When we behave well, we have more freedom.  If we all live by correctly interpreted principles, then we have less rules to follow because we govern ourselves well.

It is commonly understood in LDS Doctrine (and by many Christians) that the Law of Moses was implemented (in part) because the Children of Israel did not follow correct principles.  Because they could not correctly govern themselves they were given many rules to follow instead.  One point of the rules was to conform behavior to correct principles.

We see this same thing going on today where people quit following what used to be acceptable behavioral norms and new rules had to be instituted and enforced.

Jaywalking was not a ticketed offense until way too many people kept darting into traffic to cross the street.  Because people were not being safe, a law was implemented to help keep them safe.  A failure of some people to govern themselves properly created a need for a new law and a subsequent loss of freedom.  Food was not always banned in libraries, littering was not always a punishable offence, public urination was not always illegal either.  Good behavior would have prevented these laws.

There comes a critical point where enough people are not figuring it out on their own and then laws or rules need to be implemented to uphold the standard.  If enough people were putting garbage in garbage cans we wouldn’t need an anti-littering ordinance.

Of course, reasonable minds can disagree about what the rules of civilized behavior should be and that is why we have regular elections.

Failure to understand this connection between behavior and new rules can lead to mistaken conclusions.

This concept came to mind lately when reading a post about modesty.  You can read it here.

One part of the author’s argument is that because some rules were not in place with regard to BYU’s dress code (in the past) that dressing sort of immodestly used to be okay.  (Also that it is somehow bizarre to teach children ideals in dress and morals, but I digress).

The truth is that prior to the rules, people self-governed in sufficient numbers so that a rule was not needed.  As people began to slide down the scale of immodesty in greater numbers, the rules were implemented as a way to hold up the standard of what is to be considered appropriately modest or not.

If you don’t want to have to follow rules, follow better and more refined principles and the rules will eventually go away.

Comments Welcome

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