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Chapter III - First Degree
Sex union forbidden,
except for the express purpose
of creating a child.
In married life of the usual type, children are brought into the world with a strange recklessness. The Bible command, "Be fruitful and multiply," has been twisted into a sanction for immoderate sex union. So far as can be learned, men appear to be here the chief trespassers upon the privileges of the matrimonial state. But if men are the aggressors, their wives are too often accessories before the fact, in that they yield their bodies to marital excess without a murmur, inwardly assuring themselves that they by so doing they are obeying God's behest to be dutiful wives.
I recall a charming woman, whose husband is intelligent, refined and thoroughly devoted to his wife. Both are devout Christians, both abhor drunkenness, and are living lives of purity and aspiration so far as an outsider can see. Yet this happily married wife, when discussing with me certain aspects of the marital relation, remarked, incidentally, "For my part, on going to bed at night I am usually very thankful when my husband doesn't want me, and I can go quietly to sleep."
"When my husband doesn't want me." Why should he ever approach her, unless she wants him? It is not the man, but the woman, who must be the best judge of when union is desirable; and for her to yield to a husband's solicitations when she does not desire union, is a fraud upon him, since he finds only a corpse or a hypocrite in the place of a sincerely loving and tender marital partner. Moreover, it encourages him to think that, no matter what his wife desires, she is quite willing to serve at any time as a convenience for his lust; so that she confirms him in his selfishness, and degrades herself from the position of priestess in a sacred mystery, to become a mere cuspidor.
A cultivated Philadelphia lady, who lost her money and took up the profession of nursing for her livelihood, tells the following:
She was attending a young wife in her first confinement. The patient had been greatly lacerated in delivery. On the second day after delivery, while the nurse was attending to the baby, the husband entered, and requested the nurse to leave the room. "For God's sake, nurse, don't leave me!" exclaimed the sick woman. But a look from the husband caused the nurse to obey him, nevertheless. Shortly after, she heard her patient scream, "Oh, he'll murder me!" Whereupon the nurse rushed in and found the husband in the act of committing a rape upon his wife. The nurse seized his arm, and endeavored to pull him away; but he did not yield until he was ready, when he allowed himself, sullenly, to be led from the room, covered with blood. The wife meanwhile had fainted. When she recovered, she cried, "Oh God, would that my baby girl and I would die! That man promised on our wedding-day to honor, love and protect me; but every night since then he has used my poor body!"
This is doubtless an extreme case; but the wife who allows her husband to approach her whenever he wishes, regardless of her own desires, is the first term in a downward series of which this unfortunate woman is, alas, not the last, as many a physician can testify.
In Pagan lands and among the Jews, there are five days out of every twenty-eight, when the woman is forbidden to the man; and those who violate this taboo period are looked on as lawbreakers. Lore and religion alike memorialize the abhorrence in which the violator of this taboo period is held, everywhere but in Christian lands. If the reader objects that no educated or refined man would fail to respect the five-day taboo period, let him inquire about this of some reputable physician with whom he is intimate, when he will learn how sadly numerous in our midst are the husbands who respect no physical condition and no night of the month. Modern researchers have shown the impressionability of the embryo child during gestation. Napoleon the Great owed his remarkable military genius to the fact that, prior to his birth, his mother accompanied her husband through a military campaign.
If the coming child be so impressionable during the nine months of gestation, it surely behooves every conscientious parent to see to it that no abandonment to passion shall occur during that period to stamp the embryo, even for one moment, with lack of self-control. And, on the other hand, it would seem as though every act of mutual considerateness and every tender caress between husband and wife at that time must bear its part in making their coming child self-controlled, sweet-tempered and affectionate.
But not only should the nine months of gestation be free from the abandonment of sex-passion. So, also, according to some authorities, should the nine months or thereabouts devoted to lactation. The child that is suckling is a drain upon its mother's strength, and it is cruel, at least to the child, even should the mother desire it, to draw further upon her nervous energies at that time, and to probably render the milk feverish, by abandonment to sex passion. Among Zulus and Kaffirs, the wife's person is held sacred by the husband, not only during gestation, but also during lactation. It is true that these people have more than one wife. That is their way of dealing with this question. But will it be pretended that a civilized, high-minded white man cannot get along during his wife's pregnancy and lactation without indulgence, and that he must choose among polygamy, association with harlots, or violation of the person of a pregnant or nursing wife? If so, he should be prohibited by law from ever creating a child, since he cannot become a father without afterward committing a crime.
Some sex reformers hold that the creation of a child should not occur oftener than once in three years, inasmuch as a little child is entitled to the mother's personal care during its infancy - a care which is interfered with when the mother is passing through the delicate condition of pregnancy.
At all events it cannot be denied that, were fewer children born in a family, those who are born would be better taken care of than they are at present. A poor man is not able to properly rear and educate a large family. Nor, indeed, can any but the very rich do this. So that, from a financial as well as from a hygienic standpoint, large families are undesirable, as being an undue tax upon their parents, and also as rendering it unlikely that proper care can be bestowed upon each individual child.
But if large families are undesirable, so, also, are the usual preventive checks undesirable, being abnormal, unhealthy, and immoral, whether by withdrawal or other methods. They are immoral, because they place no check upon passion, but allow it full range. They are unhealthy, because the psychic powers of both parties are depleted, without sufficient interchange of magnetism. And being a violation of the natural and healthy relation, they are abnormal.
The only lawful preventive to conception is self-control. The seed should never be sown where no harvest is prepared for or desired.
The wife is the one to decide when the harvest is to be desired. She should be queen of her own person, so absolutely as she was while still a maiden. She should never consent to sex union unless she desires it. Otherwise, she degrades her wifehood into prostitution, for she is then little, if any better than the courtesan who rents her body to a man forgo much money a night.
The coming child should be deliberately, reverently, and prudently planned for. To choose a time when there seems to be least likelihood of conception, is degrading the generative powers for purposes of sensuality. Moreover, the wife is less desirous of union at such times. Nature's appointed love-season is, almost without exception, during the day or days immediately following the monthly taboo period. Those who allow this natural wedding-time to pass, and who unite two weeks later, at the ebb-tide of the woman's passion, should not be surprised if she manifests only indifference or disgust, instead of tender affection.
It must be remembered that the seed should be sown with the honest intention of producing a harvest. When it has been sown, it behooves husband and wife to wait, it may be for weeks or even months, to learn beyond the possibility of a mistake, whether the seed has germinated or not. And of course, when pregnancy is assured, no further seed need be sown.
This is the teaching of the First Degree.
Not until the initiate shall have grasped the teaching in its fullness will he be worthy to enter upon the training for the Second Degree.
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