that would negate all my family’s pre-1978 priesthood ordinances? Crap! That means I would have to be re-baptized! :)

  37. Julian,

    The Bible does indeed contain the “fullness of the Gospel.” It just doesn’t do a particularly stellar job of communicating that message. It has been used to justify the most heinous of crimes in years past, and it continues to be used to justify hatred and arrogance today. On top of that it has been hand-copied only for more than a thousand years. We have no original source for any of it’s content and much of its authorship and origins are a complete mystery. Of course, the same can be said for the Book of Mormon, the Koran, and probably all other religious texts.

    These “tools” can be interpreted so many different ways that to say, “I’m a follower of the Bible,” carries almost no meaning. One can be a “follower of the Bible” and be anything from a Mormon to a Muslim, so saying your faith depends on the Bible and that therefore that makes you “right” means nothing to someone else.

    My stating that we should put our faith in God instead is really code for saying we should trust our instincts when we are trying to do the right thing. We humble ourselves through prayer, acknowledging our ignorance and need for help, and that unburdens our minds from selfish motivations so that we can understand the right. We then can find truth everywhere and anywhere—we are less clouded by prejudices and selfishness. These truths are in the Bible and many other sources, but to praise the “tool” instead of its main Source (but still only one of many sources) misses the boat entirely. God can still be in our lives whether a Bible ever existed or not.

    That was my only concern. That you might have been using the Bible as the end-all authority on faith instead of God Himself. I can now see that your faith is much more involved than that, but I just wanted to point out the possible danger of putting too much weight into only a “product” of faith, rather than the Source.

  38. John says: “So, we’re left with not-terribly-reliable oral stories and such for much of our heritage.” So are we Christians; that’s why we can’t entirely rely on the Bible, as you point out.

  39. “That you might have been using the Bible as the end-all authority on faith instead of God Himself.”- John

    John you misunderstood the Bible as well as my analogy of the Bible as a seed, which grows as a tree with different branches (denomination). The Bible is the word of living God who is alpha and omega, how do you imagine word and God are two separate identities that I would emphasis word over God? How do you believe one is true (God) and the other (word) is false? Are you picking up true God out of false statement in the Bible? I am amazed. Word of the Lord our God tells you how you can achieve fullness of oneself that Gospel wants us to be. Because you have doubtful mind about the Bible’s originality you overlook the words of the Bible, but again want to get God out of the Bible.

    I know you read Luke chapter10 about testing of Jesus by an attorney (cream of the society) for his inheritance to eternal life, and you know Christ’s simple answer, 1) love God with your whole heart and 2) love neighbor as yourself. It sounds simple but you know with the parable of “Samaritan” it requires special wisdom and simplicity, possibility of acquiring that quality by a highly qualified person is remote, like a camel finding a needle from the ground. By your posting above it looks to me you have already comprehended the total message of the Bible and concluded that the Bible incited heinous crime to perform in history and it (The Bible) is incomplete in communicating the Gospel message. May your faith bless your heart! As per your faith on modern prophet and doubt on ancient Gospel writers and disciple of Christ do you think modern men are more pious than ancient people?

    As you said “God can still be in our lives whether a Bible ever existed or not.” That is not true, without Bible you and I would worship idol as a god like ancient people, to whom Gospel was not spread. And God does not live with idol worshipers. Mormon Church’s basis is the Bible. Christ is the vine and all denominations are branches. Whoever remains with the original vine could find the Father, no other additional character necessary. But it is not that simple as it sounds, you and I know that. True Christian believes Christ is the reconciliatory with God the father and His commandment and teaching of disciples as found in the Bible are more than enough to inherit eternal life, if we really could follow. As we find in modern time hybrid variety of fruits and vegetables, same way some Church have been evolved as hybrid and you know the difference between organic fruits and hybrid variety. This is an opinion not criticizing others believe.

  40. Julian says: “without Bible you and I would worship idol as a god like ancient people.” Well, Julian, the first generation of Christians didn’t have the New Testament and they did okay. Until the protestant reformation brought the bible out into the daylight, I imagine that something less than 1% of Christians had ever read any portion of it, partly because so small a percentage of the population could read, and partly because the Bible for most of those years was only available in Latin, a language the common people didn’t understand even if they could read.

    The bible is a historical document OF THE CHURCH, and can’t be separated from the church that created it. As one of my seminary professors said, Islam and Judaism are “book” religions; that is, they have canonized a particular book, whereas Jesus didn’t write a book; he founded a church. And that apostolic succession from then to now is what makes us a church. The bible is just one of its by-products, along with Amazing Grace and the Book of Common Prayer. People give it way too much authority.

  41. “The bible is a historical document OF THE CHURCH, and can’t be separated from the church….”- Caleb

    Caleb, are you ashamed of acknowledging the Bible as historical documents of “TRINITY AND SALVATION FOR MANKIND IN EARTH” along with as you acknowledge as a record of Church development? If that is not true how did you came to believe Jesus, Trinity and salvation for whom Church was founded? May be this misconception developed for fear of not being able in using message of the Bible for current demand of the world, such as homosexuality as we discussed earlier.

    There is no question of advantage of recorded history over passing the truth by story telling from generation to generation. All the books of the Bible are the fundamental truth of the Almighty embedded in words with unlimited wisdom. Every generation, by understanding Holy God from the Bible has obligation to sow seeds of the Bible to minds of the people so that the seed can grow spontaneously in the minds without obstacle from evil. Thus many Christian books are being written by the inspirations of God keeping intact with the Bible to glorify God not personal reputation as a great scholar. The Book of Common Prayer is one example. Please refer to the parable of sowing of seeds in the Bible for better understanding of our unstable mind. I know you read Bible. The Bible is the subject of God, how one can expect thunder out of blue sky. In other word how we could expect divine dwelling in a mind that does not believe or read the Bible. Anything saying in the name of God is not God’s word, like “all that glitters is not gold”. You know Caleb God of Abraham do not write a book; rather inspire us to write using our talents and our love for Him.

  42. Julian asks: “Caleb, are you ashamed of acknowledging the Bible as historical documents of “TRINITY AND SALVATION FOR MANKIND IN EARTH?”

    Julian, it’s not an issue of shame. I try to analyze Biblical texts with the same tools one might use to analyze any other historical document. This is scholarship, not emotion; shame is an emotion.

    What I am unwilling to do is treat the Bible less seriously than I might treat any other document, and that means I must treat it with the same degree of intellectual skepticism with which I would treat anything else. If the Bible cannot stand up to that level of rigor, it’s the authors’ fault, not mine.

  43. I must agree with Caleb on this one, Julian. I respect your reverence for the Bible, but when it comes right down to it, each word in the Bible was written by a mortal man (or possibly woman) as he was inspired by God. This inspiration was “filtered” through his own perceptions, his talents, his ability to communicate with the art of writing, and his culture and it’s influences on how he could convey such a message. Timeless truths are certainly contained in such writings, but they are sometimes obscured and misinterpreted by the reader’s own perceptions, talents, etc. Much of the Bible, and particularly the Old Testament, is obscure to us, even scholars, to one degree or another simply because the context has been long lost. That said, the Bible is certainly a useful tool. One can be inspired by its words even if their full meaning is not entirely clear. We are blessed for the mere effort of trying to understand, I believe. On the other hand, much of the Bible is simple and strait-forward. The key is this: God inspired Abraham, Moses and others without any of them having a “Bible,” and in some cases, without any sacred writings at all. The early Christians did not have a bible. The Gospels were not even written down until many years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. The earliest writings were the letters of Paul, and some of those are of questionable authorship (not that they still don’t have value).

    If God came down and told you that every word in the Bible is perfect, translated perfectly, transcribed perfectly, and contains all truth, then I won’t argue with you. He hasn’t done so for me, despite all my honest effort. I believe God inspires each of us, usually in subtle ways, to lovingly nudge us in the right direction as we sincerely strive to be good. I believe in continuing revelation. If God could talk to Moses and inspire him to lead the children of Israel, why can’t He inspire leaders today? God never asks us to follow leaders blindly, just like He never asks us, in my opinion, to follow the Bible blindly. What Moses said thousands of years ago may not apply perfectly to our individual situations. Jesus’ parables of sheep and fishing were more relevant to the understanding of the culture He was in at the time. Why can’t He inspire similar parables and teachings that apply to TV-watching computer programers and such today. Even the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, in Mormon theology, don’t always apply perfectly with the situations we are faced with today, only 160 years or so after his death.

    Again, the Bible is a great tool—so are prayer beads, I suppose. But the object of the prayer is not the beads, they are merely an object and an aid. Worshiping the prayer beads or insisting they are absolutely necessary is, in my opinion, a form of idolatry. Much like the Law became the focus of worship in Christ’s time among the Jewish culture (and is still to some extent among them today). The same goes for people who “worship” the Bible as if it were absolutely necessary and who feel they could not know God without it. It’s great to have, but when it comes down to making a choice between either knowing God or knowing the Bible, I would choose to throw the Bible out.

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