Coming back to this, the North Carolina bathroom law is a good example. Cities passed ordinances allowing trans people to get around the rule that only women are allowed in the women's room. Men who stalk women would probably take advantage of the new hunting ground.
So while debating a trans person, I said:
What you've failed to ask is why we built separate men's and women's bathrooms in the first place. Back when we had outhouses, they were rarely gender segregated, if at all (that idea that they were specially marked with a star or a moon seems to trace back no further than the 1970's). There's nothing special about an outhouse that makes a women's any different from a men's, and almost everybody used the very same one. Likewise, homes lack segregated bathrooms to this day. We wouldn't have gone to all the trouble of segregating restrooms by sex unless some problem had started to occur, something so offensive to the sensibilities that it required the public to double the number of bathrooms just to prevent it. Without understanding what that problem was, we shouldn't get rid of gender segregated bathrooms, which in effect is what the local ordinances did.
What was ignored is best summed up in the fallacy of Chesterson's fence.
Which I then provided.
This parable reminds me of the story of the man who's wife always cut the ends off of the ham. He asks her why but she doesn't know. Her mother just always did it that way. They call her mom and she says she does it because her mom always did it that way. They call grandma. Turns out that she did it because her pan was too small.
I am grateful for the explanation of Chesterton's fence. When I lived in Germany church or temple marriages were not considered legal by the state, a civil marriage was necessary. That probably accounts for the differences in time requirements.
In partial response to Lucinda, the Fall of Adam was not a mistake that God the Father is trying to correct. It was part of his intended plan from the beginning.
We still have too much of St. Augustine theory of the fall that we need to shed.
Read John Milton's Paradise Lost Book 9 (9:290 9:205 9:804)
Eve made a choice to separate from God and from Adam and to exercise her agency in gaining knowledge of good and evil.
God did not punish her he simply state that her ability to procreate would increase her sorrow in conception.
"Thy sorrow I will greatly multiplie
By thy Conception; Children thou shalt bring
In sorrow forth," Book 10:193
Chesterton's fence analogy is apt in considering the human construct aspect of marriage. But when considering our relationship with God and His priesthood, a chasm is a better analogy. We are on the wrong side of the chasm because of error: First, the error of
Adam, then the Apostasy, then individual error. Through the Atonement, we have a way of crossing the chasm as individuals. Through the Restoration, God's authorized servants can construct a sort of bridge (one that was originally built but had been removed by human error.) It can be easy to conflate the mistake with the remedy, since God, in His mercy, has prepared a way, even before the mistakes were made, and our understanding is limited by time. The Atonement was wrought thousands of years after the Fall. The Restoration was more than a thousand years after the Apostasy. Think of all those who may have "benefitted" if God had just done everything a little quicker. We believe that the vast majority of people haven't had access to the blessings of the priesthood in this life, but it does not follow that God's attempts to help us cross the chasm are not well prepared. Adam's error was not due to following revelation, but the Atonement was. The Apostasy was not a matter of obeying revelation, but the Restoration was.
Some people think that the general authorities are wrong about this or that regarding the priesthood, but if the priesthood authority of the general authorities is real, then they have the right to receive revelation for the church from God. On the other hand, if they are false leaders, and anybody can tell better than them what course will be God's will, then that would mean that the priesthood is worthless, and not particularly beneficial to anyone (say seeking earlier temple sealing.) People who love truth should have no interest in promoting error in the form of a false priesthood. But if you believe that the priesthood authority exists in the church, you need to also admit that the general authorities have special insight into how to administer the blessings of the priesthood, including timing.
The basis for the Endangered Species Act is that even the product of natural selection, though not intentional and purposive, has accumulated value and even wisdom proven through the test of time. American law requires that no changes be made to the natural status quo ante until the effects of the proposed change have been thoroughly analyzed. Most humanist literature about human society assumes a similar evolutionary process has created human social structures. Humanists should be insistent that evolved social institutions should not be altered lightly. Yet they hypocritically endorse major changes in human society that they would decry if it were animal society and habitat.
At risk of being labeled racist, I theorize that analogy not only remains valid in the face of the priesthood ban but is reinforced by the manner in which the ban was removed or that particular fence torn down. It seems you assume that the ban was not instituted by God. Making that assumption does more than theorize that the justifications given for the policy were wrong but that the policy itself served no purpose in the mind of God. Elder McConkie never said the ban was wrong only that his justifications for it and predictions regarding when it would be torn down were wrong. It was often said that that particular fence would be torn down. President McKay asked God if the time was right to tear this thing down and was denied. I think we could say that when enough of us were gathered around that fence and could see it for what it was, God gave President Kimball the authority to tear the thing down, in a my-people-are-finally-ready kind of way.
I suspect that the temple policy referred to has more to do with the fact that in Europe (certainly in the UK) it is not possible to contract a legal marriage in a temple for the simple reason that a temple is not a public place. So even in Europe church policy is that you cannot get married civilly and then just wander in to the temple a few weeks or months later. Certainly when I got married the rule was you had to go to the temple the same day you were married or wait a year, so the rule is not really very different outside the United States. I did hear that rule has been relaxed slightly for couples who cannot get to the temple from their place of residence the same day.
What a delightful little discussion. Thanks for putting it together.
This is valid to a point.
Sometimes conservatives are so determined to defend a "fence" they adopt justifications for its existence which are false; causing harmful obstacles to be maintained longer than they should be. The ban on blacks holding the priesthood is a good example of this happening in our church. False teachings and reasoning were used to support the church policy of black males not receiving the priesthood until 1978. Several false teachings were propagated as doctrine by prominent church leaders who later had to admit they had been wrong and hadn't had all the light and knowledge available on the topic.
The conservatism you defend has, at times, resulted in the creation of false teachings to justify maintaining harmful fences. The priesthood ban fence was torn down, and rightfully so. Could it have been dealt with much earlier if we had been more willing to question the reasoning used to defend its existence?
Chesterton's "plain and simple" principle/paradox isn't always all that plain and simple. Both sides should look at every obstacle from multiple points of view instead of deciding foolishly that every fence needs to be torn down or that every fence should be maintained.
I learned so much from your clever explanation of Chesterton's Fence. Thank you so much. If good education is about changing behavior and, hopefully, lives for the better, then you have succeeded in your short article. I will not forget this change!
This kind of thing is not just theoretical.
Plots of cropland in France have traditionally had hedges around them; as I understand it, each plot was about the size that one man with one horse could plow in one day. After World War II, when tractors became more common, these hedges became an annoyance, because you'd plow a section, then have to drive out of that section and around and into the next. Sometime in the 60's (I think) it became government policy to consolidate such plots and remove the hedges. As a result, topsoil erosion became a serious problem. There are now movements in France dedicated to stopping the government-mandated cutting of these hedges (https://www.lacompagniedupaysage.fr/Petition-nationale-contre-l.html) and the rate of cutting is finally slowing down (https://www7.inra.fr/dpenv/pointc46.htm).
Cutting hedges would be damaging enough if individuals were doing it, but when Big Brother steps in and makes it a government mandate, 1) it happens on a far wider scale than if individuals are doing it, and 2) bureaucratic inertia and the ignorance of professional legislators make it much harder to stop it, even after the damage becomes apparent.
Interesting observation. . . thanks for sharing!
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