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Is the life-long 1ove relation the only moral relation? Should not the happiness of the individual subserve the betterment of the species? These and other questions are discussed sincerely, helpfully in Ellen Key's great book. Self-control, she declares, must be taught, but self-renunciation must not be preached
EN have always stoned the uation of sexual morality, whom so many prophets and probably always disturbed and resentful sleepers are ready
will. And the explanation is to stone. It is not with her declaration that IV niev to rouse a sleeper whose marriage that her detractors quarrel; for
not far to seek. For if you love is the only ultimately moral basis of one desire is to be let alone, the first thing the majority of them have long regarded that you awaken is his resentment. this as at once self-evident and impracti
Yet at first this is a sleepy resentment, cable. What exasperates them is the fact ready to disappear if the need of action is that she insists upon taking the proposition instant and definite; if, say, there are bur- seriously; upon regarding this abstract glars in the house, or the doctor has to be ideal as a concrete goal to be striven for; gone for. It will equally disappear, will in- and upon urging them to begin actually deed dissolve into gratitude, if you can tell and actively to work for its attainment by him that a way has been found out of the dif- an open and honest consideration of the ficulties that he had succeeded in forgetting dilemmas involved and by a gradual putting in his dreams.
into practice of the best solutions arrived at. But if you shake a shirker and greet his If her book were a mere parading of waking anger with the call to rouse up and iridescent ideals, it could be enjoyed by help find a way out of his forgotten trou- the dreamers and disregarded by the doers. bles, you can generally look for ructions. If it were a Utopian scheme of supposedly
And exactly that is the mission of the complete social reorganization, fanatically prophets.
recommended for instant adoption as it The really exasperating thing about them stood, it could be read as a curiosity and is, not that they are self-elected disturbers dismissed with a shrug. of our slumber, but that they never rouse But in modestly claiming a recognized us in order that we may execute a pre- ideal as capable of eventual realization, arranged program, but always in order that frankly owning and partly outlining the we may take our part in helping to devise complexity of the problems and the danger one. They never waken us by bringing of the necessary experiments and possible us our breakfast on a tray; but always to mistakes that stand between us and its ask us to build the kitchen fire.
successful application, and yet calling for And this is the real cause of complaint instant, though careful and conscientiously against Ellen Key, the latest of the pro- considered action with the far-off end in phetic brood, the Swedish critic of social view, the book (although it voices the growethics and passionate pleader for a reval- ing convictions of thousands of men and
women of the present day) rouses the bitter to man's fallen nature; a palliative for a antagonism of all the timid whom it frightens hereditary disease. Lutheranism was a and of all the lazy whom it disturbs. compromise; a bridge between two logical
see what this ideal is; what views of the universe, the Catholic-Christgrounds exist for thinking that it may be in ian and the Individualist-Monist. And any practical sense realized; and what the bridges are made to go over, not to stand author of Love and Marriage suggests as upon. the first steps that should be taken toward None of our “immoral” writers has inits realization.
sisted more strongly than Luther upon the
power of the sexual life. He regarded IDEAS OF MORALITY CHANGING
modesty without marriage as unthinkable All thoughtful persons perceive that the and saw in marriage the means given by ideas of the morality of sexual relations God to satisfy desire, just as food is the upheld by the religions and laws of the means given by God to satisfy hunger. He Western nations are in our time undergoing held that man had as little right to satisfy à radical reorganization.
the former by unchastity, as to still the This is, in reality, but a new phase of an latter by theft. And "unchastity" was old fight. The theory of evolution as ap- made synonymous with every form of plied to the creation of the world has sexual relation outside matrimony, while ceased to be regarded as a religious ques- "chastity" became equivalent to every tion, but is cropping up in the field of form of marriage. With marriage thus morals. The dogma of convention still as- regarded and sanctioned, it might be conserts that man was made once for all. tracted with any one; and indeed, to the The evolutionists are beginning to see that genuinely pious, it seemed a higher thing to he is still in the process of becoming.
enter into matrimony without any earthly So long as man believed that he had been love to interfere with the love of God. created perfect and had then fallen and continued in everlasting strife between the
THE LUTHERAN DOCTRINE OF MARRIAGE spirit and the flesh, no doubt could arise Thus the Lutheran doctrine of marriage of the absolute value of the Christian ideal made God "indulgent" toward all the of morality. Even those who strove hardest impurity that the sexual life shut up within to attain this idea, confessed themselves the whited sepulcher of lawful wedlock. He sinners in so far as the flesh triumphed was made to shut His eyes to all the wife over the spirit.
murders that the command of fecundity It was evolutionism that first gave men involved; to all the worthless children courage to wonder whether one may not also produced by ill-matched and impure marbe “sinning” when the spirit triumphs riages. He was supposed to "bless” all over the flesh.
unions entered into, even though from the Christian morality starts from the con- lowest motives and under the most unnatuception of human nature as complete in its ral circumstances, between a sick person constitution, though not in its culture, and and a healthy one, a young and an old, a of a human being as divided into body and willing and an unwilling, or two unwilling soul. The new morality, on the other hand, ones, coupled together by their families. is determined by a monistic belief in the Today, countless women are still being soul and body as two forms of the same sacrificed to this doctrine of marriage, or to existence and the evolutionary conviction
its unconscious effects; their exhausted that man's psycho-physical being is neither wombs are a poor soil for the new generafallen nor perfect, but capable of perfection. tion; their crushed souls a poor support for The one saw "culture," "progress," and the growth of new wills. For one woman “development” in man's improvement of who defends herself with the resolution material and immaterial resources within lent by horror, there are thousands who and without himself. The other believes have conceived and still conceive children that all this is but detail in a development in loathing For one wife who is met with that is improving and ennobling the very the modest prayer of love, there are thoumaterial of mankind.
sands who, with a feeling of humiliation, The early Church looked upon marriage yield to their proprietors the right inculcated as a regrettable but necessary concession by the Lutheran doctrine of matrimony.
The new morality is in the stage of in- tions that now maintain it continue to quiry on many questions—such as labor, exist. But they know at the same time that crime, and education—but above all on their will is destined slowly to transform the sexual life. Even on this question it no these psychological and social conditions. longer accepts commandments from the They do not believe that the inconsismountains of Sinai or Galilee; here, as tencies and contradictions that are indiseverywhere else, evolutionism can regard solubly connected with the natural condionly continuous experience as revelation. tions of the maintenance of the race can
be got rid of by any legislation. And they NATURE SUBJECT TO TRANSFORMATIONS
recognize that complete freedom is an Our present “nature” means only our idea that corresponds only with perfected present stage of development. Hairiness development. They acknowledge the newas once nature" as nakedness is now. cessity of fixed laws and customs, since Marriage by capture was once “nature” as these alone intensify the feelings into sources courtship is now. What new transforma- of impulse strong enough to be translated tions the race is destined to undergo; what into action. They perceive that the conservlosses and gains, at present unsuspected, of ative, tenacious emotions have the same organs of the body or of properties of the soul, importance for the soul as the skeleton for await it—this is the secret of the future. But the body. more and more, mankind is becoming con- What they do desire is such forms as, vinced of its power to intervene in its own whether they limit or extend liberty of development. More and more, it realizes that action, will promote a life-enhancing use nature is no more fallible than perfect, no of the sexual powers both for the individual more reasonable than unreasonable, and for the race. They have no hope that more consistent than contrary in her pur- the new form will arrive in a state of perposes-since she is all these.
fection. But they hope to foster the higher be transformed—ennobled or debased-by needs that are destined finally to render culture; and man claims the right con- the new form necessary also to the majority. sciously to cultivate Hcr.
And this hope kindles their calculated efHe realizes that a life is subject to forts, which are directed by the certainty transformation; that each transformation that personal love is life's highest value, involves the death of once active realities as well for the individual himself as inand principles, and the formation of new directly for the new lives his love creates. ones. He knows that this dying-off and And this certainty is spreading from day to replacing never takes place uniformly; day all over the world. that laws and customs that have become a
LOVE INDEPENDENT OF MONOGAMY drag upon the lives of those in a better position are still of advantage to the major- It is a very common but erroneous opinity, and therefore ought to continue.in ion that monogamy has given rise to love. existence as long as they remain so. But Love appears even among the animals; he knows at the same time that it is through and with them, as in the world of men, has the few in the better position—those whose shown itself independent of monogamy. The needs and powers are most ennobled—that a origin of the latter in human society was higher standard of existence will finally the sense of proprietorship, religious ideas, become the portion, also, of the majority and considerations of collective utility;
It is thus the dissatisfaction of the but not the perception of the importance of most cultured members of society with love's selection. On the contrary, love has the existing contradictions between their been in constant strife with monogamy, and sexual needs and the form of their legit- it is therefore a profound mistake to assume imate gratification that is now giving that the higher view of love has been formed rise to attacks on that institution of mar- solely through monogamy. riage which was still sufficient for their Love is the result of that mysterious own grandparents, just as it is now for longing for perfection which, in the course a countless number of their contempo- of evolution, has raised instinct into pasraries. These people know that their dis- sion, passion into love, and which is now satisfaction will not destroy marriage so striving to raise love itself to an even greater long as the psychological and social condi- love.
Love, whose origin is in the very instinct of the race, must be more deeply bound up with the race than any other emotion and cannot preserve or promote its vital force unless it stands in some relation, either of giving or taking, to the race.
But the band that attaches it to humanity may be woven of several materials. The gift to the race may express itself in various ways. In one case a great emotion may bring about a tragic fate, which opens the eyes of humanity to the red abysses it contains within itself. Another time it may create a great happiness, which sheds a radiance round the happy ones, illuminating all who come near them. In many cases, love translates itself into intellectual achievements, or useful social work. In most, it results in two more perfect human beings, and in new creatures still more perfect than themselves.
The new love is still the natural attraction of man and woman to each other for the continuance of the race. It is still the desire of the active human being to relieve, through comradeship, the hardships of another and of himself at the same time. But above this eternal nature of love, beyond this primeval cause of marriage, another longing has grown with increasing strength. This is not directed toward the continuance of the race. It has sprung from man's sense of loneliness within his race; a loneliness which is ever greater in proportion as his soul is exceptional. It is the pining for that human soul that is to release our own from this torment of solitude; a torment Ellen Key, the Swedish critic of social ethics, who is pleading for radithat was formerly allayed by repose
cally new conceptions of morality in regard to love and marriage in God, but that now seeks its rest with an equal, with a soul that has itself it is that this sentiment has become diflain wakeful from the same longing; with fused and has taken shape in the consciousa soul that is empowered by love to the ness of the many; that it is beginning to set miracle of redeeming our soul—as it by its stamp upon the whole spirit of the age. ours is redeemed-from the sense of being Mankind continues to be guided by a stranger upon earth.
erotic impulses. The culture of the idea of The same feeling has possessed many a love is far in advance of the instinct of man before our time. But what is new about love. But an ever greater and greater
Ellen Key and William Johnston, an American journalist, who interviewed her at her country home in Sweden
number of mankind are coming to feel that life has given them but a poor portion when their love has been nothing but the sinking into an embrace. An ever greater number know that love is absorption into that spirit in which one's own finds a foothold without losing its freedom.
Great love arises only when desire of a being of the other sex coalesces with the longing for a soul of one's own kind.
When two souls have joys that the senses share, and when the senses have delights that the souls ennoble, then the result is neither desire nor friendship. Both have been absorbed in a new feeling, not to be compared to either taken by itself; just as the air is incompatible with its component elements. Nitrogen is not air, nor is oxygen; sensuousness is not love, nor is sympathy. In combination they are the air life and love.
That women now venture to acknowledge that they possess erotic senses, while men are beginning to discover, erotically, that they have souls; that woman demands
Ellen Key and her dog “Wild,"
who is her constant companion