Monday, July 29, 2013

FHE Lesson 1: Revelation on the Priesthood


Primary source material for this lesson: “Spencer W. Kimball and the Revelation on Priesthood,” Edward L. Kimball, BYU Studies Quarterly, 47:2

1. Before June of 1978, the Church prohibited blacks from the priesthood. What did this prohibition consist of?

  • Black men could not receive the priesthood or hold priesthood leadership positions. Black men and women could not serve missions or receive temple endowments, though they could be baptized for the dead and black children could be sealed to adoptive parents of other races. They could receive patriarchal blessings, serve as secretaries (but not ward clerks), teach classes, and participate in the music program. Women could be visiting teachers, but men couldn’t be home teachers.
  • The prohibition wasn’t related to personal worthiness. Also, skin color wasn’t the determining factor, but perceived lineage from black Africans (e.g., Australian aborigines weren’t prohibited). If lineage was unknown, the Church erred on the side of leniency. If errors later came to light, ordained men were asked to suspend use of their priesthood.
  • The prohibition was termed a “policy” rather than a doctrine, but one that couldn’t be changed without revelation.

2. Did the Church always exclude blacks from holding the priesthood? Reportedly some persons of mixed heritage received the endowment before 1907. Also, at least two African Americans were ordained during Joseph Smith’s lifetime:

Appendix to Lesson 1

I added this appendix as a response to a specific question from my oldest son, who’s already had run-ins with atheists at his high school.

Question: In light of the fact that prophets can make mistakes, explain this passage following Official Declaration 1 in the Doctrine & Covenants:

“The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.” (Wilford Woodruff, Oct. 6, 1890)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Family Home Evening Lesson Plans: A New Approach

“Individual members are encouraged to independently strive to receive their own spiritual confirmation of the truthfulness of Church doctrine. Moreover, the Church exhorts all people to approach the gospel not only intellectually but with the intellect and the spirit, a process in which reason and faith work together.” (“Approaching Mormon Doctrine,” Mormon Newsroom, May 4, 2007)

My sons are growing up. They no longer need diapers, car seats, or help cutting their meat. All of them can read independently. My oldest can even drive. If all goes according to plan, he should be serving a mission in about two years. Which leads me to the subject of the day.

I've done a pretty good job teaching my children how to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. But after reflection, I believe I haven't done enough to prepare them for people who will try to tear down their faith through argument. I don't want to teach them how to debate—I just want to introduce them to a few of the controversial subjects in Church history and teachings that anti-Mormons may use as points of attack. These things are only touched on briefly at Church meetings, and I think knowing a little more would prevent them from being blindsided. I'd also like them to learn about other religions so they can understand and respect other people's beliefs.

Thus my current project: Family Home Evening lesson plans that cover a broad range of possibly controversial topics from a believing Mormon's viewpoint. I'll use resources like BYU Studies, the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, the Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research, and the official Church website.

I will post my lesson plans on this blog, mostly for my own reference. But feel free to use them for your own family if you want. Keep in mind that my children range from ages 8 to 16. Many of these lessons may not be appropriate for younger kids.

So ... I start tomorrow with a lesson about the 1978 revelation allowing all worthy male members, including African Americans, to hold the priesthood and receive temple blessings. Wish me luck!