And, to be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles, or doctrine. – Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Come, Join With Us,” October 2013 General Conference
To judge by my Facebook feed and some blog commentary and the public press, this was the money quote from last weekend’s conference. “Mormon Leader Says Church Has Made Mistakes” is a representative headline; the suggestion that Church members carry a copy of this talk with them to whip out as the ultimate weapon against viewpoints with which said Church members disagree has popped up here and there.
If I find myself relying on this quotation to make an argument, these are the points I intend to remember:
Members as well as leaders make mistakes. It’s right there in the quotation. I am as apt as my leader to be in the wrong in any case of disagreement – President Uchtdorf’s acknowledgment in no way dissolves principles of stewardship and authority and sustaining.
A general statement that “leaders have made mistakes” does exactly nothing to identify specific mistakes. I must not succumb to the temptation to rationalize my wrongs or justify my wants with the unexamined claim that because leaders sometimes make mistakes, this is one of those times.
This extracted quotation hardly represents the totality of President Uchtdorf’s message. He spoke of unity, of joining, of finding ways to come together – not of looking for divisions and opposition and mistakes. I will value the larger message and not distort it by focusing too narrowly on the juicy line.
“Will ye also go away?”
“Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.”