Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Yes, the Church still officially discourages interracial marriage.

Wow. A friend of mine just pointed this out to me. From the current Aaronic Priesthood Manual:

“We recommend that people marry those who are of the same racial background generally, and of somewhat the same economic and social and educational background (some of those are not an absolute necessity, but preferred), and above all, the same religious background, without question”
To be fair, this is a quote from a speech by Spencer W. Kimball in 1976 (the year of my parents' interracial marriage) when the Church still had a racist priesthood ban and was still supporting an antiquated notion of race--but what is it doing in a Church manual in 2011.

The context for this quote makes it even more clear how stupid and how wrong it is for our youth to be pushed these racialist/xenophobic belief:
Explain that choosing a companion for eternity is an extremely important decision but is sometimes based on a very narrow understanding of love. A person who responds only to infatuation or romantic love might overlook many important qualities when choosing someone with whom to spend eternity. 
• What characteristics of young women are socially and spiritually appealing to you?
Write the young men’s answers on the chalkboard, such as— 
1. Is unselfish.
2. Shows respect for me.
3. Has initiative.
4. Is considerate of others.
5. Shows patience in stressful situations.
6. Is an active Church member.
7. Has a testimony of the gospel and obeys the commandments.
8. Maintains a healthy outlook toward life.
9. Possesses values and goals similar to mine.
Ask each young man to select what he thinks are the three most important attributes on the chalkboard. Take a vote to determine which areas the young men consider most important. Discuss why they voted the way they did.
Compare the results of the vote with the following statement by President Spencer W. Kimball.
Notice that in this lesson, the expected answers from our youth do not include: 10. Of the same race; 11. Of the same rich/poor/middle-class; 12. Of the same ethnic background; 13. Of the same educational level. No, youth today do not and should not think in these terms. Rather, this manual proposes that they need to accept a racialist/segregationist view of the world, and see race as on par with characteristics such as having faith, being considerate, and being unselfish as characteristics that one should want in a marriage.

Now I recognize that new challenges may arise when a couple from vastly differing backgrounds (whether it be racial, ethnic, geographic, economic, political, etc) choose to be married. However, this is something that should be discussed by them and between them, and never used to discourage them from getting married.

And our impressionable youth should never--I mean NEVER--be taught that God discourages them from marrying outside of their race.

Perhaps I take this a bit personally because I come from interracial parents, my brother is interracially married, my sis-in-law has interracial parents, my bro-in-law has an interracial marriage, and another sis-in-law has in interracial marriage.


  1. My parents used this when talking to my sister about her "boyfriend" (I don't think they were even that serious yet, so maybe perspective boyfriend is more appropriate). They told her that because he was black there were cultural differences that would be hard for them. When they told me this, I asked them what black culture was like as compared to white culture, because as I see it the area you grow up in causes differences in culture, not race. I asked which "culture" my sister related to more: listening to hip-hop and going to clubs, or square-dancing and country music.
    Their lack of response said it all.

  2. Add onto your great post the whole bizarre history of "race" categorization. Truly, we are of the same Heavenly Parents.

  3. The consensus in the bloggernacle is that this is one of many antiquated passages in outdates manuals that will probably disappear if and when another edition is published. Actions speak louder than words, and one of the newest seventies (Gerrit Gong) is in an inter-racial marriage.

  4. Anotther piece by Kaimi from T&S 2005

  5. I think most people would agree that the counsel on race is anachronistic and should be abandoned. But, the rest of it is probably solid advice. There was a really great Radio West episode a few
    months ago. As it turns out, marrying someone who has a similar education as you is a significant factor in whether your marriage will not end in divorce. The factors that decrease the probability of divorce include age (the younger you marry the more like you are to divorce), religious belief, education level and the age at which the couple has kids (the later, the less likely for divorce).

    Here is the link to the RadioWest broadcast:

  6. Quote old news actually - and I believe the manual itself is almost 20 years old. The point, obviously, is that similar backgrounds make things easier but it's just as obvious that economic status, cultural background, etc. contribute a lot more to that in most cases than race. It's very anachronistic to be appearing in a manual even from when it was printed, let alone one still in use in 2011.

    I've seen that particular lesson taught several times and I've never seen anyone actually use the part on race. Interracial marriages are very common in many places and to put it bluntly, very few of the kids I've worked with would let such nonsense go by unchallenged. Yet another thing printed in the manual that most people don't actually believe any more.

    I'm very surprised revised lessons haven't been published yet, and anachronisms such as this are a good example of why.

  7. I think that race is important in society and would wish to align myself with my own race. As a rule, people need to marry those of their own race. Note, I am not LDS.

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