I was thinking today about cursings and marks in scripture. I think it’s a productive reading to assume that those two things go together but are not equivalent. For example, the Lamanites are cursed not with a skin change but with being cut off from the presence of the the Lord. The mark of skin change sets them off as separate from the Nephites. But this isn’t actually to the Nephite’s advantage in the end. The mark shows that the Lamanites have the blessings of God in the long run, because they weren’t taught about the commandments by their fathers, while the Nephites, without that mark, have no such promises because they did know the commandments. The Lamanites will eventually be restored to the presence of God, but the Nephites don’t have that promise in the long-term.
If the curse and the mark are seen two different things, then the mark seems to serve to preserve a people whose parents had a covenant promise. It shows that God is keeping that promise in the long-run by preserving that seed, even though somewhere along the way someone decided to stop keeping and teaching the commandments. The fact that the mark is something genetic is a great clue here: the mark shows that their parents had a promise but misunderstood or left that promise, but that God is still remembering their seed regardless. The Lamanite’s skin color ought not to signal to the Nephites, or to us, that they are an “unfavored” people, but rather a very “favored” and “remembered” people of the Lord! I think this applies clearly to the Lamanites, but also to other people in scripture. I think that the families of Cain, Ham, and others fall into this category.
This morning I was thinking about Adam and Eve. They were cursed too to be cut off from the presence of the Lord, like the Lamanites. Do they have some sort of mark as well? I have played around with the idea that maybe the “coats of skins” (or garments) is a sort of mark. This morning I’m thinking more about that. (Or would the aprons of fig leaves that they make for themselves are more of a mark?) By looking at Genesis 3, I see that God curses the ground for Adam’s sake, that Eve is told she will sorrow too, and these are collectively sometimes called their “cursings” (although I think there is a lot to talk about still there). But if we go with that for now, at least in a broad sense, or if we at least see this as the moment of them being cut of from the presence of the Lord, then I find it cool that right after this is where God make them coats of skins. Perhaps those are a “mark” on their bodies? I know not all of Adam’s children have worn these coats of skins if we think of them as the temple garments, but perhaps we could read it as clothes generally? If a “mark” communicates that God is preserving a people with a covenant, even though their parents have not always kept the commandments, what in that garment communicates that God is preserving people? (I think there are interesting answers to that question for those who have been to the temple!).
There’s a lot to think about (as always) but I like the idea that the garment is a mark showing that God remembers Adam and Eve’s family, and wants them to return to His presence.