Lesson 21 of the Gospel Doctrine Class covers Mosiah 29 and chapters 1-4 in Alma. The majority of this section from the Book of Mormon talks about government. That is also the emphasis of the teacher’s manual. There is, however, one very controversial verse in this section, Alma 3:6. It says:
“And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a acurse 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.”
The teacher’s manual does not address this verse. On the one hand, that is not surprising. But, on the other hand, it is surprising because it has played such a large role in the history of Mormonism. On the basis of it and 2 Nephi 5:21 for about 150 years blacks were denied the priesthood. They were banned until 1978 when President Kimball made the announcement that he had received a revelation lifting the ban. (This announcement is now part of LDS Scripture.)
What is also interesting is how some Mormons try to say this verse doesn’t mean that the Lamanites had dark skin. I just read a blog whose author was arguing that the dark skin was just a metaphor for the spiritual state they were in. If that is correct, why then the long ban on blacks in the priesthood?
Isn’t it interesting that Jesus lived in the Middle East, at the crossroads of three continents? I doubt if he looked like a northern European as he is often pictured. He, most likely, had the darker complexion of many Middle Eastern people. In that way, even by his appearance, people from different races and cultures could identify with him.
But that is not the important point. What is important is that the Bible teaches that God doesn’t show favoritism. “Knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.” (Ephesians 6:9)
When it comes to people’s relationship with God, there is only one important thing. How does one approach God? Do they come before God only on the basis of Jesus’ righteousness for them? Or do they come claiming their own righteousness? Or do they come mixing in their righteousness with Jesus’ righteousness? God will only acquit (justify) those who come solely on the basis of Jesus’ righteousness for them. “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24)