The Church has not given much on the reasons behind the blacks not being able to hold the Priesthood before Pres. Kimball bothered the Lord for authorization to announce that all worthy men can have the Priesthood. Here are some points to consider:
-- From ancient times the Priesthood was held only by the Prophet (Melichezedek Priesthood)
-- Even Aaronic (Levitical Priesthood) could only be held by a Levite thus not all Jews could have it
-- In Christ's time he only gave the power to his Jewish disciples
-- Black men did have the Priesthood in the time of Joseph, or at least some of them
-- How did it stop? Who stopped it?
What are your thoughts and feelings on the subject?
I found this interesting information in a web site about LDS history:
|"After Joseph Smith's death a policy developed which prevented black men from holding certain church positions open to men of all other races. Â Black men and women were also excluded from receiving temple ordinances.|
Like most Northerners, early Latter-day Saints opposed slavery. Â At least two black men Elijah Abel and Walker Lewis were ordained during Joseph Smith's lifetime.
Religious discrimination can nonetheless be traced to Smith's early statements. Â In 1841 he said that biblical Ham had been cursed with a dark skin by his father Noah and that this curse continued to the "posterity of Canaan." The next year he identified "negroes" as "sons of Cain." In May 1844 just before his death, he declared, "Africa, from the curse of God has lost the use of her limbs."23 Such rhetoric was not unique to Mormons. Â Southerners also linked blacks with Ham and Canaan as did Northerners who argued against abolition.
After Smith's death in 1844, Mormon opinions about blacks became more prejudiced. Â A church newspaper, the Times and Seasons, reiterated Smith's statement in 1845 that blacks were "the descendants of Ham." Apostle Orson Hyde subsequently wrote that blacks "did not take an active part on either side" in a pre-earth life conflict between Satan and a pre-mortal Jesus.
Anglo spirits, according to Hyde, supported Jesus, while those who sided with Satan were denied an earth existence. Â By the time Mormons had reached Winter Quarters, Nebraska, on their way west, Apostle Parley P. Â Pratt could declare that William McCary, a self-proclaimed prophet, had "the blood of Ham in him which linege [sic] was cursed as regard [to] the priesthood."
These 1840s statements shaped Mormon views. Â No blacks were ordained after that period although previous ordinations were not rescinded. Â Although Elijah Abel was a faithful member the rest of his life, he was not allowed to receive temple blessings. Jane Manning James, a black woman who joined the church, moved to Nauvoo, and then traveled to Utah, also petitioned leaders to receive her temple endowment but was denied.
In 1887 Apostle George Q. Â Cannon asserted that "the Prophet Joseph Smith taught this doctrine: That the seed of Cain could not receive the priesthood nor act in any of the offices of the priesthood." In 1904 Joseph F. Â Smith, then church president, assumed the policy had come from Joseph Smith and, four years later, claimed that Abel's priesthood "ordination was declared null and void by the Prophet himself' because of his "blackness."28 In fact, Abel had participated in the Third Quorum of Seventies up until 1883. Â Joseph F. Â Smith himself had even ordained Abel to go on a mission in 1884, a mission Abel was unable to complete because of illness.
The First Presidency did not issue an official public statement of priesthood denial until 1949: "The attitude of the church with reference to the Negroes remains as it has always stood. Â It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time."
|"There is a reason why one man is born black and with other disadvantages, while another is born white with great advantage. The reason is that we once had an estate before we came here, and were obedient, more or less, to the laws that were given us there. Those who were faithful in all things there received greater blessings here, and those who were not faithful received less.... There were no neutrals in the war in heaven. All took sides either with Christ or with Satan. Every man had his agency there, and men receive rewards here based upon their actions there, just as they will receive rewards hereafter for deeds done in the body. The Negro, evidently, is receiving the reward he merits." -Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.1, pages 66-67 "|
When I was in my early teens I wrote the First Presidency about this. They replied with a referrence to Abraham 3:27 and said that they did not know why the Lord had done so. This substantiates:
|Religious discrimination can nonetheless be traced to Smith's early statements. Â In 1841 he said that biblical Ham had been cursed with a dark skin by his father Noah and that this curse continued to the "posterity of Canaan."|
|Another question to ask is this race specific or skin specific? In other words would a worthy male of Asian or Indian or Hispanic descent have been able to hold the priesthood before Pres. Kimball's revelation?|
|I do remember when the priesthood was extended to all worthy males. Â I was single at the time and dating. Â One of my first questions was... Is it now ok to date black boys since now they can take me to the temple? Â I was told that it was still not advisable because of the problems of mixed raced marriages. Â Of course, this was back in 1978 and things are different now.|
|I wonder what they are advising the young women now?|
I wonder how African men felt at that time?
Advising them about? You mean marrying into various races or specifically African? I do know their are many quotes about staying within own race and culture so there are no added 'burdens' in marriage, but of course this is not any rule or law, just counsel.
Thanks for sharing that. It would be good to have a person of African origin to express how it felt during that period before Kimball's revelation.
Now going back to the meat of the subject:
|The First Presidency did not issue an official public statement of priesthood denial until 1949: "The attitude of the church with reference to the Negroes remains as it has always stood. Â It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time."|
That's a tough question to answer JB. I don't have idea how tough or strict it was...because I know many black males who are very fair skin and even have green eyes and you will not think they're 'blacks' but their parents are...so I really don't know what to say...I will research more and see what can I find. :)