When I was twelve years old, I came home from church and demanded to know why the prophets would tell people not to marry someone who had a different skin color. My dad tried to explain that marriage was hard enough without mixing cultures... I countered by pointing out that black skin doesn't equal different culture. I used the example of the only black family I knew. He was from Chicago. She was from Jamaica. Their kids all grew up in Utah. I had far more in common with their kids than they had with each other. (You can't get much more different than the streets of Chicago vs. Jamaica.)Yet it was okay for them to marry each other? Why??
We talked about the priesthood. There was a time when my dad would have felt concerned about his daughter marrying a black man, because he would want her to have the priesthood in her home. That policy had changed years before... so I asked again, Why? Why are they still teaching that?
By the end of the conversation, I informed my parents that the prophets and my teachers at church had it wrong. I was going to marry a black man, because there was no reason I shouldn't. (I vaguely remember the discussion taking a turn to "Just because there is no reason you shouldn't, doesn't mean that you should," but that wasn't the point. I wanted to find a way to let people know the teachings on interracial marriage were wrong. I couldn't think of any other way to get my point across.)
Over the next couple of years, I had several discussions on similar subjects. I felt frustrated and confused:
Why are all the pictures of Christ so white, when he was from Israel? Why aren't they more accurate in his depictions? Why do they teach that dark skin is akin to sin? Why did the YW leaders insist that my black friend wear a white glove when she played God's finger in the skit of "the brother of Jared"? (It took a long time for me to calm down on that one.)
I thought it was stupid that black people would be made white when they
die and were "perfected"... Why would they want that? I would want to
still be ME, so I assumed they would want to still be themselves.
Why did it take so long for blacks to get the priesthood? Why was the church so far BEHIND the rest of the country? Why didn't God tell his prophets that bigotry and prejudice were wrong? Why weren't the prophets leading the way on such an important issue?
No one had any real answers for me...As I got older, I was okay with not getting answers because (for the most part) things were different. I hated the teachings on the "seed of Cain", but that was talked about rarely enough, I could forget.
In 2008, the church became involved in Prop 8. In the beginning, I believed that allowing gay people to get married was wrong. Homosexual behavior was a sin. As I saw all of my friends
posting "Yes on 8" signs on their facebook walls or putting them in
their lawns, it felt wrong. It isn't okay for the majority to legislate the rights of the minority. It felt wrong that a church that teaches agency as the most important principle was helping to create laws that take away agency... and more than just agency... It seemed crazy to me that a people who had been so oppressed would try to create laws to oppress others and take away their rights and freedoms. Early members of the church fled the United States to get away from treatment like that... why wasn't there more compassion now?
I started listening to the talks... the calls for "morality"... the causes and cures for "unnatural tendencies"... It just didn't sit right.
How could I help but see the similarities between the things I had heard in church as a twelve year old that I KNEW were wrong, and the things I was hearing in church as a thirty year old... I started researching. I started looking at both sides. Part of my research lead me to look at the arguments against interracial marriage... which lead me back in church history. The things the church taught about blacks were actually far worse than anything I had known. Think of all the most prejudiced, bigoted, AWFUL things that were said about or done to black people in this country. The church promoted that bigotry in the name of God. (I'm torn. Part of me wants to share a few of the quotes from Wilford Woodruff, Brigham Young, Joseph Fielding Smith, N. Eldon Tanner, Ezra Taft Benson, or Mark E. Petersen. The rest of me has decided not to share them... In 2008, lds.org still had these quotes in complete talks. In 2012, I searched all over and couldn't find them. The quotes can still be found on other places on the internet, but I don't like using quotes taken out of context, unless the rest of the context could be found. It frustrates me that they are no longer available on lds.org, and I understand it. Why would they keep stuff like that for people to find, now that they don't teach it anymore?)
The church changed. They changed their doctrine, their stance on blacks, and interracial marriage. They caught up with the rest of the country eventually. So... Now... What if they are wrong about homosexuality? What if all the things they have said about homosexuality aren't accurate just like all of the things they taught about blacks were inaccurate? What if they are wrong just like they were wrong about interracial marriage? What if they are wrong just like they were wrong about blacks and the priesthood? What if gay marriage will NOT be the downfall of society just like interracial marriage has not been the downfall of society? What if loving and accepting homosexuals AS homosexuals is the right thing to do just like giving blacks the priesthood and treating them as equals was the right thing to do? What then?
I know there are many people who will change their beliefs if the prophets and church authorities change. I didn't want to wait. I couldn't wait.
Once again, I feel like I did when I was twelve... frustrated... and impatient.