- Satisfaction: that his words were considered in need of changing.
- Frustration: that this kind of quiet editing goes on all the time without coming to the attention of every-day members of the LDS Church.
When I was 17 years-old, my father was a mission president. General authorities visited our home at least a couple times a year. During one particular visit, I sat with my family and the visiting general authority in the living room, listening earnestly as he related anecdotes about his interactions with then president of the church, Gordon B. Hinckley.
The general authority mentioned how, in a recent meeting, President Hinckley had wondered aloud why the world wouldn't just "leave us the hell alone." Everyone chuckled, but my stomach dropped. President Hinckley - the man I considered God's chosen spokesperson on earth - swore?
I mean, I had sworn before. In fact, it was a favorite bad habit of mine when I'd been a 4th grader. But by the time I was 12 or 13, I felt enough remorse to confess to my bishop. So as a 17 year-old striving for pure speech, I felt troubled by what seemed a double standard.
I quickly made peace with the cognitive dissonance, reassuring myself that the pressures on President Hinckley were much greater than those I faced. He was God's servant, but not God himself. And in later years, as I became increasingly disillusioned with the principle of "exact obedience" but still maintained my faith, I began to see the anecdote in the same humorous light as had my parents and the general authority. Today, as a nonbeliever, I still have a tremendous amount of respect for Gordon B. Hinckley, and am not bothered if he chose to spice up his dialogue with an occasional hell or damn.
But Gordon, I now understand something that you couldn't. I understand why they (we) can't leave the church alone. Because when the church publicly speaks words of condemnation, only to send a semantically different message in private, we feel disappointed by the lack of integrity.