2 Nephi 5:23?

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I am reading LDS scripture as I am contemplating returning to the Church. I came upon 2 Nephi 5:23 and WOAH! I can see how people find that offensive. Is there any context I am missing? Something to explain away how terribly racist it sounds? Or is it to be accepted at face value? I miss the LDS church and mostly enjoy the LDS church and do disagree with some things but not enough to not go to the LDS church... but this is just wow... Again, I am just questioning is there context I am missing? I know this is a constant for LDS people to be questioned about people of color in the LDS church, but I just need to hear responses from some LDS who know the scripture better than I do and better than those who have spoken about 2 Nephi 5:23 without knowing all LDS scripture. 


Please be nice in your responses, I know this is a super sensitive subject and I am not trying to attack in any way. I just need to know if I am missing something. Thanks!

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How exactly do you see this as offensive?

It seems pretty straight forward cause and effect. The life style of parents has a big impact on how offspring learn to behave, thus the life style of sin which often(ultimately always) brings about unhappiness would be learned by the children and then bring unhappiness down the generations. Wouldn't that be seen as a curse?

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I'm a redneck, but I'm an honest redneck so I'll just say that scripture doesn't really bother me. Repent or be cursed. If the righteous marry outside of the covenant and marry those who are living contrary to the commandments of God, they too shall be cursed. 


I realize your personal situation lies outside the living the commandments of God in certain areas. I suspect that's why you feel that it could offend but I don't know..however, I'll just be honest here and say I think your caught in the horns of a dilemma as Elijah put it in 1st Kings 18:21: 


"How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word."


The spirit is working on you to get your life back in line with what the Lord deems acceptable, and as long as you continue to hesitate between two opinions Satan will continue to to throw false narratives at you to cause you to justify not ultimately coming to a decision on the side of the Lord.   

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I can see how if you read it as  "I God am going to curse those that mix with the unrighteous" that it could make you go whoa


However I read it as God telling us the simple reality.   If you mix (marry) with a person with false traditions and/or beliefs then naturally your kids are going to be exposed to those falsehoods and have a greater burden to overcome (aka cursed).


Interesting to note the promises given by the Lord to the Nephites and the Lamenites...  The Lamanites were promised that they would not be utterly destroyed because of this burden (curse).  And the Nephites had no such promise.  So it seems to me that the curse has some benefits.

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A while back there was a thread on this (original thread: http://lds.net/forums/topic/56370-help-understanding-this-belief/).  Here's some of my responses from there (that OP's questions weren't quite the same as yours, but similar topic).


easyaspie, on 01 Feb 2015 - 09:55 AM, said:


Hi, a Mormon friend told me that Mormons believe God turned the Native Americans dark skinned due to wickedness. He said the belief is that this happened to black people, too. He even showed me some passages in your scriptures that say this.

This doesn't sound right to me. It sounds very racist. My friend is a kind, good person and I'm very surprised by this belief.

Do all Mormons believe that God turned people black due to sin? When I googled it, it seems like they do. I'm just so shocked I was wondering what other Mormons think about it.


This is a common mis-informed rumor. 


The rumor stems from a Book of Mormon story, when a family splits because some of the sons want to follow the Lord and some wanted follow Satan.  The scriptures say how the “bad guys” became dark.  In this case, yes this refered to skin color, but more importantly it refers to symbolic darkness- i.e., turning to “the dark side”  (to use a pop reference).  That’s how things stood at that time for that particular group of people (~600 BC).


Does this mean that everyone with dark skin is a follow of Satan?  Heck no!  Let’s pull another example from the Book of Mormon: a person with dark skin called by God to proclaim the birth of Christ.  When this dark skinned prophet went to proclaim this news to the descendants of the “good white guys” they banned them from the city and would have killed him if not for divine intervention. 



A color of one’s skin has nothing to do with a person’s righteousness.  Check out this clip of a black Mormon Bishop:



asyaspie, on 02 Feb 2015 - 12:27 PM, said:


So, you also believe that God turned people black or dark-skinned and it was due to being the bad guys. What is the rumor part? My friend didn't say everyone who is black or NA is a bad person. He said the original ancestors had their skin turned due to their wickedness. I'm saying that teaching that black skin was a curse from God is a racist teaching.


What I refer to a rumor is when people say something like "Mormons hate blacks, you think they're all wretched sinners because of this scripture..." Such is a false statement because:


1)  "Black" refers to someone of African linage.  The people mentioned scripture were Native American, and had nothing to do with Africans.  So it is inaccurate to say the verse has anything to do with black people.


2)  The people referred to in the scripture were specific: that family, living 2600 years ago.   But once that particular bunch of people died, the "curse" has no reference to their decedents status with God-- Mormon scripture is very clear that blame for another's sins cannot be inherited.  So unless you want to time-travel to accent America, it is quite silly to say "dark skin is a sign of disfavor from God".


3)  Mormon scriptures are full of dark-skinned people being men of God (just not that one family 2600 years ago).


4)  Mormons have always welcomed people of all linages into our congregations.  Blacks hold many leadership positions.  Heck, in my last congregation my best friend was a black man! 


So no... I don't consider myself or Mormon beliefs to be racist at all.  


Easyaspie, how would you consider any of the above the be raciest?  

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Hello Sumiko


When trying to get a better understanding of what a particular passage of scripture means, I often find it helpful to look at how that passage has been used or referred to in talks by church authorities. The best way to do this is to look at http://scriptures.byu.edu and just click on the + boxes on the extreme left side of the site until you come to the verse you are looking for. Unfortunately, in the case of 2 Nephi 5:23 there is almost nothing, but there is a quote from a former President of the church, Spence W Kimball in which case he refers to 2 Nephi 5:21 - 24. If you look this quote up and read it, bear in mind that it was made more than 70 years ago at a time when President Kimball was the newest apostle.

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In context, you have a settlement of whites living in a land of savage people of darker complexion. Thus far, the book is only describing the white settlement. I understand the "cursing" as nothing more than the separation of the wicked whites so they were mixed with the people of the native land, which are perceived (remember the book is written in the reflective - hindsight) as evil or backward. The curse is the separation and not the changing of their color. The color changed only because they are now "forced" to breed with the native people, or maybe better worded "forbidden" to breed with the white. In effect, it changed the race of the wicked whites.And because they were evil, the race was then perceived evil. It isn't that they were made dark because of their evil. 

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