Saturday, December 8, 2012

Harnessing a Horse

"Ellen White said every girl needs to know how to harness and drive a horse."

That's what we often hear from those who would like to prove that Ellen White's writings need to be culturally translated because, as they were written, they are not relevant to us anymore.

But the problem with that line of reasoning is that it sets up a convenient excuse for not following much of the wise counsel with which God has blessed His church. By misrepresenting what Ellen White said on this minor point, many have generalized that her clear, direct instructions on more important matters may be ignored.

So, let's see what she actually did say about this.

"And if girls, in turn, could learn to harness and drive a horse, and to use the saw and the hammer, as well as the rake and the hoe, they would be better fitted to meet the emergencies of life." Ed 216, 217 (1903)

Let's notice a few things about this statement.

1.  Ellen White wrote this only one time. It does not come with the emphasis of something that is repeated over and over again.

2.  This is not a command for all girls to learn to harness and drive a horse. It simply mentions the advantages "if" they could. It's a suggestion, not a moral obligation.

3.  How to harness and drive a horse is not a bad thing for people to know. So the statement is not untrue today.

I know that people are anxious to turn her statement into a principle that can be applied to modern technology. And that's fine also. But my point is that such an application does not negate her statement as it stands. The identification of principles in an inspired statement is for the purpose of expanding, not limiting, the application of its message.

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