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.