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  • Writer's pictureJacob Hansen

Is Gay Marriage going to be like Blacks and the Priesthood? - No.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has really had only had 2 major doctrinal shifts in since the time of Joseph Smith. Obviously there have been policy/program changes and many (if not most) doctrinal notions have expanded or clarified but there are really 2 that are really significant and thats why they are the ones people always bring up whenever they think the church will eventually change something they don't like. One is polygamy, the other is the ban on blacks and the priesthood. So first the super easy one - polygamy. Just read Jacob 2. God says (in a little more colorful words) that Monogamy is the norm and that polygamy may occasionally be commanded by God to raise up a righteous generation. So there is nothing strange about the church being commanded to practice polygamy and then having that practice come to an end. Blacks and the priesthood is a little more complicated. There are many theories out there but I take the simple route. Brigham Young made an error and the other leaders were worried about the implications of reversing that error. We say we believe in prophetic fallibility, so an error like this should not be something that is out of the question. So how can we know when a prophet errs? This is a much bigger question I cover in my collective witness model video. But let's just say that what Brigham Young did is not consistent with the collective voice of Gods prophets or their behaviors over time. First, we should recognize that a ban on blacks and the priesthood is found in no other dispensation. Furthermore, even in this dispensation two black men were ordained to the priesthood prior to the priesthood ban. Second, we have no canon scripture of any kind that states people of African dissent are not to have the priesthood. In fact we have multiple cannon scripture that seem to imply the opposite. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free…for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28)

“Neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God. 4 Nephi 1:17

For none of these iniquities come of the Lord…and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free.. and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile. - 2 Nephi 26:33 In fact, The Book of Mormon is largely the story of the Nephites learning that faith, not race is what matters to God. Just think about the Ammonites or Samuel the Lamanite.

Also we should keep in mind that notions about the Mark of Cain (which were the basis of the Ban) are not even LDS concepts. They were first theorized by protestant groups trying to justify racial ideas theologically. Furthermore, the mid 1800's were when those ideas were at the height of their influence on Christian thought. It seems pretty obvious that those theories and the racial climate of the 1800s influenced the thinking of Brigham Young. So it's perfectly reasonable to think that in the context/influence of the religious/racial climate of the mid 1800s Young created a policy based on his own theories and interpretations. It's not like it's something new for Brigham Young to come up with some wild theories and interpretations of his own and make bold proclamations about them. The problem was these notions were not consistent with the collective witness of Gods prophets or their behavior prior to Young so there is plenty of ground to believe that Brigham just got this one wrong. However, later leaders (and perhaps even the Lord) were concerned about how the young church might react to the implications of such a major mistake by a Prophet of God, so they did not take steps to correct it until the church had reached different level of maturity and context. However, can the same be said of homosexual marriage? Do we have a bunch of scripture and precedent showing or implying that same sex unions are approved by God. No we find the opposite. Do we have days past when once gays were being married? Nope, not even close.

On the other hand, what we really should notice is that like with Blacks and the priesthood we have a very strong cultural environment that may be influencing how people think regardless of what scripture, doctrine and policy indicate about the moral nature of homosexual behavior. The ideas about blacks came about because of the culture of the 1800’s, let's hope the culture of the 2000’s does not corrupt moral truth. So don’t be fooled by those who claim that the church is changing all the time and can or should change to accommodate immoral behavior. They are pushing a false narrative. The church does (and always has) made minor adjustments in policy and practice. Principles can be applied differently in different contexts, but this church has a remarkable level of consistency when it comes to the core principles of Jesus Christs gospel as seen in the macro themes that transcend the dispensations. Let’s hope we all can remain faithful to those principles because without them it’s all arbitrary and not the rock Jesus Christ promised we could build our lives on.

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1 Comment

Nora Charles
Nora Charles
Apr 24, 2021

This was so helpful! Thank you!

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