Dear 100 Hour Board,
Ive been waiting for alumni week to hear one of Dragon Lady's awesome bible stories... could we get one?
Dear a ~
Awww. Warm fuzzies. I'm glad to know that 9 years after retirement, I still have fans.
Unfortunately, life, once again, prevented me from spending the time necessary to go down to the BYU library to research this. Give me a couple of years and I'll have kids all in school, opening up far more discretionary time for things like this. But don't worry, I won't leave you hanging. I have two things to tide you over.
- In Board Question #91363, which should post a day or so after this one, I go into some depth about Balaam and the Moabites as well as Joshua and the nations he led the Israelites to destroy.
- I came to an understanding something about a Book of Mormon story that has always bothered me. So it's not Old Testament, but it is something that has healed a part of me that was hurting. So I will briefly tell you about my epiphany below.
2 Nephi 5:20-21
20 Wherefore, the word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, saying that: Inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And behold, they were cut off from his presence.
21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skinof blackness to come upon them.
This scripture has never sat well with me. It's blatant racism, come from God. I remember my seminary teacher, whom I respect deeply, explaining that the curse of the Lamanites was being removed from the presence of God and that the skin color was just a sign of that curse. And while I could kind of see that, I didn't believe that. And now I do believe that, but I had to work it out in my own mind first (along with a long conversation with Yellow while walking around a park while our kids played).
I won't walk you through my train of thought, but I will attempt to explain my final conclusion.
Ever since the Israelites came out of Egypt, God set them apart from other nations. For hundreds, if not thousands, of years, the Israelites had been fed basically an "us vs. them" mentality. It was done for a reason. As the Israelites came out of Egypt, they were in many, many ways basically children. They had been told what to do for centuries. They were learning how to be independent one day at a time, and proved themselves over and over again to follow what society told them to do, and not what God told them to do. So, as a stern, but loving parent, God gave them strict guidelines to follow in order to keep them following the commandments. The most effective way to keep them from worshipping false idols was to keep them from interacting with people who worshipped false idols.
When Nephi left Jerusalem, that commandment—to not marry outside of the covenant—was still in place. It was engrained in them that people who looked different were not of the covenant, and thus should be kept at arms length. Specifically, do not marry them.
Yes, the methods are racist. But as I discussed extensively in the question linked above, God works through imperfect humans. He needed a way to keep the Nephites from marrying with the unrighteous Lamanites. So he took a method already familiar to them and used it. It hurts me to see it, considering the racism of our day, but now I can understand why he used it. I also understand why it wouldn't be appropriate to use now—we live a different law and have greater understanding.
While I can see how other people might still be horrified with the blatant racism here, I now have peace. I'm certain there are things God is doing with us now, because of our limited understanding, that people a thousand years from now will be horrified by. But I'm ok with that, too. Because I'm grateful I have a loving God that is willing to work with me where I am, with the understanding I have. And I know that as we become ready for greater light and truth, He will give it to us.
~ Dragon Lady