To my ears, these arguments ring hollow. They sound eerily similar to arguments that business developers and foresters have used to encroach on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Most wilderness, they say, has been lost to human activity — so the BWCA must be changed. In our modern times, others say, wilderness is just a vestige of an earlier hunter-gatherer stage — the march of economic progress must go on.
Yet the fight for wilderness preservation continues, at both the legal and personal levels. The law continues to decree that guests in the BWCA honor strict codes of conduct — eschewing trash cans, motorized boating, cabins and electricity to preserve deep, but not obvious, cultural goods. The benefits for various species, biodiversity and the human soul are profound.
Like wilderness, the deep cultural goods of marriage have been the result of meticulous social and legal exclusion. Throughout history, marriage has involved time-honored renunciations — premarital abstinence; gender separation for much of adolescence and early adulthood; parental oversight, and lifelong fidelity, to name a few….