There is one subject which we are expected, in all our teachings, to shun, or only to hint at: I mean the wickedness of an impure life. Though God thunders against this appalling iniquity from the heavens curse after curse, anathema after anathema, by our unwillingness to repeat the divine utterance we seem to say, “Lord, not so loud! Speak about everything else; but if this keeps on there will be trouble!” Meanwhile the foundations of social life are being slowly undermined; and many of the upper circles of life have putrefied until they have no more power to rot.
If a fox or a mink come down to the farmyard and carry off a chicken, the whole family join in the search.
If a panther come down into the village and carry off a child, the whole neighborhood go out with clubs and guns to bring it down.
But this monster-crime goes forth, carrying off body and soul; and yet, if we speak, a thousand voices bid us be silent.
I shall try to cut to the vitals of the subject, and proceed with the post-mortem of this carcass of death. It is time to speak on this subject. All the indignation of the community upon this subject is hurled upon woman’s head. If, in an evil hour, she sacrifice her honor, the whole city goes howling after her. She shall take the whole blame. Out with her from all decent circles! Whip her. Flay her. Bar all the doors of society against her return. Set on her all the blood-hounds. Shove her off precipice after precipice. Push her down. Kick her out! If you see her struggling on the waves, and with her blood-tipped fingers clinging to the verge of respectability, drop a mill-stone on her head.
For a woman’s sin, men have no mercy; and the heart of other women is more cruel than death.
For her, in the dark hour of her calamity, the women who, with the same temptation, might have fallen into deeper damnation, have no commiseration and no prayer.
The heaviest stroke that comes down upon a fallen woman’s soul is the merciless indignation of her sisters.
If the multitudes of the fallen could be placed in a straight line, it would reach from here to the gates of the lost, and back again.
But what of the destroyer?