What a nice enigmatic title! This post contains a lot of thoughts but they aren’t developed enough for me to want this post to be found just yet, so I made a nice hard to understand title. A summary of the post would go like this: “The reason that there is some sort of mark is to separate them and thereby prolong their days long enough so that the curse can be lifted. Like Adam and Eve, God prolongs days to allow for change. A curse and a mark go together to show the rest of the world that their curse is not their fault but rather the fault of the parents. God intends these curses (of being cut off from God, of being cut off from Priesthood, etc.) to be lifted someday.”
Here are the details:
38 And Cain said unto the Lord: Satan tempted me because of my brother’s flocks. And I was wroth also; for his offering thou didst accept and not mine; my punishment is greater than I can bear.
39 Behold thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the Lord, and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that he that findeth me will slay me, because of mine iniquities, for these things are not hid from the Lord.
40 And I the Lord said unto him: Whosoever slayeth thee, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And I the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.
41 And Cain was shut out from the presence of the Lord, and with his wife and many of his brethren dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.
Note here that two things happen to Cain: 1) he is shut out from the Lord – the consequence of his action does happen. But 2) he won’t die, and therefore he has posterity. Remember, if I am at all right about things, God makes a covenant with people that their seed won’t be utterly destroyed and they will have seed alive at the second coming. It seems that Cain was supposed to have this promise, along with being a righteous heir of the priesthood. He didn’t follow through, so Abel got the job, and then when Cain killed him, the position went to Seth (see Moses 6:2). But, it appears to me that Cain still gets the promise of never-ending seed. Why not let Cain die? I don’t know! But God sets a mark on him (I don’t see where that mark is described ever) so that no one will kill him. God is okay with that. Cain is worried, God pacifies that worry. Why? Moses 6 goes on to describe his family after that. Was Cain promised never-ending posterity before his sin, and God still honors that promise?
This is from 2 Nephi 4:
3 Wherefore, after my father had made an end of speaking concerning the prophecies of Joseph, he called the children of Laman, his sons, and his daughters, and said unto them: Behold, my sons, and my daughters, who are the sons and the daughters of my firstborn, I would that ye should give ear unto my words.
4 For the Lord God hath said that: Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land; and inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence.
5 But behold, my sons and my daughters, I cannot go down to my grave save I should leave a blessing upon you; for behold, I know that if ye are brought up in the way ye should go ye will not depart from it.
6 Wherefore, if ye are cursed, behold, I leave my blessing upon you, that the cursing may be taken from you and be answered upon the heads of your parents.
7 Wherefore, because of my blessing the Lord God will not suffer that ye shall perish; wherefore, he will be merciful unto you and unto your seed forever.
And this from 2 Nephi 5:
20 Wherefore, 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.
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.
22 And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.
Okay, note the similarities and differences here between the Lamanites and Cain. First, in both cases, they were cut off from the presence of the Lord. That is the first and really only punishment going on in both cases. Second, in both cases, there is a mark. Is that the cursing? In both cases, it doesn’t seem that the mark is a cursing, it seems that the mark serves another purpose. In the first case, with Cain, it is a protection against death. In the second case, the Lamanities, it is a protection (for the Nephites) against marriage. In both cases, the marks serve to separate a person or people from another group.
Note that Lehi calls on God to put the curse, if there is one, on the heads of the parents Laman and Lemuel. If the blackness of skin was the curse itself, then Lehi’s request would have failed. The change of skin color continued on through generations. I think this is good enough reason to separate out the “curse” from the mark. The “curse” was being cut off from the presence of the Lord and left without God’s assistance. As pointed out by Jacob, Alma, and even Samuel the Lamanite, God has promised to keep an eye on the Lamanites even though their first parents rebelled. This is from Helaman 15:
12 Yea, I say unto you, that in the latter times the promises of the Lord have been extended to our brethren, the Lamanites; and notwithstanding the many afflictions which they shall have, and notwithstanding they shall be driven to and fro upon the face of the earth, and be hunted, and shall be smitten and scattered abroad, having no place for refuge, the Lord shall be merciful unto them.
13 And this is according to the prophecy, that they shall again be brought to the true knowledge, which is the knowledge of their Redeemer, and their great and true shepherd, and be numbered among his sheep.
So, to summarize what I’m trying to get at here, it seems to me that the curse of being cut off from God applied to Laman and Lemuel, but the children that grow up after them aren’t cursed. Do they still live in a situation without God? Yes, but it isn’t their fault, there isn’t a curse on them. This means that God keeps an eye on them and wants to restore them, and, also, he won’t utterly destroy them. Like Cain, there is a mark separating them out from the larger group. While this mark originally came at the time of sin and cursing, it itself is not the curse. It is a sign that the parent or ancestor of that group has sinned and taken this family away from the true commandments. But, as it also separates them from the larger group that receives more spiritual gifts and information, and is thus held to a higher standard, it also seems to signal that they won’t be utterly destroyed.
Adam and Eve, and thus the whole human family, are in the same boat. This is from 2 Nephi 2:
21 And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents.
So, here are the similarities as I see them. 1) Adam and Eve were cut off from God. 2) God had promised death, but he wants to give them a chance to repent so the “days … were prolonged.” And 3) the state of being cut off from God continued with their kids even though it was the fault of their parents.
See how this is similar to the Lamanites? 1) Laman and Lemuel were cut off from God. 2) God doesn’t want to utterly destroy them, so he prolongs their days perhaps specifically by marking their skin so they stay away from Nephites (who, if they rebel, are utterly destroyed). And 3) the children – all the Lamanites – are also in a state of being cut off from God even though it is the fault of their parents Laman and Lemuel.
The way that God “prolongs” the life of the Lamanite people is to place a change of skin color on them, which separates them from the Nephites, and allows the children to be taught by Laman and Lemuel, and those teachings to be passed on and on and on by tradition. By this act, God allows the Lamanites to now be in a state of being “cut off” that is no longer their fault, and he can work to redeem them. He promises never to utterly destroy them, and they become a remnant which fulfills promises made to Abraham and Joseph. Lehi’s son Joseph is also promised that his seed will remain, but it seems to be that his seed has to mingle with the Lamanites in the end to survive the last war and make it until the Restoration. In other words, in order to be a fulfillment of prophecy, and be a righteous remnant in the end, they have to do what 2 Nephi 5 warned Nephi not to do at the beginning: “And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing.” But perhaps to survive, they needed that curse (being cut off from God?) so they could make it past the last war and on through the years until the Restoration.
Just a few thoughts, of course.
But I think there is something to the idea that God wants to preserve peoples, and in some cases the best way to do that is to do something that marks them as separate or different. I’m also thinking of Abraham 1:
21 Now this king of Egypt was a descendant from the loins of Ham, and was a partaker of the blood of the Canaanites by birth.
22 From this descent sprang all the Egyptians, and thus the blood of the Canaanites was preserved in the land.
Why did the blood of the Canaanites need to be preserved? What’s going on with the Canaanites? I need to read more, but if nothing else, it sounds all over again like God is wanting to preserve posterity. I think it’s something to pay attention to!
Okay one more. Notice that Ham is cursed and it carries to his children? “Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood. Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood…” (Abraham 1:26-27). This “curse” continues to the kids, just like Laman and Lemuel’s curse, or Adam and Eve’s being cut off from the garden. Does Ham also have a black skin – does this really connect the African Americans to Ham and therefore became the justification for the priesthood ban? (rightly or not)? Anyway, even if he does and even if they are his descendants, then it seems to me that perhaps the curse did continue — but, like Adam and Eve, Cain, Laman and Lemuel, etc., these curses are meant to be lifted at some point. The reason that there is some sort of mark is to prolong their days long enough so that the curse can be lifted. A curse and a mark go together to show the rest of the world that their curse is not their fault and that the curse (of being cut off from God, of being cut off from Priesthood, etc.) will be lifted someday when they learn about God’s commandments and repent.
And what would our “mark” be, of being children of Adam and Eve? Perhaps wearing clothing??
Well, such are my wild speculations for the morning. I think there is something in there but I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me!!!