There once was a humble man who lived in a grass hut. Despite his poverty, he loved to collect thrones. When he sat on a throne he felt like royalty.
Over the years he purchased so many thrones he had to store some in his attic. One day, while sitting on his favorite throne, the ceiling gave way and over a dozen thrones crashed on top of him, killing him instantly.
And that is why people who live in grass houses shouldn't stow thrones.
A Royal Priesthood?
Does the priesthood entitle us to act like the British Monarchy?
So why have we structured priesthood authority as if we wanted to be Prince Harry, who is sixth in line to the throne (i.e., the royal equivalent of Elder David A. Bednar).
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.
(1 Peter 2:9)
Have we turned a royal priesthood into a royal mess?
The British Are Coming!
At Least the Brits Have a Constitutional Monarchy.
I mean, a Constitutional Monarchy has to share its power with an organized government. The Monarch is mostly a ceremonial leader. The real power likes with the legislature and judiciary.
But in Mormonism, we are structured as an Absolute Monarchy.
The distinguishing characteristic of an Absolute Monarchy is a leader who holds supreme autocratic authority. He (or she) is not restricted by written laws, legislatures, or customs.
If we take a look at our legal incorporation, which vests all authority in the senior member of the 12 (under what we call a Corporation Sole), we find that we do, in fact, have a Spiritual Absolute Monarchy.
Spiritual Absolute Monarchy? In our Church, is the President able to revoke written law, change scriptures, and create new rules? (Hello, continuing revelation!)
Is he able to overturn tradition, customs and precedent? (Thanks, by the way, for 2-hour church.)
Is he subject to a legislative body? (Where'd all the checks and balances go?)
Jana Riess, Mormon scholar and author of The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church (2019), wrote a fascinating article about the dynamic power shift occurring in Mormonism:
"In terms of power structures, the LDS Church is more like the royal family than it is like a contemporary evangelical megachurch. There is a clear hierarchy, with a next-in-line flow chart and carefully delineated protocols for leaders’ behavior and dress. At General Conference, this protocol is on vivid display. Every male leader wears the requisite uniform of dark coat, white shirt and restrained necktie and sits in an assigned seat according to his place in the line of succession. A royal coronation could not be more conventionally ordered.
"Most importantly, leaders score rhetorical points by drawing from other LDS leaders’ speeches, reifying the internal power structure every time they quote current or past presidents of the Church while only rarely citing people outside that narrow channel of leadership.
"The language of priesthood “keys” extends from this traditional power structure and approach; by definition, not everyone can have a key, which highlights the difference between those who wield power and those who do not. If power were universally accessible, there would be no need for keys because the symbolic “door” would already be unlocked. The language pinpoints an almost ontological divide separating those who hold keys from those who don’t and trades in the hint of secrecy, which is another longstanding tool used to underscore a high power structure."
(Jana Riess, "Mormon Leaders and the Erosion of Traditional Power," Religion News Service, January 29, 2021, accessed at: https://religionnews.com/2021/01/29/mormon-leaders-and-the-erosion-of-traditional-power/?fbclid=IwAR1e-gsOwc-NfmOlNkyvRgCgpsNnJYeov-BUc6ip7Ppbf0aTrZkwowJn4yQ)
The True Meaning of Royalty
The idea that priesthood keys enable a person to rule over us, who are brothers and sisters, equal kings and queens who govern themselves, is a terrible departure from Christlike authority.
In fact, the only Royal Law we should be concerned with is this one:
If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin.
The hierarchy we have created institutionalizes "respect to persons."