Packer: Mouthpiece of God or Prejudicial Old Man?

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Boyd K. Packer once gave This Speech excepts from it are:

“We’ve always counseled in the Church for our Mexican members to marry Mexicans, our Japanese members to marry Japanese, our Caucasians to marry Caucasians, our Polynesian members to marry Polynesians.”

“For every exception we can show you tens and hundreds, and I suppose thousands, who were not happy. Plan, young people, to marry into your own race.”

Do these kinds of comments embarrass you as a member?
Do you think these kinds of attitudes have a place in our society?

22 thoughts on “Packer: Mouthpiece of God or Prejudicial Old Man?

  1. In answer to your questions, yes and no. But I wouldn’t go so far as to characterize Elder Packer as a prejudicial old man. He was simply falling in line with other leaders at the time.

    This raises a question: Given that the counsel has never been retracted, is it still in force today?

  2. Pres. Kimball gave several speeches saying the same thing. I do think that one has to keep in mind when the discussion was made. I don’t think it applies to our current social context.

  3. So do you believe that in the 70’s it was good advice, but it isn’t now?

    Do you think Elder Packer’s opinions have changed?

  4. Your bigotry against the aged is showing again. When you were denigrating members of the Seventy, you called them “septuagenarians” as if that had something to do with the validity of their teachings. Now that you’re denigrating Elder Packer, you call him a prejudicial OLD man, as if being old were relevant.

  5. Nah, I was just being dramatic.

    Although I do think that being older might contribute to these kinds of prejudicial comments.

    It’s specifically that at that age people will think like that, it’s that people his age often think like that.

  6. Pres. Kimball gave several speeches saying the same thing.

    Pres. Kimball also explicitly characterized his statements on interracial marriage as “fatherly advice.” Surely Packer could not have been claiming that his statements were more binding than Pres. Kimball’s. So however embarrassed one might be that the statements were made by Church leaders, at least we don’t have to defend them as doctrine.

  7. I believe the interracial marriage issue has more to do with diverse cultrual differences which in the past and sometimes even now, can make a difference for some people. When someone in one culture is used to living life a certain way it can be hard to change that or adjust to a different culture. I believe this is what they meant.

    For example there is NO way I could be married to someone who comes from a male domineering culture. Not only does it go against the grain, I couldn’t handle that in a marriage.

  8. The funny thing, as I see it, is that he quotes from Kimball where he’s stated in the Ensign:

    The “gathering of Israel” is effected when the people of the faraway countries accept the gospel and remain in their native lands. The gathering of Israel for Mexicans is in Mexico; in Scandinavia, for those of the northern countries; the gathering place for the Germans is in Germany; and the Polynesians in the islands; for the Brazilians, in Brazil; for the Argentines, in Argentina. [Ensign, May 1975, p. 4]

    So does that mean that mixed marriage peoples will be in the wrong queue when the “gathering of Israel” is taking place?

    “Sorry, you’re obviously a Mexican and this is the caucasion gathering of Israel…maybe if you hurry you can make it back to the Mexican one before it closes…”

    That’s just crazy talk.

  9. Mary….”For example there is NO way I could be married to someone who comes from a male domineering culture”

    … have you ever met your father and grandfather in law??? lol

  10. My mother used to say the same type of thing about avoiding an inter-racial marriage. She’d say marriage is hard enough without adding that into it. (She’s not LDS.) My reply to her was always, “But it’s people like *you* who make it harder for people in inter-racial marriages!”

    My niece, who herself is half white and half Mexican, married a man who is part black, part white and part Thai. They ended up getting a divorce, but I don’t think cultural or racial differences factored into it. Although I know at one point he wanted to move back to Mississippi, and she refused to go, because she knew his family would be prejudiced against her, since she’s not black. Her son who is very dark-complected gets flack from his full-Mexican cousins because he’s so light-skinned.

  11. Oh I think inter-cultural/racial marriages can work very well. I have seen it work. But perhaps for some people it wouldn’t Not necessarily for racist reasons (hopefully!)but because it is so different that one spouse may find it hard to adjust. It really can depend on experience, exposure, upbringing. This is why I believe they were cautioning individulas. HOWEVER, that said, race or colour itself shouldn’t make a difference in a marriage. It’s only different cultures that might become an issue. Personally I don’t think colour should ever be a problem in marriage.

  12. Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought this church was all about following personal revelation. Isn’t Joseph Smith’s message that God still speaks to his children and if anyone lacks wisdom they should ask him. If so, wouldn’t it be better to remind members that they can ask God if it is wise to marry a chosen person?

    We don’t have to make excuses for Elder Packer’s council? It is based in fear, not love, and as I see it contradicts some of our most precious doctrines.

  13. Yes, it embarrasses me a little. But I hear that kind of thing from people of that generation. I think the times, they are a changing. I also think that cultural differences can add strain to a marriage. I’m all in favor of cross racial or cultural marriage, but I do think there are issues unique to those situations.

  14. Being married to someone of a different culture myself, I think in general it’s sound advice.

    Not in any racial sense, but marriage IS hard, and when you mix two cultures, it brings up problems and things that can’t even be guessed at before.

    Knowing what I know now, I’d advise my children the same way, and then love whoever they chose to love.

  15. FWIW, T&S ran this topic in July. Comments were similar to the ones posted here. My own experiences and reflections are in #17 there.

    Times have changed, I suppose largely because racial distinctions have — just ask my girl friend’s Portuguese-Chamorro-Hispanic-English-Hawaiian nephews and niece!

    It would be interesting to know how much of the change came from the 1978 revelation on the priesthood and how much the change opened the door for that revelation.

  16. I am posting on this topic late, but this is a topic of great interest to me because I am in an interracial marriage. My wife was born in India, raised in the United States and joined the church as an adult. We have been happily married for ten years, are active, and have three children.

    Do I think that President Packer is a prophet? Absolutely. Do I believe that he gave apporiate counsel? Yes.

    But my behaviour seems contrary to that counsel. How do I justify it?

    To read President Packer’s quote as being racist misreads it, I think. President Packer was not talking about “polluting” white blood by marrying outside the race–which would be racist. He was preaching about the sanctity of the family and keeping family unity. President Packer was concerned about divorce.

    Underlying President Packer’s comments is the assumption that people from similar racial backgrounds tend to have similar views on marriage, family structure, childrearing, etc. Thus, same race marriages have a lower divorce rate than interracial marriages. This is bourne out in socialogical studies as well. President Packer’s statements recognize these realities.

    These realities did not apply to my marriage, however, because my wife was adopted, raised by white parents, and shared my culture. President Packer’s counsel did not apply to me.

  17. Jason,

    I found your comment insightful. I hope you are right about President Packer’s statements. I would also hope that anyone who has the opportunity to teach about this “principle” in the future will use the words, “to marry into your own [culture]” instead of [race]. It would have been nice if that were the case in the first place so that it wouldn’t be as easy to read racism into his comments.

  18. I’m sure there’s someone out there just as willing to be offended by “culturism” as by “racism.”

  19. I found this post and it intrigued me..so here it goes. I think about the time in which Elder Packer has lived. Some things come to mind…Strict Asian immigration laws, Japanese internment, lynchings, segregation of African Americans…Were these things discussed in church while they occurred? These things in hindsight make me sick, I pray they would have made me sick if I had lived to experience them.

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