Things To Act
Saturday, February 28, 2004
I wasn’t sure if I had anything to say about the recent kerfuffle over the selling of garments on EBay (see Nauvoo discussion here), and now that I finally have my thoughts more or less organized, the issue seems to have moved on. Regardless:

*I get the impression we (as a community of Latter-day Saints) don’t always do a good enough job teaching the importance of keeping certain things pertaining to the Temple sacred. For instance, some missionaries in my MTC district certainly didn’t know where the lines were, as they discussed (outside the Temple) some things they had just covenanted not to discuss. If this is a systematic problem (of people receiving their endowments without adequately understanding where the boundaries are on what should and should not be done outside the Temple), I’m not sure what should be done about it, other than better teaching at a local level, and more preparation for first-time Temple goers.

*Many things relating to the Temple are more or less in the public domain for those whose base curiosity leads them to seek them out. Realizing this should not overly agitate us (after all, as Nibley points out, corrupted forms of the endowment are available in numerous ancient records as well). I think some members go too far in expressing dismay over these things (for instance, a recent hatrack discussion featured someone making repeated comparisons to the practice of stoning for certain blasphemies under the Law of Moses—as if we would even consider such today, in our non-theocratic society). The Church has, for whatever reasons, opted not to take the legal route on most of these issues. The way to deal with those who would violate and/or mock sacred things is to ignore them. Decent people will respect others’ privacy. Indecent people who will not should probably be ignored as not quite fit for civilized company.

*That said, it would seem that there’s no good way to resolve the situation if EBay allows auctions of things we consider sacred to go forward and we are offended. We are free to pressure EBay to change its policies, and to boycott it if it doesn’t. However, since practically anything has the potential to offend someone, I’m not sure that EBay should automatically ban anything considered offensive. This could easily lead to popular, well-organized pressure groups setting standards while everyone is free to ignore smaller, less popular groups (some might argue that this is happening in the current situation). I’m not convinced such a result would be healthy, but am still somewhat agnostic as to what EBay should do. It seems like a quality brand would keep illicit and uncivilized behavior off of its services, but the definitions of civilized are subjective enough to make this problematic. Perhaps the only way to arrive at a societal solution is to allow various brands to compete at various levels of attentiveness to offense, and see which ones thrive and which do not.

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