Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (1889)/04 Marriage

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We know that scenes not always bright
Must unto them be given;
But let there shine o'er all the light
Of Love and Truth and Heaven. — Gaskell.

Whose love was of that dignity,
That it went hand in hand, even with the vow
I made to her in marriage. — Hamlet.

Beneath my leaves, though early fallen and faded,
Young plants are warmed; they drink my branches' dew.
Let them not, Lord, by me be Upas-shaded;
Make me, for their sake, firm and pure and true.
James Freeman Clarke.

WHEN our great Teacher went to be baptized, John was astounded. Reading his thoughts, Jesus added, “Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” His concessions to material methods were for the adjustment of spiritual good.

Marriage is the only legal and moral provision for generation among the higher species. Until the spiritual creation is discerned, and the union of male and female apprehended as in the vision of the Apocalypse, — where its spiritual sense was revealed from heaven, — this rite should continue, under such moral regulations as will secure increasing virtue.

Infidelity to the marriage covenant is the social scourge of all races, “the pestilence that wasteth and walketh at noonday.” The commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” is no less imperative than the other, “Thou shalt not kill.”

Chastity is the backbone of civilization and progress. Without it there is no stability in society, and it would be impossible to attain the Science of Life.

Virtue should be recognized, and the fear of assuming reformatory tasks be removed. Owing to the shocking depravity of mankind, chastity is looked upon suspiciously. It requires more moral courage for woman to meet society's low estimate of virtue, than she needs in order to lift its degraded standard from the dust.

The last infirmity of evil, that would fasten on mankind a new burden of guilt, is named Free Love: but the very boldness of depravity exposes its deformity.

I am reminded that the above paragraph was first published ten years ago, when this offence was getting a foothold in society. How is it now? Free Love is less obtrusive, certainly, and I trust that it is nearer extinction. Has my work been instrumental in accomplishing this result?

Union of the masculine and feminine sentiments seems requisite for completeness. The masculine mind reaches a higher tone by communion with the feminine, while the feminine mind gains courage and strength by the same communion. These different individualities meet and need each other, and their true harmony is in spiritual oneness. Woman should be loving, pure, and strong; man should be tender, intellectual, controlling. The attraction between the sexes will be perpetual only as it is pure and true, bringing sweet changes and renewal, like the revolving seasons.

Beauty, wealth, and fame are incompetent to meet the demands of the affections, and should never weigh against the more honest claims of intellect, goodness, and virtue. Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires an object on which to rest.

Human affection is not poured forth vainly, even though it meet no return. Love enriches the being, enlarging, purifying, and elevating it. The wintry blasts of earth may uproot the flowers of affection, and scatter them to the winds; but this severance of fleshly ties serves to unite mortals more closely to God, for Love supports the struggling heart until it ceases to sigh over the world, and begins to unfold its wings for heaven.

Marriage is unblest or blest, according to the disappointment it involves, or the motives it fulfils. To happify existence, by constant intercourse with those adapted to elevate it, should be the motive for marriage. Wedlock gives new pinions to joy, or causes its drooping wings to trail in dust.

Notes are ill arranged that produce discord. Tones of the human mind may be different, but they should be concordant in order to properly blend. Unselfish ambition, nobler life-motives, increased happiness and usefulness, — these different elements of the human mind, meeting and mingling, constitute the true marriage. In such union there is strength.

Let there be moral freedom in wedlock. Never contract the horizon of a worthy outlook, by the selfish exaction of all another's time and thoughts. With additional joys, benevolence should grow more diffusive. The narrowness and jealousy that would confine a wife or husband forever within four walls will not promote the sweet interchange of confidence that comes of love; but, on the other hand, a wandering desire for incessant amusement, outside the home circle, is a poor augury for the happiness of wedlock. Home is the dearest spot on earth, and it should be the centre, but not the boundary, of the affections.

Said the peasant bride to her lover, “Two eat no more together than when they are separate.” This is the hint that a wife ought not to court vulgar extravagance or stupid ease, because another supplies her wants. Wealth may obviate the necessity for toil and ill-nature in the marriage relation, but nothing can abolish its cares. “She that is married careth for her husband, how she may please him,” says the Bible; and this is the most pleasant to do. Matrimony should be entered into with a full recognition of its enduring obligations on both sides. There should be the most tender solicitude for each other's happiness, and approbation should wait on all its years.

Mutual compromises will maintain a compact that might otherwise become unbearable. Man should not be required to participate in all the annoyances and cares of domestic economy, nor should woman be expected to understand political economy. Fulfilling the different demands of their united spheres, their sympathies may blend in comfort and cheerfulness, each sustaining the other, — thus hallowing the copartnership of interests and affection, wherein the heart finds peace.

Tender words, and unselfish care for what promotes the respect and happiness of your wife, will prove more salutary than stolid indifference or jealousy, in prolonging her smiles and health. Husbands, hear this, and always remember how slight a word may retain the old trysting-times.

It is too late, after marriage, to grumble over incompatibility of dispositions. A mutual understanding should exist before, and continue ever after, this union. Deception is fatal to happiness.

The nuptial vow should never be annulled, so long as its moral obligations are kept intact; but the frequency of divorce shows the sacredness of this relation to be losing its Puritanical character, and that some fatal mistake is undermining its foundation.

Separation takes place only when the motives for marriage are not suited to individual progress and happiness. Science inevitably lifts one's being higher in the scale of harmony and happiness, and must ultimately break all shackles that fetter those who are ready for advancement.

Kindred tastes, motives, and aspirations are necessary to the formation of a happy and permanent companionship. The beautiful in character is the good, welding the indissoluble links of affection.

A mother's affection cannot be weaned from her child, because the mother-love includes Purity and Truth, both of which are immortal. Therefore this maternal affection lives on, under whatever difficulties.

From the very logic of events we learn that selfishness and impurity alone are fleeting, and that Wisdom will ultimately put asunder what she hath not joined together.

Marriage should improve the human species, becoming a barrier against vice, a protection to woman, strength to man, and a centre for the affections. This, however, in a majority of cases, is not its present tendency; and this is because the education of the higher nature is neglected for other considerations, — passion, frivolous amusements, personal adornment, display, and pride.

An ill-attuned ear calls discord harmony, not appreciating concord. So personal sense, discerning not the true happiness of being, places it on a false basis. Science is to correct the discord, and teach us Life's sweeter harmonies.

Soul hath infinite resources wherewith to bless mankind; and happiness would be more readily attained, and would be more secure in our keeping, if sought in Soul. Higher enjoyments alone can satisfy the cravings of immortal man. We cannot circumscribe happiness within the limits of wealth or fame.

The good in human affections must have ascendency over the evil, and the spiritual over the animal, or happiness will never be won. The attainment of this celestial condition would improve our progeny, diminish crime, give higher aims to ambition. Every valley of sin must be exalted, and every mountain of selfishness be brought low, that the highway of our God may be prepared in Science. The offspring of heavenly-minded parents would inherit more intellect, better balanced minds, and sounder constitutions.

If some fortuitous circumstance places more spiritual offspring in the arms of gross parents, these beautiful children often early droop and die, like tropical flowers dropped amid Alpine snows. If perchance they live to be in their turn parents, they reproduce, in their own helpless little ones, the grosser traits of their ancestors. What hope of happiness, what noble ambition, can inspire the child who inherits propensities that must either be overcome, or reduce him to a loathsome wreck?

In the propagation of the human species is there not a greater responsibility, a more solemn charge, than in the culture of your garden, or raising stock to increase your flocks and herds? Nothing unworthy of perpetuity should be transmitted to children.

The formation and education of mortals must improve before the millennium can arrive. The most important education of the infant is to keep it mentally free from impurity. The Divine Mind best governs the human body, and develops it harmoniously. Mind, not matter, should govern man, from the cradle to the grave.

If parents create in their babes a desire for incessant amusement, always to have some demand on hand, — to be fed, rocked, tossed, or talked to, — those parents should not, in after years, complain of their children's fretfulness or frivolity, which they have themselves occasioned.

Yielding one's thoughts to the undue contemplation of physical wants induces those wants. A single requirement, beyond what is necessary to meet the most modest needs of the babe, is hurtful. Mind can regulate the condition of the stomach, bowels, food, temperature, of your child, far better than matter can do so. Your views, and those of other people on these subjects, produce their good or bad results in the health of your child.

The daily ablutions of an infant are no more natural or necessary, than it would be to take a fish out of water once a day, and cover it with dirt, in order to make it thrive more vigorously thereafter in its native element. Cleanliness is next to godliness; but washing should be only for the purpose of keeping the body clean, and this can be effected without scrubbing the whole surface daily. Water is not the natural habitat of humanity.

Giving drugs to infants, noticing every symptom of flatulency, and constantly directing your mind to such signs, — that mind being laden with illusions about disease, health-laws, and death, — these actions convey your mental images to your children's bodies, and often stamp them there, making it probable that, at any time, such ills may be reproduced in the very ailments you fear.

Your child can have worms, if you say so, — or whatever malady is timorously holden in your mind, relative to the body. Thus you lay the foundations of disease and death, and educate your child into discord. The entire education of children should be such as will form habits of obedience to moral and spiritual law, whereby to meet and master that belief in so-called physical laws, which breeds disease.

Taking less “thought for the body, what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink,” will do much more than you dream of for the health of the rising generation. Children should be allowed to remain children in knowledge, and become men and women through the understanding of man's spiritual being. We must not assign more and more intelligence to matter, but less, if we would be wise and healthy. Mind, that forms the bud and blossom, will care for the human body, even as it clothes the lily; but let no mortal interfere with His government, or thrust in human laws of belief.

The higher nature of man is not governed by the lower. This would reverse the order of Wisdom. Our false views of Life hide the eternal harmony, and produce the ills of which we complain. Because mortals believe in laws of matter, and reject the Science of Mind, it does not make materiality true, or the so-called laws of sense superior to the law of Soul.

You would never conclude that flannel is better than controlling Mind, for warding off pulmonary disease, if you understood the Science of Being.

Man is the offspring of Spirit. The beautiful, good, and pure are his ancestors. His origin is not brute instinct, nor does he pass through material conditions prior to reaching the human estate. Spirit is his primitive and ultimate being, and God is his Father.

Recurring once more to Dr. Channing, in his sermon on The Essence of the Christian Religion he has written as follows, thus going to the root of the whole matter, though not of course fully expressing the teachings of Christian Science: —

What do we mean when we call God our Father? Does this term imply nothing more than that He created us? He created the stone; is He therefore its Father? Do we mean that He gives us bodies, and the pleasures of sensitive existence? These He gives to the bird and insect, but the Scriptures nowhere call Him their parent. No! It is clear that this word expresses a spiritual relation. It declares God's connection with the human soul. God is the Father of those beings, and of those only, whom He has created in His own image, whom He has gifted with a spirit like His own, whom He has framed for the end that they may approach Him in His highest attributes. To be a parent is to communicate a kindred nature, and to watch over, educate, and guide this nature to perfect development.

The rights of woman are discussed on important grounds. Law establishes very unfair differences between the rights of the two sexes. Science furnishes no precedent for such injustice, and civilization induces, in some measure, its mitigation; therefore it is a marvel that usage should accord woman less honor than either Science or civilization.

Our laws are not impartial, to say the least, in their discrimination as to the person, property, and parental claims of the two sexes. If the elective franchise for women will remedy the evil, without encouraging difficulties of greater magnitude, let us hope it will be granted. A very rational means of improvement, at present, is the improvement of society in general, and the achievement of a nobler race for legislation.

If a dissolute husband deserts his wife, it should not follow that the wronged and, perchance, impoverished woman cannot collect her own wages, enter into business agreements, hold real estate, deposit funds, and hold her children free from his right of interference.

Want of social reciprocity is a crying evil, occasioned by the selfishness of the world. Our forefathers exercised their faith in the direction taught by the Apostle James, when he said, “Pure religion is to visit the fatherless and widows, and keep one's self unspotted from the world.” Pride, envy, or jealousy seems, on most occasions, the master of ceremonies, ruling out primitive Christianity. When a man lends a helping hand to some noble woman, struggling alone with adversity, his more prudent wife saith, “It is never best to interfere with your neighbor's business.”

Again, a wife is sometimes withheld, by a covetous domestic tyrant, from the ready aid her sympathy and charity would afford. The time cometh when marriage will be a union of hearts, when couples will love one another more sincerely than at present. Furthermore, the time also cometh, of which Jesus spake, when he declared that in the resurrection there should be no more marrying or giving in marriage, but mortals should be as the angels. Then shall the Soul rejoice in its own, wherein passion hath no part. Then white-robed purity shall unite masculine Wisdom and feminine Love in spiritual understanding and worship, not of a person, but of God.

Until it be learned that generation rests on no sexual basis, let marriage continue, and let us permit no such breaking down of law as may lead to a worse state of society than now exists.

Honesty and virtue are the stability of the marriage covenant. Spirit will ultimately claim its own, and the voices of personal sense be forever hushed. Marriage should be the school of virtue, and man's offspring should be the germ of his highest nature. May Christ, Truth, be present at every bridal altar, to turn the water into wine, and give an inspiration to human life, whereby man's spiritual origin and existence may be discerned.

This thought Dr. J. F. Clarke has turned into simple and beautiful lines in his poem entitled Cana: —

For when self-seeking turns to love,
Not knowing mine nor thine,
The miracle again is wrought,
And water turned to wine.

If the foundations of human affection are consistent with progress, they will be strong and enduring. Divorces should warn the age of some fundamental error in the marriage state. The union of the sexes suffers fearful discord. To gain Science, and consequently the harmony of this relation, it should be more metaphysically regarded, and less physically.

The broadcast power of evil, so conspicuous to-day, is the materialism and sensualism of the age, struggling against the advancing spiritual era. Beholding the world's lack of Christianity, and the powerlessness of promises to make good husbands and wives, the human mind will at length demand a higher affection. There will ensue a fermentation over this, as over many other subjects, until we get at last the clear straining of Truth, and impurity and error are among the lees.

The fermentation, even of fluids, is not pleasant. An unsettled, transitional stage is never desirable on its own account. Matrimony, that was once a fixed fact among us, must lose its present slippery footing, and find permanence in a more spiritual adherence.

The mental chemicalization, that has brought conjugal infidelity to the surface, will assuredly throw off this evil, and marriage will become purer when its scum is gone. Thou art right, Shakespeare! —

Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in its head.

Trials instruct mortals not to lean on an earthly staff, — a broken reed, that pierces the heart. We do not half remember this in the sunshine of joy and prosperity. Sorrow is salutary. It brings the cross, but it brings also the crown. Through great tribulation we enter into the kingdom. Trials are proofs of God's care. Spiritual development germinates not from seed sown in the soil of earthly hopes; but when these decay, Soul propagates anew the higher joys of Spirit, that have no taint of earth. Each successive stage of experience unfolds new views of divine goodness and power.

Amidst gratitude for conjugal felicity, it is well to remember how fleeting are human joys. Amidst conjugal infelicity, it is well to hope, and wait patiently on the Lord.

O husbands and wives, never separate, if there is no Christian demand for it. It is better to await the logic of events, than for a wife precipitately to leave her husband, or a husband his wife. If one is better than the other (as must always be the case) the other pre-eminently needs good company. Socrates considered patience salutary under such circumstances, making his Xantippe a discipline for his philosophy.

Sorrow has its reward. It never leaves us where it found us. The furnace separates the gold from the dross, that the precious metal may be graven with the image of God. The cup our Father hath given, shall we not drink it, and learn the lesson He teaches?

If the ocean is stirred by a storm, the clouds lower, the wind screams through the tightened shrouds, and waves lift themselves to mountains. We ask the helmsman: “Do you know your course ? Can you steer safely amid the storm?” He answers nobly; but the brave, dauntless seaman is not sure of his fate. Nautical science is not equal to the Science of Mind; yet, acting up to his highest understanding, firm at the post of duty, the mariner works on, and awaits the issue. Thus should we deport ourselves on the seething ocean of sorrow. Hoping and working, we should stick to the wreck, until the logic of events precipitates our doom, or sunshine gladdens the wave.

The possibility that animal natures give force to character is too absurd for consideration, when we remember that our Lord and Master healed the sick, raised the dead, and commanded even the winds and waves to obey him, through spiritual ascendency. Grace and Truth are potent beyond all other means or methods.

The manifest lack of spiritual strength in the limited demonstration of popular Christianity puts to shame the labor of centuries. Personal consciousness is not so much needed as spiritual. Think of thyself as the orange just eaten, of which only the pleasant idea is left.

Religious and medical systems maintain the necessity of personal pains and pleasures, but Jesus banishes the thought of any such pains or pleasures. The epoch approaches when this understanding will be the basis of true religion. At present we live ridiculously, for fear of being thought ridiculous. We are slaves to fashion, appetite, and sense. In the future we shall learn how Spirit, the great architect, creates men and women who are too good to be blotted out. We ought to weary of the fleeting and false, and cherish nothing that hinders one's highest selfhood.

Frugality, as well as affection, is essential to domestic prosperity; but to silence the voice of conscience, in order to gain wealth, is to trade without spiritual profit.

The genius of woman shrinks from controversy with a knave or a fool.

A man respects the reputation of a woman, but a mouse will gnaw in the dark at a spotless garment.

Culture and refinement are not things of the toilet, but reflections of head and heart.

Innocence is a gem, worn in unconsciousness of pickpockets.

Husbands who try to dissipate care in the convivial club are poor stock for the matrimonial market. A husband is the best friend, or worst enemy, of his wife.

“Favor is deceitful, and beauty vain, but a woman of wisdom should be praised.” A bad woman is a human leper, dangerous to all that approach her.

In marriage, avoid disparity in age, taste, or education. Make your choice by those qualities which wear well.

Jealousy is the grave of affection. Mistrust, where confidence is due, touches with mildew the flowers of Eden, and scatters love's petals to decay.

The bridal altar is the verge of a new existence, wherein the old is fading out, and the new coming in. Two mortals are to unite in one hope, one freedom, one joy, walking the long road together.

Be not in haste to take the vow, “until death do us part.” Consider well its obligations, its responsibilities, and its relations to your future happiness; and when your vows are taken, preserve them stainless.

“Judge before friendship, then confide till death.” In this spirit sings the Scotch poet: —

It's we two, it's we two for aye,
All the world, and we two, and Heaven be our stay!
Like a laverock in the lift, sing, O bonny bride!
All the world was Adam once, with Eve by his side.