In the last Post, I made a fleeting reference to "Spiritual Stepford Wives."
Apparently I am showing my age and need to explain the reference.
The Stepford Wives (1975) is a movie based on a book with the following hook:
Something strange is happening in the town of Stepford. Where the men spend their nights doing something secret. And every woman acts like every man's dream of the "perfect" wife. Where a young woman watches the dream become a nightmare.
I don't want to spoil anything for the Millennials, but the gist is that the women of Stepford become docile, submissive specimens for their husbands. And the women turn out to be robots.
Anyway, the very same author wrote Rosemary's Baby, which may be more apropos of my thesis.
Now that we have that out of the way . . . if someone asks us if we're crazy, the answer is, Yes.
We are crazy enough to believe that we can become "one" ― equals, as brothers and sisters and children in Christ. A true family.
And does any of that require a hierarchy?
(That's French for "Hell no!")
(Pardon my French.)
Being crazy goes with the job description for anyone serious about building Zion. Remember the way people reacted when Jesus called himself the Bread of Life? They thought he was crazy bread, too.
The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
To the spiritually colorblind, it must sound crazy to speak of a technicolor world.
1. Objection One.
"Objection, your honor! Isn't a family a kind of hierarchy, with the parents in charge of their subservient children?"
I guess the nuclear family with little children is a kind of hierarchy.
But what about after the children grow up?
What is the family dynamic when all the children are adults and have become parents themselves?
For example, I am a middle child of six children. None of us get to dictate how the others live their lives.
My siblings and I no longer have to live the rules we were raised with (i.e., no dating until you're 16; no girlfriends until after your mission; no jumping on the trampoline on Sunday).
Our parents' authority is now uncontrolling, as it should be among adults.
Now, I have amazing parents and they even (from time to time) give good advice! But guess what? As adults, my siblings and I don't have to do anything they say.
So, just taking my own family as an example, there is no hierarchy; no one who gets to rule over anyone; no one that tells everybody when they have to go to bed or wake up.
So how do we function as a family when we are all self-governing? When no one is in charge of the group?
By persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge.
The only authority that matters is that which arises from mutual love, which is moral authority.
And guess what? Our family life hasn't fallen into anarchy. It is not chaos at family dinners. It is possible to have loving relationships ― even in a family ― where no one is in charge.
Would You Do Me the Honor?
2. Objection Two.
"Objection, your Honor! Aren't we supposed to honor our father and mother that our days may be long upon the land? Abandoning a hierarchical structure dishonors their place in the family. By analogy, church leaders are the parents of the flock and should be honored."
Yes, Moses told us to honor our parents.
And Jesus told us that:
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
But the important thing is that a father (head of the family) was once (and always will be) a son himself; and his sons are fathers in their own right.
In other words, we share a dual identity: all fathers are also sons. All sons have the potential to become fathers. And there cannot be hierarchy in a circle.
(What did we think the "Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God" was all about?)
In the same way, a prophet is not a preferred status when everyone is a prophet. Like childhood and parenthood, we all share in prophethood.
Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!
Notice that he did not say "would God that all of the Lord's [elders] were prophets." This isn't a gender thing. All who belong to the "Lord's people" can be prophets!
A church hierarchy denies the reality that we are all sons and fathers, daughters and mothers, brothers and sisters.
Rather than trying to protect our slice of the pie, we should be seeking to enlarge the pie.
3. Objection Three.
"Objection your Honor! Isn't Christ a King? Isn't He the Sovereign Lord? You can't have a king without a kingdom, and you can't have a kingdom without a hierarchy."
Explain this: Jesus ― who was a King ― refused to be made a king.
We find the account in John chapter 6.
When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.
Jesus had no desire to play king. He did not want the status that Babylon confers to its children. So He conspicuously avoided being "made a king." After all, his kingdom was not of this world.
Wouldn't it be wise to follow His example, rather than creating a spiritual kingdom where we elevate those with "keys" and require obsequious obedience?
But the important point is that Jesus refused to be made a king so that He might make us into kings and queens.
If Church leaders followed Christ's example, rather than being jealous of their authority and priestly prerogatives, they would spread it like loaves and fishes.
After all, if Jesus (the Father of heaven and earth) found no fault in Abraham being a Father to the faithful, too, why are we so tight fisted with titles?
Since when did we become mean girls terrorizing the lunch room?