When we talk about perfection/imperfection as it pertains to church leaders it comes with a lot of additional baggage.
What do we mean when we say a prophet is not perfect?
Here I think that some level of belief in the prosperity gospel influences people's views. Every member knows that the prophet is not perfect, we reserve the label of "perfection" (meaning without flaw - the definition I'll use for perfect from here out) for Jesus and Jesus alone. Claiming a leader is perfect is a line I don't think any
member would cross... but in observing what is said during our meetings I believe there's a more general belief that the prophet and top church leaders are closer to perfection than others. Perfection becomes relative.
We all like to know the reason for things and it seems natural for people to arrive at the conclusion that someone is called to be a prophet or apostle because they are more obedient. I see this phenomenon at all levels of the church and I think it's an extension of the prosperity gospel. Person X got a prestigious calling because they are "better" than person Y. It's naturally human.
In 2018 I think we have this idea that by the time a prophet has attained the calling they have proven themselves worthy, they earned the calling through their obedience. That's not to say he's perfect... but the general consensus seems to be that he's better than you/me.
In Mormonism I think we have some concept of relative perfection. Some are more perfect than others and those rise up the ranks. Where I'm going with this is that I feel it feeds into the culture, the culture where we have that joke where we say the prophet isn't infallible but no one believes it. We need our leaders to be near perfect because it helps to prop up the leader>follower dynamic.
I also think we have a more general problem when it comes to how we look at perfection in leaders. Here again I'd say that very nearly all members would say that the leaders are not perfect, but what does that mean?
To some that means the prophet is obedient enough to not commit serious sin, most of their sins would be limited to the "foibles of human nature" but never fall into the category of "great or malignant sins."
But there is a way where I very much feel the culture believes the "prophet" is infallible. I put prophet in quotes because I'm more referring to the mantle of prophet than the person. A prophet "the man" is not infallible but a prophet "the mantle" that produces the doctrines, teachings, and polices is infallible. That's the dynamic I see in the culture of the church. We can tell ourselves that the man is imperfect but we are extremely reluctant to ever call the doctrines that a prophet teaches into question. Probably because once you pull on that thread you become your own prophet of sorts.
I didn't mean for the reply to be so long.