Page:American Journal of Sociology Volume 11.djvu/637
RELIGIOUS DEDICATION OF WOMEN 621
Mourning in ancient China meant expropriating one's self temporarily of all one's possessions. As a natural consequence, custom then required mourners to divest themselves for a time also of their wives and concubines, who constituted mere objects of wealth.**
From this point of view, conjugal abstinence during mourning is assimilated to fasting, likewise a mourning custom in China. In view of the fact that in China women were at one time buried alive with their masters, may not conjugal abstinence be a worn- down survival, like widow-chastity, of the sacrifice of women to deceased relatives? Again, sexual abstinence by women under certain circumstances necessitates the same sacrifice by men. How this may occur in general is specifically and curiously illus- trated by the myth of the origin of Priapus-worship at Lampsacus. The god's attentions to the women of that town angered their husbands. They therefore drove him away. In revenge, Priapus inflicted the jealous husbands of Lampsacus with venereal disease, and thereby forced them to re-establish his worship in their city. 40 Implicit throughout all of the foregoing discussion is the view that religious ideas and practices are determined by non- religious social relations. It seems unnecessary to point out the converse fact that religious ideas and practices vitally affect non- religious social relations. The interaction is constant. The prac- tice of occasional or life-long religious chastity by men and women has been extremely helpful in the development of social standards of sexual control. Manu 41 and St. Paul 42 are certainly respon- sible for untold human misery, but they may also be credited with helping to give a religious sanction to social control of sexuality. 48
- The Religious System of China, Vol. II, pp. 608, 609.
40 Dulaure, op. cit., p. 118.
" " There is no sin in .... carnal intercourse, for that is the natural way of created beings, but abstinence brings great rewards." (The Laws of Manu, Vol. V, p. 56 ; " Books of the East " series.)
""Art thou loosed from a wife? Seek not a wife. But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned ; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh." (i Cor. 7: 27, 28.)
- It is interesting to note that the religious sanction for chastity may develop
even in phallic worship. Cicero writes that from the Vestal Virgins women may learn that the purest chastity constitutes the perfection of their nature (" sentiant mulieres in illis, naturam feminarum omnem castitatem pati," De Legibus, II, 12). The Peruvian Sun-god, like all Sun-deities, had a phallic character. The