Blacks in Mormonism: Race and the Priesthood with Marvin Perkins (Part 4)

Todd Noall

Todd Noall

Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Kevin Prince

We move on to Joel 2:6, ‘And before their faces the people shall be much pained; all faces shall gather black.’ This, again, this footnote, clarifying footnote, letting you know that they’re talking about the mental, spiritual, or emotional state of that individual, is only found in the LDS version, the King James Bible. If you’re not using the Bible as a conversion tool and a missionary tool, you are missing gold, you’re missing absolute gold. What I do, say, I have my neighbors, or my critics, or those who want a Bible bash, I said, ‘Well, go, cope, get your Bibles, go get your Bibles, let’s listen, let’s do this,’ and we go right here, we start with these same ones that I’m showing you, and they leave scratching their head or becoming investigators. So, Joel 2:6 tells you that it’s a Hebrew idiom, and then you do the same thing in Amos 8:10, ‘You got them all gather blackness.’ Look at this Hebrew idiom meaning ‘gloom.’ All this time we thought black in the scriptures dealt with the skin color of the race of an individual or whether or not that were part of the blacks in Mormonism, and it’s been right there in Bibles. If we understand Hebrew idioms, we know that they use that word talking about the mental, emotional, or spiritual state of the individual.

So, now let’s go on to Job 30:30. This is really key, especially for those missionary-minded, because it talks about a skin of blackness, which so does the Book of Mormon. And they’re trying to get us to change our doctrine because it sounds really racist, and it’s like, ‘What? What? You really just have to understand it.’ And it says, ‘My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat.’ Now, the first question I’ll ask you is, ” Job black? No, because there are no black people, right? Alright, so Job was brown, just like all of us. He was living in a hot area, so he would have had a protection, a darker tone to protect him from the hot sun. But what was interesting about the other Bibles that have been changed, the NIV and the other versions that our friends and neighbors use, is that they’ve actually changed the word ‘heater’ here to make it sound like there was something wrong with Job’s skin. And we know there was something wrong with his skin because it was having boils, but that’s not here. That’s not what this is talking about. And then that’s what I tell them. Well, that’s—they’re actually talking about Job feeling really dejected, spiritually darkened and everything else because of everything that was happening to him. He was gloomy, and that makes sense, all the problems Job was experiencing. But your Bibles have changed it to make it sound like there’s something wrong with his skin, and it’s even believable because we know there was something wrong with his skin. And so that’s why the Lord said not to add or take away, and then you should see their faces. It’s like, ‘No, that’s what we use against you, you can’t use that against us.’ And so I said, ‘No, with this, that’s what it really means because not only does the Lord say it in Revelation, but we also have it in Deuteronomy chapter 4, verse 2. And so, if it meant what you think it means, we wouldn’t have any scripture after Deuteronomy chapter 4.’

So, let’s move on. Lamentations 5:10 says the same thing. ‘Our skin was black like an oven because of a terrible famine.’ So just by a show of hands, who turned black last fast Sunday? Okay, so how about our spirits were a little gloomy and darkened because there was a famine going on? Does that sound a little more reasonable? Like it fits really, really? Understand idioms; you can’t understand ancient scripture if you don’t understand idioms.

So let’s move on to the most criticized scripture I get. I get a Google Alert on this every day with this particular subject. They are criticizing 2 Nephi 5:21. Now what’s interesting is that now that we understand idioms, if you read this passage, you’ve got ten idioms in one passage of scripture. And he calls a curse to come upon them.

No way. We know that he’s gonna judge us on our sins. So, the skins being spoken of support everything that we’ve read so far in the Old Testament into the Book of Mormon, as skins being spiritual.

Alright, let’s move on to 35 to 15. ‘And their curse was taken away from them; their skin became white like unto the Nephites.’ I get this a lot, ‘Oh, Brother Perkins, how are you gonna explain that when it sounds pretty racist?’ And I said, ‘Well, again, if you understand ancient scripture and idioms, it doesn’t sound racist at all. You know they’re talking about the spiritual state of those individuals, not the common misconception of having Mormons racist. And as they remove… Remember me and my curse scenario? As I removed the curse, my skin, my spirit became brighter because I have the light of Christ in me. Again, I didn’t have that before. That spirit had dimmed because of my sin. But also, if you follow the new footnote they put on the word ‘white’, it takes you to the three passages of scripture we just covered: 2 Nephi 5:21, 2 Nephi 30:6, and Jacob 3:8.

How about Alma 3:4? I love this one because they’re talking about three groups of people and how they distinguish themselves. And if their skin color was different, why would they need to distinguish themselves? Okay, so, ‘And the Amalekites were distinguished from the Nephites for they had marked themselves with red in their forehead after the manner of the Lamanites. Nevertheless, they had not marked themselves like unto the Lamanites.’ So you’ve got three groups of people. You’ve got one group of people, ‘I still have my hair and no tattoos.’ You’ve got a second group of people, ‘I still have my hair but I have a tattoo.’ And then you’ve got this third group of people, ‘I’ve shaved my head and I have a tattoo.’ And that’s how you tell all of us apart.

Alright, even more support of that is going to Alma 55:8 and 9. Now, this is, you’ll know this story. This is where Moroni was had a bad negotiation with the king of the Lamanites to get prisoners back. And so he went and devised the plan. He said, ‘Hey, let’s go find a descendant of Laman amongst our people.’ And they caused the search to be done. If they had a darker skin, why did he have to search for him? Okay, so they find one. His name is Laman. They go and they have wine and they take it to the Lamanites. Now, based on the knowledge you probably walked in here with, as soon as the Lamanites see them, they’re gonna know they’re Nephites. Let’s see what happens. ‘And when it was even, Laman went to the guards who were over the Nephites. And behold, they saw him coming.’ So they can actually see them. And they hailed him. But he said unto them, ‘Fear not; behold, I am a Lamanite.’ Why did he have to identify that he was a Lamanite? Was he telling the truth? No, he wasn’t. He was a Nephite. Okay, he was a descendant of Laman. But again, as you go, Turks, don’t earlier, it was a belief system. Lamanite, if you believed in the church, you were called a Nephite. If you didn’t believe in the church, you were called a Lamanite. That’s how they separated it. 

So members of the same family, you could have two brothers that could be a Lamanite and a Nephite, like Laman and Nephi. Okay, I still think that’s funny. It’s not even funny, and Norway girls, or Sweden, I’m sorry. Alright, so, well, I’m sorry. Let’s see what… How this works, though, how this finishes up. ‘Fear not; behold, I am a Lamanite.’ ‘I fear not; behold, I am Lamanite.’ ‘I behold, we have escaped.’ So acknowledging everybody that’s in the party from the Nephites. ‘And they say, “We can see your pale faces.” But instead, they say, “Now when the Lamanites heard these words, they received them with joy.” So here they are drinking wine and being happy and excited in the presence of Nephites. They can’t even tell they’re Nephites. There was no skin color changing in the Book of Mormon. Secondly, 5:26-33. Now, this is great because the Lord knew, and in the Book of Acts, it talks about a restoration of all things in preparation for the second coming. And so, whenever the Lord restored the fullness of the gospel, he had to restore it in a certain place, to a certain people, at a certain time. No matter where he chose to do that in the world, there was going to be some type of problem those people were experiencing. And so, he chose to do it through a prophet named Joseph Smith in New York, in the United States, in the 1800s. What did we have going on there at the time? Slavery, a great inequality of man. And so, the Lord knew we were going to have that problem. 
He actually gave us the answers in the scriptures to help us understand what these words ‘black’ and ‘white’ meant and what they didn’t mean. Now, we don’t need footnotes for this one. He gave Joseph a beautiful trio of scriptures that help us understand what we’ve just studied. And this is the most misquoted, misunderstood scripture by members trying to prove that the church is not racist. It isn’t a question of ‘are Mormons racist?’ And you know it, and he invited all that… I’m sorry, and he invited them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness and denied nothing that came unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female, and he remembered the heathen and all are alike unto God. So, what does black and white mean? We’ve used this to say black people, but we know there are no black people. Now, we know Blumenbach created that whole thing. We know that we’re all different shades of brown. We’re just all brown.

By Todd Noall, Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Mr. Kevin Prince, Source Expert

Kevin Prince is a religious scholar and host of the Gospel Learning Youtube channel. His channel has garnered over 41,000 subscribers and accumulated over 4.5 million views. Mr. Prince also created the Gospel Learning App, a reliable platform where individuals seeking truth can access trustworthy answers to religious questions from top educators worldwide.

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