The other day one of my counselors and I somehow got on to the subject of abuse in the Catholic Church. My counselor asked me why I thought that cases of abuse were so incredibly rare amongst leaders in the Mormon Church. After a moment of reflection I explained to him that it was because in our Church we call people into leadership positions using the Gift of Discernment.
The Gift of Discernment is one of the gifts of the Spirit and amongst my many gifts it is without question my favourite. According to lds.org this gift includes perceiving the true character of people and the source and meaning of spiritual manifestations. Someone with this gift present cannot be deceived any more than you and I could deceive the Lord Himself.
This was highlighted in the Liahona in this example given by a former mission president:
* “While I was a mission president in
, I was informed that a particular missionary had lost his testimony and wanted to go home. Some checking disclosed that doubts of the divinity of his call had been planted in the young man’s mind by an investigator. In an interview with the so-called investigator, I experienced special powers of discernment that enabled me to know that the man was a minister of another faith, posing as a college student and pretending to be an honest investigator of Mormonism. Confronted with the knowledge that had been revealed to me, he became confused and admitted his fraud. With the deceiver out of the way and the truth known, the missionary stayed and completed an honorable mission.” Texas
This type of situation is common amongst LDS leaders especially those of us who hold the priesthood office of Bishop.
It is important to understand that as per a priesthood manual at lds.org ** “a bishop is called by inspiration of the Lord and ordained by a stake president under the direction of the First Presidency of the Church and the Quorum of the Twelve.
Can you imagine for example if someone who abused children were to be called as a bishop? This could never happen because it would mean that the stake presidency that discussed and submitted the name did not have the spirit of discernment guiding them. Furthermore before being called to the position bishops have to be approved in writing by The First Presidency. So for such a man to become a bishop it would mean no less than 6 righteous men (3 of whom are sustained as prophets, seers and revelator’s one being the actual prophet and president of the church) were lacking the Gift of Discernment, which, as I have mentioned, is the ability to perceive the true character of people.
I am thankful that the Lord is at the helm guiding this church and testify that the spirit of discernment is alive and well and daily guides those of us who are in positions of trust, and I leave these thoughts with you in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.