I am convinced that the LDS Church could prevent a lot of people from leaving if it would do one thing, create a realistic expectation of what a prophet is in the minds of converts. When we sit down and think about it it’s obvious, the only perfect person was Christ. Why do we expect perfection from a prophet (e.g. Biblical or modern day)? Growing up in the LDS faith I had a movie star image of Joseph Smith and other LDS leaders. No one ever told me they were perfect, but that’s what I came to expect. Most of this image was formed by the polished LDS Church literature and movies that I was taught from growing up. Leaders were always put in the best light creating the illusion of perfection.
Now I know that some LDS members would say that sounds like an attack on the church, but that’s not what it is. I understand that the LDS Church wants to promote a certain image and that’s why they do what they do. I’m not faulting them for that. I don’t believe they are intentionally deceiving as anti-LDS claim (the information is out there).
They want to promote a certain idea and image of LDS history. They downplay or ignore the controversy so that the focus will be on Christ and his teachings, not on how many wives early leaders had. But in doing this, I believe the Church is setting up members to be picked off by “anti-Mormons” and others that expose naive members (I include myself in this group) to parts of church history that were previously unknown to them. A simple reminder that even a prophet can put his foot in his mouth would help members realize what they already know and prevent them from leaving because of human weaknesses that even prophets are subjected to.