Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fallibility of Local Leadership

Mormon bishops have a lot of responsibilities.  One of them is interviewing the members of their ward for things like temple recommends, church callings, ordainings and tithing settlements.  

But...they're not really that sharp when it comes to reading people.  At least, some of them aren't.  I'd be willing to bet that most of them are just as good at understanding people as the average person.  There seems to be no kind of extra perceptiveness that you'd think would come from the supposed revelation they get to perform their callings.

How is it that couples who have been sexually active still manage to get approval for temple marriages?  How do abusive husbands serve honorably in church callings?  How do impure young men become ordained as priests?  It always bugged me as a young man, that I lied in all my interviews about masturbation and not one of my bishops ever called me on it.  Why didn't they?  Because they didn't know.  They couldn't know--they actually weren't receiving the kind of revelation we all thought they were.

And it's not just bishops' failure to spot liars that bothers me.  At BYU, I once had an interview with a bishop who was concerned to know why I wasn't attending sacrament meeting.  I thought that was pretty odd, considering I'd attended every sacrament meeting except one early in the semester, during which I was at home, puking my guts out.  When I tried to explain that to him, he proceeded to analyze my behavior and my morality in the rudest way possible.  He asked me which commandments I resented following and told me what I needed to change.  His analysis was completely unfounded and entirely uncalled for.  It was one of the most appallingly insulting experiences of my life.

THAT guy didn't have a clue.  And yet, he served as a bishop who had been called by God to preside over my ward, and, of course, over me...something he did a very poor job with.

Of course, any Mormon worth his salt would immediately remind you that bishops are imperfect men serving in a calling.  They're just as prone to error as the rest of us.  But that argument doesn't hold a lot of water in my opinion.  It should only explain failings in the bishop's personal life.  What is the point of a God-ordained position with a few hundred souls in your charge if you have only your own, human wits about you to fill that position?  Shouldn't there be some added measure of ability or knowledge granted by God to allow you to perform His duties as he needs them done?  Doesn't God want to keep unworthy members from receiving the priesthood or entering the temple?

Because if that is what he wants, he's not getting it.  There's too many fallible bishops, branch presidents and stake presidents using their flawed human perception and reasoning to allow the unworthy to slip past their nets.

And that doesn't seem right to me.


  1. I always think of this when I see stories in the paper of church "volunteers" who work with kids being busted for molestation. They aren't volunteers. It's a calling, and if someone declines that calling, they are disappointing God himself. So, supposedly, God told this bishop to put a pedophile in charge of the kids in the ward. I don't buy it.

    1. I always do a little eye roll when I see the word "volunteer" associated with the church leadership. Sure, they're volunteers. They volunteered to be almost forced into a job they don't get to pick. Nobody says, "Hey, I volunteer to be the next bishop!" It's a very misleading way of categorizing church service, but I guess it's easier than trying to break down the complexity in a news story geared toward people who don't know or care about the inner mechanics of Mormonism.

      And, as far as the molestation thing goes...well...ugh. God is not held accountable enough by his followers. You can impeach a president, but you can't remove God from office with a vote of no confidence.