I think that one crucial issue that is missing is that we understand only leadership based on motherhood. We don’t have a sense of leadership based on fatherhood. Our Fatherhood these days is no longer fatherhood as the head of the home, it has become fatherhood as no more than a figurehead in the home. We don’t know what real fatherhood even looks like.
Because of that, we don’t know what leadership looks like and our leadership is based on motherhood instead of fatherhood. We believe that a leader’s role is primarily that of a nurturer. He mothers those he leads. He is there for every emotional “need”, at their spiritual whim. If he deviates from the course of being a nurturer, and mothering those under him, he is seen as deviating from the path of true Christian leadership.
Now, let us compare that to what is found in the scriptures.
Take John 6, and measure it by the measure of nurturing. It is not nurturing. It is fatherhood. Christ tests his followers. He actually loses many of them permanently. But he has made those who follow him far more certain, more refined, more committed in their faith.
Our God, the Christ is a refiner. He sits as a refiner and purifier and silver. He gains a large following in John 6, and then tells them that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood to have eternal life. They misunderstand him, believing his words to be literal. He, being the Son of God, cannot help but know what is going on. But he does not offer the clarification that would straighten everything out. This is not poor teaching on Christ’s part, that left his audience confused. This is a test that he gives. It is a crucible he forces them to pass through. He knowingly, intentionally leaves them misunderstanding him and then we read:
John 6:66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
In these verses Christ has forced his followers through a refiners fire. He has tested their faith. But he tests it further, for in their moment of their faithful answer, he responds:
John 6:70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?
If we ask how that was nurturing, the answer is that it was not. Mothering and nurturing this is not.
It is refinement. Christ is more concerned with perfecting those who will accept him and will be perfected than he is with a gaining a larger number of converts. We read the scripture about how great our joy will be if we save one soul and assume it is a numbers game we are after. But that isn’t the way Christ did his preaching at all.
Note that the statistics say Christ did the wrong thing here in John 6! That tells us what we should think of statistics as being our measure.
We have bought statistics as a measure of leaders, yet we are saved by a God who clearly acted completely and directly contrary to that notion.
We think challenges and tests are wrong, because they do not nurture. We only understand leadership in terms of nurturing and mothering. This lies behind our notion that God does not punish despite the plainest statements of the scriptures. Our sense of leadership as being about nurturing and mothering is also behind our rejection of the idea that God is angry with the wicked, which appears multiple times in the scriptures, including the very frank scripture “God is angry with the wicked every day” and his plain declaration that he was angry with the saints that sought signs in D&C 63 as well as his identifying two saints he is angry with in D&C 64. It also contradicts John the Baptist’s teaching at the end of John 3 that the wrath of God abides on those that do not believe on the Son of God.
There are other ways that we see the shift to leadership that is based on motherhood as we lose track of fatherhood more and more. Unalterable requirements are simply not something we consider part of real life – everything is negotiable. Everything is about relationships. Relationships supersede obedience among us just as mothering supersedes fathering among us. We don’t need to obey, we just need a good relationship with God. There is no father who will be really angry with us when he gets home.
We think we have no need of good doctrine, all we need is a “relationship with God”. Good doctrine becomes irrelevant, obedience becomes largely irrelevant, what matters to us is to believe we have a relationship with God. And that is not good doctrine. It is dangerous thinking.
We do still believe in shadows of the traits of fathering, but they are always second place to traits of nurturing and mothering.