The other day a friend at work asked me about the Mormon church demanding "complete" or "blind unquestioning obedience" of its members. Just hearing the phrase brings to mind the horrors of Nazi Germany and the Peoples Temple in Jonestown, doesn't it?
Every time I hear reference to that, I unconsciously cock my head to the side, finding myself trying to connect to what the person might be talking about. Am I a pawn on some huge chessboard, being used to do someone's dirty work?
The idea is hard to discredit personally since it implies I've been duped from the start and my disbelief is merely an indicator that they've done a good job duping me. Sort-of like the claim that the Masons are running the government. "Don't believe it? Well you're not in on it, so you wouldn't know!"
Do I obey my priesthood leaders? Yes!
Do I obey God's commandments? Yes!
Why? Because I trust both God and my priesthood leaders because they've proven themselves trustworthy to me time and again throughout my life. Over and over I've been asked to do things, and I knew and felt at the time it was the right thing. We constantly are out counseling, helping, training, teaching, reasoning, listening. The bishop directs these efforts, and it's a wonderful experience. Given that history, if my bishop asked me to do something strange, I would do it because I trust him. It's the same as if it were my best friend asking me to do something. It's all about trust.
There's a big difference between being asked to do something hard and being asked to do something that's wrong. I often obey and do things that are hard, even if I disagree*, because I know I've been blessed for my obedience in the past. When all is said and done, I will do my best to obey God or His servants, and the record will show that. On the other hand, I've never been asked to do something I thought was wrong, nor do I know of anyone who has (except for a couple of scriptural accounts, Joshua, Saul, Nephi, etc.). If I were asked, I would spend a lot of time on my knees making sure it was what God wanted. I don't follow men, I follow God who works through good men, and it's up to me to make sure I'm on His side, wherever that is.
* It's rare that I disagree, I almost always believe it's what's best at the time. One example of me disagreeing was when we were asked by a Stake President to not watch TV for a month. I didn't think it made much sense at the time, but I understood the point and I did it. I think in the end it was a good experience, and I felt good knowing my willpower was strengthened a little. Even so, those kinds of requests are incredibly rare in the church...