Interracial marriage still not OK for LDS either…?

Apparently not according to this year’s Aaronic Priesthood manual. Here’s a quote from Aaronic Priesthood Manual 3, Lesson 31:

“We recommend that people marry those who are of the same racial background generally, and of somewhat the same economic and social and educational background (some of those are not an absolute necessity, but preferred), and above all, the same religious background, without question” (“Marriage and Divorce,” in 1976 Devotional Speeches of the Year [Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1977], p. 144).

On the bright side, it looks like it isn’t just the Young Women who get lessons like the one BiV’s daughters got.


C. L. Hanson is the friendly Swiss-French-American ExMormon atheist mom living in Switzerland! Follow me on mastadon at or see "letters from a broad" for further adventures!!

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65 Responses

  1. T&A says:

    Big surprise here! (Not really)

  2. Wayne says:

    Wow! I always thought it was just my own deep seated lower class mentality that made me biased. But it was institutionalized? hmmmm…

    The race thing does not surprise me, when my sister married my father commented that she should marry a member of her race; my comment to him was that my brother in law is also human.

  3. To be fair, I think these factors should be taken into consideration when deciding to get married. Marriage is hard enough without having such socioeconomic differences. In this case, race is mostly a placeholder for different cultures. An interracial couple still faces external bigotry in many communities, but if I had to guess, the big difficulty is usually in the cultural differences that those different races imply.

    However, I obviously don’t think it’s wrong to marry someone significantly different than yourself, it’s just riskier. Marriages would be more stable if people didn’t believe that love could conquer all.

  4. Katie says:

    To be fair, it would be necessary to include the rest of the quote – the part where he explains why he thinks this. (Jonathan, comment #3, sums it up)

  5. Wayne says:

    Granted, cultural differences do exist, however when you are talking about a black Utah Mormon marrying a white Utah Mormon; those differences are minuscule compared with say: a couple consisting of a North American woman marrying a South American man.

  6. Stephanie says:

    I’m surprised that it mentioned education. I would have thought that they would specify that it’s okay if the man has more education than the woman, but not the other way around.

  7. chanson says:

    To be fair, it would be necessary to include the rest of the quote – the part where he explains why he thinks this. (Jonathan, comment #3, sums it up)

    I linked to the lesson from the manual. I assume that anyone familiar with the Internet who wants more context will know to follow the link. 😉

    Jonathan — I agree that people should be go into this with open eyes and not imagine their marriage will be free of obstacles. Yet, really, this is true of any marriage. And — as someone who is married to someone from another culture — I can tell you that it doesn’t take long before you start to “get” the other culture and it starts to seem normal.

    Now, you may say “French culture isn’t that different from American culture.” I say: Au contraire !, see my posts on France. You may point out that my husband and I are both white. And yes, that makes a big difference because it means that when we got married we didn’t get a single (supposedly well-meaning) nay-sayer telling us how we should be wary of marrying someone from a different culture. Such excuses form a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy as one’s community feels justified in not supporting the couple (like that thing about how gay people shouldn’t raise children because others will ostracize the children).

    Geneticists have shown that marrying into another culture is a common and long-standing tradition that dates from humanity’s earliest roots, see Genes, Peoples, and Languages, by Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza.

    And in cultures with a high degree of racial integration, interracial couples typically represent a sizeable percentage of the total number of families, as was the case at my kids’ old school in Bordeaux. This increases the family’s support system and corresponding chances of success.

    Allow me to close with one of my favorite proverbs: “Those who say it can’t be done should stay out of the way of those who are doing it.”

  8. chanson says:

    p.s. The religion part may well be a horse of a different color, in part because of the question of shared values and priorities, see “He has his faults, such as being a perverted-democrat-atheist, but…

  9. JohnR says:

    Even understanding the full context of the quote, my immediate reaction (and my partner’s, when I read it to her), was WTF?!? And I’m not the swearing type.

    I am the product of an interracial, intercultural, international marriage. My dad was a white boy from Kansas who enlisted in the Navy and my mom was a Japanese girl who had just graduated from high school. When they met, they barely spoke one another’s languages, but now my mom swears as good as any English-speaking sailor (pardoning their French) and my dad continues his life-long japanophilia.

    I grew up fluent in two languages and with a deep appreciation of my dual culutral heritage. I am well positioned to thrive in an increasingly global economy and culture–something the church took advantage of when they sent me on a mission to Japan. My parents’ marriage made my life richer, not poorer.

  10. dpc says:

    I’m in an interracial marriage and cultural differences can lead to some problems that would not otherwise be there. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being cognizant of potential problems. It’s always better to go into marriage with your eyes wide open (and half shut afterwards).

    On a different note, I’ve also heard that the speaker gave a similar talk as this around the same time period in Hawaii (where every marriage seems to be interracial to some degree!) and it didn’t go over so well.

  11. chanson says:

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with being cognizant of potential problems. It’s always better to go into marriage with your eyes wide open (and half shut afterwards).

    I agree, but the lesson doesn’t just say to be aware of potential problems, it actively recommends that you shouldn’t even try — just marry someone of your own race and culture.

    Personally, I don’t know of any marriages where the two partners have no difficulty understanding one another’s perspective. At least cultural differences are a big obvious thing, so the resulting problems are easier to pinpoint (hence solve).

    Additionally, I’d like to echo what John R. said about the advantages of a bi-cultural family. In our modern, global world, the kids reap a huge benefit from being brought up in more than one culture. Not only are they able to navigate the two cultures they’ve learned, but they also have a good idea from a very early age of how cultures can differ from one another.

    So, from my perspective, I think the lesson should say “a mixed-culture marriage is hard but worth the effort” rather than “a mixed-culture marriage is hard so it’s better not to even try.”

    It reminds me of Homer’s wise words:

    “If something’s hard, it’s not worth doing. Now let’s go inside and watch T.V.”
    “What’s on?”
    “It doesn’t matter.”

  12. Seth R. says:

    The problem is, there’s what whoever wrote this Priesthood manual passage MEANT – which is probably relatively benign, and what the listeners are going to HEAR – which is much more damaging.

    Common sense says that any benign or commonsense read of this passage is going to be lost due to the modern cultural sensibilities of the audience and the wider surrounding culture.

    Best to remove the passage altogether. It just causes problems.

  13. chanson says:

    The problem is, there’s what whoever wrote this Priesthood manual passage MEANT – which is probably relatively benign, and what the listeners are going to HEAR – which is much more damaging.

    The thing is that it’s actually a quote from a devotional by President Kimball from before the priesthood ban was lifted. That’s all the more reason to avoid re-quoting it in 2008 — I had assumed that the LDS understanding of race has officially changed since then.

  14. Stephanie says:

    Re:7, that was one of the things that was most surprising to me as a 19 year-old who had never left North America before and threw herself right into France. Although the native French were the same colour as me, they definitely did not share my culture. Call me naive, but I wasn’t expecting it. Contrast this with my experience with a friend from high school who was 2nd generation Chinese Canadian. Most of the time I actually forgot she was Chinese, because from a cultural perspective, there was nothing Chinese about her. So the quote from the original quote is quite silly…

  15. Guy Noir, Private Eye says:

    these types of statements are maginfied-amplified by the (general) history that many ppl have been heavy-handed in zealously carrying out what (as they ‘thought’) church doctrine was.
    the LDS culture has been ‘undeniably’ ethno-centric, esp. in the IMW.
    The rest of the context of this & things like it is that the LDS leaders haven’t ever drawn a line around cultural beliefs/policies-practices; they treat it all as though it’s doctrine.
    Divorce stats may be informative as to marriage durability & cross-culture.

  16. chanson says:

    Although the native French were the same colour as me, they definitely did not share my culture. Call me naive, but I wasn’t expecting it. Contrast this with my experience with a friend from high school who was 2nd generation Chinese Canadian. Most of the time I actually forgot she was Chinese, because from a cultural perspective, there was nothing Chinese about her.

    This is a good point. It’s very possible for two people to be of different races and still be of the same culture. DPC’s Hawaii example may fit this same model.

  17. Elaine says:

    Ah, but JohnR, that makes the assumption that the Mormon church hierarchy wants peoples’ lives to be richer, when as far as I can see (and this comes from my own experience, so YMMV) the church wants its members’ lives to be as provincial as possible.

    I never went on a mission, but when I traveled to England in the early 1980s to visit friends, I had more than one Mormon warn me about the dangers of leaving the country, and many urged me (with straight faces, mind you) to watch out for the communists and socialists who would try to kidnap and brainwash me.

    You can bet I had fun when I got back telling them about the friend of my friends I was visiting, who appointed himself my tour guide for several days and who was a Quaker and a Socialist.

  18. Seth R. says:

    You get away from Mormon culture, you just trade one brand of stupidity for another. No one else in America is particularly more bright, or open-minded about things overall in my experience. They just practice a different variety of close-mindedness.

  19. markii says:

    i am a product of an interracial marriage. my bishop warned me not to marry my girlfriend at the time, a very attractive girl from s. america. i’ve read what b. young and others have said about interracial marriages but my bishop simply said, “when you say ‘i love you’ in her language (or vice versa), the meaning is not fully there, since it’s not in it’s native tongue.”

    this line of logic luckily did not override my hormones. i did not adhere to my bishops plea- we got married and we have a great marriage, now 4 years into it.

    i can see some things where i would have been grateful for american-born understanding of some issues in our marriage, but also i see other positive things in our marriage that solely come from another culture foreign from my own.

    inter-racial marriages may be difficult at times, and it may be more rewarding at times, but all i know is that my bishop has been profoundly wrong so far. i feel fortunate that i did not listen to his authoritative warnings at the time and i have enjoyed an interesting, spicy, multi-cultural relationship with my wife and young family. i wouldn’t trade it for mere cultural familiarity.

  20. Seth R. says:

    When is a bishop’s advice authoritative and when is it just something you should consider?

  21. Hellmut says:

    You get away from Mormon culture, you just trade one brand of stupidity for another. No one else in America is particularly more bright, or open-minded about things overall in my experience. They just practice a different variety of close-mindedness.

    I agree with that on some level. The problem in Mormon culture is that we cannot discuss our differences openly. You can get punished for speech crimes. Therefore, it is less likely in Mormon culture to discover our errors, which explains to some degree why bigotry remains legitimate in our culture much longer than in mainstream America.

  22. Hellmut says:

    Any advice should only be authoritative if the advisor is actually qualified in the subject area. Relying on ecclesiastical authorities for marriage and family counseling can be dangerous since most Bishops receive neither training nor education in that field.
    We need to be more self-reliant instead of burdening priesthood officers with expectations that they cannot possibly meet. It’s up to us to figure out what’s best for us.

  23. profxm says:

    You get away from Mormon culture, you just trade one brand of stupidity for another. No one else in America is particularly more bright, or open-minded about things overall in my experience. They just practice a different variety of close-mindedness.

    Statistical data doesn’t bare this out. Hunsberger and Altemeyer’s book “Atheists” indicates that atheists are, in fact, quite dogmatic. But agnostics and liberal Christians are actually not very dogmatic at all. And none of these groups even comes close to religious fundamentalists. If you want to speak in generalities, Mormons are closer to fundamentalists (on the whole) than they are to moderate or liberal Christians (there are, of course, exceptions). While I don’t have data on Mormon dogmatism compared to agnostics specifically, my hunch would be that Mormons are far more dogmatic than agnostics, and just more dogmatic than moderate and liberal Christians and atheists.

    Also, claiming “others are equally dogmatic” doesn’t make it right, even if it were true. This is both a logical fallacy and immoral. Michael Shermer argues that Holocaust deniers use this approach to soften the actions of the perpetrators of the Holocaust. They figure that if they can claim that the Nazi’s actions against the Jews can be compared to the indiscriminate bombing of German cities by the Allies, then the actions don’t seem as bad. While the actions are not actually comparable in the case of Nazi genocide and Allied bombing, it still doesn’t make either action morally right. The same is true of dogmatic prejudice and discrimination. Just because 24% of people in the US wouldn’t vote for a Mormon for president doesn’t mean Mormons are justified in discouraging inter-racial/inter-cultural marriage.

  24. Steve EM says:

    Good post. How unfortunate that 1976 BKP bowl skid mark can make it into a 2008 youth manual. Obviously that racist crap still flouts around the COB, sad.

  25. aerin says:

    Just have second chanson’s comment #11 that most marriage participants/life partners do occasionally have difficulty understanding the other person’s perspective. I’ve never met any couples that didn’t occasionally differ – even if it’s just in political perspective.

    And it’s hard to tell exactly which culture a person comes from. Initially, it would appear that I am from more of a midwestern/suburban culture, and my husband was raised in a small rural midwestern town. But when you go one generation back, we both have those rural roots.

    I also agree that children raised by bi-cultural parents could benefit greatly. I think mutual respect and dialogue are the key.

  26. Guy Noir Private Eye says:

    they should add a verse to the “Hie to Kolob” song….:

    “There is no end to church micro-management…”

  27. db2011 says:

    I am currently a very conflicted Mormon. I am Black, not Black American, but still Black. I will say that our generation of X and Y are not as racist as that of our parents, but we are still guilty when we allow them to tell us who to marry. I have two refined and very ambitious Black friends who had to call off their engagements because the Mormon in-laws told their sons they would cut their education or familial ties if they proceeded. What is sickening is that these dads are probably Bishops and Stake Presidents somewhere. I am not married, nor I have I experienced any prejudice to this degree, but I have had boyfriends ask me if I want to talk about what it means to have interracial children. The church has such a racist history that no matter how much I love the gospel it’s hard to keep going. I can tell you I have dated 8 guys and only one of them was black; race has nothing to do with synergy. Consider whether a spouse will be faithful and kind instead of the trivial concerns of our very racist parents.

  28. Alan says:

    The church has such a racist history that no matter how much I love the gospel its hard to keep going.

    There’s an ideal church that a lot of people want — one that’s not racist, not homophobic, not sexist — but there’s also the church that is. It’s hard to tell which one is the “true” church — the ideal one or the real one.

  29. db2011 says:

    The ideal church of course doesn’t exist because men who are not ideal are the administrators. I just think that people called of God through revelation should be less ignorant than the rest of the world. If it is true that God doesn’t change, then regardless of what the societal norms of the day are, God’s prophets should know better because they are supposedly in direct communication with the God who made us equally. The God in Mormonism seems to reveal a lot of reformed doctrines only when social pressures demand it.

  30. chanson says:

    Coincidentally, there was an interesting talk by Boyd K. Packer mentioned on another thread (hat tip hat tip hat tip). Please read the whole thing, but here’s the relevant part:

    Now, one other subject. It’s been the policy of the Church–and it’s been spoken on many occasions–that as the gathering of Israel is in Mexico for the Mexicans, in Tonga for the Tongans, in China for the Chinese, and so on, so has been our counsel as it relates to marriage.

    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. The counsel has been wise. You may say again, “Well, I know of exceptions.” I do, too, and they’ve been very successful marriages. I know some of them. You might even say, “I can show you local Church leaders or perhaps even general leaders who have married out of their race.” I say, “Yes–exceptions.” Then I would remind you of that Relief Society woman’s near-scriptural statement, “We’d like to follow the rule first, and then we’ll take care of the exceptions.”

    I was with President Kimball once some years ago when, in a small group, he told the story of his courtship and marriage to Camilla Eyring. They only knew one another for a short time. I’m even hesitant to say how short the time was before their marriage. He told of meeting this beautiful young schoolteacher who had come to the community, and in the course of a few weeks they were married. After hearing this, one young man in the group later said, “Well, if President Kimball can find somebody and be sure in that short of a time, I guess I can do that.”

    Someone else replied, “My boy, before you think that applies to you, you ought to be very sure you have the inspiration and power that is present in the beginnings of an apostle.”

    You may not be the exception. We counsel in the Church, for instance, that we ought to be old enough before we marry and we ought to know one another before we’re married. Our courtships ought to be adequate. You may pick out a couple–he was 18 and she was 17 when they married–and see how happy and successful they’ve been. Yes, an exception! 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. This counsel is good, and I hope our branch presidents are listening and paying attention. The counsel is good.

    One problem with the whole “ideal (non-racist) church vs. the real church” is that for some people, the racist church is their ideal church. Some people like having the church tell them that their skin color makes them superior to others and that the “races” need to be kept pure, etc.

    Where are the leaders of the supposed ideal (non-racist) church? Can we see some teachings from them about how/why the earlier teachings against interracial marriage are wrong? I think an ideal non-racist church would go beyond silently refraining from further racist teachings, and would make a clear and bold statement about which of these earlier teachings were, in fact, wrong.

  31. chanson says:

    p.s. I put “race” in quotes because the above BKP quote illustrates how malleable the concept of race can be. So “Mexican” is a race and “Japanese” is a race and “Caucasian” is a race…? I’d be curious to have a list of all the “races” that he thinks shouldn’t be intermarrying…

  32. Chino Blanco says:

    “Utah Mormon”?

  33. chanson says:

    Are you suggesting Utah Mormon should be listed as one of the races? Who knows, maybe that’s one of the categories he had in mind…

  34. kuri says:

    One of the most interesting things about being a Mormon in Japan was finding out how nationalistic (“America is best!” chauvinism) and racist (white supremacist) the members there think American Mormons are. It was an eye-opener. As was being unable to deny the fundamental truth of their view.

  35. dpc says:


    It’s always great to see non-Americans’ ethnocentric views validated as ‘fundamental truth’!

  36. kuri says:

    Right. Because American Mormons — and the church as an institution — aren’t at all nationalistic or white supremacist, and Japanese Mormons never face any fallout because of it. It’s all in their ethnocentric heads.

  37. Alan says:

    I was recently reading about the 1967 film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, which came out before Loving v Virginia and is about how a white liberal couple in San Fransisco deals with their white daughter bringing home a black man. The film was surprisingly successful at the time, even in the deep South. We watch the film now and realize that of course the story would have a happy ending, because Sidney Poitier’s character was so “white” that it wouldn’t make sense for the daughter’s parents to not ultimately accept him.

    The truth is, 35 years after BP’s lecture, mixed-raced couples are still a minority — for cultural reasons. They are still an “exception.” But I agree that just because there is an exception doesn’t mean there needs to be a “rule.” It’s not a spiritual leader’s job to ensure loving unions/families come about in a particular matter (whether it’s question of race, culture, language, gender, class), and this is one of the big reasons for me that Mormonism is ridiculous — more so than golden plates and liahonas.

  38. dpc says:

    Of course, we can rely on dogmatic creedal statements or we can look at the research out there as to whether this particular recommendation (I don’t consider it a rule; what ecclesiastical punishment is attached to ignoring it?) could fall under ‘something relevant to consider before getting married’ category. There was study done in 2008 on interracial marriage. Profxm could probably critique it for us and let us know what’s wrong with the study. I’d be interested in what he has to say about it.

    The link is here

    My take on the study is that interracial marriages on whole are more prone to divorce, but it depends on the race/gender of the partners.

    Of course, the easy answer to all this is just say the recommendation is ‘racist’ and that it fits in easily with the meme of Mormonism being inherently racist. I mean who wants to deal with facts and figures and statistics; all they do is interfere with unverifiable metaphysical beliefs. Why bother looking at broader culture and our own inherent racist proclivities when there is such a convenient target elsewhere?

  39. chanson says:

    dpc — So, essentially, you read BKP’s statement that Mexicans should marry Mexicans, etc., and your reaction is to defend it as good advice. That, in itself, is an interesting data point.

    What if it turns out that the reason “that interracial marriages on whole are more prone to divorce” is largely because of the stress because their families and community tend to judge their unions as wrong or inferior rather than support them? Would you still call it good, non-racist advice?

  40. Hellmut says:

    People marry individuals, not averages.

  41. Hellmut says:

    Speaking of statistics, since Americans are more likely to get divorced than people from any other developed nation, you really shouldn’t marry Americans. In fact, the divorce rate would decline to zero if no Americans ever married again.

  42. chanson says:

    p.s. to DPC:

    The study you linked to is quite interesting, and I would like to read it more carefully (and possibly write a post about it, adding to the list of planned posts I’m currently procrastinating). I don’t want to glibly dismiss the increased risk of divorce as irrelevant — it’s not. However, I stand by what I wrote in the earlier comments on this thread (especially around 11): there’s a big difference between telling people to be aware of the challenges they may face vs. telling people they should simply avoid marrying outside of their race.

  43. Alan says:

    For a supposedly more divorce-prone choice, a lot more people are making it these days. Since the 1980s, the rate in which people marry outside their race has nearly doubled.

    Now, I’m sure some folks — the Boyd Packers of the world — would tie the rise in interracial marriage to the rise in divorce rates generally. But 10 years from now there will be a whole new set of folks and new data in an environment in which interracial marriage is not as frowned upon. How much do you want to bet the divorce rates go down?

    depends on the race/gender of the partners.

    Not coincidentally, the race/gender of the partners correlates to the racism and sexism endured by the couple, which can strain the relationship. For example, a white woman partnered with a black or Asian/Pacific Islander man is going to endure a lot more racism/sexism (from her white friends/family and society) for her choice in partner than a white man partnered with a black or Asian/Pacific Islander woman. The details of this have to do with how races get gendered so that there’s an expectation for a certain kind of “man” to pair with a certain kind of “woman” — e.g., Asian men are feminized by white culture so that there’s an assumption that a white woman shouldn’t get with an Asian man; conversely, a white man with an Asian woman is gendered “correctly.”

    That study is all quantitative, bleh. It says a lot, but manages to tell us not much.

  44. chanson says:

    Alan — good points. That’s along the same lines as what I was going to say.

    Plus I have one more point about the interplay of racism and sexism in interracial heterosexual marriages:

    Women’s success is often judged (by themselves and others) by marrying well (as opposed to by their own personal accomplishments). Women get social points for marrying “up” in terms of social class, eg. it shows how very attractive you must be if you were the servant-girl who snagged the prince. Men, OTOH, often get the opposite reaction for marrying “up.” Using your looks and charm to ride on the coattails of a wealthy, successful, or well-connected wife is seen as un-manly. Men often get social points for marrying “down” — it shows you’re extra successful (hence manly) if you can afford to marry a wife of a lower class.

    In a racist society (which all human societies are to some degree, as far as I’ve ever heard), people’s racial prejudices naturally play into this dynamic. In a country where white people are on top (in wealth and power), a white-woman-black-man couple will face more negative social stress than a black-woman-white-man couple.

    It stands to reason that reducing racism and sexism reduces the social stress placed on interracial couples. And as the number of interracial couples increases, the easier it is for each one to succeed. That’s why I don’t think highly of the LDS advice to simply avoid marrying across race lines. It’s a little too much like “We like our racist-sexist system just the way it is, so don’t try to change it.”

  45. dpc says:


    I’m not defending it as good advice. I’m just saying that we should compare the advice to emperically verifiable data before we dismiss it as just more racist drivel. And I don’t know why interracial marriages in America are more prone to divorce. The advice can be interpreted several ways:

    1. Boyd K. Packer was racist because of the Mormon teachings he received growing up and was merely trying to reinforce those racist ideas on a new generation. (I submit that this would be the way this advice would be interpreted by those with antipathy towards the Mormon church)

    2. Boyd K. Packer was speaking under inspiration from heaven; this is revelation and should be interpreted as God’s unchanging will regarding the matter

    3. Boyd K. Packer was speaking under inspiration from heaven; the revelation only applied to those who were in attendance to here it

    4. Boyd K. Packer had a long history of ecclesiastical leadership positions involving young adults, positions in which he encountered couples with marital discord and he noticed that a higher percentage of interracial relationships suffered from marital discord and divorce; he was sharing that insight with the BYU students along with a recommendation that was designed to get them to consider race, class, education, etc. before marriage

    5. Boyd K. Packer had seen studies on marriage and divorce and noted that race, as well as age (he alludes to it in the longer speech), could be factors that were predictive of a greater chance for divorce; he made recommendations on data he had seen.

    6. A combination of any of the preceding reasons, in varying quantities

    7. Another reason not listed here.

    Any of these are plausible, but if you read the list and favor one over another, I think you need to have justifiable evidence to believe it. It looks at though you may have deemed that #1 was the reason, but I see that as a result of your bias towards the Mormon church rather than an articulation of all available data.

    You and Alan have some interesting hypotheses, but I’m not sure that it fits the facts. A white woman marrying a hispanic male could be “marrying down” and yet the study found that such relationships were not at a greater risk of divorce. How do your theories account for that? I could list some non-race related factors, such as hispanics are typically Catholic and the Catholic church frowns on divorce. But the moment you bring in non-race related reasons for divorce in interracial couples, you start to chop at your own idea of “racism leads to divorce in interracial couples.”

    I would really be interested in seeing data from other places (like Brazil or Hawaii) where there has been far greater racial intermarriage. I’m not sure that I agree with your idea that less racism and sexism will lead to less divorce in interracial couples. I see it more as culture clash rather than a race/gender issue. But I would need to see more data before I could commit to any theory

  46. dpc says:


    People have a tendency to over-estimate their chances of success. It may wrong to look at a couple and say “They’re interracial, therefore this particular couple is
    more likely to get divorced than a intraracial couple.” But I also think it’s foolhardy to say, “I don’t need to worry about race, culture, educational background, family dynamics, etc. because love will get us through anything.” Those getting married should think long and hard about all relevant factors. I don’t think any other decision in life is so life-altering, except perhaps, the decision to have children.

  47. chanson says:

    dpc — I’m not “dismiss[ing] it as just more racist drivel.” Please review my comment #43 where I said:

    I dont want to glibly dismiss the increased risk of divorce as irrelevant

    …and then went on to discuss more constructive ways of responding to the study you linked, especially, well… review comment #11 (as I suggested @43).

  48. Alan says:

    dpc, you’re sidestepping.

    The rate of interracial marriage is increasing because there is less racism/”culture clash” geared toward intermarrying. Conversely, one could therefore say that racism/”culture clash” leads to the relative nonexistence of interracial couples. Thus, Packer’s words are contributing to racism/”culture clash” rather than alleviating it. It’s not a question of divorce; it’s a question of the very existence of the marriages.

    Now of course, I’ve met plenty of people who date and marry in their race simply because “that’s who they’re attracted to.” The relationship between societal racism and personal attraction is complex, and another topic. But I think it’s rather sad how you can’t see how Packer’s “counsel” is racist.

    Maybe if I juxtapose it to mixed-orientation marriages, you’ll see the racism better:

    Packer says:

    An exception! For every exception we can show you tens and hundreds, and I suppose thousands, who were not happy.

    Here he’s talking about interracial marriages, but he might as well be talking about mixed-orientation ones. For every happy one, there are hundreds of unhappy ones.

    But you don’t see Packer saying, “Down with mixed-orientation marriages. Plan to marry within your orientation!” In that case, you actually would hear him pedestal the exception. So it’s very clear that for race and gender dynamics in marriage, Packer (and the Church generally) are interested in maintaining white heteronormativity. The question of divorce is secondary, since as I said, more people are marrying interracially these days, and their marriages are just fine.

    The fact that you can point to Brazil and Hawaii as examples of places where there is high interracial marriage, because there is high racial intermingling should let you conclude how racist Packer is acting. The fact that you don’t is a logical fallacy known as “slothful induction.” I would say it’s your bias toward maintaining ecclesiastical/divine authority for church leaders that leads to your sloth in rightfully criticizing them. FYI, it only makes you look bad, because you’re basically strapping yourself to Packer’s racism.

  49. dpc says:


    I think you make a very good point. A mixed-raced marriage is more difficult, but the payoff is probably greater. (Fingers crossed!!) You and I might be more risk-willing with regard to interracial marriage, but given the importance of marriage to Mormon theology, a risk-averse stance might not be evidence of any particular bias. Please note that President Packer alludes to people marrying in their teens and having a successful marriage as an exception rather than a rule. Is he being age-ist? And for the record, I think it’s good advice to tell young people not to get married to young.


    I’m not sure where you get the idea that I said President Packer’s statement wasn’t racist. All I said was that I didn’t think it was *necessarily* racist.
    As far as mixed-orientation marriage, I can’t speculate as to what President Packer would say. And even if we assume what you say is true, the fact that President Packer may be a homophobe in no way means that he is racist as well.

    “The question of divorce is secondary, since as I said, more people are marrying interracially these days, and their marriages are just fine.”

    Where’s your data to back this up? The study I linked to above was published in 2008, so I would say that the data is current.

    As far as your charge of slothful induction is concerned, I propose the following test:

    1) revisit the evidence and point to the strength of the inference. 2) If there are additional sources of evidence that can be brought to bear, one should do so and mount a cumulative case for the conclusion. 3) To ascertain whether it is even worth arguing, ask: “If this evidence does not persuade you, what would constitute sufficient evidence to change your mind?”

    What evidence have you provided that Boyd K. Packer is a racist besides the two quotes above? If he is so racist as you claim, why was he an advisor to the Genesis Group? If two quotes are sufficient evidence for you, that’s fine. I could just as easily accuse you of hasty generalization. I just like to know more before I make an adverse determination on someone’s character. And I couldn’t care a less who that person is or what their position in society is.

  1. March 6, 2011

    […] The Bible Belt is giving iBear his dose of culture shock, and the Narrator has found that the counsel against interracial marriage in the Aaronic priesthood manual is still there in the latest edition (in case you needed more reasons not to be […]

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