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Title: An Outline of Sexual Morality
Author: Ingram, Kenneth, 1882-1965
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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An Outline of Sexual Morality

  An Outline of
  Sexual Morality

  Kenneth Ingram

  _The Introduction_ by F. W. W. Griffin,
  M.A., M.D., M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P.

  Jonathan Cape
  Eleven Gower Street, London

  _First published 1922
  All Rights reserved_

Author's Note

I am anxious to take this opportunity of thanking those friends who have
helped me by valuable suggestion and criticism in correcting the proofs of
this small book. In particular I desire to mention Canon Lacey and Dr.
Griffin, and to apologize for the amount of time which I must have stolen
from them.


_March 1922_


Any honest inquiry into the Primal Instincts of humanity will necessarily
lead to a clearer understanding of their nature, their functions, and
their potentialities, and so will help to pave the way for the appearance
of a healthier and happier race of men. The dictum "Learn to know
yourself," inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, has never been of
more vital importance, both individually and nationally, than it is
to-day, and the various schools of modern psychological thought, which are
steadily opening up those hitherto scarcely explored regions whence flow
the springs of human actions, are gradually clearing away the ignorance
which has been the real cause of so much disease and distress. The
following chapters are to be welcomed particularly as an effort at the
constructional reform of our treatment of one of our deepest and most
powerful instincts. Even those who do not necessarily give assent to all
the details in the line of argument therein pursued must surely approve
the insistence upon the vital necessity of there being love in all sex

The word "sexual," though indispensable perhaps in such a book as this,
invariably induces some measure of opposition by reason of the
associations which it calls up, and so is often replaced by the cognate
adjective "racial," which emphasizes the wider aims of Race Preservation
rather than the narrower matter of the reproduction of individuals. It is
not a matter of curing individual immorality, not even of explaining it
only, it is the greater matter of laying a sound foundation for a
practicable social morality that is the object of consideration here. It
is important that any such opposition should be neither hypocritical nor
hyper-critical, for great national issues are at stake. Without the
healthy mind there can be no healthy body, at any rate from the point of
view of the community, and thus such a scientific inquiry as is set forth
in these pages is definitely leading towards the production of a healthier

The necessity of there being established a balance between an unlimited
self-expression and a rigid self-repression is clearly indicated also, and
the importance of self-control is not ignored here as it has been
elsewhere, unfortunately, both as regards the individual's physical health
and the weal of the community at large; for self-control is a vital
essential in the health of a man just as it is a vital necessity for the
continuance of a nation. The following pages contain information and
suggestions which should tend to the formation of a wiser and more hopeful
outlook over the problems of sexual morality, and should therefore receive
the careful consideration of all who have the interests of humanity at

F. W. W. GRIFFIN M.A., M.D., M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P.

_March 1922_


CHAPTER                                   PAGE

   1. APOLOGIA                               7



   4. CELIBACY                              31

   5. NON-CELIBACY                          36

   6. DIVORCE                               45

   7. EUGENICS AND PROSTITUTION             52


   9. THE SEXLESS CLASS                     76

  10. SUPER-ABNORMALITIES                   78

  11. SEX EDUCATION                         87

An Outline of Sexual Morality

Chapter 1: Apologia

I have been impelled to attempt this definition of sexual morality for at
least three reasons. The first is that, at this moment particularly,
science is emphasizing the large responsibility which sex assumes in our
lives. We may think that Freud has overestimated this influence;
nevertheless, all psycho-analysis tends to show that the sex-force cannot
be wholly repressed and that even with the most passionless individuals
sex is the unconscious motive in a large percentage of their activities.
It is well therefore that we should have as clear a conception as possible
as to the moral rights of this enormous factor in our lives.

Secondly, a handbook of this kind is perhaps the most convenient medium
for defining my personal attitude towards this problem. My own views are,
of course, unimportant, but it so happens that I have often been asked, in
private conversations, to define them. Now to summarize them to the
extent which a casual conversation must almost necessarily entail, is
difficult; and often, I suspect, I may have given a wholly wrong
impression. I am anxious to set that right.

But my chief reason is the chaos of public opinion on this question. One
is continually having this fact forced on one. Largely this is the result
of transition and reaction. In England, the country to which I shall
almost entirely confine myself, we have been enormously affected by that
presentation of religion which has been called Puritanism. We have been
steeped in the theology of Milton. All forms of religion--Catholic as well
as Protestant--have been comparatively infected. When we speak of the
"religious attitude" towards any question, we find ourselves irresistibly
considering the Puritan attitude.

It is not, I think, unfair to define the influence of Puritanism as a
tendency to regard all amusement with disfavour. The original Puritans
were notoriously dour in their manner and their dress. It has been said
that they attacked the sport of bear-baiting, because it gave pleasure to
the onlookers, and not because it was painful to the bears. Sunday, on
which the outward observance of religion was necessarily concentrated,
became a day of complete abstention from worldly recreation. Puritanism
might supply spiritual compensation, but anything which gave pleasure to
the senses was essentially evil. Thus art and beauty were banished from
religious services and sacred buildings. Not only was the stage an
entrance to hell, but a consistent Puritan like Bunyan prayed God to
forgive him the sin of having played a game of hockey.

Puritanism had reached its zenith, not of intensity but of universality,
by the latter half of the last century. Those of us who are old enough to
have been Victorians were brought up on comparative doses of the Puritan
medicine. Especially among the middle-classes the history of every English
family from the eighties till the War is extraordinarily similar; it
consists of a series of emancipations. Our grandparents were almost
entirely Puritan in their manner of living, our parents had compromised
and extricated themselves to some degree, and our children have become
almost wholly free. How many of us realize that up to the seventies it was
quite improper for a lady to ride on the top of an omnibus?

In no instance was the effect of Puritanism stronger than on sex. For sex
is pre-eminently inspired by a desire for pleasure, whether it be
spiritual, emotional, or carnal. On this score alone it would have been
marked out as a deadly evil. But there was a further indictment in the
Puritan creed. According to the Miltonian interpretation Paradise had been
lost on account of the sex impulse; "original sin" was nothing more or
less than the sense of sex--the loss of sexual ignorance. Accordingly the
whole sex-nature was regarded as evil, and sex generally became a taboo, a
closed subject to which no reference could be made. Victorian Puritanism
often, indeed, suggests the ostrich burying his head in the sand--the
attempt to remedy evil by pretending that it does not exist.

The effect of Puritanism on the Victorian was precisely this conformity of
outward behaviour. It assumed that all men and women were innocent, and
that, except in marriage, sex played no part in life. It pretended they
were innocent, and it made them only respectable. Parents would often
refrain, on the plea that innocence must not be disturbed, from teaching
their children anything about sex. So impure and evil a subject must not
be referred to. Such unpleasant problems as venereal disease must be
hidden out of sight, although prostitution and venereal disease continue
to flourish. The Victorian, in fact, carried out the Puritan doctrine that
all sex is evil, by outwardly pretending that, unless married, he
possessed no sexual instinct. Actually he was no more inclined to
abstention than any other human generation has been.

Indeed, we do not find any evidence that Puritanism succeeds in carrying
its anti-sex theories into practice. In South Wales, for example, where
Puritanism has established a particular stronghold, sexual laxity is
peculiarly marked.

The reaction from Puritanism, especially in regard to sex, has been
precipitated and exaggerated by the Great War. We have therefore in modern
society two opposing policies. Among those who have thrown over all
"religious" observance and have freed themselves entirely from Puritanism,
there seems to be a complete absence of any moral sex-standard. We can
appreciate that impasse if we consider the inability of the sex-novel or
play to suggest any form of conduct which is immoral. Those who still
adhere to organized religion continue to look at sex largely through
Puritan spectacles. The "fallen woman" or the convicted clergyman is
genuinely regarded as being guilty of the most damning of all offences.
The sexual laxity of the neo-Georgian is used as a convincing argument
that once the Puritan view is abandoned, complete anarchy is the only
alternative. Religious teachers continue to preach what many of them would
deny to be Puritan doctrine, but what I hope to prove belongs peculiarly
to that aspect of Christianity. And meanwhile the "non-religious world"
pronounces the opposite extreme.

It is because I believe both these attitudes to contain error, that I am
anxious to contribute the foundation for some principle in the current

Chapter 2: Official Attitudes towards Sex

It will now be convenient to define the chief collective or official
attitudes towards sex. In a mere outline such as this handbook professes
to be, we may divide these attitudes into three, and label them the
popular attitude, the legal or State attitude, and the religious attitude.

With the popular attitude we have already largely dealt. It is still in a
transitory, confused state, merging at one end into the old Puritan
extreme, and at the other to mere negativism, mere opposition to Puritan
asceticism, and without even an attempt to reconstruct a moral standard.
This perhaps is an inevitable stage in any transition; but it is none the
less unsatisfactory. Man cannot succeed without a standard; and moreover
we know intuitively that all things are not morally permissible. If there
is purity and beauty and divinity in life, there must be impurity and sin.
Will it be considered an exaggeration if I say that it is almost better to
have a Puritan standard than none at all? The Roundhead at least was more
than a match for the Cavalier because he had a positive inspiration.

But there is one common feature in this chaos of evolving popular opinion.
The vulgar mind tends to measure morality by what is usual. The sins which
most men commit are regarded as hardly evil; the acts which may not be
evil, are regarded as sins if they are peculiar. Thus an occasional lapse
from continency on the part of a young man is popularly regarded as not
very reprehensible, whereas the perpetrator of some weird act of
bestiality would be hounded to prison. The flaw in this estimate is not
only that the normal standard varies in race and age, but that there is no
single human sex nature; there are infinite varieties. To condemn variety
_per se_ is, as we shall presently observe, a contradiction of the laws of

The gradual emancipation of society from the taboo on sex in conversation
is an undoubted gain. We owe such men as Bernard Shaw a debt of gratitude
for the way in which they have forced sex reference into the play, and
therefore on public notice. But if this is to result in eliminating sex
modesty it is creating evils greater than those which it seeks to remove.
I will not here embark upon a consideration of such a theory as that which
has been interestingly propounded by Mr. Westermarck, namely that there is
a relationship between sexual modesty and the feeling against incest.[1]
I will only insist that modesty is natural in all qualities which we
regard as sacred.

If we are modest about sex in our conversation to the extent of placing a
taboo on sex, and allowing sexual problems to remain unsolved, or in
letting our children confuse innocence with ignorance, we are on
indefensible ground; indefensible, I think, because our modesty is based
on the Puritan doctrine that sex is at heart an unclean thing. I wish
especially to defend modesty because sex is so clean. We do not want to
vulgarize by public reference our most spiritual experiences, our sense of
love, our feeling of exaltation in the presence of what is beautiful and
divine. We speak of these things only at more sacred moments, if at all.
We must be careful, too, lest in a reaction from taboo we allow science to
rob sex of its romantic and divine character. We have carefully to
preserve the centre of gravitation between two extremes. We should look
askance at a man who collected in a glass bottle, and analysed, his
mother's tears.

In this connexion it may be well to call attention to the inconsistency of
the male in making the sex-act a subject for humour. Whatever our
religious belief, we know that the sex-act is the means of procreation,
and is, for this reason alone, a sacred function. It seems inconsistent,
therefore, that we should so persistently treat it as a mark for ridicule.

       *       *       *       *       *

The second general attitude is that of the State, or legislature. Here we
find ourselves in the presence of a consistent motive. The State is
concerned only with the preservation of the birth-rate; any sex behaviour
which defeats this object it regards as immoral and punishable. The State
cannot interfere so far with individual privacy as to punish masturbation
or artificial means of restraint; but it does go to the extent of
punishing "unnatural" acts between husband and wife,[2] and in America,
the State has even penalized the activities of the neo-Malthusian
propaganda. All sex abnormalities are rigidly punished, whereas the
procreation of children outside wedlock is not a legal offence.[3]

This is a consistent attitude, but it suggests one serious flaw. Whatever
may have been the case in early days when an increase of population was
essential, there can be little doubt that to-day that necessity has
diminished. Indeed, without entering into the Malthusian controversy, it
is almost impossible to deny that at the moment we are suffering largely
from over-population. Consequently, whatever opportunist policy may
dictate, we cannot poise our estimate of morality on so shifting a basis
as the needs of population. Instinctively we cannot associate morality in
anything with the legal attitude. There are many acts even outside the sex
sphere which most of us would consider immoral, but which are unpunished
by law, and others which are illegal but are not immoral; it is immoral to
lie, but unless we lie on oath there is no State offence; it is punishable
to ride a bicycle without lights after dark, but we are conscious of no
moral delinquency in so doing.

       *       *       *       *       *

The third attitude is that of religion. We have already discussed the
Puritan attitude and the manner in which it has permeated our unconscious
religious thought. In the Anglican marriage-service there appears at first
sight to be some endorsement of the theory that the sex-act is unclean and
is only permitted in marriage as a concession to human weakness.[4] This
doctrine owes its derivation to St. Paul, although it is important to
notice that St. Paul specially emphasizes that he is not speaking
ex-cathedra: "I say therefore to the unmarried and widows it is good for
them to remain even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry; for
it is better to marry than to burn."[5]

These words will probably be used as an argument against the statement
that it is a specifically Puritan doctrine to regard the sex-act as
unclean. It will be urged that the early Christian Church, as shown by the
writings of the Fathers, discouraged marriage and upheld celibacy as the
ideal. I hope, in a moment, to differentiate between the Catholic and the
Puritan doctrine. But more immediately we will consider what I have
broadly defined as the Puritan attitude.

The flaw in the argument that the sex-act is by nature unclean and must be
suppressed, even though in marriage it may be legitimized, is that it is
the ordained means of procreation. Further than this, we have the
inevitable fact to face that the sex-instinct in normal persons is so
strong that it can only with great difficulty be suppressed, and then
results in an outflow of sex activity in what we usually know as
non-sexual channels. Often this suppression will find its vent in mental
dislocation and general nervous irritability. But without analysing these
complex symptoms, it is sufficient to ask those who admit the control of
God, why God created the sex impulse in order that it should be

Directly we move away from this strict doctrine to the modified popular
expression of it, we find that the position is becoming more intelligible
but less logical. It is consistent to regard all sex as evil. But when the
average Christian, while denouncing adultery as a sin, insists on
copulation in marriage as its consummation, a difficulty arises which must
not be ignored. Here, in adultery, is a sin which is so serious in the
eyes of Christian men, that it can never be redeemed; the stigma of
impurity remains for ever on the offender. Yet this same act, if only
committed under the regulation of marriage becomes not merely something
permissible, but the essential act of consummation, the divine method of
procreation. One can understand how an act, good in itself, can become a
sin because it is performed under impermissible circumstances. But it is
difficult to conceive of an act changing its integral nature, so that at
one moment it is a necessary virtue, and at another the basest vice. It
is, for instance, legal for a soldier to kill an enemy in battle, while it
is a crime for one civilian to kill another; but the act of killing is
_per se_ an evil thing, even in the case of a soldier. It never becomes so
exalted as is the sex-act in marriage.

The Catholic doctrine, however, while at first sight it appears to be
identical with the Puritan, is actually quite distinct.

For one thing there is a difference of attitude towards sin. Puritanism
seems to suggest that those who have been "converted" are actually
perfect. It insists that they shall keep up this outward appearance, and
consequently ensures that their sins must be committed secretly. They are
then sufficiently perfect to ascend, after death, direct to Heaven.
Catholicism, however, is continually recognizing that man is normally a
sinner; the confessional is a public recognition of this fact. Catholicism
therefore approaches the question of sex with the expectation that man
will sin, that the probability of his fall is so great as to make it
unnecessary and undesirable to hide all traces of his sin from public
view. The Puritan attitude towards sex is really that of the prude. The
Catholic Church is so ready to talk about sex in a decent manner that she
provides the confessional as a permanent institution.

When we turn to the Catholic attitude towards sex we are faced indeed with
two significant dogmas which make up a position fundamentally distinct
from that of Puritanism. The first of these is the doctrine that marriage
is a sacrament, and the second that the _esse_ of the marriage is the
consent of the parties.

The significance of the first is that marriage is not merely a licence
whereby an unclean act is permitted as a sop to human weakness. The sex
function, as the integral part of marriage, is acknowledged to be an
actual objective of divine grace.

The significance of the second doctrine is that wherever two people
eligible to give consent, give it, there is the essence of marriage. Few
non-Catholics realize that though the Church normally requires the
ecclesiastical and civil regulations to be observed, she does not profess
to marry the two persons; she merely pronounces a blessing on their
marriage. She may make conditions before she will give her blessing or
even her witness to the validity of the marriage; but she recognizes that
a marriage may be just as valid on a desert island as in a cathedral.[6]
And hence she really regards adultery, not as does the Puritan, but as an
act which should be sacramental but has been prostituted by the absence of
the love-motive, or by becoming promiscuous rather than constant. Sexual
union may even itself be of the nature of a marriage, and it is
significant that the Church has always insisted on the right of parents
subsequently to legitimize children born out of wedlock; it is the English
law which has forbidden that privilege.

This is the official Catholic doctrine, however much it has been
assimilated to the Puritan conception by the personnel of the Church.

Yet the Church has consistently upheld the celibate life as the higher
vocation. She has represented a celibate priesthood as a greater ideal
than a married priesthood. She has exalted Our Lady as a Virgin. She has
insisted on the Virgin Birth. But she has done this, not because sex is
evil, but because celibacy is better. And, as we shall see, religious
celibacy is entirely distinct from a condition in which the sex impulse is
merely repressed.

Chapter 3: The General Principles of Purity

In attempting to define these principles I have no desire to enter into a
controversy of relatives and absolutes. It is sufficient to meet those who
deny that there can be any abstract standard of purity by pointing out
that we know the direction in which to look for what is good and pure.
Just as we know that certain acts are less worthy than others, so we are
aware of the general direction of the nobler activities.

The first principle to be observed is that relatively _purity is
comparative_. This is a commonplace of all personal estimates. However
much we may adhere to the conception of a moral standard, which is
abstract and unvarying, we realize that there are also personal standards
which vary very much. We do not, for instance, consider a cat to be guilty
of murder when she kills a bird; we do not execute her as we execute men
who have taken human life. We do not even condemn lions or tigers as
homicidal criminals, though we may kill them in self-defence, thus showing
that it is not the distinction between taking animal and human life
which constitutes the crime; it is the difference between the killers. Nor
is it true that we draw a distinction merely between animal and human
responsibility, for even in the human kingdom we apply a comparative moral
standard; we do not consider a savage who steals or kills as being guilty
to the extent which a civilized European would be who performed a similar
act. We are in fact constantly applying a comparative standard to the
comparative intelligences of individuals, and quite rightly, for all
intelligence and moral sense is graded from brute-beast to savage-man and

We must be careful not to avoid this standard of comparative values in
approaching sex morality. So long as we admit that at least there are acts
and principles which, taken in the abstract, approach purity more nearly
than others, we must not judge all individuals by the same standard. We
must not consider a very ordinary, unintelligent, animal-blooded young man
as being excessively sinful for having a vivid sex experience; perhaps he
is living right up to the level of his imperfect standard. We must not
expect people to be more moral than they can be, though it is the duty of
Church and religion to educate them to see that there are better

The second principle is simple, but of the deepest importance.

It consists of the proposition that variety and not uniformity is the
fundamental rule of nature, or, as Christians would hold, the intention of

I cannot recall any distinctive attribute to which this rule does not
apply. There are an infinite species of creatures, and infinite tastes and
tendencies. Even if we narrow down our field of investigation to one
nation or even a single family, we find that each individual is
approaching life by different byways, with different prejudices and
different temperaments and different conceptions. But throughout history
the majority of the normal type has been inclined to flout this divine
principle. The Puritans, for example, were a particular type who did not
like the gayer life of the world, and preferred a stern evangelical
atmosphere. Consequently they regarded those amusements for which they
happened to possess no partiality, as evil, and whenever they had the
opportunity they suppressed them; they eliminated Christmas and the
mince-pie. Equally we can see that if the normal mechanical Teutonic type
had said that it was unnatural for men to be artistic and had suppressed
the arts, it would have been a disaster for the world. There is not one
vocation, but there are many vocations; all types are the design of
intention, and are there, not to be suppressed, but to carry out their
particular mission.

This again, is equally true of sex, and we must apply the same conclusions
towards the many types which we shall presently meet, abnormal as well as
normal. The Protestant, for example, really acknowledges a uniform
sex-nature only. You will continually hear a Protestant declaring that it
is unnatural for a man to be a celibate: this is, of course, pure
nonsense. It might be unnatural for a normal sex-nature to remain
celibate, just as it would be unnatural for a natural celibate to marry.
The Catholic Church has been far wiser. She can offer the Religious Life
to the celibate and the Sacrament of Marriage to the non-celibate. There
are few types of individual more unintelligent than that which, while it
cannot so interfere with personal liberty as to compel marriage, persists
in uttering the convention that "every man ought to do his duty to the
State." The truism is true; what is wrong is the failure to conceive that
there is no uniform duty for every man.

But the third principle is more complex in character, or, rather, in the
considerations which it involves.

It consists, really, of a re-affirmation as to the Catholic condemnation
of the heresy of Manichæism.

The Puritan and the type he has evolved do radically regard the physical
as evil. Protestantism, until it became adulterated by the Catholic
movement, eliminated as far as possible, the physical medium in religious
worship. Not only doctrinally, but liturgically, in the abandonment of
ritual and artistic atmosphere, it attempted to limit religion as far as
possible to the spiritual level, and it regarded sacramentalism as evil
because sacramentalism involves an outward physical sign. In the same way
the average Englishman, who has been inculcated, far more than he
realizes, with Calvinist dogma, regards sex as immoral only when it is
physical. A man may indulge in sexual emotion and thought, but so long as
he suppresses any physical act he is not guilty; if this can be regarded
as an exaggeration it is certainly true that popular Protestant theology
regards a man as more immoral if he commits the physical sex-act than if
he thinks of it. It is strange to note how far this theory has departed
from the teaching of Christ, Who declared that "he that lusteth against a
woman hath committed adultery against her in his heart."

It is obvious the moment we examine this conception that it is utterly
indefensible. If the sex-act is evil[7] because it is physical, then it
is equally evil to eat or drink. And if an attempt is made to avoid this
difficulty by saying that it is evil to debase love by expressing it in a
physical act, or that it is better to love spiritually and non-physically,
then it is equally evil to debase artistic inspiration by expressing it
with paints on a physical canvas, or better to allow melodies to float in
one's mind than to reduce them to the level of a physical composition.

Without entering into a highly involved philosophy and therefore at the
risk of apparent dogmatism, I wish now to emphasize that there are certain
ascending levels, with which man is concerned. We may confine ourselves to
the physical, the emotional, the mental, and the spiritual levels. The
physical level is the lowest, in so far as man functions there in common
with the animal. He is more active emotionally than the animal. But what
distinguishes him chiefly from the animal, and makes him master over all
brute-creation, is his activity on the mental level. Physically he is less
powerful than the elephant; but because he can function mentally and the
elephant can do so hardly at all, he can employ the elephant as a beast of
labour. Here then we have a distinct gradation, a gradation which
continues to apply within the human kingdom and makes us able to
distinguish a civilised man from a savage.

We should therefore apply this principle to sex. Sex activity is more pure
or impure according to the level on which it chiefly functions. A man who
traffics with prostitutes is not immoral because he is functioning
physically, but because he is functioning almost entirely on the physical
level. Purity is really sex emphasis on the highest levels. Ideally the
physically sex-act should therefore be a mere expression of spiritual,
mental, emotional love; it should just happen. The moment one begins to
lay the emphasis on the lower levels, the more one becomes correspondingly
less pure. Lust, in fact, is the desire only for physical sex
experience--the wrong proportion and balance. A man's stage of moral
development is to be discovered by the particular level on which he is
most active.

We must not avoid the consequence of this principle. We must be prepared
to admit as relatively moral, behaviour which popular philosophy might
regard as immoral. We must also be prepared to regard as immoral many
marriages in which the physical is the chief incentive. The lowest stage
of impurity would seem to be reached in cases, whether between man and
harlot, or husband and wife, where the physical function is so emphasized
that artificial physical aids are invoked in order to excite the physical
passions and make them the cause instead of the result of sex emotion and

Chapter 4: Celibacy

If once the third principle named in the preceding chapter is fully
appreciated, we have already laid the foundation of our moral standard. We
shall have seen that physical expression is the sacramental form of the
invisible and super-physical motive, and that immorality is the shifting
of emphasis from higher to lower levels. We shall be in possession of a
test by which we may in almost all sex problems determine a comparative
virtue or evil of any practice or conduct.

Now this involves the equally fundamental theory that sex is not entirely
a physical activity. In the popular conception sex is always confused with
physical sex expression. But this conception, I submit, is entirely
inaccurate. Even though Freud may be justifiably criticised for straining
the word "sex" to include many forces which do not directly tend to incite
physical sex activity, he has successfully shown that sex is the motive
behind emotions and conduct which would not popularly be termed sexual at
all. A musician may, for example, be drawing on his sex-energy in
composing or performing musical works; a humanitarian may be sexual in his
diffused love of fellow-men and women. We cannot possibly draw a line and
say that here sex begins and there it ends. We can only admit that it
carries far beyond those particular physical manifestations which we
popularly associate with sex.

If we accept the principle of ascending levels of physical, emotional,
mental, and spiritual functions, we should expect to find that sex makes
its appearance in more than one form. We know, that is to say, that there
are, not one, but many emotions and thoughts which are directly sexual,
and that there would seem to be every reason why sex, which manifests
variety in its physical expression, should be equally various in the realm
of the mind. Further than this, we are able to advance the principle that
when the emphasis is laid further away from the physical level, the
functioning power on that level weakens. Man, as we have already agreed,
is a more developed animal than the elephant, because he is active in
thought. But he pays the price for this by the inferiority of his physical
strength. Similarly, the less mentally equipped are frequently more
physically powerful. Like all other rules, there are of course exceptions.
But there does seem to be a principle, and a principle that we should
logically expect, that the more man functions on what we have described
as super-physical levels, the less powerful his strength on the physical
level becomes.

Again, we have seen that, morally, the physical level is the lowest. The
highest human developments are those which the animal cannot reach. The
ordinary physical instincts are not evil, they are simply less evolved.
Some of them, like the sense of maternity, are good. But we cannot doubt
that man's superiority over the animal lies precisely in his ability to do
what the animal cannot do, and that, therefore, the realm of mind is
"higher" than the realm of action.

When the Catholic Church therefore presents religious celibacy[8] as being
the higher vocation she is enunciating this very principle. She is not
suggesting that non-celibacy is an evil state. We do not pretend that the
profession of crossing-sweeper is evil because the profession of prime
minister is a higher ambition; indeed, it would be probably disastrous to
persuade a man who had a natural ability to be a crossing-sweeper to
qualify as a prime minister. Relatively, a man performs his moral duty in
fulfilling his vocation, for whatever grade it may be designed. The true
religious celibate is the extreme exception; no one should attempt such
perfection who has not the actual call. The means by which we realize our
true vocation is too individual a question to enter upon here.

The whole fault of the puritanic conception of sex is to assume that
complete repression should be attempted by all men, and that marriage is
solely a concession to failure.[9]

Almost the exact reverse is the truth. The celibate is a rare product. And
moreover he is not one in whom sex is repressed; he is essentially a human
being in whom the sex-force is sublimated into non-physical channels. This
may take the form of extreme religious devotion, in wide humanitarianism,
in a love of children or animals, in artistic creation or scientific
research. It becomes true celibacy only when the individual instinct is so
far diverted towards these energies that desire for physical sex functions
becomes eliminated. Nor is it true that such a man is barren; he is
procreating, as really as the father, a mental or spiritual progeny.

We cannot emphasize this distinction too strongly. For the vast majority
of men the celibate life is not intended, and to some extent, though, as
we shall see, not entirely, other rules apply. What indeed we have so
carefully to distinguish is the transference of sex from the repression of
sex. To transfer the sex-force is a healthy and natural energy, whereas to
repress sex is an evil which must always tend to produce unfortunate

Chapter 5: Non-Celibacy

We have now arrived at a point where we can emphasize a further
distinction. We must, in fact, differentiate between those emotions and
thoughts which are sexual in the sense that they naturally incite physical
sex functions, and those which manifest themselves in non-sexual
activities. It may be true that the energy which is exercised in the
latter way is itself sexual; that does not matter for our immediate
purpose. It is sufficient that the force is at work in a non-sexual

Here then we have two entirely different processes. The first is the
shifting of the emphasis of the sex-force from body to mind, so that the
sex-force ceases to be concentrated in physical sex-acts and begins to be
concerned rather with love emotion and sex-thought; the second is the
transmutation of the sex-force to non-sexual channels. Both of these
processes are necessary in the life of the non-celibate.

The latter process is what happens naturally in the case of the true
religious celibate. His development and temperament are such that his
sex-nature finds a complete expression, as we have already seen, in such
directions as a general love of humanity, an intense spiritual devotion,
the worship of art or nature. There is no repression, but a full exercise
of the sex activities in a "non-sexual" direction.

The vast majority of men, however, are not so developed, and are not
intended to carry out such a life. Yet, for them, too, this process must
be to some extent adopted. It is largely a matter of common-sense. The
animal exercises no restraint; whenever the sex-impulse arises, it is
satisfied--so far, of course, as the opportunity is provided. But as we
trace the conduct of the more developed species from savage to civilized
man we are conscious of a new element of will-power. The influences which
cause this power to come into operation may vary. Religious obligations,
considerations of business, social, or intellectual responsibilities, help
to intervene. An intelligent man simply cannot afford to give vent to sex
proclivities every time they arise; he has other interests which must of
necessity at many times of the day have the first claim. Imagine a man who
sacrificed a business engagement for some sex gratification! Often in the
recent war a man, however strong his sexual emotions, would be forced to
cast away all ideas of sex in order to dodge a shell; his mind for
continuous periods would be so driven with anxieties and the stress of
responsibility that sex would sink into insignificance. This is an extreme
instance, but to a lesser degree it is what is happening to everyone who
leads a normal life. The more developed the man, the wider his
intellectual interests; and it is precisely in this capacity to exercise
his will-power that he proves his superiority over the animal.

This process of transmutation is the remedy which must be applied in cases
where men find themselves the victims of sexual emotion out of all true
proportion, whether in married or unmarried life. Mere repression is
useless; it is actually harmful. But the mind must be switched off to dig
a thought-passage in other directions, in non-sexual interests. Where
there is undue sex obsession there is disease. And this mental
transference is the chief cure. Really, this transmutation is a diffusing
of the sex-force into a wide general area. The man is no longer
concentrating all his sex-energy in love for one particular person; he is
beginning sexually to love all humanity. He is finding sexual expression
in the "non-sexual" forms of art or nature. He is still in love--but in
love with love, rather than with one separate personal fragment of the

But with the ordinary man, there must remain a balance of sexual
inclination which cannot entirely be transmuted. Here we encounter the
first process, and our problem, particularly in non-married life, becomes
acute. Is it possible, and is it healthy, to deny the sex-instincts all
satisfaction? Different answers are given by religious advisers and by men
of the world, while even in the ranks of the medical profession there is
no consensus of opinion.

I suggest that there is only one general principle which can be our guide.

The natural tendency of all sexual thought and emotion is to find its
outlet in physical expression of some kind. If a man indulges in sexual
thought, it is almost impossible for him to avoid a physical result. He
may have recourse to prostitution or he may commit solitary practices. The
tendency of Puritan morality is, as we have seen, to regard the physical
act as the sin and to avoid the conclusion that the thought is evil;
consequently the patient is urged at all cost to refrain from action. Let
it be stated, quite frankly, that this attitude is scientifically and
morally indefensible. It is the thought rather than the act on which the
responsibility should be weighed. I have no hesitation whatever in
asserting that it is worse, medically and morally, for the individual to
indulge in sexual thought and repress the consequent action, than to
commit it. The mere absence of physical conduct is harmful and deplorable
if the mind is a seething mass of sexual energy which is being denied all

The first duty in such cases is, as we have seen, to apply the process of
transmuting this sexual thought to non-sexual interests, so far as this
can be done. The extent to which this is possible must vary in each
individual nature. The comparative balance then remains. And here we must
bring into play the moral principle to which I have already
referred--namely that the morality of sex is determined by the extent to
which love is the motive. Sex inspired by love is moral; sex inspired by
any other motive is not. The part which the physical sex-force should
alone play is the sacramental expression of pure love; so employed it is a
perfect and divine activity. When the love-motive is absent, or is not the
dominant incentive, the sex-force becomes comparatively immoral and

This is a general principle which can be rigidly employed. And I do not
want to escape from the consequences of this doctrine. It appears to me
the one natural, fundamental principle upon which a moral standard can be
based. Therefore I am ready to accept the conclusion that there are many
marriages which are highly immoral because the sex-act is not an
expression of love, but either a mere mechanical duty or the result of a
physical and emotional excitement, as distinct from love. On the other
hand there are many sex adventures, inspired by love, which do not occur
within the matrimonial state. This principle alone must guide us in any
moral estimate we draw.

Let us apply this doctrine by taking the simple case of a man and woman
who are accused of having committed adultery. We inquire first, whether
mutual love was the true motive, whether in fact the act of adultery was
an unpremeditated incident which occurred as naturally as the kiss which a
child gives to its mother. We draw a clear moral line between the sort of
assignation which has for its one object the gratification of physical
sensations, or the even lower motive, so far as the prostitute is
concerned, of substituting for love the earning of a few shillings. But
suppose we are satisfied that the physical act was not the object but the
result, and that there was love. We go on to ask how deep was the love,
and if a deep love is alleged, we ask why the parties are not married. For
it is doubtful whether normal love can be wholly spasmodic. It seems
contrary to the very nature of love that a man should love one woman for
an hour and then throw her over for someone else. The essence of love
tends to completeness and permanence.

But we will imagine that even these conditions are satisfied, and that
financial difficulties or parental objections alone prevent the formal
marriage. We have also discovered that the two people have loved each
other for some time, and that there is not therefore simply a sudden
fascination, but a love based on knowledge and matured by experience. We
are then left with a technical and not a moral offence. In effect a
marriage has taken place; there has been the consent which is the essence
of the union. It is only when the Catholic conception of the sacrament of
matrimony is abandoned that we find ourselves regarding the ceremony in
Church or registry-office as the union, and that therefore a moral offence
is committed in the sex-act where no such ceremony has taken place. It is
true that the parties would be in honour bound to receive the blessing of
the Church. The union is irregular; but it is a true union.

Incidentally, I suggest that this theory may be the basis of the
scriptural exception in St. Matthew's gospel made as regards divorce where
there has been "fornication," or a pre-marital sex-act--namely that by
this act a natural marriage has been consummated, and that the subsequent
marriage is therefore invalid.

One might almost draw up a schedule of the tests which should be applied
whenever we may happen to be forced to adjudicate as to the morality of
any sex-behaviour. For already there have emerged certain definite
test-principles. There is the consideration of the standard of the
relative degree of intelligence to which the particular individual has
developed, and of the fact that there are many types of sex-temperament.
On the other hand we see that the direction of absolute morality to which
our faces should be set, is the raising of the sex-force to super-physical
levels, so that the physical side becomes a mere incident, or is even
eliminated altogether. Then we apply the rule that there must be an
exercise of restraint and will-power, so that sex obsession is entirely
avoided. The extent to which the mind can be diverted from sexual channels
must depend on the stage of development which the individual has reached.
Lastly, we apply the test of how far love, so deep and pure that it is
permanent rather than spasmodic, a monopoly rather than promiscuous, is
the motive.

Modern society has gone, I contend, as much astray in drifting to the
extreme of considering all things permissible, as has Puritanism in
regarding the sex-act outside marriage as in all circumstances a deadly
evil. And I can only marvel that this latter attitude is taken up so
often in the name of the Christian religion, when its Founder, while
declaring that at the last day it would be "more tolerable for Sodom and
Gomorrah than for the Scribes and Pharisees," also said to the woman taken
in adultery, "Neither do I condemn thee; go thy way, from henceforth sin
no more."

Chapter 6: Divorce

In leaving the moorland of general principles for the fields of particular
problems it will be convenient to group sex natures under three heads: (1)
the normal or hetero-sexual, (2) the invert or homo-sexual, and (3) the
neuter or sexless. It is necessary only to add that it will not be
possible to deal in more than the merest outline with any of these
important questions.

The most prominent of the problems concerned with the normal group is that
of divorce. The problem arises because on the one hand there is a sense
that marriage ought to be a permanent state, while on the other, there are
many human exigences which go to break up particular marriages.
Separation, without permission to re-marry, is of course an admitted
remedy. But the question then arises whether parties so separated will
continue to live as celibates; and as it appears certain that the vast
majority will not, we have to ask whether it is better to legalise the
fresh unions which are formed, or to permit adultery.

Every modern State has wrestled with this problem, and for the most part
ineffectually. Where there is no divorce, as in England before 1857,[10]
or among the poorer classes who cannot afford divorce, irregular unions
and prostitution undoubtedly flourish. Where a compromise is introduced,
the permanence of marriage, and therefore of the home, becomes
correspondingly impaired, while there are left a number of unhappy cases
for which divorce is not allowed.[11] The English civil law is
particularly unhappy in its compromise. It is based on the Protestant
interpretation of the passage in St. Matthew already mentioned, namely
that divorce is permissible where adultery has occurred, and it goes on to
make it easier for the husband to sue for divorce when the wife has
committed adultery than for the wife to do so in the reverse
circumstances. Hence it places a premium on adultery, and exaggerates its
importance as regards other sins. It deliberately incites an unhappy wife
to commit adultery in order to obtain relief--she can usually evade the
vigilance of the King's Proctor--and it singles out adultery as a worse
sin than, let us say, cruelty or habitual drunkenness, for which divorce
is not at present obtainable. In fact it is difficult to find any logical
or moral defence for the English law as it stands.

Let us first see how far the popular critics of the Catholic doctrine of
indissoluble marriage are wrong. They regard marriage as simply a
contract, from which it follows that divorce should be obtained by mutual
consent, or even on the application of one of the parties. But this
ignores, among other things, one vital natural law. Marriage begets
parenthood, and between the parents of the same child there is a definite
and permanent relationship. No Act of Parliament can make men and women
cease to be the parents of their own children. Nor, even in childless
marriages, is the sense of permanence an artificial convention which can
be abolished by the decree of a court. The deeper the love, the more
permanent must its nature tend to be. Love is not a contract; it is a
spiritual bond.

It is impossible, I contend, to think of a normally healthy marriage
without realizing that both the man and woman naturally enter into it with
the assumption that it will be a permanent relationship. The possibility
of a family, the break-up of the maiden life--even the furnishing of a
home, is evidence of a strong probability in the minds of the parties that
the step which is being taken is something more than a temporary contract.
Indeed, the marriage is only temporary if unhappiness arises. Men and
women marry because they want to enter into as permanent a relationship as
possible; they enter into it because, as they say, they wish to "settle
down." The natural desire of man is that marriage should be permanent.

A reversion to free love would be more than the undoing of the evolution
from animal to man. It would completely change the basis of human society.
And in proportion as any divorce law encourages the conception of a
temporary contract this dangerous instability of home-life is threatened.
Americans sometimes describe their own laws as approaching the "ideal."
"The question will soon be," wrote a journalist describing the American
"smart set," "who is to be your husband next year?"--or, "Has your last
season's wife re-married yet?" This is of course an exaggeration; but it
is a warning as to logical developments.

In fact, divorce tends to create itself. Divorce is only applied for where
the marriage is unhappy. A fair proportion of unhappy marriages arise
because they have been hastily entered into; with due inquiry many of
them could have been prevented. But the easier divorce is to obtain, the
more incentive will be given to enter into these hasty marriages--the type
of union which so often gives rise to divorce.

On the other hand, whatever their cause, there are marriages in which all
trace of love has disappeared, and it may fairly be argued that the union
is dead. Thus a husband may, in later years, become incurably insane or
habitually drunk. There are many unions in which the one party has married
in blind infatuation only to discover that the partner is so contemptible
a creature as to destroy all vestige of love. Such unions remain marriages
in formality only; their pretended existence is a sacrilege, particularly
if there are no children and the husband and wife are not therefore
co-related as parents.

For all such cases the Catholic Church permits divorce (_a mensa et
thoro_)--or separation, as it is known in civil law, without permission to
re-marry. The issue, therefore, becomes simply a question as to whether it
is right to expect the parties so separated to remain celibate.

In an outline such as this, I suppose that one can only attempt a summary
reply to these questions. If, for a moment, we are to exclude the
complications of a subsequent love-affair there appears to me to be no
reason whatever why any man or woman should not remain celibate during the
lifetime of the divorced partner. The _journalese_ theory that it is
unnatural and unhealthy for people so to remain is simply untrue, so long
as the celibacy takes the form of sublimation or transmutation and not
repression. The complication of an intense love-romance however, is a
serious proposition. Ought two people in love to remain sexually apart
simply because one of them is still married to, let us say, an incurable
lunatic? In principle there seems to be every reason why they should; no
actual physical or mental harm is done to them, provided they have a
sufficiently developed will-power to transfer their sex-desire into other
channels of activity. The sacrifice will be immense, but it is no more
than any man has to make who refrains from marrying his beloved because he
is too poor or is suffering from some disease which may affect his
children. In this case the sacrifice is offered for the supremely
important principle that only God, by the act of death, can undo the
vinculum of the original marriage.

But I am equally sure that most people under these or less intense
circumstances will not remain celibate.

Therefore, to descend from theory to practice, I see no alternative but to
draw a rigid line between civil and religious marriages. The State must
make its own arrangements and go its own way. But there should always be a
higher type of marriage where the Catholic Church has been invoked for her
blessing. And for those who choose to ask for this sacrament, the union
should be irrevocable, save by death. The parties will receive that
sacrament knowing what a heavy responsibility they are assuming. And it is
only right that the Church should be far more particular in refusing to
prostitute her sacramental grace on unions which ought not to be
consummated. She ought, I conceive, rigidly to inquire into the
desirability of the union, and not to give her blessing unless she is
satisfied that both parties are giving their consent with as full a
knowledge of the facts as is humanly possible. Equally she should refuse
her ministrations where she is unconvinced that love is the motive of the
marriage. I see no reason why some form of sponsorship should not be

And I think it may be argued that a consent without a knowledge of the
facts is not a valid consent, and that such a union is null. I should
welcome a careful extension of the decree of nullity, for that reason.

Chapter 7: Eugenics and Prostitution

The doctrine that love is the only motive for sex--that physical
expression is pure only so far as it is the sacramental accidence of
love--leads to important conclusions. There is, for instance, a class of
moralist who teach that the sex-act in marriage must only be for the
purpose of procreation. It would follow from this that it is immoral for
sex intimacies to occur between a man and his wife once she has passed a
certain age. In the ideal marriage, so this school of thought affirms,
copulation is strictly regulated and occurs only when the moment is
favourable for generation.

To this theory I cannot subscribe. It runs counter to the doctrine in
which I believe. It Changes the sex-act from an incident or a result to a
means or a cause. It is really immoral because it lays emphasis on the
physical. This cold-blooded calculation of the times when sex is to be
thus physically expressed is the exact opposite of the principle by which
love directs and the act merely occurs, with no purpose but to express
love physically.

This leads us to a consideration as to how far those practices between man
and woman are moral in which procreation cannot result. It is interesting
to note that the English law holds that "unnatural" acts between husband
and wife are criminal. Although it is true that prosecution cannot occur
unless there is an absence of consent, for otherwise there would be no
evidence--these acts are apparently regarded as _per se_ criminal in
nature. And this indeed is a logical position, when we remember the
standpoint which the State adopts towards all sex questions.

To this class of conduct artificial preventatives are closely allied. A
chaos of opinion rages over this subject, from the neo-malthusian who
advocates the practice as a necessity, to the purist who talks of
"child-murder." It seems clear that this latter designation is an
unwarrantable exaggeration; to prevent the possibility of life coming into
existence cannot by any strain of imagination be confused with destroying
what is actually alive. On the other hand, the moral test which we are
applying to all these problems hardly acquits the practice. It is
difficult to think of preventatives without being conscious that
premeditation of the physical act is being emphasized, and the ideal of a
natural incident almost banished. To prepare for a thing is to insist on
its importance. The minds of the two parties must almost necessarily be
focussed--though not absolutely necessarily--on the physical sex-act.

There is no doubt however that, apart from ideals, preventatives are a
means of averting more serious evils. This is not the place to enter into
a detailed consideration of eugenics. We can only face the blatant fact
that thousands of degenerate parents continue each year to breed
degenerate children. The moral aspect with which alone I am dealing, is
that this is a crime against the community; however irresponsible or
ignorant the perpetrators, they are helping to burden the State with an
altogether undesirable progeny. Now, whether they are allowed to marry or
not, there is not the least likelihood that they will desist from sexual
intercourse. Therefore, it seems to me an obviously lesser evil to remove
all excuse for procreation by placing within reach the artificial means of

In this, just as in the divorce problem, we have to determine whether it
is better to insist on an ideal, which we know the majority will not keep,
or to legislate down to the majority. There is no doubt in my own mind
that to legislate on an ideal is not only impracticable but dangerous. I
may believe, for instance, that it would be a higher ideal to live on
vegetables and fruit rather than to slaughter animals and drink their
blood. But even so, I should vehemently oppose a law which attempted to
impose vegetarianism.

I believe, too, that every moral influence should be brought to bear
against marriages where the physical or mental degeneracy[12] of the
parents renders the use of preventatives desirable. I wish to emphasize
that the ideal towards which we should set our faces is that of fewer but
healthier marriages. Both Church and State should, I feel, take pains to
assure themselves that these undesirable elements are absent in all unions
which they are respectively called upon to solemnize. And I emphasize this
because I believe that we are suffering far too much from the popular
fallacy and the smug Puritanic doctrine that the cure for all sexual
proclivities is for men and women to marry, and that once they marry all
things are sexually permissible. It is not only irritating, but it is a
fallacy, for men who are comfortably married to declare that there is
"really no sex-problem." There is probably as much immorality within the
married state as outside it; and far from it being the duty of every man
to marry, there are many men whose duty it is not to do so.

Closely allied with eugenics is the problem of venereal disease, and out
of this again, arises the problem of prostitution. How far is prostitution
tolerable, so that a medical system of registration should be introduced
into England? We have seen why prostitution is immoral; it is concerned
with the physical side of sex, and with little else. But no thoughtful man
could reasonably advocate the suppression of prostitution by law. The
result of such a measure, at the present state of national development,
would be deplorable, even if it were practicable. People do not become
moral because they are frightened to do what they still want to do. It is
always a confession of the weakness of religion or moral influences where
you have to fall back on the police-force of the State for support. In
moral questions, State prosecution seems only to be justifiable where the
liberty of individuals, or the welfare of the community, is endangered.

Prostitution[13] as an evil can only be treated by the slow process of
moral education. Of that I shall speak later. But it is worth while
remembering in this connexion, that the feminist movement must have a
beneficial effect, to some extent, on prostitution. Largely, it is an
economic problem. If a woman were able to earn a decent wage, it is
inconceivable that she should wish to submit herself to every voluptuous
patron who happens to come along. Education and economic independence must
tend largely to breed dissatisfaction with such a slavish occupation. It
will not do so entirely, for a certain percentage of women are prostitutes
because they hunger for promiscuous sex intercourse.

That some serious attempt must be made, not merely to alleviate, but to
prevent venereal disease, is evident to all who are aware how widespread
it has become. And it may therefore be pointed out that it would not be
impossible to prosecute the prostitute, suffering from these diseases,
without introducing the vexed question of registration and official
recognition of prostitution. All unmarried men and women below a certain
age could be compelled to submit to periodical medical examination, and if
any person was found to have solicited, after having been certified as
infected, prosecution would lie. Probably a storm of protest would be
aroused against an alleged interference with individual privacy. But the
danger of syphilis may necessitate such a law, and after all, no one is
being asked to do more than that to which every soldier and sailor has to

We have seen that love, and therefore marriage, naturally contains the
sense of permanence. There is also a sense of distaste towards incest, and
of the apparently natural evils arising therefrom. No-one will deny that
the State and the Catholic Church are scientifically justified in
insisting upon some table of prohibited degrees. How far this distaste is
essentially natural I do not know. I imagine that a sister who had been
separated from her brother since birth, and who did not know that he was
her brother, might fall in love with him. But the scientific dangers of
such marriages would remain.[14]

The Church of England some years ago found herself immersed in a storm of
controversy over the Deceased Wife's Sister Act. To most men her attitude
seemed pedantic and unworthy of serious attention. The English Church is
unfortunate: her apparently narrow ecclesiasticism was really the result
of a liberal policy at the time of the Reformation. During the Middle
Ages the Church had extended her prohibited degrees to such an extent that
it must have been difficult to know whom one could marry without a
dispensation.[15] Only a person more than four degrees removed from the
other party was an eligible partner without dispensation, the degrees so
being reckoned as to include even second cousins. The English Church swept
away these anomalies and concentrated on an irreducible minimum of
prohibition up to three degrees (reckoned in direct ascending and
descending generation from the common ancestor)--thus sacrificing all
regulation against marriage between first cousins, who are four degrees

The real opposition to the ecclesiastical attitude was, however, that any
affinity, as distinguished from consanguinity, should be a bar to
marriage. The unhappy deceased wife's sister was merely a convenient
representative. But this is a controversy which is not sufficiently
imminent to engage us in these pages.

Chapter 8: The Homosexual Temperament

We must now pass from the normal or hetero-sexual to the second-class of
sex-temperament. This is the homosexual--that in which the individual's
sex attraction is directed towards the same sex. And here it will be
necessary to utter a note of warning. The sex instinct lies so deep in
human nature that many men are incapable of regarding sex characteristics
save through their own temperamental colour. Normal men are frequently
found, for instance, of such underdeveloped mental faculties that they
start out with an immense sex prejudice against the homosexual. Without
being able to consider the question impartially they abhor this variety as
an unspeakable evil. It is essential that we should place such critics
outside the area of practical investigation. The homosexual tendency may
be as evil as they imagine it to be, but we must only arrive at that
conclusion as a result of impartial and incontestable reason. And any man
who cannot undertake that inquiry is as valueless for our purpose as are
his prejudicial opinions; he must simply go back to the nursery.

Let us therefore, as far as is individually possible, attempt to treat
this question with an open mind. And accordingly we shall find it most
convenient first to consider the various attitudes which have been taken
up with regard to this difficult problem.

The legal or State attitude we have already to some extent anticipated.
The State looks with suspicious eyes on any influence which tends to
sterilize the birth-rate. Accordingly, in England, homosexuality is
branded as a crime for which a heavy sentence can be pronounced. It is
true that legally this sentence, under the Criminal Amendment Act, can
only be inflicted for the physical sex-act itself; but this includes any
assault or any behaviour which may be construed as an attempt to lead up
to the commission of the act. And, accordingly, any man is legally under
suspicion if he is thought to be homosexual, even though no perpetration
of the physical offence can be alleged against him. The hideous system of
blackmail is thus encouraged by the law. Once a man is understood to be
subject to these proclivities, it is assumed that sooner or later he will
commit the offence, and he is watched, if not by the over-busy police, by
those idle persons who trade upon the legal attitude toward this problem.
Any conversation or literature on the subject is suppressed, so far as is
possible, by the State, because the physical expression being a crime, all
that may become an incentive to the crime is itself criminal.

We have already mentioned the basic fallacy of the legal attitude. It does
not follow that because a line of conduct may decrease the birth-rate, it
is therefore wrong. Celibacy, as we have seen, may be an actual virtue.
But in this particular instance there is a still more serious error. The
English law, by branding homosexuality as a crime, assumes that it is a
deliberate perversion; for it would be obviously ridiculous to punish a
man for doing what he could not help doing. Even the law is not so
illogical as to sentence a madman to penal servitude because he insists on
being mad. No, the State regards the homosexual as one who has of his own
choice assumed this form of sex temperament, in the same way as a man
decides to rob or forge a signature. The legal attitude _must_ rest on
this supposition, for otherwise its policy would be flagrantly unjust. And
accordingly we find the law classifying this family of behaviour as

Now, if there is one fact which is clear from an investigation of the
problem, it is that this supposition is as false as it is possible for
any supposition to be. Let it be granted that a certain number of
homosexual offences are committed by persons who are sexually normal in
temperament. There remains the whole body of homosexuals, of those, that
is to say, in whom the homogenic attraction is as integral a part of their
nature as the appreciation of music or the love of colour. Abundant proof
of this contention is to hand. There have been thousands of individuals in
every age, including the present, who have never heard of
homosexuality,[16] have never met other homosexuals, or come into contact
with anything approaching homosexual practice; and yet they have been
homosexual all their lives. I have known persons who believed that no one
else in the world shared their aspirations, and also have suffered
tortures because of their supposed isolated abnormality.

The State attitude simply ignores this factor, and accordingly reveals
itself as unscientific.

It is true that perhaps by such an agency as psycho-analysis reasons could
be found in many of these cases why the individual had developed on
inverted sex lines; home repressions, the system of early education, the
age of the parents, these or other influences, may have produced a complex
which has switched the sex-nature on to a particular path. But these
reasons do not necessarily show the result to be artificial; it is our
very nature indeed which these influences construct. It is impossible to
trace an exact line between the inherent nature and the effect which
outside influences have had upon it. We must, and we do in fact, regard
the permanent and fundamental traits, however derived, as "natural."

Moreover psycho-analysis definitely indicates that there is a homosexual
period through which all individuals inevitably pass.

The State theory that the temperament is "unnatural" cannot therefore be
supported on any grounds, except in the cases where it is deliberately
assumed by normal persons. In most cases it is natural to the individual's
nature, and not "unnatural," but "abnormal."

Once this simple scientific truth is grasped the legal attitude is seen to
crumble in all directions. The case for criminal prosecution rests
logically on the assumption that unless homosexual practices are rigidly
suppressed they will spread. And since their increase would seriously
diminish the birth-rate the State is necessarily anxious to avert this
danger. But it is an odd perversion which imagines that sober respectable
citizens are only restrained from indulging in homosexual vice by the
threat of penal servitude! Once the scientific truth is grasped and
homosexuality is seen to be, except in a small number of cases, the
natural temperament of a small minority, it will be realized that normal
persons are not likely to wish to commit unnatural acts, whether there is
or there is not a penal law; nor can any Act of Parliament prevent
homosexuals from being homosexual.

And in practice this theoretical conclusion is found to hold true. For in
the countries, such as France, where the Code Napoléon does not cover
these prosecutions, homosexuality is far less rife than in England, or in
Germany, where until the Revolution the penal law was rigidly enforced.

It is well that we should face these facts unreservedly, however strong
may be our personal antipathy to the practices.

       *       *       *       *       *

The second attitude may be described generally as that of society. Public
opinion must necessarily be too vague to admit of succinct definition. But
generally its attitude towards this question may be defined as that of an
ordinary man towards a freak; he has no sympathy with freaks and indeed
dislikes them--but they are so very rare that he can afford to ignore

The problem of the homosexual cannot however be avoided in this way, for
the simple reason that the invert forms so comparatively large and
permanent a part of the community. It is difficult to attempt an accurate
estimate, partly because many homosexuals are so afraid of incurring the
odium of public opinion that they successfully disguise their true nature
and are unsuspected even by their most intimate friends. But there is a
more fundamental difficulty. It appears to be undeniable that a large
number of normal people possess to some extent a strain of the homosexual
temperament. We have, in fact, as in almost all classifications, not a
naturally dividing gulf but a gradually ascending scale. Some individuals
may have only 5 per cent. inverted and 95 per cent. hetero-sexual
tendencies, while others are only 10 per cent. normal. There are a large
and increasing number of persons who are almost equally balanced on either
side. These bisexuals often marry happily and at the same time enjoy
homogenic experiences.

When we remember that, according to psycho-analysis, everyone about the
age of puberty passes through a homosexual stage, it is probably not an
exaggeration to state that few people fail to preserve a stratum of this
nature, however small the percentage and however deeply such tendencies
may be buried in the unconsciousness.

If however we decide to draw an arbitrary distinction and to define
persons with less than 30 per cent. inverted nature as normal, persons
from 30 to 60 per cent. as bisexual, and the remainder as homosexual, we
are left with a considerable number of the last variety. Havelock Ellis
has reckoned the percentage of homosexuals among the professional middle
classes in England as 5 per cent. and among women as 10 per cent.[17] In
any case the popular view that the proportion is so small as to be
negligible is quite impossible, and is due to the fact that most men are
so unobservant of psychological evidence that their opinion is of little
serious value.

However undesirable, then, this species of temperament may be, it cannot
be described as unnatural in the sense of artificial or unusual. The third
or current scientific attitude does seem at first to avoid these
superstitions and to rest on a reasonable basis. This attitude may be
described as that of regarding homosexuality as a disease, which should
neither be punished nor ignored, but treated. The theory that we all pass
through a homosexual period at a comparatively early stage, lends support
to this conclusion. The hero-age of boys and girls, it is urged, is almost
always directed towards the child's own sex. Therefore it can fairly be
argued that where the sex development has been restricted to these lines
it denotes some strange dislocation which has prevented natural growth.
The fact that in some cases this cause can actually be traced--such as a
disappointment in an early love affair with the opposite sex, or to
artificial circumstances which have made for celibacy--confirm many
students of sex-science in this opinion.

But as if nature deliberately intends to thwart all easily attained
explanations, she sets out certain facts, in practice, which entirely
invalidate the theory. It is true that many homosexuals, both men and
women, portray in general mental efficiency that peculiar want of
proportion in some direction which is the inevitable symptom of mental
abnormality; the male may be obviously effeminate, or, male or female,
eccentric or hysterical. But this is distinctly the exception. So far as
my personal experience goes, the majority of homosexuals are
indistinguishable from normal men, except by some psychic or intuitional
sense, in physical or mental appearance; and I observe that this
experience is shared by all those scientists who have written on the
subject. The undeniable facts are that among this minority of the race a
majority of men have, in all ages and races, held a pre-eminent and
honourable position in society, revealing the brilliance of sanity rather
than the abnormality of genius. The homosexual has succeeded not only as
might have been expected in the arts. It is true that, in general, he
possesses certain feminine attributes, such as a gentler and more
emotional positivity than the normal. But he has excelled in such
masculine paths as soldiering, statesmanship, and engineering. It is
almost irritating, where one wishes to find support for the scientific
explanation, to turn to history and discover that the homosexual section
of the Greeks were magnificent warriors as well as philosophers; that not
only Shakespeare, who wrote many of his sonnets to a boy, or Michael
Angelo, but Alexander the Great, Charles XII of Sweden, Frederick II of
Prussia, and William III of England, had their homosexual tendencies.
Indeed, were it permissible to do so, it would be possible to instance
some of our most famous generals and politicians of modern times as
possessing this unmistakable temperament.

It is well then freely to admit that the scientific theory simply does
not square with the full facts of the case.

The fourth attitude is that of religion. The Church's official position is
mainly indistinguishable from that of the State, although the atmosphere
of the Church has tended largely to be congenial to this development. It
is evident that Christianity was influenced in its early days by the
appalling condition of vice in Roman society, and it is not to be wondered
at that a severe legacy of prejudice has been inherited in the light of
this indescribable experience. But this brings us conveniently to a point
where we must admit a fallacy underlying almost all considerations of the
homogenic sex nature. And unless we are able to dispose of the fallacy in
our minds, further investigation is useless.

The fallacy consists of the assumption that homosexuality means only the
perpetration of the physical sex-act. In reality this is as untrue as to
suppose that the normal man is necessarily a patron of prostitutes. Such a
confusion of thought is obviously ludicrous. But not less inaccurate is
this prevailing idea regarding the homosexual. Not only is the particular
sex-act, popularly associated with this subject, an extremely rare
occurence, even as among the physical sex-expressions of this temperament,
but probably a vast majority of homosexuals are deliberately celibate.
Homosexuality is a romantic cult rather than a physical vice. Nine-tenths
of its energy is directed purely in the realm of ideals. The old
misconception of sex as a rather disreputable physical function again dogs
our steps. But sex is almost entirely emotional; sex-love, and especially
homosexual love, is not lust. Its desire is romantic and idealistic, and
when physical incidents occur, they are usually the unintentional outlets
of the purely emotional passion.

The literature of homosexuality is almost entirely romantic, and small
though it is forced to be, in quality and ideal its average must rank as
extraordinarily noble.

It is noticeable, indeed, that in a large proportion of the unpleasant
cases which are tried in police-courts, the offenders are admittedly
normal men who have deliberately perpetrated homosexual acts for various
causes, such as a neurotic desire for novelty, or the desire to avoid
disease. There are also the considerable class of perverted normals whose
deviation from their natural path as the result of some such influence as
heterosexual disappointment or repression, has been so emphasized as to
render their perversion distinct from natural developments, and who
refuse, or are unable, to deny themselves physical gratification.

If we dissociate the true homosexual from this class, and concentrate our
attention only on the "celibate" species of such attachments, it is
evident that we are in the presence, not merely of something which is not
criminal, but of an ideal which is sacred in character. Pure love,
especially so intense a love as the homogenic attachment, is not profane
but divine. And though the Church may be unable to recognize it by her
sacramental benediction, because, unlike marriage, it cannot effect
physical procreation, she possesses such Biblical precedents as the story
of David and Jonathan--an episode which is obviously homosexual in the
sense that it describes not a platonic companionship but a romantic

In the social sphere also, the place of this aspect of homosexuality is
obvious. The homosexual must, and does in fact, exist in the most honoured
offices of the community. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to declare that
few men can be successful in educational or philanthropic work unless they
have some homogenic temperament in their nature. Without this they may
compel discipline but they are powerless to attract sympathetic
co-operation. The testimony in favour of this assertion is overwhelming.

But when we admit that sex tends to find a physical expression, and we
come therefore face to face with the physical problem, the difficulty I
admit to be considerable. And I can only re-emphasize that this feature
is numerically and potentially the least important, but that there can be
no religious countenance for any physical sex-act outside the sacrament of

       *       *       *       *       *

Rape, and seduction without consent, are obviously evils calling for legal
prosecution, as being an infringement of personal liberty. And in this
connexion it must be remembered that homosexual practices tend to
seduction, inasmuch as the attraction is frequently towards those who have
not attained intellectual manhood. For the rest, I am inclined only to
re-affirm the general principle which I have already attempted to
define--namely, that sex becomes a sin where the main objective becomes
the physical gratification. Once the proportion is weighed on the side of
physical expression, love is prostituted. The purity of true love is known
by the fact that its face is turned not to mere physical functions, but
beyond the emotional and even mental, to the spiritual ideal. Indeed, a
lover, whatever his temperament happens to be, loves even if his beloved
is removed from all physical reach. That is the test.

I do not look for salvation to the arms of mere criminal legislation. This
seems to me to be almost powerless as a moral force, and indeed, to
encourage the hideous apparatus of blackmail.[18] Gradual and
unsensational as it may be, I believe that morals can only be improved by
educational and religious influences.

And so far as theoretical solutions are concerned I believe that Mr.
Edward Carpenter[19] comes nearest to the truth. Nature is deliberate in
creating not uniformity but variety, and I doubt if the world would
continue if there were only normal men in it. The homosexual has his
place, within restrictions, as has the celibate or the sexless type. The
real truth, I feel to be, is that few men are wholly masculine or women
feminine, and that somewhere, in comparative degrees, homosexuality is in
us all. It may become so excessive as to be a disease, or so feeble as to
create that unæsthetic, bourgeoise type, which is an unpleasant symptom
of super-normality.

We enter the realm of pure conjecture if we attempt to inquire the purpose
for which this type has been deliberately created. And I can only record
my own entirely unproveable, but definite opinion, that the human race, in
the far ages ahead, will return, by a spiral process, to the bisexual
species from which I believe it has come. If this is so, the homosexual is
apparently a prototype, a preliminary attempt of nature to combine both
sex-natures in one individual. And with all his present imperfections, I
believe that there are evidences which go strongly to support this

Chapter 9: The Sexless Class

There is little that need be written on this subject, not because it is
devoid of interest, but because it raises no vital sex problem.

The number of sexless people is small, though apparently increasing. It
may be questioned whether there are any really sexless people--individuals,
i.e. whose sex-nature is non-existent. Probably in most of these cases
sex, for some reason or other, is there, dormant but positive. But it is
convenient so to classify those in whom, for some reason, the sex-force
has never yet been stirred.

It must be remembered that this class is quite distinct from the religious
celibate. The celibate has all the sexual ardour for his religious or
humanitarian devotion. The sexless man or woman is cold, intellectually
aloof, and generally critical.

There are only two considerations calling for remarks on this interesting
psychological problem. The first is that we must not allow the great body
of normal opinion to label such people as unnatural, and as having no part
to play in the community. They have, on the contrary, an important rôle.
Their intellectual ability is in itself a great asset, particularly in
abstract and critical directions. And in all sex questions they should,
and frequently have, an impartial outlook, for the very reason that they
can view sex from a detached standpoint.

But, conversely--and this is the second consideration--they possess the
immoral tendency of regarding sex with abhorrence, especially when they
confuse sex with mere physical expression. In extreme cases the sexless
individual has been known even to faint or exhibit symptoms of nausea at
the chance touch of a woman. This is obviously to magnify the physical
side out of all clean proportion. And probably such cases show themselves
to be the result of artificial repression and consequent complex. It may
be argued from this that all deviations from the normal are the results of
repression. But, as we have seen, the difference between natural and
unnatural is comparative, and most of our nature is built up, in the first
instance, by early exterior influences.

Chapter 10: Super-Abnormalities

Under this head I have included a number of characteristics, which have no
connective bearing upon one another. It seemed the most convenient

Perhaps it will be best to take as the first example a sex tendency which
can hardly be described as super-abnormal, for among single men, and
especially among boys, it is extremely common.

Auto-eroticism in the form of self-abuse is not an easy problem to tackle.
The usual policy adopted towards boys is most immoral. Well-meaning but
hopelessly vicious purists, write terrifying pamphlets or deliver lectures
in which they declare that this practice will inevitably lead to lunacy,
paralysis or even death. The result is that the boy is scared into an
ineffectual attempt at repression, which, so far as it is successful, sets
the sex-impulse at work into morose channels and makes him a liar or a
thief. Or he may be impelled to inquire for himself. He finds that, so
long as self-abuse occurs infrequently, it does not bring about these dire
evils, and accordingly he assumes that all moral doctrine is hypocrisy
and often falls into the opposite extreme of constant self-abuse, with the
result that actual physical and mental deterioration sets in.

What is really the truth?

The first consideration is that frequent and unregulated abuse does cause
physical harm. The margin of frequency which will escape this harm varies
with the individual. But, with growing boys, the practice is perhaps more
dangerous than after physical maturity. The whole reserve of the physical
constitution appears to be needed while the body is developing.

The difficulty of this problem is its complications. There are several
entirely conflicting influences which must be weighed one against the

We have seen the physical danger, and, since morality must not be founded
on a lie, we must freely admit that the physical danger may be eliminated
by limiting the frequency of the practice. It may then be physically
harmless. There remain, however, at least two causes which make for a
misuse of the sex-force, that is--for immorality. The first is that it is
usually the result of mental weakness, sheer inability to overcome the
inclination. The mind, the will, _must_ be supreme in its own house. Until
that is done little else matters. And it comes, therefore, to this, so far
as this particular consideration is concerned, that it is better for a
man deliberately to regulate himself by programme to certain times, than
to keep up an ineffectual struggle, or to obey whenever the inclination

For, in both these cases, remorse follows. And this is as great an evil as
the failure of will; indeed, it _is_ failure of will. Remorse is not
penitence. It is useless thereby to regret what has been done. A man must
simply own to himself that he has failed, make a resolution to be stronger
next time, and then sweep the recollection from his mind, switching off on
to other mental channels.

The second influence which makes for impurity is that by this practice the
sex-force becomes literally selfish. Now, sex is fundamentally a movement
towards union through love, whether it be physical or super-physical. This
practice is merely a vicious circle, in which the love element, save in
the perverted form of narcissism, is absent. Accordingly, there must,
almost always, be evil mental results from this abuse. And, once again, we
see that the real evil is not in the physical act but in the realm of
thought, whether the act occurs or not.

On the other hand, we must not become such abstract moralists as to deny
that in many individuals the sex-force is so strong as to press almost
irresistibly towards physical expression. Even dreams, which are the
normal outlet, may not be sufficient. A man who for some reason, cannot
marry, will therefore argue that his only alternative is recourse to
prostitution, and that self-abuse, so long as it is regulated, is morally
preferable. One remedy is, as we have already seen, the transfer of the
sex-force to higher channels, so that all the glow and energy of sex is
energized in devotion to a group of persons, or to a religious or
humanitarian ideal in concrete labour. For sex is primarily creative, and
if it is not creating physical children it may have, and should have, a
spiritual progeny--as in art and literature.

The truth is that each individual case must be treated according to its
particular state of development. General rules in this instance are
particularly dangerous. We can only repeat that the repression is worse
than commission, that a seething mass of sexual thought is worse when it
has no physical outlet; that the ideal, when there may be no legitimate
outlet--and, indeed, to some extent, in all cases--is to find an emotional
outlet, to dig thought and emotional channels along which the sex-force
may flow, but the physical expression of which is, in the ordinary sense
of the term, non-sexual.[20]

And this is quite possible.


Attraction towards young children is frequently, perhaps almost entirely,
sexual. A symptom of this temperament is that romantic attachments are
formed towards either sex, because, before puberty, the child is bisexual
or sexless. This must essentially be a cult; it is a clean and noble cult,
but the penalty of its high standard is that here all physical sex
expression must be denied except in the lesser form of embrace.

Here, indeed, the prosecution of the law against sex-acts is justified.
For, not only is the child incapable of giving valid consent, but the
commission of the sex-act is physically and morally injurious. It is
physically injurious beyond all doubt at a young age, and it is morally
injurious, because it introduces sex to an age of development when the
consciousness of sex should not have appeared above the horizon. The
inevitable result is that if sex-acts take place the child eventually ages
rapidly, as can be seen among the child-mothers of India. Maturity is
induced far before its time.

The sex consciousness, as distinct from the unconsciousness, can be
awakened in the earliest years of childhood. The young boy or girl often
shows an extraordinarily intuitive perception that there is a sexual
design behind even the apparently harmless overtures. And this is why this
cult is particularly dangerous. The lover, in fact, must not only entirely
eliminate the morally criminal sex inclinations, but he must take care not
to become so sentimental and romantic as really to suggest sex to the
child's unconsciousness. It is difficult to draw the line as to what is a
lawful and what is an unlawful expression of this sex-temperament. One can
only say that the remedy is not to concentrate love on one child, but on
children generally. The child must not be treated as an adult; there must
be no manifestations of jealousy, or insistence on a return of love
expression. The embrace of children must be natural but not too ardent. In
fact, the lover must diffuse his love and romp with children as a class
rather than allow himself to appear emotional over one individual.

Many unthinking people will at once regard this temperament as impure when
they have been convinced that scientifically it is sexual. But this is
only because they cannot understand that sex is a clean thing and that the
physical side of it is an occasional and by no means an inevitable
incident. The cult of child-love is in fact one of the purest and noblest
of sex-expressions. But it is a difficult path, and he who treads it must
beware of many pitfalls.

Again, I quite deny that it is due to thwarted paternal instinct. I
believe it to be as natural a variety as any other of the
sex-temperaments. We have suffered too long from the superstition that sex
is a uniformity of type.


Then there is that strange form of sex-expression known as bestiality.

To most of us the connexion between man and beast in sex is so revolting
that there is a great danger of our prejudice running away with us.

I believe that prejudice against what seems to me so debased a vice, is
justifiable. But I am equally sure that to punish such offences by
criminal law has no shred of justification, except when the act is done in
public so as to be openly indecent. No physical or moral harm can be done
to the animal. And were it not tragic, the idea of sentencing the
offenders to penal servitude would be itself a travesty.

The practice, which is not so uncommon as many people imagine, is not so
much immoral as unnatural. I mean that this can hardly ever be a variety
of sex-temperament. Although the love of women for pet dogs is probably a
form of perverted sex-outlet, it seems impossible to discover here any
actual love going out towards animals rather than to humans. Therefore,
the act is almost always due to a desire for mere physical expression,
when this happens to have been chosen as the most convenient.

The true remedy, therefore, can only be to take the individual and educate
him. He must be shown that it is immoral for man to devolve back to the
animal level. He is superior to the beast. He must be reminded that sex
must be a result of love, and that sex-love between man and animal would
only be possible if it were moral for man to cease to reason, to go down
on all fours, and to eat and drink and live like an animal. Even the most
primitive man would not wish to do that. And if he feels any sense of
abhorrence at such a proposal, then he must learn to extend his abhorrence
to any attempt at a similar equality in sex.


The strange and almost endless forms of sex-association need not be
considered, since they have no moral problem of their own. The man whose
sex-force is stirred into energy by the sight of some inanimate physical
object is obviously the victim of a sex-repression. And such diseases must
be treated as any other repressions should be. These general
considerations must suffice here for all forms of sex perversions, such as
sadism and its converse. And it is not difficult to distinguish between
the unnaturalness of such practices and the natural character of the main
sex-types which we have already mentioned.

Chapter XI: Sex Education

It is becoming evident to all students of the sex-problem that the remedy
for many of the difficulties arising therefrom is a wholesome and
efficient sex-education.

In many cases the parents are not the persons most fitted to give this
education. They may not possess the art of imparting knowledge, and often
there is a certain reticence between parent and child, which when present
creates a bar to the proper handling of this question. The child goes to
school to learn, and the school must take its share of this
responsibility. Where this is not done the effect is deplorable. In the
preparatory school sex has hardly appeared. But in any school where there
are older boys or girls, and where sex-education is not given, knowledge
is rapidly obtained. Officially sex is ignored until, on rare occasions,
it is detected. Severe punishment is then meted out, and perhaps the
offender is even expelled, although the school is really penalizing the
results of its own system.

It is unnecessary to labour the apology that the absence of sex-education
ensures innocence. In no school is this the case. If it were, with growing
boys and girls, it would be unnatural. Sex-instinct is bound to grow as
the physical body grows, and to ignore this fact is to create the
conception that sex-instinct is immoral. We then obtain the usual attitude
adopted in public schools--that sex is to be indulged behind closed doors
and sex literature sniggered at in dark corners. The boy grows up with a
totally unclean view of sex. He becomes either an intolerable prude, or
else he approaches sex-experience with an entirely twisted conception of
sex-morality. One is continually meeting instances of this perverted
imagination. Not only boys, but men, will regard an outspoken book on sex,
perhaps written with the purest of motives, as "hot stuff," something to
be greedily devoured when the eye of respectable authority is conveniently
removed. Recently, a man was told that a certain clergyman was a member of
a group of students studying sex-psychology. He expressed the opinion,
with a knowing leer, that "some parsons are not such fools after all."

These crude examples of the result of driving sex into a dark corner
exactly represent what one is up against in school, and in the world, when
one begins to deal with sex openly and cleanly as a natural and
non-repressible instinct. Really these people are a type of prude, much
as they would resent this classification, for they persist in regarding
sex as something which is rather naughty. They even imagine that to take
away from it the cloak of unnaturalness with which they have surrounded it
is to rob it of all its attraction. This is ridiculously untrue. Sex is
attractive because it is romantic, and, so long as one does not go to the
opposite extreme of regarding it merely through the musty glasses of
scientific classification, it becomes no less attractive when it is open
and natural, and ceases to be the cause of giggling asides.

Before any moral sense in the sex-problem can be established there must be
a fundamental cleaning of this cess-pool, this strange medley of official
silence, unnatural repression, and unclean secretiveness. The main road to
a moral sense is sex-education. And it is necessary, therefore, to
conclude this outline of principles by suggesting some conditions which
should govern such instruction.

It is obvious that sex-education must be advanced on the process of a
sliding scale. Before puberty sex should not appear on the horizon of the
child's consciousness. The precocious child must of course be specially
dealt with, but usually the first lessons in sex should commence with the
period of mental puberty. Before that time the small child jokes only
about the normal excretory functions, and this can be adjusted by
emphasizing the unmanly and unnecessary character of such forms of humour.
A child has usually an exaggerated impression of the value of the adult
standard, an impression which it must be confessed is too often subject to
subsequent disillusionment. While it remains, however, it can be used, and
it can be pointed out that "grown-ups" do not consider the excretory
system has any more claim to ridicule than the process of digestion or
sleep. Vulgarity and coarseness are not symptoms even of immoral

The problem commences, then, with puberty. And here a warning should be
uttered against that school of reformers which tends to the view that sex
can be regarded as naturally and as publicly as natural history or
chemistry. This attitude ignores the fact that there is such a quality as
sexual appetite. And consequently, sex education should be rather a matter
for individuals than for public instruction. We have remarked that the
parent may not infrequently be an unfortunate educator. But where these
objections do not arise, the home is an admirable atmosphere for sensible
teaching. The Catholic Church possesses the invaluable medium of the
Confessional, and where the Confessor can give sound sex instruction no
better opportunity can be imagined. There remains the school, but even
here better work will be done in the study than the classroom.

The immediate problem in the early post-puberty age is the tendency
towards solitary practices. It must be recognized that this is usual with
all children, and that there is no evidence to show that, save in extreme
exceptions, physical harm results. All attempt at _alarmist prudism_ must
be abandoned. Sane instruction will tend rather to emphasize that sex
abuse is due to a weakness of will-power, and that man is most manly, i.e.
most removed from the animal, in the exercise of will-power. All education
should contain that subject which is at present consistently ignored,
namely, the art of thought-control. The child will be interested to follow
certain simple rules of mental exercise, and where this is followed the
liability to indulge in sex-acts diminishes. It is this element which must
be emphasized, the fact, that is, that solitary practices are usually the
result of an inability to exercise the will and control the mind.

At a slightly later period, the public-school age, there emerges the
tendency, in addition to onanism, for promiscuous practices, usually of a
homogenic nature. A further stage of sex-education must now be opened out,
namely the principle that physical sex expression must be the expression
only of love. The problem now becomes necessarily more acute, but there is
this element which tends to lessen the difficulties of the instructor's
task. The individual is always interested about himself; he is naturally
egotistical. The youth will gladly listen to what can be told him of his
own nature. He must be shown the immense superiority of mind both over the
emotional and physical natures. This may involve a slight dethronement of
the public school appreciation of sport. So long as it is slight such a
dethronement will be a reform in itself. The boy in his middle teens must
be taught that man is greater in his mental than in his physical activity;
he must be reminded that he is inferior to many animals on the physical
level. The application of this doctrine to sex is that sex-expression for
the purpose of physical curiosity or excitement is a denial of the
monopoly of love, which belongs to the emotional and mental capacities.

The young man and the girl, who has left school, will be ready to receive
the whole standard of sex-morality as has been outlined in this manual.
The chief trouble now becomes over-sentimentality, the tendency to develop
emotionally at the expense of the mind. And it becomes, therefore,
essential to remind the pupil that where there are continual passing and
promiscuous sexual or love affairs, the mind is being shut out from its
natural functions. To be attracted sexually towards any pretty girl, to
develop sexual relations with different women from week to week, is simply
a form of mental unbalance. The emotions are in the saddle. For directly
the mind begins to operate there is introduced the element of permanency
and constancy. The deepest and most real pleasures only begin in the realm
of mentality. The man who hears music only to beat time or remember a
catchy tune is shut out of the immense joy of the intellectual love of
music. So the young man who lives in a fever of hot-house sexuality, of
absorbing intrigues in the dance-room, or the morbid atmosphere of the
street corner, is shut out of all the exquisite joys of love. He does not
know this, any more than the irreligious man knows what he loses through
an absence of the spiritual sense. But he must be told.

The basic principle of sex values is that sex is immoral so far as the
physical side outweighs in proportion the emotional and mental--so far
indeed, as the act becomes the motive and not the incident. Sex may be
dedicated only to love; divorced from love, it is an abuse. There can be
no exceptions to this rule, and we can only clarify our ideas as to what
is and what is not love. Perhaps this maxim, which we learn by gradual
experience, will help us. Sex passion quickly burns itself out. The
pleasures derived from passion will be of a purely temporary nature,
without the satisfaction which alone comes from permanence. All physical
things are less permanent than the mental. There is no joy, no divine
nature in sex, save where from the ashes of passion rises the phoenix of
the "sexual" but the super-passionate attachment. And this permanent
possession can only come, whether in marriage or outside, where the mind,
healthily developed and exercised, is taking its true place in the
expression of pure love.

_Printed in Great Britain by Hazell, Watson & Viney, Ld., London and


[1] _The Origin of Sexual Modesty_, by Edward Westermarck.

[2] _Vide_ R. V. Jellyman (1838) 8 C and P, 604.

[3] Until recently incest was not a civil offence.

[4] The second object of marriage is declared to be "a remedy against
sin...; that such persons as have not the gift of continency marry and
keep themselves undefiled members of Christ's body."

[5] 1 Cor. vii. 8, 9. "Burn" means sex-obsession as mentioned on page 38.

[6] "Where the decree Tametsi of the Council of Trent has not been
proclaimed, marriage is constituted by mere consent freely exchanged
between persons who are by natural and canonical law competent and able to
intermarry."--Geary's _Marriage and Family Relations_. (Now altered by _Ne
temere_-decree, but the principle remains.)

[7] We have already commented on the strange inconsistency of regarding
the sex-act as evil _per se_ outside marriage, and as a virtue in

[8] I am using "celibacy" to imply complete physical chastity.

[9] With the curious inconsistency, already referred to, that in marriage
non-celibacy is a virtue.

[10] Except by Act of Parliament.

[11] The Majority Report of the Divorce Commission is a good instance of
the unnecessary hardship which results from half-hearted proposals of this
kind. Divorce is to be allowed, for example, after desertion for three
years; why not for two? Or again, the wife of an incurable drunkard is to
be free to obtain divorce, while the unhappy wife of a man who suffers
from violent fits of intermittent drunkenness is to be denied this relief.

[12] I refrain from adding "economic" reasons, for I believe that the
State should remove, as far as possible, all such obstacles against
healthy parents begetting children.

[13] Procuration for the purpose of prostitution is of course an entirely
different matter.

[14] No actual physical harm need result from an incestuous union. The
only effect which seems to be caused is that the characteristics to be
hereditarily transmitted are doubled. Thus with only a small grain of
insanity in a family the chances of aggravated insanity appearing in the
offspring of a brother and sister would be considerable.

[15] Spiritual affinity was a bar, so that not only could not godparents
marry each other, but there could be no valid unions between a godparent
and the child's father or mother. (Geary's _Marriage and Family

[16] Some apology must be made for the use of this hybrid term. The
unwarrantable confusion of Greek and Latin terminology must, however, be
laid at the door of popular use.

[17] _Psychology of Sex_; Vol. _Sexual Inversion_. Dr. Hirschfeld in his
_Statistischen Vatersuchunge über den Prozentensetz der Homosexuellen_,
considers that out of 100,000 inhabitants, 94,600 on the average are
sexually normal, 1,500 exclusively homosexual, and 3,900 bisexual.

[18] The existence of this danger was admitted in a debate in the House of
Lords on August 15, 1921, on The Criminal Law Amendment Bill. The Earl of
Malmesbury, speaking on a proposal to apply criminal prosecution to
homosexual offences among women, declared that "the opportunity for
blackmail will be vastly and enormously increased." Other speakers
concurred in this view, and it was partly on this ground that the proposal
was thrown out.

It is hardly necessary to point out that if blackmail would be encouraged
by such legislation, it must equally be encouraged by the present law
regarding similar offences between males.

[19] _The Intermediate Sex._

[20] I cannot enter here into that further theory which may be described
as "expression through a phantasy."

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