I love the wisdom in Joseph Smith's famous statement, "By proving contraries, truth is manifest."
Wrestling with only one side of an issue is like wrestling with yourself. We need two wrestlers facing off, side by side, in order to determine which one is stronger.
So let's look at this question:
Was Jesus able to remove contention from His church, from among His believers?
Think about that. Look at both sides. Let your conclusion sink in.
A Bridge Too Far
Question: If Jesus Himself was incapable of making us love each other and to live in peace as His children, why do we think a Strongman or Authority Figure will succeed where the Savior did not?
Answer: All Jesus could do is show us the way. He persuaded, taught, pled, enlightened, quickened, loved, and invited us to love one another. But He. Could. Not. FORCE. us to love one another.
He couldn't. But we can.
Not real love, sure. But we can create communities wherein we fake (or "feign")love pretty good.
So while Jesus can't steam-roll over our agency (which really, let's be honest, is why the gospel is so inefficient), we can create systems that literally abuse each other's agency.
In a way, you could say we're more powerful than God.
Since no one can control real, or genuine, love, we better figure out the best way to feign love, right?
Isn't that what do we do?
Look around! We cross a Bridge Too Far, crossing into territory that Jesus never set foot upon ― using coercion, guilt, control, repression, and fear . . . (does anyone really think these things will bring us into a "unity of the faith?")
So why do we use such terrible tools?
Why have we chosen to govern the Household of God as if it were Ford Motor Company? Why have we embraced the lecherous lips of Mammon in a spiritual French Kiss? Why did we abandon common consent; why do we lack transparency among leadership; why do we require General Authorities to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements; why do we hide our counsels in the dark; why do we place Authority Figures on pedestals; why do we quench the Spirit and deny the gifts of God by censoring those who speak God's truth?
Because Priestcraft cannot survive where charity thrives.
Objection. "Tim, buddy. Jesus called Twelve Apostles. So the Lord Himself established a hierarchy. Stop with the crazy talk."
Fine. You've got me there. But let's take a closer look at what Jesus commissioned his Twelve Apostles to do, first.
Top 10: The Apostles Charge
In Matthew 10 we read about the great Apostolic Charge that Jesus gave his 12 Apostles in the New Testament. When the Lord sent this Twelve Apostles into the world, he "commanded them," saying they should:
1. Gather the lostsheep (Matt. 10:6)
(That doesn't sound like the message to shun our LGTBQIA+ relatives, does it?)
2. Preach the gospel of good news (Matt. 10:7)
(You know, the one about Christ and His death and resurrections? Rather than carrying on ad nauseum about who gets to wear His Letterman Jackets while preaching "All is well in Zion, yea, Zion prospereth.")
3. Heal the sick (Matt. 10:8)
(As opposed to preaching that it takes greater faith not to be healed than to be healed.)
4. Cleanse lepers of their disease (Matt. 10:8)
(As opposed to telling them, "Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled" (James 2:16.)
5. Raise the dead back to life (Matt. 10:8)
(If not literally, like Paul raising Eutychus, then how about just figuratively?)
6. Cast out devils from those who are possessed of an evil spirit (Matt. 10:8)
(Do we have a Rite of Exorcism? Is it the priesthood? Can someone give a talk in General Conference about this?)
7. Freely give to others what they have received freely from Christ (Matt. 10:8)
(As opposed to keeping the sensitive materials in the Church libraries and vaults under lock-and-seal.)
8. "Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses" (Matt. 10:9)
(As opposed to becoming millionaires and billionaires, I suppose.)
9. Minister to others in their homes (Matt. 10:11-13)
(You are always welcome in my home.)
10. "Take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you" (Matt. 10:19-20).
(I'd love to hear more of the "Spirit of your Father" speak through you.)
So, now we know what it means to be an apostle called by the Lord. Nothing on that list involves creating a hierarchy or financial empire.
We see that Apostles are supposed to exercise the gifts of God in healing and curing and inspiring. All without "gold nor silver!"
So take your pick. Choose anything on the Master's Top 10 List.