Wednesday, May 2, 2012

2 Nephi 5: Beauty, Thy Name is Loathsomeness

In the wake of Lehi's lengthy demise, his family members are left with an important decision--do they follow the arrogant prick Nephi who's always telling everybody what to do, or do they follow the conniving Laman and Lemuel, who have recently and repeatedly attempted fratricide?  Sadly, but not unexpectedly, the fledgling American civilization splits into two factions.

Nephi Sets a Dangerous Precedent
It appears that the first tradition Nephi's half of the civilization inherits is his awful naming convention.  When Nephi and his righteous followers pack up and leave, they call themselves "The People of Nephi."  And when they find a new place to live, they decide to name that place--you guessed it--"Nephi."

This means that the people of Nephi live in Nephi while their leader, Nephi, makes a record of their civilization on two sets of plates, one called the Plates of Nephi and the other called the Plates of Nephi.  It's a miracle that when the Europeans moved onto the continent centuries later they didn't discover a civilization of millions of men named "Nephi."

Nephi Shows More Humility
In verse 18, Nephi mentions that this new society wanted him to be their king.  He, of course, in his infinite humility, declined.  

Nephi wasn't their king.  They only named themselves (verse 9) and their homeland (verse 8) after him, and he only taught them to build things (verse 15), took credit for things that he surely must have required their help to accomplish (verse 16), made sure they were well-armed (verse 14) and made sure they kept busy (verse 17).  But it's not like he was in charge or anything.  He was way too righteous and non-manipulative to want anything like power.  

The Book of Mormon is RACIST
Something I hadn't noticed before (or more likely had ignored and quickly read past) was the reason given for God's curse of dark skin upon the Evil Lamanites.  As stated in verse 21:
And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity.  For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.
It looks like God wasn't too keen on his righteous clan getting it on with the unrighteous clan, so...he made their skin darker?  I can totally see why.  There's just something so...unenticing about dark skin:

Halle Berry—Bond girl, sex symbol

Beyonce Knowles—People magazine's most beautiful woman of 2012
Gabrielle Union—a personal favorite

And I can totally understand why, in verse 23, God warns the righteous (AKA "white and delightsome") people not to intermarry with  the unrighteous (AKA "dark and loathsome") people.  I mean, look what kind of monstrosity that could create:
Alicia Keys.  Your argument is invalid.
So it seems that, either God sucks at his job or perhaps Joseph Smith wrote a few of his own prejudices into the Book of Mormon.  Considering the popular concept of God includes things like omnipotence and infallibility, I think it's probably safe to say the Book of Mormon is just plain racist.


  1. Nephi was like a Superman. Check out verses 15-16.

    And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance.

    And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine. (2 Ne. 5:15–16)

    Nephi built a temple like Solomon's Temple. 1 Kings 5:13-16 says that Solomon had 183,300 workers building his temple, and it took over 7 years to build. Even if his Temple were built to 1/10 scale, and Nephi exaggerated as the the quality of the workmanship, you would think it would still take hundreds of workers several years to build. Nephi did it with just a handful of men, probably less than a dozen available at that time, and they would have been constantly interrupted in their work to go to war.

    1. There's a simple explanation here--Nephi was THAT MUCH MORE righteous than Solomon that God allowed him to build faster.

      It's not because somebody's just making stuff up.

  2. You're right about the Book of Mormon being racist. The "white and delightsome" stuff is crap as is the statements about mixed race. I just Googled each of these women. All four of them are of mixed race, and they are all lovely and beautiful. Halle Berry's mom as well as Alicia Keys mom are both white. Beyonce's mom is a mix of French, Native American, and African American. Gabrielle Union is part Filipino.

    Another interesting fact is that W.W. Phelps wrote down a statement by Joseph Smith that the Lord wanted Mormon men to intermarry with Native American women. "For it is my will, that in time, ye should take unto you wives of the Lamanites and Nephites, that their posterity may become white and delightsome..."

    1. Interesting. I didn't know about that. Is that in some kind of journal or did that statement make it to a published book?

  3. I have not seen the actual source.

    Here's a link to a Sunstone article with the revelation reprinted in it. It's on page 64, verse 4. This is the November-December issue from 1981.

    You may also be interested in the Gay Rights article on page 59.

    1. Thanks for finding that. I guess I was wondering if the context of Phelps' quote would have made the meaning more open to interpretation, but it looks pretty straightforward.

      The gay rights article was a nice little reminder of how slow progress has been. And I got a kick out of the article on censorship at BYU!