The Priesthood Ban

I have never understood the priesthood ban. Why, for so many years, were black members of the Church restricted from holding the priesthood? Why would a race that has already suffered to such great extents be forced by the hand of the Lord to undergo further repression?

Though I know it is unwise to question the Lord’s judgment, these issues have poked at me for a while. To add to it, I found it difficult to accept any of the answers presented. “Blacks were unfaithful in the pre-earth life,” “the Negro race descended from Cain,” “African-Americans did not descend from Cain, but actually from Canaan,” and others. These just didn’t make sense to me. Besides, few members of the Church are aware that black members were ordained by Joseph Smith, notably a man named Elijah Abel. Yet, as time waxed on, Joseph Smith stopped ordaining blacks and Brigham Young instituted it as a policy with a doctrinal (true or not) foundation. But why would the Lord allow this? I couldn’t see how choices in the pre-earth life would curse us in this life. I found it hard to believe that because of a choice there, we would have the adds stacked further and further against us here.

The other day, a thought came to me. I have really been pondering over the nature of trials and temptations. The verse 1 Corinthians 10:13 has been striking me, as I’ve labored over the significance of the God not allowing us to be tempted above what we are able to endure. If that is the case, why would he take those with more of a disposition to do evil (someone unfaithful in the pre-earth life) and put extra baggage upon them? I’ve always believed that the stronger were further tried. And then it hit me: that trial was given to the black race because those who were willing to accept the gospel were strong enough with withstand the trial. The temptation to turn away from truth because it seems to insult one’s race would be strong, but perhaps the Lord wanted to strengthen his black members. It’s even possible that if anything could be attributed to pre-earth life behavior, maybe choices were made back then that actually demonstrated the virtues necessary to face such a trial in mortality.
I know that our trials are specifically suited to us. Isn’t it possible that black people were given that trial to strengthen them. Just like I have certain trials of my own to try me. I don’t believe any race is superior to another, but the Lord shapes us all in our own way. I have come to believe that the priesthood ban was meant to shape that entire race, just as any other trial shapes us individually.

I always add side notes, but I wish to mention a couple extra items. First, I cannot say that just because I don’t believe the explanations already given by leadership, that doesn’t make it untrue. Second, I have heard some say it was a mistake to withhold the priesthood, and that it never came from God. I disagree, as I don’t believe that God would allow that sort of thing to perpetuate for so long, and that it took a special revelation to reverse it. Third, the reader might find this link interesting. These are the only three official statements made by the First Presidency, and here they are.

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