The latest revision to the standard works includes a
different heading to Official Declaration 2. The new language could lead one to wrongfully assume that somehow the Church’s position with regard to the priesthood was a mistake. However, it seems clear to me that such is simply not the case, though the enemies of the church would love to claim so.
1. My reading of the new heading indicates that the purpose of the heading explanation is to discourage speculations about the Lord’s reasons for imposing the restriction and NOT an indication that the Lord had no hand in that restriction in the first place. As such I am thankful for the new heading because in my many years of defending the Church against the FALSE claims of racism, I have come across some speculations as to the Lord’s reasons, that actually were rooted in racism, and amounted to some humans seeking to impose a racist view upon a perfectly just, and loving God or his chosen servants, in order to explain in fleshy terms what they spiritually could not understand. I am thankful that the church expects us to let God’s actions be observed
and followed even when we do not know the why. That is the doctrine that lies at the heart of Adam’s statement: “I know not, save the Lord has commanded me!”
2. Those who would like to assume some error on the part of the church, would do well to ponder over the following:
a. The scriptures are clear that God has, and does, restrict access to the priesthood based on lineage, for reasons known only to Him. For example during Moses time, and for centuries after, the rights of Priesthood and temple service were restricted to those whose lineage was from the tribe of Levi, and to some degree only to the descendants of Aaron. (Numbers 7:11-10, 8:14-15, 16:40, 18:1-8) In fact, that great leader King Saul, loved of God and chosen above all Israelites to be the King, was still in part rejected by the Lord for trying to take that power to himself, without the proper lineage. (I Samuel 13:8-14) In Abraham’s day the Pharaohs who were from a different lineage than Abraham were similarly restricted from the Priesthood, though they sought it sincerely. (Abraham 1:21-27) Similarly in Jesus day, not just the Priesthood but the entire Gospel was restricted from being taught to certain groups for a time, based on lineage. (John 4:22, Matthew 10:5-6, 15:21-28) It was so much a part of the early Church that it required a revelation to teach Peter when the time had come for a change to that standard which had been set by God. (Acts 10) In fact, a huge part of Paul’s ministry was to convince the Church that in God’s timing the time had actually come for the blessing of the Gospel to be expanded and expounded to all nations, and that the Gospel was no longer just for the house of Israel.
--The point of all this is that it would be just as unwise to claim that Jehovah made a mistake with the Levites, that God’s restriction of the priesthood from the earnestly seeking Pharaohs was in error, and that Jesus got it wrong when he restricted preaching of the Gospel to those only who were of the house of Israel........ as it is to assume such flaws in the restoration.
b. The Prophets from Joseph Smith to Spencer W. Kimball were all men filled with the love of God. As the Prophet Joseph taught they were then; "not content with blessing their families alone, but desired to range through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.”
If the restriction were a mere mistake or human flaw, it would have been corrected immediately by such men possessing such a desire. In fact, it is clear from the declaration itself, that the Prophet Spencer W. Kimball, who actually received the revelation to remove the restriction, felt that the restriction was God’s and so ONLY God could remove it. Prior to receiving the deeply sought after permission to remove the restriction, President Kimball had made this comment with regard to that restriction;
“I am not sure that there will be a change, although there could be. We are under the dictates of our Heavenly Father, and this is not my policy or the Church’s policy. It is the policy of the Lord, who established it, and I know of no change, although we are subject to revelations from the Lord in case he should ever wish to make a change.” .....Emphasis added.
Again speaking to those who speculated about that restriction President Kimball said;
“These smart members who would force the issue, and there are many of them, cheapen the issue and certainly bring into contempt the sacred principle of revelation and divine authority.”
That final comment by Present Kimball is the crux of the whole issue. Neither God, Jesus,
nor the prophets they call, are or have been racists, either in ages past or in our age. While the reasons for God's commands are not known, and as we see from this recent change should not be speculated at, the truth remains that when God imposes such restrictions, they come from Him and not man. It is those who President Kimball describes as cheapening the issue who have long claimed racism in the church and who, as enemies of the church, have wrongfully claimed that the revelation President Kimball received removing that restriction was mere political expediency. Each claim made by them for self-serving purposes. Such persons often similalry allege (and wrongfully so) sexism or homophobia among the Church leaders.
For those who desire to speculate or to impose a flawed human construct upon divine fiat, it would be well to remember 2 things.
1. God has taught us that: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9.
2. The humble and trusting reaction of the Samaritan woman who, rather than become angry or cry racism at having been called a dog by Jesus, recognized a deeper truth, saw the real love, and trusted Jesus in spite of her lack of knowledge of the eternal reasons for his remarks. She kept the faith contrary to what her human or natural response would otherwise have been.
I know absolutely that the revelation given to President Kimball was by divine revelation, and still remember with great joy the day I received the news, which caused me both weeping for joy and burning from head to toe with God’s Holy Spirit. Similarly I know absolutely that God and Jesus are “no respecters of persons” in the eternal sense and that in the final judgment we will see and
know that any claims of bigotry or racism attributed to them, their leaders, or their kingdom, were inspired by the evil one who merely wants the principles of revelation to be “held in contempt”.