Ask any Mormon what the Lamanite curse was, and s/he will likely say something like “dark skin”. And a superficial reading of the Book of Mormon seems to support that idea.
I wonder, however, if it was something a bit deeper and significant than that. After all, what kind of curse is a skin colour change?
Yesterday, i outlined how the Nephites were blessed because they worked. Consider verse 2 Ne 5:11:
the Lord was with us; and we did prosper exceedingly . . .
This is the blessing: having the Lord with them and prosperity.
. . . for we did sow seed . . . and we began to raise flocks, and herds, and animals of every kind
This the cause of the blessing: sowing seed and raising livestock. Or work. Notice the word for. When used as a conjunction, as it is in this case, it means because, since or seeing that. This shows a direct relationship between their work and their blessings.
Now consider 2 Ne 5:24:
because of their cursing . . . they did become an idle people
Here we see another direct relationship; however, this relationship is opposite that of the Nephites. Whereas the Nephites’ blessing is a result of their work, the Lamanites’ idleness is a result of their curse.
So then how does this establish that the curse is something other (or deeper) than a dark skin?
Look at 2 Nephi 5:20:
the word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, saying that: Inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And behold, they were cut off from his presence.
So where the Nephites kept the commandments and had the Lord with them, the Lamanites did not and the Lord was not with them.
Let’s summarize the parallels here:
|Kept commandments, statutes & judgements (v. 10)||Did not hearken to Nephi’s words (v. 20)|
|Blessed with the Lord’s presence (v. 11)||Cut off from the Lord (v. 20)|
|Work caused blessing (v. 11)||Idleness result of curse (v. 24)|
Given the parallels, I wonder then if the curse was actually being cut off from God’s presence.
So how does the dark skin fit into this? Perhaps it was a sign of the curse, a physical reminder of the curse.