Many things that we learn when we are children are later shown to be generally irrelevant when we get older. Whether Dick or Jane jumped over the fence is irrelevant, while what is relevant is that we learn to read.
God gives us knowledge as fast as we are able to accept it. If He were to give us knowledge any faster, it would mean nothing to us. Many people given truths without asking for them — or asking for them but having the wrong goal in mind — usually do not retain it or eventually distort the true knowledge from the information given.
Story of Adam and Eve
Take, for instance, the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible. It says that God took a rib from Adam’s side and created Eve. This of course God could do, but this reference is actually symbolic. Eve came into existence the same way as everyone else. As Latter-day Saints, we know this because the truth has been revealed to us that Eve was Adam’s wife on a former earth. When Adam and Eve came to this earth, they lost all knowledge of their former existence. So Eve was once again given to Adam as his companion, for
neither of them remembered their former existence. God simply allowed the symbolic story about Adam’s rib to be in the Bible.
The Truth about the Black Race
I give you this illustration to show the parallel between our knowledge of the black race and our knowledge of Adam and Eve. In both cases we, as Latter-day Saints, received the true knowledge piece by piece. The knowledge of Adam and Eve did not come to Joseph Smith all at once but bit by bit. The same has happened with the knowledge of the black race.
So what do we know so far? Where does the black race stand before God, and for what purpose were they placed here on earth?
Curiosity is not enough reason to obtain higher knowledge, and it could result in a resounding crash. But is it not time for us to be aware of the truth in this matter? Misinformation concerning this subject has been broadcast far and wide. As to the truth, do we have it or not?
One belief of the Latter-day Saints is that there was a preexistence. “You mean to say we lived in the spirit world before we came here?”
If this is true, common sense would indicate to us that we might have chosen things in the preexistence that would qualify us to be born into our own unique circumstances on this earth, suggesting that God would have had to segregate us into different races before we were born. Basically one spirit would qualify to be born into the Chinese race, another spirit into the Gentile race, yet another spirit into the white Caucasian race, and so forth.
That segregation had to happen, and these choices had to be made in the preexistence. Then when you are born here on earth, you accept who you are and make the best of it. God made the different races because we each qualified for where we were to be placed.
We learn in the books of Moses and Abraham that some spirits were singled out to be our leaders because of their excellent performance in the pre-existence. We are told that Abraham was one of these special spirits, and, since we know that Abraham conversed with God, this must be correct. Fascinating, isn’t it?
Among the myriads of spirits, God chose a few to be His chosen people, the Israelites. He foreordained these to hold the priesthood, and then a very select few He foreordained to be His prophets. How do we know these foreordinations took place? Well, how many times did God say to Joseph Smith that the priesthood is from everlasting to everlasting? In other words, it has no beginning and no end.
Receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood
How did Joseph Smith get the priesthood? He actually already had the priesthood before he was born. Joseph was made aware of this at the Whitmer home, where the Lord revealed to him that he already had the priesthood and was told who and how he was to ordain elders and so forth.
Let us review this carefully. What happened in the Whitmer home? In the History of the Church, we read:
“We now became anxious to have that promise realized to us, which the angel that conferred upon us the Aaronic Priesthood had given us, viz., that provided we continued faithful, we should also have the Melchizedek Priesthood, which holds the authority of the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
This clearly confirms that they had not received the Melchizedek Priesthood yet.
“We had for some time made this matter a subject of humble prayer, and at length we got together in the chamber of Mr. Whitmer’s house, in order more particularly to seek of the Lord what we now so earnestly desired;”
They were praying about the subject of receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood, which they had been promised if they were faithful.
“… and here, to our unspeakable satisfaction, did we realize the truth of the Savior’s promise — ‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you —’”
This confirms that their prayers were answered on this subject while at Mr. Whitmer’s home.
“… for we had not long been engaged in solemn and fervent prayer, when the word of the Lord came unto us in the chamber, commanding us that I should ordain Oliver Cowdery to be an Elder in the Church of Jesus Christ; and that he also should ordain me to the same office; and then to ordain others, as it should be made known unto us from time to time.”
What was the answer? It was that they should ordain each other — and others eventually — as elders, which is a Melchizedek Priesthood office in the Church. But did not Peter, James, and John need to come and restore the Melchizedek Priesthood first? No, because Joseph and Oliver found out from the above revelation that they were able to function in the Melchizedek Priesthood because they had already been given this priesthood in the preexistence. They were born with the Melchizedek Priesthood but needed revelation to activate it.
“We were, however, commanded to defer this, our ordination as elders, until such times as it should be practicable to have our brethren, who had been and who should be baptized, assembled together, when we must have their sanction to our thus proceeding to ordain each other, and have them decide by vote whether they were willing to accept us as spiritual teachers or not;”
This shows that common consent voting by the Church must precede any ordination into a Church priesthood office.
“… when also we were commanded to bless bread and break it with them [to take the sacrament], and to take wine, bless it, and drink it with them [an Aaronic Priesthood ordinance]; afterward proceed to ordain each other [to elders] according to commandment; then call out such men as the Spirit should dictate, and ordain them [to these offices as elders]; and then attend to the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost [a Melchizedek Priesthood ordinance], upon all those whom we had previously baptized, doing all things in the name of the Lord” (History of the Church, 1:60–61).
The expression “such men as the Spirit should dictate” clearly shows that the confirming of the Melchizedek Priesthood must be done by revelation. D&C 20:60 also verifies this and even shows that these men were ordained elders before being made a member of the Church!
Yes, the scriptures say — and Joseph taught — that it had to be revealed from heaven that a man was foreordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood before it could be confirmed (not given) to him. Oh, yes! A man who was foreordained to the priesthood because of being of the lineage of Israel also had to be living in a righteous manner before he could make use of the priesthood here on earth. That is why he must be voted upon or accepted first before he is confirmed that he can use it. Confirmed by what? Revelation. This also shows that you can hold the priesthood before you become a Church member.
Pure Blacks Are a Noble Race
I saw some pure blacks visiting from Africa at an airport once. They were pure gentlemen dressed immaculately and were using the most sophisticated cell phones (back when cell phones had just come out). You can spot them if you are observant. Most of them have no need of a shave. So is the pure black the seed of Cain? Definitely not.
Now we get back to where we started, where Genesis 4:15 says that Cain’s descendants were cursed; but the curse was not a black skin. Look at the present president of the United States. Is he black? He has some black features, but he is not black. Allegedly his mother was a pure white woman and his father a pure black man. Let us compare Barack Obama with Cain’s descendants.
In the case of Cain’s descendants, the father (Cain) was pure white (this will be discussed in a later discourse), and the mother was pure black. It was from this posterity of Cain’s descendants that Ham took a wife. Was she not a pure black? Definitely not! At the most, she was dark skinned and had dark eyes. She might even have been exceedingly beautiful. At any rate, she survived the flood and carried the so-called curse with her.
So we have confirmed one thing: Cain’s descendants were not pure black. Another thing we have determined is that the pure black race or races are not cursed. The Lord has called them a noble race. Another thing we have acknowledged — and it is quite evident — if Cain took a wife from the black race, where did she come from? This implies very clearly that, when Adam and Eve were placed here, there were other humanlike beings already here.
Cain’s Descendants Are a Cursed Race
We must remember that, when we make these observations, we are dealing with the word of God here. We are trying to view things the way God sees them. The black race and other races existed on the earth before Adam and Eve. The fact that Cain, the son of Adam, married someone other than from the seed of Adam shows beyond a doubt that other humanlike forms existed on the earth before Adam and Eve. This also proves that the curse was not upon the black race but upon Cain’s descendants only — the mixture of pre-Adamic black people and Adam’s descendants through his son Cain.
Noah’s son Ham had children by a wife taken from Cain’s descendants. One of these children was a son named Cush, who had a son named Nimrod. So Nimrod was a grandson of Ham, and this Nimrod became a king. According to the Book of Jasher, Nimrod was a king over all the earth with his capital at Babel.
Do we not now have a similar situation on our hands? We are told that the current president of the United States is a cross between a black man and a white woman. Is he not then on a similar plane as the seed of Cain? It is a question whether he will become as wicked as Nimrod.
So now we realize why the pure black race is not burdened with the responsibility of holding the priesthood. God has described them as a noble people, and they do not need the heavy burden of the priesthood for their salvation. They were singled out in the preexistence to not require the priesthood and the responsibility that comes with it.
God placed each race on the earth for a purpose. Each was supposed to develop separately, providing the earth with diversity. Adam’s pure descendants through Shem and Japeth intermarried with the balance of the pre-Adamic races who survived the flood, excepting the black, and became the Gentiles. God has shown His displeasure in many instances when the Israelites intermarried with the heathen. It is even in the Law of Moses. In spite of this, they intermarried anyway (JST Joshua 23:12-13, 16).
Can the Cursed Race Be Given the Priesthood?
So it is understandable that, since the black race was not foreordained to the priesthood, any one of those that did mingle their blood with the black race had their resulting posterity lose the privilege of holding the priesthood. This posterity — not the pure black race — carries the curse.
In order to hold the Melchizedek Priesthood, one has to be foreordained, and this mixture of the races is not foreordained. If a man tries to give them this priesthood which requires revelation to confirm it, what has he done? He has told a boldfaced lie to God, saying that revelation has been received to do so, which is impossible.
If this priesthood was not given to a person in the preexistence, it is impossible for a man to confirm it here on earth. Therefore, when a man lies to God, he forfeits his own priesthood. This is very simple. The boldfaced lie disqualifies them, not the ordination.
By the choice of the two races to mingle their seed as Cain did, both races suffer. The black race loses their ability to gain their salvation without messing with the heavy responsibility of the Melchizedek Priesthood. And since the white race in them cannot fulfill their responsibility of holding the priesthood, they also cannot fulfill their responsibility to have government over the earth, which was the first commandment God gave to Adam (Genesis 1). So what utter confusion this brings to their descendants! Neither can they accomplish their goal without a long waiting period (until Abel’s seed is vindicated).
Why is There Not More Revealed?
We do not as yet have the full knowledge of what God’s intention was; however, we do know that everything described in this discourse is totally in agreement with scripture, and many references could also be provided. This understanding, with a little common sense mixed in, emphasizes what we are really seeing in these scriptures.
Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were both brought up in a culture believing that the black race was Cain’s seed. Many converts to the Mormon faith were taught the same thing. The Lord saw fit not to correct this concept, just as he did not reveal to Joseph Smith, in a clear understanding, that Sunday was the Lord’s Day (a work day devoted to the Lord, as explained in a previous discourse) and not the Sabbath. The Lord also did not see fit to correct the Bible’s account of Adam and Eve, except to Church members. Possibly these truths would have been too much for the Gentile mind to accept.
So let us sum up. Certain things were understood and said about Cain’s descendants. Many articles from many different religions have been written, including sermons and understandings of early and present-day Church leaders.
Beliefs of Most Religions in the U.S.
- The black race was once considered the seed of Cain.
- Blacks are now considered equal to yellow, brown, and white races, with severe penalties for discrimination.
Beliefs of Early Church Leaders According to Brigham Young
- The black race is the seed of Cain.
- The black race is cursed with a black skin. Blacks are forbidden from holding the priesthood. (No reason or understanding is given except that Cain killed his brother.)
- Blacks could not receive the priesthood until Abel’s seed becomes dominant.
- Anyone ordaining a black knowingly would lose his own priesthood.
- To marry a black was death on the spot.
- Blacks could receive baptism and the laying on of hands but nothing else.
(There are many references contained in the Journal of Discourses confirming the teachings above.)
Beliefs of Present Church Leaders
- Blacks now can receive the fullness of the gospel, including the receiving of the Melchizedek Priesthood (Kimball’s 1978 “Official Declaration”).
- Blacks are no different from whites; they can intermarry.
A revelation was taken from the desk of President Kimball by the janitor (who believes a janitor?), and a copy of it was made by him on Kimball’s own copy machine. The revelation was unsigned:
President Kimball’s “Revelation”
Hearken, O ye people of my Church and all ye peoples of the earth listen together; for a new commandment I give unto you concerning my long-suffering and often persecuted children, known among you as Negroes.
Verily I say unto you, I have heard their cries, their lamentations and their prayers, asking that both mercy and justice be shown unto them by the peoples of the world, but more especially in the land that is choice above all other lands. They have bourne their burdens, they have served their fellowmen. They posses immortal souls. They, too, are my children, saith the Lord your God.
It now behooveth you, O ye people of my Church to begin a mission to them, my dark-skinned, negro children, that they may exercise their minds and their hearts and their agency, as others of my children throughout the world have done, that they may repent, be baptized by immersion for the remission of sins and receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands by those having authority.
Then, in due season, upon individual worthiness, receive the priesthood and the greater blessings given unto all those who are worthy in the House of Israel whether by lineage or by adoption, it mattereth not unto me as long as they, meaning all people, keep the commandments and obey the laws and ordinances of my Gospel. I am not a respecter of persons. All men may partake of all the heavenly gifts, saith the Lord.
Nevertheless, it is pleasing unto me for the present that all my negro children cleave unto their own in the matter of marriage, and this because of the prejudice of men and the hardness of their hearts.
And now, O ye people of my church, be not slow in making a beginning in this manner, for the prayers of these, my dark skinned sons and daughters have prevailed and require an answer at your hands.
Wherefore, go to now and teach your colored brethren to understand the glorious principles of the fullness of my gospel, that they may receive all its blessings. Encourage all men to be diligent, for the time draweth nigh when the earth shall be rolled together as a scroll and the days of men are numbered.
Today is the time for all men to work. Behold, the harvest is ripe — Autumn is here. Thrust in your sickle and reap. There are souls to be saved in all countries among all peoples, tongues and nations.
Be thou diligent and obedient and my Spirit shall go before you and it shall be your rear-guard. Great shall be your reward and glorious shall be your exaltation in the Kingdom of my Father.
Behold, I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the Lord of Heaven and earth. I am without beginning of days or end of years. The extent of my doings none can find out. Amen and Amen.
When a copy of this revelation was sent to Church headquarters, the following letter was received in response:
Copy of a Letter from the Church
June 22, 1979
This will acknowledge your letter of June 8, 1979, with which you sent a copy of a paper headed “A Revelation.”
What you sent me is a forged document and was never issued by the President. In the October Conference of 1978, by authority of the President, I presented a statement and am sending you a copy of a page from the Conference Report setting forth the announcement.
An official declaration on the subject, such as the one issued which is known as the Manifesto, will be added in future editions of the Doctrine and Covenants.
Trusting this will answer your questions, I am
N. Eldon Tanner
What Should We Believe?
One must make up their mind as to what is true or not. In any case, the Church has accepted that the blacks can receive all the blessings given to Abraham, against all that has been written previously on this subject. The difference in beliefs is significant:
Belief #1: Any descendants of the seed of Cain are a cursed race and cannot hold any priesthood office until Abel’s seed (posterity) has come forth and received their blessings.
Since Abel’s seed has not even been born yet, the time for the cursed race to receive the priesthood is premature. Are you aware of any of Abel’s posterity in existence today?
Or… Belief #2: There is no difference in the races. They can intermarry indiscriminately.
Zechariah prophesied that Cain’s descendants would be allowed to enter the temples (as at present), and this would prove to be an error. And at a later date this error would be rectified by their expulsion:
“Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah [all twelve tribes] shall be holiness unto the Lord of hosts; and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein; and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts” (JST Zechariah 14:21).
Brigham Young’s Stance
Although Brigham Young forbade blacks from holding the priesthood, at least one was actually confirmed — if not by Joseph Smith himself, at least with his knowledge. Controversy arose concerning Elijah Abel’s confirmation, some saying it was okay and others saying it was invalid.
We have record of Brigham Young in the Journal of Discourses preaching several times, always stating that this race was a cursed race and could not hold the priesthood. The basic reason was that Cain had murdered his brother Abel.
The argument against this curse being passed on to Cain’s posterity is, “Why should the children be responsible for the sins of their parents?” To understand this concept, we must go back to the preexistence. There needed to be a people who would qualify to be born among this mixed or cursed race, and so these spirits were assigned to Cain’s posterity.
Is This Discrimination?
Discrimination is in no way involved here. The true black is a noble race. Let me illustrate this fact: I needed a new water heater, and I phoned my plumber. As he was busy on an out-of-town project, he sent over a gentleman who was a pure black from Africa.
This plumber was well mannered and did an excellent job installing my water heater, so we invited him for supper. He told us of his family and how happy he was to live in Canada. People do not discriminate as much up here in Canada and treat all the various ethnic groups who obey the law with the same respect.