I was still the High Priest Group Leader and I remember our outrage at being left out of the loop as she had been herded straight into the repentance corral of the bishop.
In retrospect I wish that I had been more fully aware of what precisely most LDS leaders are not given to perceive, understand or respect:
which are not defined nor do they begin with the Church and extend to the parent. Boundaries begin with the parent, with the child and with the family and not the other way around.
Regardless of all that “follow the brethren” talk, the brethren know that they are not to arbitrarily impose themselves into a family without permission. That is the whole idea of asking a parent for permission to meet with a child.
In this regard there is no “blessing” priesthood can withhold nor “punishment” priesthood can impose … and it would seem otherwise only to the degree that you believe the boundaries set by the Church are of greater importance to the Lord than our own personal boundaries.
There can be a huge intimidating factor that permeates the lives of members who consciously or subconsciously subscribe to the notion of God authorizing mortals to step between Him and his children.
It’s one aspect of a life of quiet desperation dominated by religious intimidation. Such is in the literal-minded acceptance of an authority long assumed by Church leadership that is in fact non-existent. You may ride in the Church limousine to the Gates of the Celestial Park, but the limousine and its drivers cannot carry you in behind tinted windshields.
Neither the Church nor the priesthood have power or authority to mediate another human’s sin before God.
The only mediator is The Lord.
This “bless on earth = blessed in heaven” and “curse on earth = cursed in heaven” is nothing less than the same sort of pretend authority of the Wizard of Oz. But within our LDS society it is not as funny nor humorous. We take our fears and insecurities far too seriously in thinking that God will listen to priesthood before He will listen to the individual.
We ought to be in the Church but not of the Church. Rather, one in the Lord and of the Lord.
However the Lord presides over mortality generally and the true Church specifically, He has never authorized one human being to judge another.
The only “authorization” granted priesthood leadership is authority to withhold spirit-based opportunities that exist within the social organization that constitutes the coorelated Church.
To the degree that each member elevates those opportunities to a level of divine/eternal approval or curse, such is the degree of willing subjection to a theological fiction that has drifted wildly out of control.
When we accept without boundaries, are we not setting aside personal communion with the Lord and humbly and submissively dropping it into the hands of a Church focused more on group conformity rather than individual holiness?
That is why there is so much equating of participation and activity with spirituality inside the Church. That is why a threat of withdrawing mere social approval works so well.
My daughter is in her forties and long ago left the Church.
Her moment with a bishop was for that man, all about him and not about my daughter. His overly serious focus and assumption of more ecclesiastical power than he in fact possessed is a bitter memory to her to this day.
It was one of several early moments that led me to start asking questions … Why does my family allow so completely some other mortal’s shallow spirit magic to impact our lives and relationship with God?
I would not tell you what to say or how to do it …
but I believe that all leaders who have some degree of religious right and authority to offer unsolicited opinions and judgmental notions will themselves evolve into stronger ecclesiastical leaders when members are willing to try to help them stay within severely restricted limits of religious nosiness.