[Footnote A: Lecky’s “History of European Morals.” Chap. V.]
And I believe that the tendency to reject all moral standards is largely due to the refusal of an older generation to examine and to justify its own standard. To refuse to discuss or defend it—to affirm that it is beyond debate and not to be questioned without depravity is merely to produce the impression that it is beyond defence and impossible to justify. It is not surprising that people begin to say: “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die. Let us experience all we desire. Let us act like the normal healthy creatures that we are. Let us ignore the flimsy barriers a corrupt and imbecile moral code would erect between us and what we desire.”
That is the point of view of many men and women to-day. That is what the absence of a just and reasoned moral code has led to. And I am prepared, in spite of all protests, to affirm that it is not a step backward, but forward; that promiscuity is not as vile as prostitution—a prostitution which has been accepted, which has been defended by Christian people! It is less horrible for a human being to have the morals of an animal than the morals of a devil. We have to begin by rejecting the morality of fiends, and we begin, even if the immediate effect is more terrifying to the moralist than the old hidden-up devilry that lent itself to an easier disguise.
So I believe. And so the present chaos, though it has its elements of anxiety and its obvious dangers, leaves me unafraid. I am utterly persuaded that we shall win through to solid ground.
I believe that the long groping of humanity after a sex-relationship which shall be stable, equal, passionate, disciplined, pure, is the groping of a right instinct, the hunger of a real need; and that we must—we shall—find its answer. With many failures, with many reactions, it can, I think, be seen, as history unrolls its record and civilizations rise and fall, that the movement of humanity has been towards a more stable, a more responsible, a more disciplined, but not less passionate form of relationship between men and women. Let us not forget that great and pregnant fact when we reject the immoral arguments, the cruelties and injustices, with which society has sought either to justify its ideals or to conceal its horrible failures. For if we can thus distinguish, and go forward, this generation will not have suffered in vain. It will, on the contrary, make of its suffering the spur which shall force us all onward and upward. It will by its courage and its honesty give to the world a truer and a nobler moral standard than the world has ever accepted yet.
A SOLUTION OF THE PROBLEM OF THE UNMARRIED
Jesus said, “the
foxes have holes, and the birds of the air
have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head.”
(St. Luke ix. 58.)