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I’m a new convert to the church as of a year ago. How do I explain the Lord not allowing blacks to hold the priesthood until 1978? I have a strong testimony of the Church. But it’s hard to explain to my family who are born again Christians. What do I say gramps in your opinion? Thanks for your answer.

Josh, from California

Dear Josh,

The Lord withheld the priesthood from the descendants of Cain from the very beginning. The descendants of Cain were cursed by having the priesthood withheld from them, but they were blessed by being given a black skin to protect them for others with evil intent.

And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him (Genesis 4:15).

The withholding of the priesthood from the descendants of Cain is recorded in the Book of Abraham.

Now this king of Egypt was a descendant from the loins of Ham, and was a partaker of the blood of the Canaanites by birth. From this descent sprang all the Egyptians, and thus the blood of the Canaanites was preserved in the land . . . (Abraham 1:21-26).

Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood

Although the Lord withheld the priesthood from the black race since the days of Cain, every president of the Church, from the time of Joseph Smith, prophesied that the day would come when those of the black race would be permitted to hold the priesthood. Elder Milton R. Hunter recorded the following:

“Brigham Young did not originate the doctrine that Negroes could not hold the Priesthood in this life but some day some of them may be granted that privilege, but he was taught it by the Prophet Joseph” (Milton R. Hunter, Pearl of Great Price Commentary, p.142).

And from the history of Wilford Woodruff-

“Any man having one drop of the seed of Cain in him cannot receive the Priesthood; but the day will come when all that race will be redeemed and possess all the blessings which we now have” (History of Wilford Woodruff, p. 351).

And Elder Bruce R. McConkie has written the following-

” ‘Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord. The Lord Jesus Christ shall reign personally upon the earth. And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people.’ Gentile nations shall be converted; the blacks shall receive the priesthood; nations long outside the pale of saving grace shall come into the fold and shall rise up and bless Abraham as their father” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial Messiah, p.599).

It is important to note that is was the Lord, not man, that withheld the priesthood from the blacks. Thus it could not be restored to them except by the word of the Lord. That marvelous day came in June 1978 when President Spencer W. Kimball received a revelation from the Lord extending the blessings of the priesthood to all worthy male members of the Church.

“The result of long and earnest prayer, the revelation meant that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood without regard for race or color”-See Doctrine and Covenants, Official Declaration-2 (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.2, HISTORY OF THE CHURCH).


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