The biblical way of treating bones
The Royal Black asks: “Where in the Bible is this condemned (the usage of human remains in its secret ceremonies)?” This they say “is a question that needs to be answered by those who condemn its practice.” They confidently present this challenge as if the use of relics by the Black is decreed in Holy Writ, or that it can at very least find some sanction for them in God’s Word. We feel we have furnished the reader with several clear passages in Scripture which forbid this Black ordinance, and none more so than 1 Corinthians 10:19-22. However, we will go further to establish God’s pattern for dealing with the remains of the deceased.
First, the mystical initiations performed behind closed doors runs against the prescribed manner of Christian meetings outlined in Scripture for God’s people. Secondly, human remains have always been given a decent burial in the Scriptures. The treatment of the bones of Joseph by his brethren in Scripture (which the Black refers to for validation) is no different from the consistent way of dealing with the deceased throughout the Word. Despite this, the Black Institution presents the story of Joseph as justification for its profanity.
The Black Lecturers Handbook Scriptures – Black Degrees presents Genesis 50 and Joshua 24 as its support for the usage of human skulls in its first degree – including its mystic cup ceremony. However, a close examination of these two texts will demonstrate the respectful way Joseph’s bones were preserved and carried up by his brethren into the land of Israel. Genesis 50:24-26 says, “And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.”
It is clear from this passage that Joseph’s dead body was treated with the utmost respect and was accorded a dignified interment upon his death. Joseph’s brethren certainly respected his bones in a more civilised fashion than the Royal Black Institution does with the countless unknown bones it uses in its secret ceremonies. It seems clear that when Joseph instructed his brethren to convey his bones up to Israel he was simply requesting them to carry his bodily remains to the Promised Land. There is no suggestion that they were instructed to (or in reality did) physically carry his actual bones up into Egypt. The phrase “my bones” that Joseph used related to his earthly remains. This is a common phrase in Scripture to describe the whole lifeless body.
The fact that his body was embalmed and then placed in a coffin – as was the usual custom in Egypt when dealing with the deceased – supports this idea. Joseph would have been fully aware of the preserving effect that embalmment brings to the process of decay in the dead body. Adam Clarke, the biblical commentator, remarks on the conveyance of Joseph’s dead body to Canaan: “Some of the Egyptian coffins being made of granite, and covered all over with hieroglyphics, the cutting of which must have been done at a prodigious expense, both of time and money; the stone being so hard that we have no tools by which we can make any impression on it … Judge, then, at what an expense such a coffin must have been digged, engraved, and transported over the desert from Egypt to Canaan, a distance of three hundred miles! We need not be surprised to hear of carriages and horsemen, a very great company, when such a coffin was to be carried so far, with a suitable company to attend it.” The next time we hear about the bones of Joseph is in Exodus 13:19: “And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you.” There is nothing in this passage to suggest that Moses actually removed Joseph’s remains from his coffin and dis-embalmed his body, and then physically carried his bones through the wilderness. That is not suggested anywhere in the story. Again, it would seem certain that the conveyance of Joseph’s bones related to the carrying up of his embalmed body in the coffin. Any alternative viewpoint enjoys no scriptural backing. Joshua 24:32 records the burial of Joseph at his final resting place, saying, “And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought.” There is nothing in the scriptural story of Joseph in Scripture that would lend credibility to the macabre practices performed by the Black Institution. In fact, the two scriptural passages the Royal Black Preceptory advances to support its behaviour (in the Lecturers Manual) actually expose its crude treatment of human remains. The simple reality was that Joseph just wanted to be buried with his fathers in “the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob” – Canaan. There was no mystical reason for requesting this, nor was there anything strange in his words. Neither was there any hidden ritualistic model created for handling skeleton bones – as the Black does. Whichever way you look at this subject, the ghoulish behaviour of the Black is left exposed as bereft of scriptural teaching and example. The Imperial Grand Black Chapter of England told the United Protestant Council in another paper (29/08/03), “For such a practice to be deemed unscriptural surely one would need to know the context of how it was being used and for what purpose.” The wording of this statement suggests that there are certain circumstances where using human remains in a Christian service is scripturally permitted. Regardless of how carefully you exhume a human skull, or respectfully saw it in two in order to turn the skull-cap into a ceremonial chalice, or how many times you cleanse this human cup for drinking purposes, these actions are blatantly unscriptural as well as being deeply nauseous. The Christian response to the Black must be that there are absolutely no circumstances at all where this behaviour should be found amongst the people of God, nor is this practice allowed anywhere in the Bible. The truth is quite the opposite. Human remains were always afforded a decent burial in the Bible and those who in any way desecrated them were accordingly censured by the Lord. If we take Scripture as our guide and God as our example in all matters, then Scripture exposes the secret grave robbing activities of the Black. We have one clear example in Scripture of a funeral over which God officiated – that of Moses. The way He performed the interment should be a pattern for us as to how we should dispose of human remains. It says in Deuteronomy 34:6, “He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.” This is the expected way to deal with human remains in the Bible. They were buried. They were put out of sight. The countless bones that the Black possess and frequently display in their secret ceremonies should be given the same dignified committal as these burials of old. They should be put back into the earth where they belong, and where they should remain, until the Coming of Christ. In response to the concern of the United Protestant Council in relation to the usage of human remains during Black observances, and particularly their disquiet concerning those to whom the bones belonged, the different Loyal Orders spoke as one on behalf of the Black. One of these, the Apprentice Boys of Derry English Amalgamated Committee, attempted to defend this behaviour. In its defence (26/07/04) it made it clear that there was a broad cross-membership between itself and the Royal Black Institution. It therefore felt confident and qualified to speak up for the Black. It said, “The utilization of human bones and skull – known as ‘The Blackman’s Crest’ – serves to poignantly illustrate the message of man’s mortality and that the Soul lives on in eternity.” The UPC in its rejection of the Black’s application to become a member of this evangelical umbrella group state, “It is certainly true that medieval Catholicism made much use of the human skull as an emblem and reminder of death. However, the usage of the human skull as a memento mori within Christian tradition does not justify its use by an evangelical Protestant society. It is certainly true that there is no explicit Scripture verse that says that a human skull cannot be used to drink from in a Christian rite, but there are good Scriptural grounds for repudiating such a practice.” It emphasises: “Scripture itself is sufficient to teach us the truths that it wishes to convey. The words of Scripture itself telling me that I will die (unless our Lord returns first) are enough. One is implicitly denying the power of the words of Scripture if he believes that it is necessary or indeed helpful to have a physical symbol in addition. It would be quite enough to read people a relevant Scripture passage Hebrews 9:27, for example.” The UPC concludes, “Human remains should be respected. They are the remains of individuals whose bodies will be resurrected by God on the last day. It may be that medical schools can legitimately use such remains in the interest of others. It is not acceptable for theatres to use them. Evangelical Protestants have no business using them even if they do not know to whom they belong. They should be interred – the Lord knows whose bones they are! They are not ours to use as we please.” The question which the Black Preceptory must answer is: where, in Holy Writ, do they suggest that it instructs (or allows) the open use of the earthly remains of the deceased in a Christian service to assist the speaker in presenting his message? Also, in what passage do they believe there is any validation to disinter human bones from the grave, cut them apart and use the skulls as cups for the Black communion? Where does Scripture instruct or permit us to use human bones as aids to teach men of the reality of mortality? Additionally, there are also serious health issues at stake. Under the Old Testament law, the very touching of any part of a corpse (whether flesh or bones) was strongly discouraged and anyone who did so was immediately rendered ceremonially “unclean” by the priest. Numbers 19:16 tells us, “whosoever toucheth one that is slain with a sword in the open fields, or a dead body, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean seven days.” The book of Numbers goes on to show how the Israelite who touched the dead had to go through a careful cleansing process. Numbers 19:17-18 continues, “And for an unclean person they shall take of the ashes of the burnt heifer of purification for sin, and running water shall be put thereto in a vessel: And a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it upon the tent, and upon all the vessels, and upon the persons that were there, and upon him that touched a bone, or one slain, or one dead, or a grave.” It is totally implausible that a righteous God would change His character in this New Testament era and countenance the introduction of human parts as an integral part of Christian worship. It is hard to see how the Black could seriously imagine that God would bless such behaviour. What is more, the only time bodies were not buried in Scripture was in the case of God’s judgment. We can see this in several places in Jeremiah. In each case, the bones were burned as an act of desecration. There can be absolutely no justification for the usage of human bones in any civilised organisation – religious or secular. Such a practice is both spiritually and morally unacceptable. What makes this whole issue especially acute is the fact that we are dealing with a religious organisation which puts the name “Protestant” upon its practices and beliefs, and even pretends to be evangelical. In the light of the evidence before us we have to dismiss such claims. Even Orangeism’s ruling authorities vehemently resisted what they viewed as the ‘heathenish’ encroachments of the various underground Black groupings, from the end of the 18th century right up until the early 20th century. They released many strong statements condemning the many disturbing activities we are exploring. Not only do these practices conflict with Scripture and run contrary to the nature and principles of Protestantism, but they are at variance with the normal standards of decent behaviour expected of ordinary law-abiding members in any community. British law lays out the meaning of indecency. In a stated case R v Stanley (1965), Lord Parker explains that indecency is: “offending against the recognised standards of propriety.” Lord Reid said in Knuller v DPP (1973) that indecency refers to: “anything which an ordinary decent man or woman would find to be shocking, disgusting, or revolting.” If the macabre activities practised by the Black do not meet these aforementioned definitions we wonder what does. The very idea of Blackmen casually and wilfully using the bones of the dead in their meetings without the slightest conscience or concern must trouble most members of the public. The majority, if made aware of this behaviour, would recoil at these secret Black practices. They would be disgusted and revolted at the idea of graveyards being robbed of their dead, skulls being sawn in two and then used as religious objects in ghoulish ceremonial rites. According to Christ, the grave is the place where bodies lie until the resurrection. Christ shows this in John 5:28-29, saying, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” The grave is the time-honoured, and God-ordained, location for dead bodies. How then can the Blackman reconcile these explicit passages which situate human remains in the grave with their widespread exhuming activities? These secret activities of the Black can only be viewed as blatant desecration. It is clear from the Scriptural evidence which we have considered that the battle which the Black has is not with those of us who find these deeds sordid, but rather with the written Word and the living Word – Christ.
For further revelations read Inside the Royal Black Institution
Why black? (2) Royal Scarlet Degree
(2) Royal Scarlet Degree