Legitimate Power and Authority

In Mormonism, four books are considered to be the “word of God”: the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. Collectively, these four books are called “the scriptures.” 

To me, in all of Mormon scripture, one of the most beautiful–and subversive–passages is the one below, from the Doctrine and Covenants. See if you like it, too. It is closely related to my Unitarian-Universalist sermon “So You Want to Save the World.” To generalize its meaning, and make it relevant even to those who (like me) do not believe in the supernatural, I replaced “the priesthood” with “hierarchical position”: 

No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of [hierarchical position], only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—

– Doctrine and Covenants 121:41,42