How We Misinterpret "Black" and "Curse" in the Scriptures: Insights from an African American Convert

Truths from the Scriptures

“We live in a world of conflicting messages, which I’m convinced is a part of our test as well as an opportunity to demonstrate to the Lord that we can truly look beyond all that is clamoring for our attention and devotion, and yet maintain a dedicated focus on Him,” Perkins says. “From the earliest days of the restored gospel, one key message delivered from the Lord in January 1831 to Joseph Smith to pen as scriptural commandment was to ‘be one.’ The critical importance of being one was emphasized in the very next line ‘and if ye are not one ye are not mine’ (D&C 38:27). Yet at that time in our nation, there was a great inequality of man, wherein the division and atrocities levied by brother against brother, and sister against sister, were an acceptable and even expected facets of our society.”

The inability for the Saints of the Church to fully embrace or comprehend the Savior’s messages and commandments was not only a struggle for members in the 1800s but for members in our time and in Christ’s time as well.Image title

Perkins explains that ancient Jewish society identified in scripture (see Acts 10:28) focused on separating and distinguishing the Jews from other peoples. “Yet Jesus had taught them that the greatest commandment was to love God with all of their hearts, and the second was to love every other individual as they would love their own selves. The Savior went even further to emphasize the importance of the commandment by telling them that they could know if any law or prophetic teaching was of Him by matching it against the first and second great commandment (Matthew 22:36-40),” Perkins says. “In this scriptural and historical example, we see the conflicting messages at work. The Lord is commanding to be one. And in conflict, Jewish society demanded separation. This is eerily similar to the restriction on priesthood in the restoration. The Lord commanded the same oneness in the midst of great inequality.”

Just as it took time, correction, and revelation from the Lord for His apostles to embrace His command to teach and accept God’s children of all nations, it took the modern Church and apostles time to fully embrace the revelation given in D&C 36:4-5: “And now this calling and commandment give I unto you concerning all men—That as many as shall come before my servants Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith, Jun., embracing this calling and commandment, shall be ordained and sent forth to preach the everlasting gospel among the nations.”

“Our history is a blessing, one that we can learn so much more from if we’d simply first seek to truly understand it,” Perkins says. “Once understanding the truths, it’s essential to embrace the bad along with the good, without defense. When the Spirit of the Lord confirmed the truthfulness of the restored gospel to me in 1988, nothing could change that from being true. Unfortunately, so many believe that if they find unflattering things within our history, then this means that the Church can’t be true. Nothing could be farther from the truth. These are those with cultural testimonies. In order to effectively move beyond our history and be a united church, those cultural testimonies would need to be converted to spiritual testimonies. This can only come by following Christ alone.”

He continues, “This is a church of continuing revelation. The Lord told all in the first book of commandments for establishing the restored gospel that there would be errors, sins, etc. in building and leading His church (see D&C 1:24-28).  “I had the privilege of speaking in the Darmstadt, Germany, stake a few years ago. As I prepared for the trip and studied the German culture, people, and history, I came upon an inspiring example that could benefit all. I read that when German boys reach the age of 12 years old, they are taken to a concentration camp and told the stories of the past. This effort is to ensure what happened there can never happen again. Herein we see a heartfelt desire, manifested by unmistakable, targeted, and continuous actions.”

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