Lamanitic Curse

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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:

Nephites Lamanites
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.


4 thoughts on “Lamanitic Curse

  1. Good stuff, Kim.

    I actually think the dark skin is figurative. Analagous to the ‘flint heart’ they also receive. I think it is the opposite of having Christ’s image emerge in one’s countenance, rather than the opposite of being racially white. I think this is a better explanation for the Nephite abhorrance that limits intermingling between groups. I think the use of white, delightsome, on one hand, and dark and loathsome on the other hand are to do with this.

    I give as exhibit one, James E Faust, espeically in his older years.
    I give as exhibit two, fellow Caucasian Ron Jeremy. (be careful looking up images.)


  2. The church leaders really do believe that dark refers to dark skinned. None other than Spencer W. Kimball stated as much.

    Kimball made the following comments and the church published them. I assume that would mean they agreed with them.

    “I saw a striking contrast in the progress of the Indian people … The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation.

    “At one meeting a father and mother and their sixteen-year-old daughter were present, the little member girl—sixteen—sitting between the dark father and mother, and it was evident she was several shades lighter than her parents—on the same reservation, in the same hogan, subject to the same sun and wind and weather(Improvement Era, December 1960, pp. 922-23).

  3. The church leaders really do believe that dark refers to dark skinned.

    I believe you meant “Some church leaders really do believe that dark refers to dark skinned.”

    I’m sure many believe it’s literal.

  4. Some church leaders with a fair amount of clout and influence,including some from the founding families of the LDS, really do believe that dark refers to being literally dark skinned.

    There ya go – that’s a bit more precise. =)

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