When did the church decide that the blacks couldn’t hold the priesthood? Seems like it just started out that they couldn’t out of the day’s custom, but then somewhere along the line, somebody had to meet to make a decision on the matter.
Kelly, from Liberty, Indiana
It was nothing like that. The concept was revealed when Joseph Smith translated the papyrus containing the Book of Abraham. The mummies containing the papyrus were purchased by the Mormon Church in July 1835. In “The History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” by the prophet, this entry for 7 October 1835 is found—
“This afternoon I re-commenced translating the ancient records.”
In this translated volume is the record of how the seed of Cain survived the great flood. The wife of Ham, one of three sons of Noah, was Egyptus, who was from the loins of Cain—
From this descent sprang all the Egyptians, and thus the blood of the Canaanites was preserved in the land (Abr 1:22).
The curse that the Lord put upon Cain for killing his brother, Abel, was that neither he nor his descendants would have the right to hold the priesthood. Cain, in lamenting this fact, said—
Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me (Gen 4:14).
So to protect Cain from the wrath of others, the Lord gave him the following protection—
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 (Gen 4:15).
The mark was a black skin, and it was given to Cain as a protection from the evil of others, not as a curse (As mentioned above, the only curse was withholding the priesthood.) Egyptus carried the genetic strain of a black skin through the flood. The daughter of Ham and Egyptus discovered the land of Egypt, and her son, Pharoah, became the first ruler of the land. In Abraham 1:26 we read—
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.
Prior to 1835 some blacks were ordained to the priesthood, but in accordance with the information revealed in the Book of Abraham that practice was discontinued. However, each of the presidents of the Mormon Church, from Joseph Smith to Spencer W. Kimball, prophesied that the day would come when the Lord would remove the curse of withholding the priesthood from the descendants of Cain. This came about through a revelation given by the Lord to President Spencer W. Kimball, and was published in an Official Declaration to the world on 30 Sept. 1978, which says in part—
He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood, with power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with his loved ones every blessing that flows therefrom, including the blessings of the temple. Accordingly, all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color. (The Doctrine and Covenants Official Declaration–2).