There are certain questions that I should have asked but which I easily dismissed as a Mormon without much thought. One of them is… Why does inspiration sometimes not work? It often doesn’t work personally, and it often doesn’t work for priesthood leadership causing disastrous consequences.
I know that the pat Mormon answer is that we are all individuals and therefore able to make our own choices and that Heavenly Father either can’t or won’t interfere with that. Also, sometimes what we perceive as negative outcomes are actually learning experiences that enable us to grow and progress. But that only begs another question… So, why bother petitioning God for anything at all?… ever? Especially when it is protection from harm?
For example, I asked my ex-wife if she prayed before we got married to know if she should proceed. She confirmed that she did and that she felt “inspired” to marry me. So, an all-knowing God knew I was gay and that one day I’d leave the church and come out and that we’d divorce, but He let her feel good about it anyway. How is that any better than never asking in the first place?
What about when church leaders feel inspired to call a sexual predator as a bishop?
Back in 2005 and 2006 when I was deep in the mess of divorcing and leaving the church, we lived in a place you’ve never heard of called Menifee. I called it the armpit of southern California.
But, oh what an arm!
Almost everyone in town commuted daily to San Diego, Riverside (me), Orange County or even Los Angeles. The rest of the population were retired seniors living in Sun City. I hated living there. I moved there reluctantly and stayed begrudgingly. It was there that I served as Ward Executive Secretary (again, for about the 4th time in my life). It was there that the bishop asked if I’d serve as his 2nd counselor. But before it became official, the ward split and we went in the other ward. It was there where I discovered that the LDS church isn’t what it claims to be. It was there where I divorced and came out and never returned to church again.
But this week a Mormon news story caught my eye:
I know the guy.
His wife taught pre-school out of her home. Two of my daughters attended that pre-school over the course of a few years (fortunately for us, it appears that the man was into teenage girls if he is indeed guilty). I probably know the victims. I liked his wife … and him too if I’m being honest. This was a solid, likable Mormon family. They had about 6 kids. My ex-wife was still Facebook friends with both of them.
But something that I know about the timeline of events is that in 2006 he hadn’t been a Bishop yet. In other words, if he indeed perpetrated the crimes he is accused of, he had already done it at least once before he was called to be a Bishop. Why were the Stake or Area leaders inspired to call him? I wonder how many testimonies were born by the members regarding how inspired he was during his tenure? We all know that happens all the time.
How could he have appeared to have “the Spirit” with him with such a grave unrepented sin(s) in his past?
Where was the spirit of discernment? If it only works sometimes, why bother imagining it exists at all? It’s obviously unreliable.
Why wasn’t the protection of the victims a high enough priority for God to inspire someone to think that he might not be the best individual to sit alone in a room with a young woman and ask her questions about her body?
Maybe, just maybe, God should have inspired someone to feel impressed that this shouldn’t be the guy hearing confessions from teenage girls of the naughty things they’ve done with their boyfriends.
The truth is that those who believe in that sort of inspiration and personal Godly help are people who have never experienced any sort of real tragedy in their lives… like getting sexually molested by your religious leader. Knowing that God failed to inspire anyone to protect these girls, if I were in that ward today and I heard a dear brother or sister bear testimony of how Heavenly Father inspired them to find their car keys or to earn enough money for a family vacation, I think there’d be casualties.