GaleG

Changing skin color

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Hello,
 
Would you help me understand these verses.  
 
1 Nephi 12:12-23 according to the bottom of the page indicates a time frame of 600  
to 592 BC.  Nephi says, "And it came to pass that I beheld, and saw the people of  
the seed of my brethren that they had overcome my seed; and they went forth in  
multitudes upon the face of the land. And I saw them gathered together in multitudes;  
and I saw wars and rumors of wars among them; and in wars and rumors of wars I saw  
many generations pass away. And the angel said unto me: Behold these shall dwindle  
in unbelief. And it came to pass that I beheld, after they had dwindled in unbelief  
they became a [a]dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and  
all manner of abominations".
 
In my Book of Mormon, footnote [a] dark points to Alma chapter 3 (which has a date of  
87 BC) - "And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was  
set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and  
their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and  
Sam, who were just and holy men. And their brethren sought to destroy them, therefore  
they were cursed; and the Lord God set a mark upon them, yea, upon Laman and Lemuel,  
and also the sons of Ishmael, and Ishmaelitish women. And this was done that their seed  
might be distinguished from the seed of their brethren, that thereby the Lord God might  
preserve his people, that they might not mix and believe in incorrect traditions which  
would prove their destruction".
 
I'm wondering why Nephi didn't write about this dark skin coming upon his rebellious  
brothers and some of Ishmael's clan in his time (around 600 BC to 592 BC)?  Why did we
have to wait until hundreds of years later to find out this key event?  Nephi seems  
to be meticulous about describing something of lesser importance like the sword of  
Laban and the provisions his family took with them in their travel out from Jerusalem.  
I figure the whole group of them (including Nephi and Lehi) would have been scared and
/or puzzled at the moment they saw the curse.  Another thing not mentioned is the exact
time their skin color changed.  Was it in the wilderness, on the ship, or after arriving  
in the promised land?
 
Thank you,
 
Gale

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9 minutes ago, GaleG said:

I'm wondering why Nephi didn't write about this dark skin coming upon his rebellious  
brothers and some of Ishmael's clan in his time (around 600 BC to 592 BC)?  Why did we
have to wait until hundreds of years later to find out this key event?  Nephi seems  
to be meticulous about describing something of lesser importance like the sword of  
Laban and the provisions his family took with them in their travel out from Jerusalem.  
I figure the whole group of them (including Nephi and Lehi) would have been scared and
/or puzzled at the moment they saw the curse.  Another thing not mentioned is the exact
time their skin color changed.  Was it in the wilderness, on the ship, or after arriving  
in the promised land?

Doesn't your first question inherently answer your second and vice versa?

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Hi Gale, always good to see you!

First things first, I'm going to start off with a big obvious statement: none of this has anything to do with "black people" (gag, awkward words there).  Someone who is "black" in the 21st American vocabulary is someone of African descent.  No one being talked of in the Book of Mormon is of African descent or in others words "black".   

3 minutes ago, GaleG said:

I'm wondering why Nephi didn't write about this dark skin coming upon his rebellious  brothers and some of Ishmael's clan in his time (around 600 BC to 592 BC)?  Why did we have to wait until hundreds of years later to find out this key event?  Nephi seems  to be meticulous about describing something of lesser importance like the sword of  Laban and the provisions his family took with them in their travel out from Jerusalem.  I figure the whole group of them (including Nephi and Lehi) would have been scared and or puzzled at the moment they saw the curse.  Another thing not mentioned is the exact time their skin color changed.  Was it in the wilderness, on the ship, or after arriving   in the promised land?

A big picture thing here: we really don't know how literally or symbolic the "dark skin" was.   Things can be interpreted either way.

*If* we take these verses in a literal fashion, we don't know anything about how sudden any literal darkening might be.  It's very possible that a literal darkening could have been gradual over centuries, either due to genetic drift, intermarrying other ethnic groups, due to tanning from a more outside-focused lifestyle, or a bunch of million other options.  We don't get a 21st century scientific explanation, because the Book of Mormon is not a science book, it's book about Christ.  

So there's a lot of "we don't remotely know the specifics" here.  Honestly, I don't really think it's that important.  

 

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Not too hard to understand why someone doesn't write about something.  There are an infinite number of things to write about, and a limited amount of writing that can happen.  The math says just about nothing actually got written about.

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8 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

First things first, I'm going to start off with a big obvious statement: none of this has anything to do with "black people" (gag, awkward words there).  Someone who is "black" in the 21st American vocabulary is someone of African descent.  No one being talked of in the Book of Mormon is of African descent or in others words "black".   

 

I'm glad you mentioned this. It's a huge problem with some converts and it sounds very troubling. Still bothers me a little bit. 

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2 hours ago, MormonGator said:

I'm glad you mentioned this. It's a huge problem with some converts and it sounds very troubling. Still bothers me a little bit. 

And that's ok-- we 21st century folk are very sensitive to references to how much melanin someone has in their skin.  It's the legacy of us as a people using melanin amount as an excuse to enslave and otherwise HORRIBLY mistreat our fellow man.  So anytime we see a reference to how much melanin a person has we (rightfully) immediately cringe.

The atrocities of the western slave trade  is not what's going on in the Book of Mormon.  The people involved here are neither "black" (aka of African descent) or "white" (aka of European descent) as we define the terms today.  Further more, even the term "Nephites" it's a singular group, is a mass generalization of lots of different family linages and traditions.  Likewise with the term "Lamanates".  They're simply generalizations to people so that the Book of Mormon authors can focus on the message of Christ versus getting sidetracked with a bunch unneeded group details (this simplification is explained in Jacob 1).

Furthermore, even with the mass generalizations of "Nephites" and  "Lamanates", those are still don't translate into "the good lighter skinned people" and the "bad darker skinned people".  Rather, the groups constantly trade off who's actually following Christ and who's lusting for things for of the world.   A prime example of this is the foretelling of Christ's birth shortly before the event: it was Samual the Lamanite that came to prophecy of Christ's coming to the wicked Nephites.  Nephites which were so wicked they literally tossed him out of the city, and when Samual climbed the city wall to preach, the Nephites tried there hardest to kill him cause they didn't want to hear it.

To yet further show how the generalizing by skin and other labels doesn't work, after Christ's visit to the Americas, all of the "-ites" devisions are no more for 400 years.  During this time it is reasonable to assume that the people intermarried and there totally wasn't a actually linage or skin tone thing going on here.  After the 400 years when folks start going astray again, the "Nephite" and "Lamanite" terms are again generalizations.

 

 

Whew, that was lot to type.  Life is messy.  

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47 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

 It's the legacy of us as a people using melanin amount as an excuse to enslave and otherwise HORRIBLY mistreat our fellow man.

What do you suppose was the excuse of the west African tribesmen who captured and sold other tribe's members to the Portuguese slavers?

48 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

So anytime we see a reference to how much melanin a person has we (rightfully) immediately cringe.

Your analysis may be roughly accurate, but your parenthetical editorializing is, IMO, wrong. Referring the skin color does not "rightfully" merit a cringe in every case.

In reading your words, I sense an attitude of trying to disassociate the Church and its doctrine from ideas of race that, here and now, are considered embarrassingly politically incorrect. In some cases, that is appropriate; in others, not so much. I choose to embrace our doctrine, consider different possible interpretations, and try to go with what's currently being taught by our prophets, without giving undue (meaning any) consideration to the opinions of the world.

The fact is that people come in different races, as God created them. By the stated standards of the world, God himself is inarguably racist. I don't really care that much about whether Joe Gentile thinks the Church is racist, or that I'm racist for being a member. My loyalties lie with God and the kingdom he has established. The Church will never, ever, ever be popular with the masses, worlds without end. I have little interest in fighting against that unchangeable reality. I'm more interested in learning how to be loyal to the truths we have received, even when they seem—even when they ARE—racist in the eyes of the world and the worldly.

For example: The so-called "Priesthood ban" before 1978 was of God. Period. That's my considered opinion, and I'm unlikely to change it unless and until the Church's apostles teach otherwise. I know it's considered "racist" by the world and by "leftist Mormons" (but I repeat myself). So be it. Better to die a believing Latter-day Saint than live as a reed in the wind,, blowing about with every change of societal doctrine and disloyally betraying the truths one has received from God's kingdom.

51 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

To yet further show how the generalizing by skin and other labels doesn't work, after Christ's visit to the Americas, all of the "-ites" devisions are no more for 400 years.  During this time it is reasonable to assume that the people intermarried and there totally wasn't a actually linage or skin tone thing going on here.  After the 400 years when folks start going astray again, the "Nephite" and "Lamanite" terms are again generalizations.

I agree with this line of reasoning, which I think can reasonably be considered probable and not mere speculation. Interesting, then, that Mormon identifies himself as a "pure descendant of Lehi". Pure descendant of Lehi—as opposed to what? I can think of two possibilities: Mulekites and "gentiles", those whom we might speculate were the pre-Lehite aboriginal inhabitants of the Americas.

After dozens of generations, how would Mormon know that his ancestry contained no one besides descendants of Lehi's original group? I'm guessing Mormon was considering only a patriarchal line, which he could trace straight back to Lehi—though perhaps not Nephi, since he didn't say he was a "pure descendant of Nephi". The point is that even 300 years after Christ's visit, the righteous still considered their lineage of great importance. It seems to me that this is the very kernel of so-called "racism": The concern about and even pride in one's ancestry.

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3 hours ago, NeuroTypical said:

Not too hard to understand why someone doesn't write about something.  There are an infinite number of things to write about, and a limited amount of writing that can happen.  The math says just about nothing actually got written about.

A few days ago, after my son failed to take the dog out on time, I asked him, "Who didn't take the dog pee?" Then I added, "You can answer with any person or non-human entity of the past, present, or future, and you will be right."

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1 hour ago, Jane_Doe said:

all of the "-ites" devisions are no more for 400 years

One more correction: The time period was something under 160 years, not 400.

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I agree with @Vort here. There is no getting around the fact that the Book of Mormon is "racist" per the world's view.

I'm not sure why it's not plainly obvious the the "curse" of darker skin was a relative thing. It was a condition the Lord set up to be a curse, specifically that said condition would bring upon the people certain impediments. It is not inherent therein that the condition itself is a de facto cursed state across all time and space. 

The same sort of understanding can be applies to some of the now "disavowed" ideas concerning race -- specifically that someone may have been born into a state because of their pre-earth life choices. The reality that someone is born into a time where whatever physical characteristics they have might bring certain hardships upon them does not imply that those physical characteristics are, in and of themselves, negative. One could say the same of anyone born into any situation where they might face certain difficulties. (Please note: I'm not suggesting the disavowed theories are or are not accurately disavowed, but merely wondering how this obvious point isn't obvious).

Edited by The Folk Prophet

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21 hours ago, GaleG said:

I'm wondering why Nephi didn't write about this dark skin coming upon his rebellious brothers and some of Ishmael's clan in his time (around 600 BC to 592 BC)? 

Why did we have to wait until hundreds of years later to find out this key event?

Because his brothers and Ishmael's sons did not have dark skin.  The nature of the skin change wasn't immediate.  That may be how some things seem to be written.  But in this particular case, that simply didn't happen.

21 hours ago, GaleG said:

Another thing not mentioned is the exact time their skin color changed.  Was it in the wilderness, on the ship, or after arriving in the promised land?

The "exact time" isn't mentioned because it was probably a gradual process.

MY THEORY:

Based on archaeological evidence, there were many tribes of indigenous peoples already here in the Americas.  Their skin was like what we're used to seeing among the Native Americans today -- or perhaps the Polynesians.  Somewhere in that range.

When the "Lehites" came across the seas, they were supposed to stick together.  But Laman, Lemuel, and the Ishmaelites (collectively "the Lamanites") separated from Nephi and his team (Collectively "the Nephites") early on.

As time went on, the Lamanites intermarried with the indigenous population and lost the ways of the Law of Moses.  Their skin color changed due to this intermarrying.  It took some time before the Jewish appearance was bred out of the Lamanites.  Eventually the Nephites also became wicked and gave up the traditions of their fathers.  They became like the Lamanites.  And there were always so few Nephites compared to the Lamanites, that when they gave up their traditions and intermarried with those not of their faith, they too blended in with the indigenous population.

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On 1/4/2019 at 11:29 PM, Vort said:

are considered embarrassingly politically incorrect.

It's considered "racist" by the outside world, not "politically incorrect" and there is a huge difference. 

Edited by MormonGator

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Guys,

Now that I've had time to look at the whole thread, I'm wondering why people are going all over the place with the concept of racism.

Unlike many who have come on this site, I've noticed that @GaleG has never made any sort of accusations regarding this passage.  She seems instead to be hung up on other types of minutiae.  Her question here was not about whether there were racist overtones/undertones in this passage.  She asked about the timing of the description.

I think a lot of us get hung up on racism ourselves.  I guess I've got a different perspective, being a minority myself.  I have no problem with what the world considers "racism".  I have a problem with "hate" and "criminal behavior".  I completely believe a person can be racist and not necessarily hate someone or have criminal intent towards another.

To be truly NON-racist, one would force themselves to be blind to someone's skin color or eye shape or even nose, jaw, and other features of a person.  That would be ridiculous.  There are races in this world.  Deal with it.  Acknowledge it. 

The only thing I ask is that you all start eating kim chee.  Or else you're all racists pigs.:P

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3 hours ago, MormonGator said:

It's considered "racist" by the outside world, not "politically incorrect" and there is a huge difference. 

Disagree. There are many sins much worse than "racist" behavior. That's a huge deal ONLY because it's so politically incorrect.

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40 minutes ago, Vort said:

There are many sins much worse than "racist" behavior. 

Agree totally. 

 

40 minutes ago, Vort said:

That's a huge deal ONLY because it's so politically incorrect.

Disagree totally. In fact, I think it's just an excuse. Sort of like "Look, at those snowflakes picking on us because we refuse to bow to political correctness! We are standing up for all that is righteous!". 

Edited by MormonGator

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21 hours ago, Carborendum said:

MY THEORY:

Based on archaeological evidence, there were many tribes of indigenous peoples already here in the Americas. 

As time went on, the Lamanites intermarried with the indigenous population and lost the ways of the Law of Moses. 

Thank you Carborendum.

I have not read further yet into the book.  Are there Book of Mormon references to these indigenous peoples?
What land are you referring to when you use the term 'Americas'?  What skin color did the indigenous peoples
have before they were cursed for intermarrying with the Lamanites?

Gale

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I grew up in the '70's.  The evil thing you didn't wanna be called then, was a communist.  Or a hippie.  You could be an ungodly evildoer bent on world domination by eliminating American rights, or you could be an unwashed lazy drug-doing slob having sex and making babies out of wedlock.  These things were pretty universally condemned in culture, the media, and the family dinner table. 

The same sort of gut-reflex "we all understand how bad this is" stuff I see from people in their teens to early 30's today regarding racism, is the exact same stuff I saw back then.  Just now, the sheep-bleat-o-matic engine is directed at racists and people who don't respect women.  

Don't get me wrong, communism, sloth, drug abuse, unwed childbirth, racism, and rape are all bad things.  It's just the fervor at which people are willing to whip themselves into, at the prospect of such behavior, just ain't where it's at.  Back in my day, we rubbed our hands together with gleeful anticipation at the prospect of a flag-burning amendment, because it would basically allow us to get violent with the WRONG (tm) sort of people.  These days, the quickest way to defeat Thanos is to make public some of his racist tweets from the '90's.  

If you want to be truly mature, you need to know more than what you believe, you need to know why you believe it.  Real quick - without looking anything up on the internet - write a few paragraphs about why racism is evil.  If you can't do it (without using the word "Trump"), you should put less effort into publicly speaking out against it, and more effort into educating yourself.

Edited by NeuroTypical

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3 hours ago, GaleG said:

Thank you Carborendum.

I have not read further yet into the book.  Are there Book of Mormon references to these indigenous peoples?
What land are you referring to when you use the term 'Americas'?  What skin color did the indigenous peoples
have before they were cursed for intermarrying with the Lamanites?

Gale

I personally agree with @Carborendum. I’m also not  opposed  to the idea that God literally changed their skin rather than the intermarrying having changed their skin.

The Book of Mormon does not talk specifically of indigenous people, but there is subtle evidence* of it in the Book of Mormon as well as pretty clear archeological finds that pretty much prove it... also logically it would be very difficult to assert that The Nephites, Jaredites and Mulekites were the first and only inhabitants of the new world. 

As far as the color and where in america... there could be various plausible answers.

 

 

*some example of subtle evidence:

- There were“lamanitish” servants (Alma 17:26) rather than a lamanite servant

- Sherem “had a perfect knowledge of the language of the people” (Jacob 7:1,4). Why would it point out his knowledge of the language of the people if there were only one people?

- In the Book of Omni we read the the Mulekite language (originally the same as the Nephite) has become corrupt (Omni 1:17) over about 200 years. How could a language become corrupt if there were no other languages to sway it?

this may not be hard evidence, but it certainly doesn’t ever bar the possibility of there being indigenous people.

Edited by Fether

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On 1/6/2019 at 1:15 PM, GaleG said:

Thank you Carborendum.

I have not read further yet into the book.  Are there Book of Mormon references to these indigenous peoples?
What land are you referring to when you use the term 'Americas'?  What skin color did the indigenous peoples
have before they were cursed for intermarrying with the Lamanites?

Gale

There is nothing clear and convincing.  It is just a theory that I've personally concocted that fits well with all that I read in the Book of Mormon combined with what I've read of archaeology and anthropology.

If I consider other theories, I've come across stumbling blocks with either the BoM narrative or archaeology.  Again, not clear and convincing.  But there appear to be problems.

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On 1/4/2019 at 6:50 PM, MormonGator said:

I'm glad you mentioned this. It's a huge problem with some converts and it sounds very troubling. Still bothers me a little bit. 

I'm gonna tell you, when I was taking lessons and came upon this, I pretty much stared holes through my young missionaries. "What is this???" We had a discussion, I let it pass, but it was still bothersome as I know people probably used this to discriminate against blacks and keep them marginalized in the Church. 

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10 hours ago, dahlia said:

I'm gonna tell you, when I was taking lessons and came upon this, I pretty much stared holes through my young missionaries. "What is this???" We had a discussion, I let it pass, but it was still bothersome as I know people probably used this to discriminate against blacks and keep them marginalized in the Church. 

 I can't imagine how you would feel after hearing that for the first time. Heartbreaking. 

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On 1/12/2019 at 10:08 PM, dahlia said:

I'm gonna tell you, when I was taking lessons and came upon this, I pretty much stared holes through my young missionaries. "What is this???" We had a discussion, I let it pass, but it was still bothersome as I know people probably used this to discriminate against blacks and keep them marginalized in the Church. 

Out of curiosity, how did you reconcile that reaction with gaining a testimony?

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