Part 33: CES Letter Prophet Questions [Section G]
by Sarah Allen
We’re finally approaching the end of the Prophet Questions and Concerns section of the CES Letter. Next week, we’ll discuss the Mark Hofmann forgeries, at which point we’ll have finally hit the halfway point of the Letter as far as page count goes. As far as actual content goes, I think we’re already there. Hopefully, the week after Hofmann, we’ll dive into the Kinderhook plates and the upcoming revisit of the Book of Abraham.
Last week, we finished with the revelation in the temple giving the Priesthood to all worthy men, regardless of race or lineage. The things those men in that room experienced were incredible. Some of them described it as being like the day of Pentacost, with the rushing wind and cloven tongues of fire surrounding them. Interestingly, President Hinckley said there was no rushing wind or cloven tongues of fire, directly contradicting the exact words of Elder Perry and Elder McConkie, so it seems that their experiences were different but equally powerful. Elder McConkie seemingly confirmed that some of them saw divine figures there with them, though he refused to share any of the details. It was such a sacred event that some of the men there that day refused to discuss it at all, other than to say that it’d been the most spiritual experience of their lives.
Elder McConkie also later said he believed that, “this was done by the Lord in this way because it was a revelation of such tremendous significance and import; one that would reverse the whole direction of the Church, procedurally and administratively; one that would affect the living and the dead; one that would affect the total relationship that we have with the world; one … of such significance that the Lord wanted independent witnesses who could bear record that the thing had happened.”
Because of the unity of nearly the entire Quorum of the Twelve plus the First Presidency, because they’d all been there that day and had experienced something similar if perhaps not exactly the same, none of them could ever claim that it was President Kimball mistaking his own desires for revelation. There was no doubt in any of their minds what had happened, and they knew the path that was being laid out was the correct one.
The revelation took place on June 1st, 1978. Afterward, President Kimball asked Elder Packer, Elder McConkie, and then-Elder Hinckley to write drafts announcing the revelation to the world, and, after they were compiled into one singular draft, the First Presidency then worked together on the exact wording to make it perfect.
On June 8th, the draft was presented to the Quorum of the Twelve, who had the opportunity to offer up still more edits. Next, they talked about when to release it. Some wanted to wait until the October session of General Conference. Elder McConkie, however, urged its immediate release, because rumors of something big happening were already beginning to spread and he worried that, “It will leak, and we have to beat Satan. He’ll do something between now and then to make it appear that we’re being forced into it.”
They contacted Elder Peterson and Elder Stapley, who had not been there for the revelation, to let them know what had happened and to read them the draft, and got their full support. Then they made plans to both release it to the media and to send letters to area authorities simultaneously. President Monson told the editor of the Deseret News to save room for an upcoming announcement.
Then, they called a meeting for all General Authorities to meet with the First Presidency the very next day, June 9th, and to fast until then. Some had to figure out how to get back to town on a moment’s notice. They’d only just had their big monthly meeting the week before, and it was unexpected. They knew something really, really big was happening, but they didn’t know what. The extension of the Priesthood was one topic being speculated about, but so were things like the Second Coming or a temple in Missouri.
At the meeting, Elder Maxwell didn’t know what it would be about until the opening prayer, when the Spirit told him what was happening, and he started to cry. President Kimball told the General Authorities what transpired and then read them the draft of the announcement and asked for comments. Elder McConkie got up and spoke forcefully in favor of it, followed by President Benson. Marion G. Romney of the First Presidency confessed that he didn’t think President Kimball would ever get an answer, and didn’t personally believe the restriction would or should be lifted, until he gradually came to accept it under President Kimball’s repeated exhortations and that, after that day in the temple, he knew it was absolutely right. Another man who was not named in the article by Edward Kimball said he would have voted against it until he felt the Spirit in the room during their meeting that day. It was approved unanimously, and President Tanner left the meeting to go tell the Church spokesperson to make the announcement.
A press release containing Official Declaration 2 was issued, and the Church membership at large rejoiced. My mom told me years ago how she sat and cried with joy when she heard the news, and she’s not the only one I’ve heard that from. Others outside the faith were a little more cynical.
Regardless of how they personally felt, however, many people who were alive back then can tell you where they were and what they were doing when they heard the announcement. It was momentous, and it changed the entire course of the Church.
Briefly, I wanted to address the Race and the Priesthood essay the Church released a few years ago. One of the comments I frequently see is that the essay states that the ban was instituted because Brigham Young was racist, and that the Church has disavowed the ban.
This is not true. The essay disavows the racist theories and comments that were put out, sometimes by the very top leadership of the Church, to try to explain the ban and to find doctrinal or scriptural reasons to support it. It does not disavow the ban itself. Because no one knows whether it was a decision made by God or not, it would be inappropriate to apologize for it or to condemn it. We need to be careful about reading our own views into the essays. We need to make sure that we understand what they say and, maybe more importantly, what they don’t say.
Before we move on to wrap up this section of the Letter, I’d also like to quote from Elder McConkie’s famous talk, “All Are Alike Unto God”:
The gospel goes to various peoples and nations on a priority basis. … Not only is the gospel to go, on a priority basis and harmonious to a divine timetable, to one nation after another, but the whole history of God’s dealings with men on earth indicates that such has been the case in the past; it has been restricted and limited where many people are concerned. For instance, in the days between Moses and Christ, the gospel went to the house of Israel, almost exclusively. By the time of Jesus, the legal administrators and prophetic associates that he had were so fully indoctrinated with the concept of having the gospel go only to the house of Israel, that they were totally unable to envision the true significance of his proclamation that after the Resurrection they should then go to all the world. They did not go to the gentile nations initially. In his own ministration, Jesus preached only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and had so commanded the Apostles. … With some minor exceptions, the gospel in that day went exclusively to Israel. The Lord had to give Peter the vision and revelation…. The Lord commanded them that the gospel go to the Gentiles; and so it was. There was about a quarter of a century, then, in New Testament times, when there were extreme difficulties among the Saints. They were weighing and evaluating, struggling with the problem of whether the gospel was to go only to the house of Israel or whether it now went to all men. Could all men come to him on an equal basis with the seed of Abraham?
There have been these problems, and the Lord has permitted them to arise. There isn’t any question about that. We do not envision the whole reason and purpose behind all of it; we can only suppose and reason that it is on the basis of our premortal devotion and faith.
… We have revelations that tell us that the gospel is to go to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people before the Second Coming of the Son of Man. And we have revelations which recite that when the Lord comes he will find those who speak every tongue and are members of every nation and kindred, who will be kings and priests, who will live and reign on earth with him a thousand years. That means, as you know, that people from all nations will have the blessings of the house of the Lord before the Second Coming.
We have read these passages and their associated passages for many years. We have seen what the words say and have said to ourselves, “Yes, it says that, but we must read out of it the taking of the gospel and the blessings of the temple to the Negro people, because they are denied certain things.” There are statements in our literature by the early Brethren which we have interpreted to mean that the Negroes would not receive the priesthood in mortality. I have said the same things, and people write me letters and say, “You said such and such, and how is it now that we do such and such?” And all I can say to that is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.
We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter anymore.
It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of this year, 1978. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them. We now do what meridian Israel did when the Lord said the gospel should go to the Gentiles. We forget all the statements that limited the gospel to the house of Israel, and we start going to the Gentiles.
He’s absolutely right. Those comments from the past, as difficult as they can be to read and accept, simply don’t matter in a Church that believes in ongoing revelation.
Going back to the CES Letter, it says:
Additionally, the above-mentioned essay also withdraws “that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse” while ironically contradicting the Book of Mormon itself:
2 NEPHI 5:21:
“And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.”
The doctrine contained in the Book of Mormon is true, but the prophets never claimed infallibility in the history. In fact, there are repeated direct and indirect warnings against that throughout the book, some of which include: acknowledgments that mistakes of men may have been made; worries that their writing is poor and we’ll laugh at them because of it; corrections in real time as Mormon rephrases things he believes he stated poorly; exhortations that we not judge them for their errors but learn from them instead; etc.
The line in the Book of Mormon about the skin of blackness did not come from God, it came from man, and therefore, it has the potential to be wrong. I’m not sure why it’s “ironic” that modern-day revelation has corrected prior teachings. That’s happened many times over the years. Even prophets learn line upon line. Once again, it seems as though Jeremy is inventing his own definitions for established words, just like he did all throughout the plural marriage section.
Joseph Smith permitted the priesthood to at least two black men. Elijah Abel was one of them. Walker Lewis was another.
Yep, we covered that already. That paragraph is absolutely true.
So, Joseph Smith gives the priesthood to blacks. Brigham Young bans blacks. Each and every single one of the 10 prophets from Brigham Young to Harold B. Lee supported what Spencer W. Kimball referred to as a “possible error” (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.448-449).
Yep, covered that already, too. When those prophets prayed about lifting it, they were told “Not yet” until the time came when they were told “The time is finally right.” Whether it was originally instated as an error or not, we don’t know. Brigham Young believed it came from God, but maybe it didn’t. Regardless of how or why it started, however, God allowed it to continue for His own purposes until the time came when He judged it right to make a change.
Heavenly Father likes blacks enough to give them the priesthood under Joseph Smith but He decides they’re not okay when Brigham Young shows up. And He still doesn’t think they’re okay for the next 130 years and the next 9 prophets until President Kimball decides to get a revelation.
The same God who “denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female” is the same God who denied blacks from the saving ordinances of the Temple for 130 years. Yet, He apparently changed His mind again in 1978 about black people.
Heavenly Father easing certain restrictions at the right time is not Him changing His mind about people on a whim, it’s His plan unfolding in the way it’s meant to unfold.
God loves all of His children equally. His children, however, have always had a pretty difficult time loving each other the way He loves them. He allows us to go through trials to strengthen us, to teach us, and to test us. Sometimes, those trials are instituted by Him and other times, they’re instituted by other mortal, fallen human beings.
We don’t know exactly why this ban was put into place. Heavenly Father and Brigham Young will both have to explain their roles in it to us someday. Until then, all we can do is speculate and pray over the matter. We do know, however, that Heavenly Father did not “decide they’re not okay” and then “change His mind,” and President Kimball didn’t “decide to get a revelation.” That is a gross distortion of the truth.
If that restriction was instituted by God, there is well-established precedent for it as Elder McConkie pointed out. He has withheld certain Gospel blessings from certain lineages or groups of people multiple times before, for reasons we don’t always fully understand. In ancient Israel, only the Levites were able to hold the Aaronic Priesthood, and the Melchizedek Priesthood was only available to certain prophets. The Priesthood was widely restricted from most Israelites. During Christ’s earthly ministry, only the Jews were able to be taught the Gospel. Christ even refused to heal the daughter of someone who was not an Israelite. The Lamanites were cut off from the Gospel for a time until they could be prepared and converted. The Pharaoh and his direct posterity were forbidden from holding the Priesthood. Enoch taught repentance to everyone except the people of Canaan. God removed the Priesthood and temple ordinances from the Earth for two thousand years. The Abrahamic covenants only extended to Isaac’s descendants, not to Ishmael’s, until these last days when we’re all adopted into the tribes of Israel upon baptism. Even today, women of any lineage aren’t ordained to the Priesthood, though we can access it other ways.
Some of those examples were due to unrighteousness, but others were not. Some of them may have been a mistake, such as Enoch not teaching the people of Canaan. A paper published recently by the Interpreter makes that very argument. Some of these examples don’t have an official reason that we’re aware of beyond that it’s what the Lord declared at that time and place.
Now, I’m not saying that these situations are identical to the Priesthood restriction against black members. There were some big differences in the various circumstances, and each of them was unique in its own way. Particularly when it comes to the Levites being the only lineage allowed to hold the Priesthood or work in the temple, it’s literally the exact opposite of all but one lineage being allowed to do those things. As Scott Gordon stated in a blog post on FAIR several years ago, we need to be careful about conflating things that aren’t the same.
In the case of the ancient Israelites, however, there’s an argument worth mentioning. The Israelites were initially supposed to be granted the Melchizedek Priesthood, but when Moses came down the mountain and discovered them worshipping the calf, he knew they weren’t ready to receive it. He destroyed the tablets and went back up the mountain, and we all know the outcome. The higher Priesthood was taken away from them and they were given a lesser law because if they hadn’t, their own inability to follow the higher law would have condemned them.
Heavenly Father has a history of creating laws in this vein, as well. It’s why the main body of the Church had to be eased into following the Word of Wisdom and plural marriage before they became binding commandments. It’s why we’re not bound by the temple covenants until we’re ready to make and receive them, and why we have temple recommend interviews in the first place. It’s why disfellowship and excommunication exist, so that if we need to be temporarily relieved of our covenants so that we can get our lives back on track and fully repent for our mistakes, we won’t be held to the higher standards until we’re spiritually strong enough. It’s why Joseph Smith was cautioned to give us milk before meat.
I think it’s possible something like that happened again in the early restored church. Remember, when the Priesthood restriction was put in place, slavery was still in effect. Several of the members of the Church—including at least two apostles—were slave owners, and of the few black people in Utah and the Church at large, most of them were slaves unused to being allowed to make their own decisions and lead their own lives. Some of them may not have been ready for the responsibility of the higher Priesthood.
More likely, though, if anyone wasn’t ready for them to hold the Priesthood it was the white members of the Church who grew up thinking black people were inferior in a variety of ways. The early Church was not segregated, the way many Protestant churches of the time period were, and we saw over the past two weeks how some people were very uneasy over black men receiving the Priesthood to the point that they wrote the president of the Church to ask if there had been some mistake made in their ordination. Especially when they had to defend themselves against racially motivated attacks of their own after already sacrificing nearly everything they had, they may simply not have been ready to defend both plural marriage and the ordination of black members. They may have needed time to not only accept the idea, but to embrace and desire it.
Many of the early Saints were varying degrees of uncomfortable, angry, resentful, or even repulsed by the idea of black members holding the Priesthood and attending the temple alongside them. This was especially true when it brought additional persecution on their heads and led to medical doctors announcing to the world that they were creating an entirely new race of deformed, morally corrupt, degraded beings who didn’t deserve to be treated as equals with the rest of the population. Those attitudes may well have condemned entire generations of Saints had the restriction not been put in place to give them time to learn, grow, and overcome their prejudices.
By the time the Priesthood restriction was finally allowed to be lifted, not only was the Quorum of the Twelve united on the desire for perhaps the first time ever, but so was the main body of the Church. There were some holdouts, of course, but overwhelmingly, people of all races rejoiced at the news. The Lord has implored us to “be one,” and that may well have been what He was waiting for us, for us to be one in the desire to have this change happen.
But speculation as to the reasons this all happened has proven to have been wrong 100% of the time, so I don’t want to go too far down this rabbit hole. The reality is, we simply don’t know what happened. We don’t know if the Lord ordered it or not. We don’t know if Brigham received a revelation of some kind declaring it or if he mistook his own beliefs for one. We don’t know if the early Church leaders simply misremembered some things, like that Joseph put the ban into place and taught that black people should be restricted from the Priesthood due to the curse of Cain/Ham, or that Elijah Abel’s ordination was revoked because it was a mistake. Many of those recollections came more than half a century later, after all. Maybe there were more malicious intentions behind the misstatements, but we can’t be sure of that. George Q. Cannon, for example, who was so instrumental in pushing for the ban to remain in place after Brigham’s death, also saw and spoke with the Savior and with God. He was obviously highly favored of the Lord despite those beliefs.
These were not bad men. They were good, righteous men who were called of God to lead His Church, but who were flawed humans like the rest of us. They made mistakes, they held prejudices and wrong beliefs, and they sometimes said and did things that are difficult for us to reconcile a century and a half later. They were not perfect—but they were also not evil, and we shouldn’t demonize them for being fallen and mortal beings who had a limited understanding.
While we don’t know how or why the ban was put in place, or why it was lifted when it was, we can say a few things for certain: Brigham and many of the other early prophets and apostles believed it was God’s will and they were obeying His words; they believed the time would eventually come when black members were to be given all that the white members had and more, but that the time was not yet right; they believed that only the Lord could lift the restriction, since He had been the one to put it in place; and at least one prophet, David O. McKay, had prayed for years about the matter and believed he was told in no uncertain terms to stop asking because the time was not yet right to lift the restriction.
They may have been wrong in some or all of those things. We don’t know. We do know that when the revelation was received, it was such a strong, definitive declaration that none of the men could deny it.
Of course, the revelation He gives to the Brethren in the Salt Lake Temple on June 1, 1978 has absolutely nothing to do with the IRS potentially revoking BYU’s tax-exempt status, Stanford and other universities boycotting BYU athletics, we can’t figure out who’s black or not in Brazil (São Paulo Temple dedicated/opened just a few months after revelation), and that Post-Civil Rights societal trends were against the Church’s racism.
The IRS did not threaten to revoke BYU or the Church’s tax-exempt status. That rumor has been long debunked. It originated with an excommunicated Fundamentalist in the late ‘80s, and then was passed around as fact by ex-LDS message forums online, such as the exmormon sub here on Reddit. The books by President Carter frequently cited as sources do not contain a single word about it, nor do any of his other books.
As BYU did not discriminate against black students, there was no reason for the IRS to revoke their tax-exempt status. The students were treated the same by the administration. The university can’t be punished for something a religion does but the university does not. And, as the First Amendment gives the Church the right to ordain or decline to ordain anyone for any reason without government interference, and they broke no laws in doing so, the IRS could not have revoked their tax-exemption either. Moreover, the President does not have a say in who is granted tax-exempt status and who is not.
The athletic boycotts from a few universities had been in place for a decade and the university was used to dealing with them. While other protests were common in the 1960s, by 1978 they had mostly died out. Protests against the Church and BYU were few and far between by that point. This many decades removed from the issue, it seems like just a short time to us, but think of it this way: the protests after the passage of Prop 8 were 13 years ago, approximately the same amount of time between the Civil Rights protests of the ‘60s and the Priesthood revelation in 1978.
Do you still see frequent protests at the temples anymore, demanding LGBTQ support? No. While you may still see occasional protests on or around BYU, mostly by BYU students on their own campus, Elder Holland just gave a very forceful talk saying they were prepared to lose accreditation rather than change their policies. More importantly, do you see any corresponding revelation from the entire Quorum of the Twelve plus First Presidency announcing the temple will begin sealing same-sex couples? Again, the answer is no.
From the Edward Kimball article:
Some commentators scorned the “convenience” of a “revelation” that allowed a way out of an intolerable bind, but others noted accurately that it had been some years since any significant demonstrations against BYU and the Church had occurred. External pressure was the lowest it had been for years.
And, from an article by E. Dale LeBaron:
Some have questioned why this revelation came when it did. Some critics of the Church suggest that it came in response to pressures upon the Church. External pressures on Church leaders regarding the blacks and the priesthood immediately before the revelation were minor compared to the 1960s, when the issue of civil rights was a major issue. As to why the revelation came when it did, Elder McConkie stated that it “was a matter of faith and righteousness and seeking on one hand, and it was a matter of the divine timetable on the other hand.” President Kimball further stated: “There are members of the Church who had brought to President David O. McKay their reasons why it should be changed. Others had gone to Joseph Fielding Smith and Harold B. Lee and to all the former presidents and it had not been accepted because the time had not come for it.”
If social pressure had anything to do with it, it was in changing the hearts of the majority of the membership, so that they wanted and welcomed the revelation by the time it finally happened.
São Paulo, though? I’m sure that had a lot to do with it. President Kimball admitted as much when he spoke about how they were praying heavily over the temple, wanting those faithful Saints who had sacrificed so much in order to help build the temple to be able to enter it and obtain their ordinances. He didn’t get those same answers President McKay did, telling him it wasn’t the right time and it wouldn’t be under his stewardship that the change happens, so he didn’t stop praying over it. Like the Parable of the Persistent Widow in Luke 18, President Kimball kept asking until he finally got an answer.
I would think Christ’s one true Church would have led the Civil Rights movement; not be the last major church on the planet in 1978 to adopt it.
Heavenly Father enacts change on His timetable, not on ours. Personally, I think one of several reasons it took so long is because God was showing us that He doesn’t cave to societal pressure. If that was the cause of it, why wait until the pressure was all but gone to make the change? Why not do it when it was at its height?
How can we trust these “Prophets, Seers, and Revelators,” who have been so wrong about so many important things for so long while claiming to be receiving revelations from God?
How many of them claimed to receive revelation from God about this particular matter? Not many. Even Brigham Young wasn’t that blunt in saying so—at least, not that I’m aware of. He said it was declared by God, but I don’t know that he ever said it was declared by God directly to him. But it may have been, so we’ll count Brigham as one. David O. McKay received revelation that he wasn’t to lift the ban. I’ve seen things over the years that suggest Joseph Fielding Smith or Harold B. Lee got a similar answer, though I don’t recall off the top of my head which one it was. Maybe both. And President Kimball received relation that the time was finally right and he was allowed to lift the restriction. That’s maybe five of them at the very most? Likely closer to two or three? And we don’t know that any of them were wrong regarding the placement of the ban or its reversal.
A lot of Church leaders proposed incorrect ideas in the absence of revelation on the matter, absolutely. Those ideas were often used to justify something that seems unjustifiable to us today, but they never claimed to personally receive those ideas from God. They claimed that Joseph or Brigham received them.
As for trusting them even when they get things wrong occasionally, that’s what faith is. We get on our knees, we pray to Heavenly Father, and we ask Him if they’re His chosen representatives on Earth. And then we accept the answer we receive on faith, we put our trust in them, and we forgive them when they make a mistake because they’re human and so are we. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, and being called as a prophet doesn’t change that. A quick skim through the scriptures is all you need to prove that.
We’ve all mistaken our personal wants or beliefs for revelation before. That’s one of the very hardest lessons to learn: what is from the Spirit, and what is from our own hearts and minds? It can take decades to learn the difference. Prophets aren’t immune from that. Maybe that happened in some of these cases, and maybe it didn’t. None of us knows that for a certainty.
Yesterday’s doctrine is today’s false doctrine. Yesterday’s 10 prophets are today’s heretics.
I’m getting so sick of this line, you guys. The past prophets are not heretics. They were good men who tried their best to live and teach as they believed God wanted them to do. They were also imperfect men who made occasional mistakes and held some beliefs and prejudices we might find disturbing today. But I guarantee that there are things about today’s society that they’d find pretty disturbing, too.
Regardless of what calling we hold or how large our stewardship is, all any of us can do is our best. All we can do is repent when we fall short.
The Atonement is for everyone, and it covers all of our sins. It covers our prejudices and our mistakes, as well as our heartaches and the heartache we cause others. If any of those previous Church leaders died still having things to repent for, I’m sure they’ve done it by now. All we can do now is forgive them for their mistakes. If we want God to show us mercy at the Judgment Seat, we need to show our fellow brothers and sisters mercy as well, even if we occasionally think they may have gotten it very, very wrong.
None of us is perfect, but we don’t need to be. Christ sacrificed everything so that we can return to Him and Our Father anyway. So, let’s all remember to show each other some charity when one of us stumbles occasionally. We all need it.
In closing, I’d like to leave you with some of the words of Elder Ahmad Corbitt:
… My experience suggests that because the prior ban is still well known, many people may not expect The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to achieve a worldwide multiracial brotherhood and sisterhood. But this is precisely what the Church has done, is doing, and is destined to do. President Henry B. Eyring taught that “a great day of unity is coming,” at a time “in which we will be prepared as a people for our glorious destiny.”
I believe the Church’s present and continuing success in achieving unity across the earth will “attract the gaze of all the world in latter days.” The world will be amazed by this accomplishment. Many will come to recognize this achievement not as the mere work of clever men and women but as part of the prophesied “marvelous work and a wonder” and “great day of unity” God Himself is bringing to pass for the salvation of His children in the last days, through the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. As President Ezra Taft Benson taught, “Only the gospel will unite men of all races and nationalities in peace. Only the gospel will bring joy, happiness, and salvation to the human family.” President Dieter F. Uchtdorf affirmed, “This is truly a universal Church, with members spread across the nations of the earth proclaiming the universal message of the gospel of Jesus Christ to all, irrespective of language, race, or ethnic roots.”
I believe The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will increasingly shine and stand apart in unity, in contrast to the racial and ethnic tensions and clashes throughout the world. Note President Eyring’s further insight: “We see increased conflict between peoples in the world around us. Those divisions and differences could infect us. … The need for that gift [of unity] to be granted to us and the challenge to maintain it will grow greater in the days ahead.” He promised that despite challenges, the “prophesied gathering will accelerate.”
Regardless of how the priesthood ban came about, I’m convinced our Heavenly Father is forwardly focused on using it to show the world His works and His power to unify His earthly children of all colors in peace and love. I feel He wants each of us to have this same higher focus.
I add my prayer along with his, that we may all be one. May we please remember to love one another and treat each other as the divine Children of God that we are. May we support each other and pray for one another unconditionally, and may we stop finding reasons to let division, contention, and hatred infest our hearts.
Sources in this entry:
Sarah Allen is brand new in her affiliation with FAIR. By profession, she works in mortgage compliance and is a freelance copyeditor. A voracious reader, she loves studying the Gospel and the history of the restored Church. After watching some of her lose their testimonies, she became interested in helping others through their faith crises and began sharing what she learned through her studies. She’s grateful to those at FAIR who have given her the opportunity to share her testimony with a wider audience.