Hide Articles List

7 articles on this Page

--_--_..------.------.---PROBLEMS…

News
Cite
Share

PROBLEMS OF LIFE. BY THE REV. B. J. CAMPBELL, D.D. [Copyright,]! AT intervals letters are received for this column dealing with marital troubles and containing questions which raise in acute form important matters If principle with which the Church is confronted at the 'present time in rela- tion to this subject. Hitherto, I have avoided addressing myself to these ex- cept indirectly, but one or two communi- cations received this week almost compel an answer of some kind. They are full of sorrow and darkness of spirit. It is unnecessary to quote them; their nature will perhaps be sufficiently obvious from the observations made thereon. A considerable amount of the -dis- turbance evident just now in the rela- tions of the sexes must be attributed to the war. We are abnormally emo- tional, having passed through a period of unexampled strain and stress and now experiencing some of its worst" effects. This is apparent in every de- partment of life. It is at the root of a great part of our industrial difficulties -though by no means all. But the Same psychological abnormality has also invaded our most sacred and private relationships, and, significantly enough, it is women even more than men who seem to have fallen victims thereto. Most clergymen can bear wit- ness to this. There is a disposition abounding on every hand to flout and defy ancient and accepted standards of conduct, to demand what is called T liberty of action-which is only another name for licence—-and, amongst other things, to impugn marriage and all the obligations therof as antiquated and out of date. I mean marriage as taught and consecrated by the Church, the union of one man and one woman for life on the basis of mutual fidelity and common interest. Now, without entering into any dis- cussion of the ordinarily accepted reasons for monogamy, I wish to put be- fore certain of my correspondents a few considerations they may not have thought of in justification of- the Church's view of the sanctity of the marriage bond. Nearly very letter I have received in criticism of the Church's position concerning marriage assumes that happiness is the first ob- ject of the married state. Complaint after complaint is made to the effect that it is surely very wrong to tie two 'people together for life whoser tempera- ments are mutually so incompatible that unhappiness must result. It is contended that in the majority of in-' stances young persons marry without knowing each other well enough to be sure of being able to. live together hap- pily unto their lives' end, and that it is sheer erfielty to force them to go on do- ing so after they have discovered their mistake.. It is maintained further that one cannot command, love, that that mysterious attraction between man and woman should be the only recognised reason for their association in the most intimate of all fellowships. The pres- ence or absence of love in this sense is supposed to be the whole point at issue. If two persons of opposite sexes have fallen in love, as the saying is, 'then they are j ustitied in over-riding every consideration of honour and integrity, every right possessed by others, break- ing hearts, smashing up homes and making general havoc in order to gain their own gratification. Against all these assumptions I would enter a most emphatic demurrer. It is not true that happiness is the first ob- ject to be sought in marriage. Many excellent people need to fee- set right on this initial matter. Get happiness if you can, but do not make the attain- ment of happiness your primary reason for uniting your life to that of another human being till death shall part you. Still more, do not make the failure to secure happiness your reason for dis- solving or wishing to dissolve that union. Happiness should be a conse- quenee of something higher rather than itself a ruling motive. The first object in marriage, an object there should be no reason ever to change while life shall last, is the solemn undertaking of a ? spiritual trusteeship. Each partner to the marriage contract accepts the charge I' of another soul for better or worse. No other relatioi-tsliip in life provides so JTj &tt an opportunity from this point of View or implies so tremendous a respon- sibility. The relationship of parent and child, cilosei as it is, cannot and does not signify "as much, and is to a large extent dependent upon the right recog- nition of the of husband t i and wife. Fotr two people deliberately and of serious purpose, day by day and year by year, to pool interests, share outlook, be companions in all things small and great, a living unity in fact, is a greater and more difficult thing than almost any earthly endeavour that could be named. It demands so much and in go many ways that few succeed in rising to the full height of its pos- sibilities. A spiritual trusteeship— that is what marriage is from first to last. What are. you doing with this daily companion, this man, this woman with whom you have made compact be- fore God? "For better, for worse "is lie, is she, better or worse for being daily under your influence, dwelling within the radius of your personality ? No one comes so near to that life as you,' no one can modify it so much for good or ill. Insensibly you are shaping each other's souls as the days go on, lifting each other higher or driving each other lower by what you are, and say, and do. It is just because marriage is before all things a spiritual trusteeship that the Church has ever regarded it as of the nature of a sacrament, and why the marriage vow is made before the altar, made to God as well as to each other by the married pair. And in the day when the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed one of the questions we shall have to answer will be the question how far we have been faithful to our stewardship. It might be maintained that the Church has always emphasized the solemnity of the marriage vow be- cause of its social implications, because the welfare of the family depends upon. it, and ordered society rests upon the home. Yes, but the spiritual trustee- ship comes first and includes or sancti- fies all the rest. » And cannot one command love? That is another of the mischievous common- places of the hour. Our Lord thought differently. "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one an- other." It is a pity that in our lan- guage so many different ideals are covered by the one word love. For the love of which Jesus spoke requires the exercise of the will; it is a mOYiaJl senti- ment it is a deliberate and consistent attitude of benevolence to all with whom we' have to- do. This kind of love is what is spoken of in the New Testament as agape. But if a Greek v,anted to speak of sexual passion he used a very different word; he called it eros. Now eros is no more a moral force than Niagara Falls is a moral force. It may be the most selfish devastating thing on earth. Whether it shall be a blessing or a curse depends upon what we choose to do with it. It can lift a soul to highest heights or plunge it into deepest depths. But to talk of this elemental appetite as in itself sufficient to give any man or woinan the right to break the marriage vow and ignore all countervailing considerations of duty and honour is the most tragic of delu- sions. No method of regulating the relations of the sexes has yet been invented which would do away with all hardship. No- thing that has been proposed is any im- provement on Christian marriage in tlfte way of ensuring happiness. Human nature being what it is hearts are liable to be broken, be. the marriage laws what they may. It- would be the same or worse if there were no marriage at all. It has been sensibly said, though I forget by whom, that any man can live with any woman if only there be the Good Will without which no human fel- lowship of any kind can be a success. And if happiness is not to be found in the line of one's duty the man or woman is to be commiserated who seeks it else- where. Christ Church Vicarage, Westminster.

BISHOP OF COVltNTRYS PORTRAIT.

IRISH COMMITTEE AT WORK.

LITERARY LIGHTS OF THE 'NINETEENTH…

DIOCESAN RINGERS.

PERSONAL SERVICE.

THE VICAR OF THAXTED,