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How 132 Would Affect Future Revelations on Women & Gays

With General Conference coming up this weekend, Dr. Bill Smith and I speculate on some possible future revelations coming up!  Would Official Declaration 3 deal with Gays?

GT:  You mentioned a couple of things that were very interesting to me, especially in light of the Family Proclamation.  D&C 132 is kind of the foundation for forever families.  But you mentioned singles and you also mentioned gays.  How do those relate to section 132?

Bill:  Well I think that section 132 is by evidence, at least by internal evidence, it’s very much in the vein of thinking of sex as being in terms of heterosexual sex, of course not necessarily one-man and one-woman sex, but one-man, multiple-women.  So, I think that’s the point of the revelation.  It doesn’t really speak to the possibility of gay marriage.  It doesn’t open that possibility at all.  Whether that can be addressed in some other way, I don’t know, but the revelation, that’s not on anybody’s mind.

GT:  Right.  So, do you see that as being a possibility of a future revelation?

Bill:  Anything is possible.  I don’t know.  Whether people would feel that there is dissonance with section 132 and any further revelation that expanded some kind of approval of gay relationships, gay marriage, I don’t know.  That’s for another generation, I am guessing.  But yes, that might be something that would be addressed.  I don’t know.

Of course we do this in relation to Section 132 of the Doctrine & Covenants, which is one of Mormonism’s most important revelations:  The New & Everlasting Covenant of marriage.  Is there room in this revelation to accommodate gay marriage?  In our next episode, Dr. Bill Smith will answer that question, and discuss how it might impact future revelations dealing with not only gays, but women as well.

Bill:  Well there’s something of equal probability I think is that we have an official declaration that says that women can be ordained.

GT:  Would that be more likely?

Bill:  Boy I don’t really know.  I think yes, it probably fits better with the current paradigm than say gay marriage would be, recognizing gay marriage.

.,.

GT:  Do you see 132 being compatible with say female ordination?

Bill:  Yeah, the polygamy parts seem to partake of the typical sort of patriarchal kinds of views of the 19th century, the 18th century and back.  In terms of incompatibilities, that’s where that would lie.  In terms of ordination practices, those kinds of things, I don’t see an incompatibility there, structure.  I mean it would be easy to enfold women into priesthood structures if that was to take place.  I don’t see a problem there.  I don’t think it would be possible to stop that because you had the same kinds of issues with blacks and the priesthood when the ‘78 change was announced.  They were very clear that this meant that there weren’t any restrictions on their participation in any way.

Is this Official Declaration 4?  Check out our conversation…..

Here are some others episodes you may be interested in.

093: Greg Prince on History of LDS Policy Toward Gays

092:  How to Polygamists Feel about Gay Marriage? (Wilde)

048: What are the Theological Justifications of Polygamy? (Hales)

044: Does D&C 132 Conflict with Genesis? (Hales)

012: Kirtland Era Polygamy (Staker)

 

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Critiquing the Gospel Topics Essays

Between 2013-2015, the LDS Church published a series of essays dealing with sensitive topics in the LDS Church.  They are known as the Gospel Topics Essays.  Dr. Newell Bringhurst and Dr. Matt Harris have produced an anthology that will be released later this summer critiquing these Gospel Topics Essays.  In our final conversation, Dr. Newell Bringhurst will tell us more about the work that he’s been putting together on these essays.

Newell:  We go through all 13 Gospel Topics Essays.  It’s composed of 13 chapters.  I probably should pull out my notes so I can remember the name of all the contributors.  We start with the Book of Mormon and look at the historicity of the Book of Mormon, critiquing that essay, critiquing the essay on DNA and the authenticity of the Book of Mormon and of course the different accounts.  We critique the essay that was written on the various accounts of the First Vision, the historicity and authenticity of the Book of Abraham which is another very controversial topic.

We look at peace and violence along the Mormon frontier.  John Turner who did the biography on Brigham Young did the essay on that for us.  He is kind of a marquis figure.  He really did an outstanding job in looking at the whole issue of violence and how it involved the saints.  Although I think one of the strongest essays in there is Gary Bergera who presented at [Sunstone.]  He presented on Joseph Smith and his involvement with polygamy.  Of course, he has a much different spin on whether Joseph had sex with those other women.  {chuckles}

We’ll talk about the other authors as well!  Check out our conversation, and don’t forget to hear our other episodes on polygamy, blacks, and women in religion!  (A transcript of the entire interview will be available soon!)

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Walker Lewis: Faithful Black Elder

We’re winding down our Black History Month conversations with Dr. Newell Bringhurst.  In our next conversation, we’ll talk about Walker Lewis, a black elder in Boston, Massachusetts.  In fact Wilford Woodruff once described this faithful black elder as “an example to our more whiter brethren.”

Newell:  He was based in Lowell, Massachusetts and he was a barber.  He also belonged to a black Masonic lodge.  There was kind of an interesting Masonic connection there with him.  Connell O’Donovan has done a lot more research on him than I have and shown that he had interaction with a number of apostles that were coming through, so he was well known amongst the apostles that were coming through.  It was William Smith, the younger brother of Joseph Smith that ordained him an elder.

It’s William Appleby who expresses shock when he comes upon him and he finds out Walker Lewis is an elder in the church and this is after the death of Joseph Smith, and [Appleby] writes back, “Is it right that this man should hold the priesthood?  If it is so I have yet to learn it.”

So that’s caused some people to say the ban maybe was in place even earlier but there isn’t other evidence to support that.  Maybe it was just because whatever was going through Walker Lewis’s mind.  There just weren’t that many blacks in the church.  Maybe this was kind of an unusual situation for him.

Ultimately as I say he becomes kind of a well-known figure.  They don’t seem to question his priesthood.  That kind of supports the argument and is one more indication that there was no ban on black ordination.  Even in later church leaders, all the way down into the 20th century when Bennion is doing his study in [19]54, church leaders acknowledged that Walker Lewis had been ordained.  That was acknowledged by even J. Reuben Clark.  I discuss this in an article that is going to be forthcoming, the ’54 recollections and the church struggling with whether blacks could be ordained and what could be the historical justifications were.

But getting back to Walker Lewis himself, he eventually makes his way out to Utah thinking that maybe he can get his endowments but they deny him so he makes his way back to Boston or to Lowell and resumes his barber practice.  There are suggestions that later on, Jane James wants to be sealed to Walker Lewis because she is aware of who Walker Lewis was and that he was indeed a priesthood holder.  To bolster the legitimacy of her request for endowments, she says “Can I be sealed to Walker Lewis?”  Of course that is denied.  That is a poignant story in and of itself.

Had you heard of Walker Lewis before?