It occurred to me that didn’t address a particularly important point that Andrew Sullivan raised in his post responding to our Washington Post piece.
Sullivan says, “Mormonism, in contrast, is always seeking expansion, converts and new missions and if these new markets for their religion reject some aspects of it, the doctrines are changed in a process of continued revelation. Hence the evaporation of the racial doctrines as the LDS church was expanding into South America and Africa.”
I can understand why some would view lifting the ban preventing males of African descent from holding the priesthood as a cynical ploy to gain converts. I don’t see it like that, of course, but I get why others would.
That said, it’s important to consider this point: if the LDS Church were in the business of optimizing its beliefs and practices for the purpose of gaining converts, it would look much, much different than it does today. If were just interested in converts and their money, why would the bar be so high to join and stay? Why would we hold to difficult and controversial practices and ideas like, for example, the Word of Wisdom?
I’ve been a missionary. Getting people to give up smoking and drinking alcohol and coffee is a tough, tough, tough sell. And it would be relatively easy to give it up, as the World of Wisdom isn’t viewed as an eternal principle. So if the guys running things in SLC wanted more people, why not get rid of all the massive barriers to entry?