Friday, March 1, 2013

My Thoughts On The Priesthood Ban

FOR ME- the subject of the Priesthood Ban (and accused racism) in the
church is similar to that of polygamy. It is a topic that can get very
heated because of its conflicting modern day teachings. It is sticky,
complex and has a range of opinions and emotions attached to its
history that make it hard to discuss without coming across as either
naïve, unsympathetic, presumptuous, self-righteous, cantankerous or
disbelieving. What adds to its complexity is that it is a taboo
topic/question in our church settings, typically not approached in our
weekly church meetings and General Conference talks, yet pontificated
upon in other "churchish" settings (missionary lessons, religion
classes, family firesides, blogging, etc...), questioned privately
among believers, and rampantly discussed publicly by outsiders and
adversaries. To brush off the inquiries and subject would be ignorant
to the genuine, and yet to harp on it can be disheartening and
spiritually deterring.

I have heard from the best of non-official leaders (professors, stake
presidents, institute teachers and even well intended senior
missionaries) their personal (be it hopeful or assumed) reasonings for
the Priesthood ban (and polygamy). And in my early missionary days I
may have been guilty of perpetuating un-official ideas and reasons. I
dealt with the subject quite intensely as a missionary who was
constantly being accused of belonging to a racist church (even took
some spit in the face over that one). While unresolved, I was able to
reach a peaceful place with trust in God but never really having any
sure ground on the subject. Always wanting to quickly bring people to
the present day, what we believe/practice NOW because that was where I
felt comfortable, what I knew was right. Never really understanding
why my eternal unchanging Father in Heaven with His eternal unchanging
doctrine could/would have orchestrated such conflicting principles; To
declare all men created equal then disallow the Priesthood be given to
all men. Although I could certainly be on board and grateful for the
1978 revelation to re-instate it.

I have since studied histories that have detailed the background of
circumstances and events leading to the ban and the 1978 revelation,
and feel I have created my own personal space where I can peacefully
and yet maybe a little uncomfortably wait it out with this one.

How do we explain past revelation that conflicts with modern day teaching?

Some decisively say that although they don't know why, they believe
the Priesthood ban was orchestrated for Gods purpose, by Him. I can't
say that. Others, as decisively, say it was not God's will, it was
wrong and not His work. I can not say this either. I'm uncomfortable
with elements of both actually.

First of all, I don't know an unfair God. I only personally know a
Father who has been ever just, merciful and kind to me, only allowing
pain but not inflicting it. In no way do I ever think that someone
ever received less consideration from Him, nor were subject to someone
else's transgression/sin, based on the color of their skin. (But then
again, I also don't know/can't understand much of how God is portrayed
in the Old Testament with His cursings, destruction, command to
sacrifice a son or swipe lambs blood on the front of a door so that
the first born isn't killed. This is all much different than the
loving, teaching Father I feel in my life, so I struggle with gelling
the differences).

Yet, because I do believe He has all wisdom He COULD do or allow
something for a reason we have no way of mortally understanding-
trumping any emotion, idea or limited judgment we may have on the

Contrastingly, while I believe that God speaks to his servants I don't
believe he micro-manages them. I believe all of us, including
leaders, are subject to our sphere (cultural/familial) influences and
that God works within us, individually using our understanding,
experiences, knowledge and time (I see this evident not only in my
relationship with Him, but in His processes of revelations to Joseph
Smith and other Prophets). He answers what we ask. (ie...revelation on
baptism, polygamy and blacks with the Priesthood). And while I don't
necessarily believe this, I can see how the implementation of blacks
not receiving the Priesthood (knowing that initially Joseph had
ordained some black men) could have been something that God ALLOWED
rather than prescribed.

I could carry on in both positions, I can see both. But my point is: I
do not believe that we need to believe in and/or support the
Priesthood ban being divinely inspired in order to believe in the
church being divinely organized and inspired.

Some people call these "shelf" issues. Things to put on the shelf and
wait upon, they'll "work out in time". I have a few of those, and
while I am content with waiting, how do we resolve enough of it in our
own hearts so that we can adequately respond to others and not let it
be a stumbling block to our belief?

That was really a question. :)

Here's what I think...we just keep working on it. Not ignoring or
overly acknowledging. We learn how to shelf some of our issues,
occasionally taking inventory when concerns arise or enlightenment
occurs. We readjust and remember what really matters. Like a marriage
we may discover our "rose colored glasses" view of the church with
possibly unrealistic perfect aspirations... occasionally, sometimes
drastically or even slightly- has little quirks that bug, nuances that
fester, a past with baggage...or hard, intense questions and concerns
that arise and shake us (of course I'm only guessing here with
these)... :) We may find that some things will take some work and a
little getting used to. Stretching ourselves, testing our patience and
endurance, shifting our previous perspectives, forcing humility, and
maybe even bringing some pain. Yet, we cling to it still. We cling to
it because we have
Because we feel glimmers of indescribable peace and joy and we yearn
for an everlasting version of it. Because we know that any
inconvenience will be WORTH it. Because we're in it for the growth.
And because the precious, even heavenly moments (when we are willing
to acknowledge them) are ALWAYS there. And, although our shelf is too-
with all its questions and clutter (some more crowded than others)
those precious moments (call them tender mercies, personal
revelations, encirclings of love, powerful spiritual
impressions/experiences) somehow help us leave them unsettled for
another day.

And then hopefully we can share all that is marvelous and good with
others and still honestly approach the unexplainable.

...Just some rantings/opinions from a slightly sleep-deprived truth
seeker- by the light of her purple blackberry. *Subject to change upon
further light

Take what you will :) loves to you all