Mormons believe that all people are God’s children. We believe that we must strive to love all people, as Jesus Christ taught us. All are alike and God is no “respecter of persons.” People of all races are welcome in the Church. I am the branch president of a small congregation that includes white, Hispanic, African-American, Asian, and Haitian members. We fellowship together in unity born of the Spirit of the Lord.
I lived in Alaska for many years. Alaska is truly a “melting pot” for Mormons. Our stake included Tongans, Samoans, Hawaiians, Koreans, Cambodians, Vietnamese, Germans, and Native Americans along with white and African-American members. The same sort of harmony prevailed among us.
There was a time when not all men were eligible to hold the priesthood. The priesthood can only be obtained “by prophecy and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority….” For reasons we don’t fully understand, there was a time when the priesthood was not made available to all people.
Similar conditions occurred in the Bible in times past. The Lord selected Levites, the descendants of Aaron, Moses’ brother, to be priests. No other Israelites could aspire to the priesthood. See Numbers 16 We don’t know the reason why the Lord restricted the priesthood to Levites, but it is his priesthood, not ours. It would not be proper for man to counsel the God of Heaven on “fairness” or “equality.”
When Jesus walked the earth, he sent his apostles out to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel,” instructing them to avoid preaching to Samaritans or Gentiles. (Matthew 10:5-6) Again, this might seem unfair to us, because we don’t know all the reasons behind this restriction. The story of this particular restriction is instructive, because we see how the restriction was lifted. It came by revelation to an apostle of the Lord, Peter. Peter saw a vision and learned that the time had come for the gospel to be preached to the Gentiles. (See Acts 10)
In 1978, a living prophet–the senior apostle of Jesus Christ–received a revelation from the Living God. That revelation instructed him that the time had come for all men who could meet the requisite qualifications of faith in Christ and a godly walk, to have the opportunity to receive the priesthood without additional restrictions.
This revelation brought great joy to the entire Church and it has led to rapid expansion of the Church, particularly in Africa.
The Church is the Lord’s. The priesthood is his go give or to retain. We cannot presume to act contrary to this reality. The reality of revelation is certain. The Church is connected to the “home office” in heaven. It is a blessing to be a member in the Lord’s earthly kingdom that receives direct revelation and inspiration to guide it.
The unity of the Church is directly linked to the authority we recognize in the Lord’s living prophet. In ancient times, when there were living apostles, there was one Church. When they were killed off, there became many competing sects.
The key to unity, including racial harmony, is to be found in the revelations of God to his servants, the prophets and in the Holy Ghost which he pours out upon his Church. These revelations teach of the Divine Fatherhood of God and his love for his children. Today, members from every race and ethnicity find themselves to be “no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:19)
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