One of the truest things I can say about my church is that it will never allow me to be a Mormon bishop.
If that isn’t proof that the Lord (rather than Satan, as some insist) is more or less in charge, I don’t know what is. Yell all you want, but that’s what I believe.
Only the devil (or some utterly foolish human) would put someone like me in charge of the religious well-being of several hundred people. I don’t even do a good job with my own spirituality.
I have, however, been in a couple of bishoprics. Yeah, I know. Surprised me, too. But it’s true. I found the bishopric experience to be challenging, rewarding, enormously time-consuming and, at times, mystifying.
But if by some completely unrealistic set of circumstances I were called to be a bishop, there’s one thing I would refuse to do: interviews about sexual matters.
This is not because the world of sexual interaction between women and men (particularly those in positions of power) is changing. I’ve felt this way my entire life. Some stuff is none of my business, and I prefer to keep it that way.
I’m not saying this because I’m smart. I’m not. But I do possess a low, albeit effective, sense of feral cunning that has served me well.
If you’re an older guy in a room alone with a 14-year-old girl and asking questions about her moral cleanliness doesn’t make you nervous, then there’s something wrong with you. If you look forward to the interview, there definitely is something wrong with you. Possibly even jail-worthy.
My first bishop’s interview as a kid was just before I got baptized, when the only embarrassing question was, “Bobby, do you know who the president and prophet of the church is today?” and I said, “President Eisenhower?”
I managed to get baptized anyway.
My next most memorable bishop’s interview took place when I was 14. And it was by request. That’s when I learned everything I needed to know about bishop’s interviews.
I asked to see the bishop over a doctrinal matter. The idea of polygamy weighed heavily on my mind. I told the bishop that I didn’t want to follow a god who would expect me to have multiple wives.
I wanted only one wife, otherwise I would become an atheist. To my credit, I did give the Lord some flexibility. It had to be either Nancy Sinatra or Raquel Welch.
The bishop didn’t grill me about impure thoughts or what I might have been doing while thinking about Nancy or Raquel. He did something worse. He told the Old Man.
Later that evening, my father dragged me into a room and asked what was up with all this stuff about some girl named Nancy and me being an atheist?
I was surprised — not only because my father didn’t explode, ship me off to military school, or chain me to a tree, but mainly because the bishop had ratted me out.
Afterward, I never said anything in any interview — ecclesiastical or otherwise — unless I was sure I wouldn’t care if it got around.
Some things should stay strictly between a person and their god. OK, and Satan. When it comes to revealing personal things about yourself, be careful. Those who need to know, already do.