Saturday, April 2, 2011

What color are you?

I just got to wondering something; why does the church in its editings of the Book of Mormon feel the need to change white and delightsome to pure and delightsome, with regard to a change in skin color of the Lamanites, but has no problem leaving in the bit about being cursed by God with black skin for being wicked? Apparently the change from dark to white skin is setting an unrealistic expectation and is problematic, but to have people go from white to dark skin is OK and the church can get behind that all day long without a problem?

In thinking about this, I think it might have to do with legal liability. The church may want to protect itself against a lawsuit from a dark skinned person who reads in the BoM that they can become light/white skinned by doing what the church asks, but the church must not have any fear that a white person who leaves the church might actually become darker skinned (due to the increased time spent outdoors enjoying life and going tanning or whatever with all the money they save from not paying tithing!) I guess there is really no fear of backlash from the wicked dark skinned people (who only appear to get darker the farther away from the church they get) as much as there is from the righteous dark skinned people who never become white. I guess I can understand that. Could there be any other reason for the change to the words in the BoM? I mean, it's not like there was an announcement over the pulpit in general conference where it was announced that the words in the Book of Mormon were going to be changed (unless I missed that particular announcement?).

I also think it must be confusing for young people in the church to learn that white people, who turn bad, end up with dark skin (as a curse as taught in the BoM), but when those dark skinned folks join the church and do everything they are told that they are supposed to do, they aren't expected to see any kind of reversal in skin color. Rather, those that are righteous with dark skin are considered "pure" instead of "white". So the obvious question from children would be "Why wouldn't God make the darkie light again, since he made the whitie dark?" Apparently it is only a one way street when it comes to skin color. We can only get darker, but never whiter. That, my young reader, is the lesson here. Don't ever do anything bad, because once you go down that Pinocchio path and start doing bad stuff, just like Pinocchio almost ended up as a donkey forever, you may end up as a black person forever. And, if you ever decide to come back, too bad, the dark skin stays and you can never have white skin again. So guard your white skin children, because once it is lost, it is gone forever! And, just look at how tough it is for the blacks! They have been fighting for equal rights for years now and they still don't have real equality in so many ways.

To me that says that having black skin is a sign of wickedness and having white skin means you are fortunate to have never been cursed, so you should protect that status in everything you do. How could I not be expected to think less of people with black skin being taught such things?

I imagine the primary lesson I might have had went something like this: A child raises his hand (after reading Alma 3:6) to ask, "So why aren't all wicked people black then?" (This is a question I guess I never really thought about until now that I am actually thinking about this stuff. Yeah, why is that anyway?) The dutiful primary teacher responds with something like, "Of course, young child, the reason is simple. Because God picks and chooses whom he will actually curse with the skin of blackness, you silly goose."

The teacher continues:

"Just you nevermind that it really has to do with the regional climate your ancestors are from, 'those' people have always been looked down upon by society and obviously God looks down on them as well (after all, to curse means to give something rotten to someone - or their kids - who have done something bad). People who are white that are doing bad stuff better watch out because, any day now, the white God will curse the bad white people with skins of blackness. In fact you may not recognize some of your friends in the next life because they might have black skin there, even though they are really white and delightsome now. In fact, come to think about it, you won't recognize a lot of people up in heaven when it is all said and done, just like members of the church don't recognize each other when they run into each other at the grocery store in Sunday." I imagine an awkward pause would follow such a statement like the one's that Johnny Depp delivers in his version of Willy Wonka.

By the way, if anyone has an explanation for why the curse/mark of Cain/Ham/Egyptus persisted for more than a few generations, I would love to hear it because from what I have read God only curses those that he really despises for only 3 or 4 generations at most, not for well over 160 generations! (See Deuteronomy 5:9, Numbers 14:18, Exodus 34:7 & Exodus 20:5)

I can think of a few explanations for the phenomena that I have outlined above;

1) Whatever the first person to be cursed with black skin did to God was pretty bad (we're talking utterly and completely severe) so that the curse was so long lasting (and the scriptures I outlined do not fit that category of uber badness). However, there is really not any indication that this was the case...unless the first murder had to be forever remembered as a really bad choice among the children of men and black people are supposed to remind everybody of that. But why would a God, who doesn't want us to have crucifixes displayed - to remember the death of His Only Begotten Son, want to have constant reminders persist among humanity of the first murder (or whatever that unspeakable act was)?

2) God doesn't have the power to lift the curse once it is given (which, I guess, could be a possibility) but that kind of throws out the idea of an omnipotent God doesn't it?

3) God doesn't ever remove the curse of the skin of blackness because it really isn't that big of a deal. I guess this is also a possibility, but if that is the case, why not just cause any teaching or reminder about the curse of black skin to be removed from scripture? If it is really not a big deal to God, why is it needed at all in the doctrinal canon? Not only that, but if it is not a big deal to God, why allow blacks to be owned as slaves? After all, I'm pretty sure this teaching was at least partly used as the justification for the whites being able to own black people as slaves (because the blacks were cursed by God and therefore not eligible for equal rights to own property and vote). I wonder what God thinks of slavery, anyway? He sure did have a lot of rules about how to treat slaves in the Old Testament (See Exodus 21, 22 & 23).

4) Those that profess that having a skin of blackness is a curse from God are full of it. This is where I am at. Since all the other reasons don't seem to hold water for me, this is my conclusion. Of course, I am open to any other reasons that may exist out there so please enlighten me. While I am waiting to hear back I'll be outside working on my skin of blackness ;-)

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  1. Cursed with a skin of blackess... unless you're Michael Jackson.

  2. "please enlighten me" 8-) Intended Pun?