MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE—RELIGIOUS, PRACTICAL AND POLITICAL ASPECTS OF THE QUESTION
[Lucifer, Vol. III, No. 18, February, 1889, pp. 513-517]
Mr. Ap Richard has furnished with a powerful weapon those numerous Solomons of society who, under the mask of religion, have brought forward in every age the authority of the Bible to justify their shameful actions. They have appealed to it in support of slavery, and they now appeal to it in support of concubinage and licentiousness. The author deals with the question of marriage from every point of view—chiefly from that of animalism. He starts with the principle that “Liberty of Conscience” (for the male alone, note well) should be allowed. This implies in practice liberty of free commerce, the prostitution of woman as a thing, and reduces a tie which is regarded by many as holy and indissoluble to a mere product of free Love and trade, which is far from being always fair Trade.
The work may be a scholarly one from a literary point, but it starts from a principle still lower in the code of morality than that practiced by Mormons. It answers, perhaps, the aspirations of the average Mussulman. We doubt whether those of the average Christian (unless one of the Upper Ten) will be as easily satisfied.
Our ideas of relationship are founded upon our social system, and as other races have very different habits and ideas on that subject, it is natural to expect that their systems of relationship would also differ from ours. The ideas and customs with regard to marriage are very dissimilar in different races and we may say, as a general rule,
that as we descend in the scale of civilization, the family diminishes and the tribe increases in importance.
Mr. Ap Richard seems to have made a careful classification of his subject, although it is artificial in every respect. He starts with the assumption that the Bible must be right, and argues thence to the infallibility of the Church. In so doing he exactly reverses the view taken by St. Augustine. “Ego vero Evangelio non crederem; nisi me catholicae Ecclesiae commoveret auctoritas.” * Both the Catholic saint and the Protestant author, however, reason within a vicious circle, each from the respective point of his preconception. It may be pointed out, however, that there was a difference between temporary and permanent laws in the Old Testament.
“The blessing of God was given to the marriage of Adam and Eve.” Indeed? The author is discreetly silent, however, about the approval of the Almighty. It is previously given to the sun, the moon and the creeping things which “were very good,” but no similar expression of approval is used about Eve. Abraham’s liaison with Hagar (the still worse one of Lot with his daughters is not mentioned) was “not condemned by the writer of the Book of the Beginnings.” Polygamy (and, it seems, incest also) “was recognized and allowed by the Mosaic law, but was not allowed on the woman’s side,” goes on our authority. We say if one was, the other was also, and shall prove it.
David, we are told by the author, was rebuked for his adultery, not for his polygamy (!). Solomon’s wives and concubines were allowed to him as “a thing advantageous.” The symbolism which makes all these mystic brides indicative of the forces of nature is again ignored by the very matter-of-fact author, who is a literalist pur sang. We then
* [This passage is from St. Augustine’s essay entitled: Contra Epistolam Manichaei quam vocant fundamenti (Against the Epistle of Manichaeus called Fundamental), and may be found in Chapter V thereof. The original text may be consulted in Migne, Patr. Latina, Vol. 42; in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. First Series, Vol. IV, the passage is translated as: “For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church.”—Compiler.]
are offered the N. Testament record. Christ did not forbid polygamy, nor did His Apostles. It was only in a bishop that it was disapproved. There is in fact no general prohibition of it in Scripture, and Mr. Ap Richard considers it an open question, as open as the questions of parachute descent or Stock Exchange speculation. Utrum horum mavis accipe.*
We see here what comes of Biblical religion, which rests on no foundation of morality and is so dangerous in its dead letter. The author then takes the question of divorce, and discusses, in detail, Exodus xxi, 2, Exodus xxi, 7, Deuteronomy xxi, 10, Deuteronomy xxiv, I, and proceeds to teach that—
There is sufficient to show that concubinage under certain conditions was permitted. Divorce as a matter of expediency was allowed. The author gives no weight nor value to the declaration of Christ, that the Mosaic law was abrogated, and that marriage with a divorced person was distinctly forbidden. In all Mr. Ap Richard’s arguments, he takes the Protestant view and regards the Church of England as an ¦<J,8,P,4". The Greek and Roman churches are entirely ignored, and left to be hatched, matched, or dispatched, at his own sweet will and pleasure.
Then the author considers the question of separation, though he never indicates the true distinctions between the divorce a vinculo matrimoniis and the divorce a mensa et thoro. Still, giving due weight to his aspirations on the importance of observing Church Discipline in the Church of England, he shows how semi-detached couples may be brought into existence upon the biological plan of “fission.” In this work there is much which brings us face to face with questions of theology, or of right and wrong, supposed to act as the prime motors in what some call a sacrament and most others a deliberate contract. To the author, however, marriage is neither.
But let us now examine the question from two other aspects. Let us look at it from the standpoint of the woman
* [Take whichever you prefer; choose out of two evils.]
and her sacred rights involved in it; and from that of truth and a dispassionate analysis.
The bloodthirsty ancient Israelites, the sensual Jews, as in the Old Testament, followed the instinct of all savages and regarded the female as a thing to be captured and used, and of which a conqueror would scarcely have too much. The iniquities of their bloody wars were perpetrated under the direct command of “the Lord thy God” (see Hosea xiii, 16), also carried out by Christian conquerors. The woman might be the property of all the males in the tribe. The Book of Ruth, if it is taken as most Jews take it, in its literal meaning, decidedly inculcates the principle of polyandry. Of course, occultists are acquainted with its real significance; meanwhile, female believers in the dead-letter text would be fully justified in clamouring for their rights of practicing polyandry on the same authority.
The Jews appear, according to their own showing, at one time of their history, to have been both polygamous and polyandrous, neither social practice being forbidden by their Torah, or Law.
As this law was acceptable to the individuals, it was readily accepted as the voice of “God.” As slavery brought money into the pockets of slaveholders, in America, the whole clergy supported the iniquitous claims of the Southerners by Biblical texts. While the Jews were polygamising and polyandrising, and Baal and Astoreth elevated their fanes beside that of the Ineffable %&%*, the prophets of Israel (not Judah) preserved the Secret and Sacred Doctrine amid many vicissitudes. They were the real custodians of Truth, into which they were initiated. The Jews around them knew nothing of their doctrine, as their religious duties chiefly consisted in selling doves, changing money, and slaughtering oxen in the Temple. But the real high places of Samaria told of the worship of the God of Truth. The hut circle on the mountain side, with its divine Á, told worshippers what to worship, and where Deity should be worshipped. Protest after protest was made by these Tannaïm, the Initiated, against the brutalising influence of the Jews; but the intruders had learnt that the Promised Land abounded in milk and honey, and that if
they went east they would be beaten by the Arabs. The day of Karma came, and the Jews were successively beaten by Babylonians, by Romans, and centuries later by Christians. The knowledge of the Á became forgotten. The Jews learned social decency for the first time, when they copied the outward bearing of Roman courtezans, who at least taught them a higher morality than they knew of in their own land. In the time of Cicero (Oratio pro Flacco), we see that the Jews had a different code of morals in sexual matters, and a far lower one than even the not over-pious Romans, the latter being always chary to admit such sensualists into their midst.* Polygamy might be tolerated by the Roman soldier, but polyandry was too strong for the Roman matron. The nation had not yet been so debased through contact with the Jews and their immoralities, the profligacy of the higher classes of the Empire notwithstanding. But early Christian asceticism placed the position of woman, and especially of married women, on a different basis. To whatever source we may refer the principles inculcated in the New Testament, they are embodied in a system of teaching which still exists, little as it may be followed, to the present day. Law, at least, enforces monogamy. The Jewish custom has been abrogated, and outwardly, at all events, man has improved in the potentialities of decent living, as compared to the life led by the Patriarchs and Kings.
It is the argument of Mr. Ap Richard that Christ did not intend positively and immediately to abrogate the Mosaic law on this subject.
Taking the Bible as the source of morality and the guide of truth, he asks his readers to disprove the assertion that
* [No definite passage relating to this subject could be located in the text of Cicero’s Oration, although he expresses strong prejudice against both Jews and Greeks, especially with regard to their unreliability as witnesses in court (pro Flacco, IV, 9). In another place (XXVIII, 69), Cicero speaks of the Jewish religion and says that “the practice of their rites was at variance with the glory of our empire, the dignity of our name, the customs of our ancestors”, and also makes a passing remark to the “odium that is attached to Jewish gold” (XXVIII, 66). —Compiler.]
polygamy is not condemned by any authority, and text of “Holy Scripture.” It is his argument that Christ himself did not condemn the liberty of polygamy. He admits that various questions concerning marriage, and particularly with regard to the principles of the Gospel in relation to it, were raised in the early days of the Christian Church. Some four or five years after the Apostle Paul had founded the Church in Corinth, and had made a lengthy stay there of a year and a half, the brethren wrote a letter to him requesting some further instructions and advice on several matters of doctrine and practice; and foremost amongst these, on some point touching the question of marriage. Paul, who knew that there were a large proportion of Jews who had not followed out the maxim non cuivis homini contingit adire Corinthum, noted the one vice for which the Corinthians were notorious, that of prostitution. He dealt with the subject of mixed marriages in a manner which has since been formulated and developed by generations of theologians in spirit, if not altogether carried out in practice. Mr. Ap Richard discusses at great length the argument of St. Paul. But as he bases it on the ground of private interpretation, the opinion of Falstaff: “’Twere good for you that it should be known in counsel, you’ll be laughed at,” must hold good. The gravity with which the author piles text upon text, to found an argument in favour of his obnoxious doctrine, emulates the glory of the old Puritan preacher, who thundered against female high headdresses, and divided the words of a text to prove his case. “Let him that is upon the house-top not come down!” Wherefore I say unto you, “Top-knot, come down!” As we are unable to recognize his premises, we cannot discuss his argument, merely noting that probably any form of aberration of the human intellect, or peculiar practice, can by judicious manipulation be justified by a text of the Scriptures.
The author arguing from the instincts of man, considers marriage, not merely as honourable in all; but as a necessary consequence to human existence. But this proceeds on the argument that all processes of life must end in marriage. A novel that does not end with a wedding is voted dull
by the average British public. The idea of the old Hindu Kumaras and the Archangel Michael, who refused to generate children, has entirely disappeared from modern society. The ceaseless efforts of frail man not to fulfil his end, namely to liberate his Spiritual Ego from the thraldom of matter, but to adopt a particularly comfortable condition of life, will probably be continued so long as the present race continues to infest the surface of the earth. The occult female element, a pure ray from the Ineffable Name, is ignored by the moderns, who use marriage as a remedy for the softness of man’s heart, and permit divorce for the hardness of that same heart. The higher grades of the condition of man, virginity and its consequent glory, are set aside for the objects of sensual pleasures and pecuniary advantages of marriage. The latter has become a regular traffic nowadays. The author is evidently too prosaic to contemplate glorified humanity, wherein earth should be like heaven, where there should be no marrying, or giving in marriage, and the population of the world should diminish, till the last survivor is merged in Ain-Soph. Rather should he look for marriage to be made pleasant and accessible to all, like a six-penny telegram. The restrictions which even the wiliest missionary places in the way of polygamy may be cast aside. All persons are recommended to marry early and often, and all may be entitled to share (unless the Malthusians stop them) in the task of “Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.”
There is not evidently sufficient over-population yet in the sight of the author; not half enough starvation, and misery and resulting crime!
The old Jews did not care for their own individual sanctification. So long as they had a lot of children and their neighbours had something to be plundered by them, the highest aspirations of the Hebrew race were satisfied. We see this in the ceaseless and constant phallicism of the Jews, which culminates now in the hedonism and luxury which form the highest summum bonum amongst the Hebrew race, and its Christian imitators. Take up a novel by Auerbach or Beaconsfield. Gold lamps glitter everywhere; rich carpets lie under foot; sweet scents perfume the ambient
air; luxurious food tempts the jaded appetite; costly drink stimulates the feeble brain; beautiful females attract the eye; and everything is according to the heart of man. There is no moral shame in mere good living. But the philosophy of the old Egyptians, who produced the skeleton at their festival tables, ought to be oftener followed. The solemn lesson contained in the allegory of the Hand which wrote on the wall the words: mene, mene, tekel, upharsin is forgotten. The pleasures of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, tempt many, and the increase of any custom which makes man more subject to the influences of the traditional devil is strongly to be disproven by those who aim at a higher power, and a theosophical mode of existence. To those, who think that the present generation is worthy of being the recipients of thought, the words of St. Polycarp may be cited: Illos vero indignos puto, quibus rationem reddam,* or as Goethe says:
Das Beste, was du wissen kannst,
Darffst du den Buben doch nicht sagen.
There is a hundred times more dangerous immorality contained in this one volume crammed with Biblical quotations than in all the library of Zola’s works. A deadly, sickening, atmosphere of sensual bestiality emanates from this work; yet one does not hear that Marriage and Divorce has been censured by any archbishop or even a stray bishop, let along a Judge.
Those who have ever appreciated even the idea of another existence; who have seen, perchance, through the exercise of an hitherto undeveloped faculty of man, not merely the exterior world, but themselves, are not likely to
* [The source of this statement is not definitely known. St. Polycarp (ca. 69 - ca. 155 A.D.), Bishop of Smyrna and one of the Apostolic Fathers, wrote in Greek, and the only extant writing of his is his Epistle to the Philippians. The Latin sentence may be a translation from some Greek writing now not any longer extant. Its English rendering is: “I consider those, however, unworthy of my rendering them an account,” or “not deserving of my taking the trouble to explain to them.”—Compiler.]
accept arguments in favour of polygamy, even though they may be supported by texts from the Old or even the New Testament. The thoughts of men are various and manifold; and we can only regret the appearance of such a volume. To bring forward arguments to show that it is by polygamy, and turning oneself into a beast, by the mere exercise of the human (or animal) faculties and passions, that the highest aim of man can be attained, is the culmination of this century’s immorality, and of the influence of the dead-letter Bible.
The Hebrew race is avenged. It was robbed by the fanatics of the early Christian centuries of its heirloom, the Mosaic Books, and as thanks, was hooted, persecuted and murdered in the name of One supposed to have been foretold by the old prophets. And now, like the golden fruit in the fairy tale, the Bible, while the healthy juice contained in it evaporates unsensed and unperceived by the greedy eater, is made to gradually distil the lethal venom of its dead letter, and to poison the last clear waters which, however dormant, were still preserved to the present day in the hearts of Christendom. All that Protestant Christianity seems to have assimilated from the “Holy Bible” is the sleek, subtle and subservient advocacy of selfish and bestial passions, such as polygamy, and the legal spoliation by wars—as commanded by the Hebrew “Lord of Hosts”!