Originally Posted by Just_A_Guy
In this case, we do have Brigham Young specifically invoking his prophetic authority at one point and saying in the name of Jesus Christ that yes, this policy came from the Lord. We have at least two sources saying that David O. McKay specifically requested permission to lift the ban, and that that permission was denied. We have anonymous stories (via former Church Historian Leonard Arrington) that Harold B. Lee made a similar request, with the same results. Under the weight of that evidence, I have a real problem blithely saying that the Lord had no hand in the policy.
"Our speculations as to the reason(s) (for the priesthood ban) have been essentially worthless, and sometimes harmful," Daniel C. Peterson wrote. "God has not seen fit to explain why he commanded or at least permitted the denial of priesthood to blacks.
"We certainly don't know that God withheld the priesthood from blacks in order to protect them, or because they weren't 'ready' for it, or because it 'benefited' them to be denied access to the temple or opportunities to serve missions, and the like," he continued. "We just don't know. And if we ever learn the reason, that knowledge will come through the Lord's chosen prophets and apostles, not through BYU professors like me."
Peterson's position is in line with statements made by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve in a March 2006 interview with Helen Whitney of PBS. During the interview, Elder Holland referred to speculations — including those by early church leaders — about the reasons why blacks could not hold the LDS priesthood for a period of time as "folklore" that "must never be perpetuated."
"All I can say is, however well-intentioned the explanations were, I think almost all of them were inadequate and/or wrong," Elder Holland said. "It would have been advantageous to say nothing, to say we just don't know, and, (as) with many religious matters, whatever was being done was done on the basis of faith at that time ... We simply don't know why that practice, that policy, that doctrine was in place."
Recently, the Church has also made the following statement on this subject: "The origins of priesthood availability are not entirely clear. Some explanations with respect to this matter were made in the absence of direct revelation and references to these explanations are sometimes cited in publications. These previous personal statements do not represent Church doctrine."
Deseret News, LDS Church condemns past racism 'inside and outside the church', Feb 29, 2012