I have just finished reading one of the most enlightening and important articles I have ever read; "Female Suffrage: A Letter to the Christian Woman", by Susan Fenimore Cooper and published in Harper's in 1870 (Note:If the above link doesn't work, try this one). Here Ms. Cooper eloquently states the case against woman's suffrage. I want to point out again that the fact Ms. Cooper was able to write something so bold and have it published, in Harper's no less, demonstrates that men respected women and their intellect long before feminists probably thought men knew what respect was.
For those familiar with my series on Rev. Robins, you will find the same poetic language and relevance for today. Actually, Rev. Robins and Ms. Cooper seem to have the same dream at hand--a truly Christian civilization. And just as Rev. Robins saw the dream realized through the family, Ms. Cooper does as well, yet she also adds her arguments against women's suffrage in accomplishing that goal.
I am going to list several lengthy quotes that are essential. I tend to not want to do long posts, but sometimes they just can't be help. When there is time, I strongly encourage my readers to read the entire article. You will not be disappointed. In fact, I will not entertain any naysayers until they have read the entire piece. Naturally though, it does come from a Christian perspective and if you are not open to that view, then Ms. Cooper's words will probably not change your mind on the matter.
When in a debate with a feminist, usually their last stone to throw is, "Without us, you wouldn't be able to vote", or "Don't you think women should at least be able to vote?". And here they would always get me and I would cower and say, "of course". But no more. The more I am learning and with Ms. Cooper on my side, it seems you can't be against feminism without being against ALL of feminism, including women's vote. So now, if asked, hopefully I can be brave enough to proclaim, "So what? Women never needed the vote in the first place" or "No, actually I do not". To these remarks they will probably give up on me as a lost cause to patriarchal brainwashing or as a Christian nut-job. I will be excommunicated from the sisterhood cult and deemed a traitor to my sex.
Well, so be it, a woman without her sisterhood is like a fish without a bicyle.
Without further rambling, let me introduce you to the wisdom of Ms. Cooper:
1. The natural position of woman is clearly, to a limited degree, a subordinate one. Such it has always been throughout the world, in all ages, and in many widely different conditions of society. There are three conclusive reasons why we should expect it to continue so for the future.
a. First. Woman in natural physical strength is so greatly inferior to man that she is entirely in his power, quite incapableof self- defense, trusting to his generosity for protection.
b. Secondly. Woman is also, though in a very much less degree, inferior to man in intellect. The difference in this particular may very probably be only a consequence of greater physical strength, giving greater power of endurance and increase of force to the intellectual faculty connected with it.
c.Thirdly. Christianity can be proved to be the safest and highest ally of man's nature, physical, moral, and intellectual,that the world has yet known. It protects his physical nature at every point by plain, stringent rules of general temperance and moderation. To his moral nature it gives the pervading strength of healthful purity. To his intellectual nature, while on one hand it enjoins full development and vigorous action, holding out to the spirit the highest conceivable aspirations, on the other it teaches the invaluable lessons of a wise humility. This grand and holy religion, whose whole action is healthful, whose restraints are all blessings--this gracious religion, whose chief precepts are the love of God and the love of man--this same Christianity confirms the subordinate position of woman, by allotting to man the headship in plain language and by positive precept. No system of philosophy has ever yet worked out in behalf of woman the practical results for good which Christianity has conferred on her. Christianity has raised woman from slavery and made her the thoughtful companion of man; finds her the mere toy, or the victim of his passions, and it places her by his side, his truest friend, his most faithful counselor, his helpmeet in every worthy and honorable task. It protects her far more effectually than any other system. It cultivates, strengthens, elevates, purifies all her highest endowments, and holds out to her aspirations the most sublime for that future state of existence, where precious rewards are promised to every faithful discharge of duty, even the most humble. But, while conferring on her these priceless blessings, it also enjoins the submission of the wife to the husband, and allots a subordinate position to the whole sex while here on earth. No woman calling herself a Christian, acknowledging her duties as such, can, therefore, consistently deny the obligation of a limited subordination laid upon her by her Lord and His Church. From these three chief considerations--the great inferiority of physical strength, a very much less and undefined degree of inferiority in intellect, and the salutary teachings of the Christian faith--it follows that, to a limited degree, varying with circumstances, and always to be marked out by sound reason and good feeling, the subordination of woman, as a sex, is inevitable.
She gets its. Women's position will always be "a subordinate one". She accepts that facts and goes about her life accordinlgy. She recognizes that she owes her freedom to Christianity because of its restraints and limits. Probably because it keeps women womanly and men manly as shown below.
2. To be noble the man must be manly. To be noble the woman must be womanly. Independently of the virtues required equally of both sexes, such as truth, uprightness, candor, fidelity, honor, we look in man for somewhat more of wisdom, of vigor, of courage, from natural endowment, combined with enlarged action and experience. In woman we look more especially for greater purity, modesty, patience, grace, sweetness, tenderness, refinement, as the consequences of a finer organization, in a protected and sheltered position. That state of society will always be the most rational, the soundest, the happiest, where each sex conscientiously discharges its own duties, without intruding on those of the other.
A happy society is one that recognizes gender roles. We do not look to women today to demonstrate purity, modesty, patience, etc. We don't expect it from them. Women are allowed to be men and society has paid the price for that allowance. The world is no longer balanced. Had God intended for the world to be men, he would not have created women. It is a rebellion against God to act like men.
3. Such until the present day has been the general teaching and practice of Christendom, where, under a mild form, and to a limited point, the subordination of woman has been a fact clearly established. But this teaching we are now called upon to forget, this practice we are required to abandon. We have arrived at the days foretold by the Prophet, when "knowledge shall be increased, and many shall run to and fro.
4. We see that man has not yet fully mastered the knowledge he has acquired. He runs to and fro. He rushes from one extreme to the other. How many chapters of modern history, both political and religious, are full of the records of this mental vacillation of our race, of this illogical and absurd tendency to pass from one extreme to the point farthest from it!
5. The Emancipation of Women is the name chosen by its advocates for this movement. They reject the idea of all subordination, even in the mildest form, with utter scorn. They claim for woman absolute social and political equality with man. And they seek to secure these points by conferring on the whole sex the right of the elective franchise, female suffrage being the
first step in the unwieldy revolutions they aim at bringing about.
Very prophetic. Suffrage was indeed the first step in the feminist's "unwieldy revolutions".
6. But it is also considered by the friend of the new movement that to withhold the suffrage from half the race is an inconsistency in American politics; that suffrage is an inalienable right, universal in its application; that women are consequently deprived of a great natural right when denied the power of voting. A third reason is also given for this proposed change in our political constitution. It is asserted that the entire sex would be greatly elevated in intellectual and moral dignity by such a course; and that the effect on the whole race would therefore be most advantageous, as the increased influence of woman in public affairs would purify politics, and elevate the whole tone of political life. Here we have the reason for this movement as advanced by its advocates. These are the points on which they lay the most stress.
If you read the entire article, these are the points Ms. Cooper knocks down.
7. In no country, whether of ancient or modern times, have women had less to complain of in their treatment by man than in America. This is no rhetorical declamation; it is the simple statement of an undeniable fact. It is a matter of social history. Since the days of early colonial life to the present hour--or, in other words, during the last two hundred and fifty years--such has been the general course of things in this country. The hardest tasks have been taken by man, and a generous tenderness has been shown to women in many of the details of social life, pervading all classes of society, to a degree beyond what is customary even in the most civilized countries of Europe. Taking these two facts together-- that certain abuses still exist, that certain laws and regulations need changing and that, as a general rule, American women have thus far been treated by their countrymen with especial consideration, in a legal and in a social sense--the inference becomes perfectly plain. A formidable and very dangerous social revolution is not needed to correct remaining abuses. Any revolution aiming at upsetting the existing relations of the sexes--relations going back to the earliest records and traditions of the race--can not be called less than formidable and dangerous.
Wow. Even in 1870 she recognizes that women had little to complain about and yet here we are in 2010 and women are still complaining away. At the time men were already tending to any perceived injustices that women felt. A social revolution, i.e. feminism, would only upset the "existing relations of the sexes". This is exactly what we have today. I can't emphasize enough how profoundly true this is.
8. This second proposition of the advocates of female suffrage is of a general character. It does not point to particular abuses, it claims the right of woman to vote as one which she should demand, whether practically needed or not. It is asserted that to disqualify half the race from voting is an abuse entirely inconsistent with the first principles of American politics. The answer to this is plain. The elective franchise is not an end; it is only a means. A good government is indeed an inalienable right. Just so far as the elective franchise will conduce to this great end, to that point it becomes also a right, but no farther. A male suffrage wisely free, including all capable of justly appreciating its importance, and honestly discharging its responsibilities, becomes a great advantage to a nation. But universal suffrage, pushed to its extreme limits, including all men, all women, all minors beyond the years of childhood, would inevitably be fraught with evil.
"...the right of woman to vote as one which she should demand, whether practically needed or not." This is exactly what feminists and liberals do at large, they demand on 'principle'. It doesn't matter if they really will actually vote, they deserve it, dagnabbit! This also reminds me of the efforts for gay marriage. It doesn't matter if the gays will actually marry or if it is even practical, instead, it is seen and demanded as a right.
9. In those States of the American Union which approach nearest to a practical manhood suffrage, unnaturalized foreigners, minors, and certain classes of criminals, are excluded from voting. And why so? What is the cause of this exclusion? Here are men by tens of thousands--men of widely different classes and conditions-- peremptorily deprived of a privilege asserted to be a positive inalienable right universal in its application. There is manifestly some reason for this apparently contradictory state of things. We know that reason to be the good of society. It is for the good of society that the suffrage is withheld from those classes of men. A certain fitness for the right use of the suffrage is therefore deemed necessary before granting it. A criminal, an unnaturalized foreigner, a minor, have not that fitness; consequently the suffrage is withheld from them. The worthy use of the vote is, then, a qualification not yet entirely overlooked by our legislators. The State has had, thus far, no scruples in withholding the suffrage even from men, whenever it has believed that the grant would prove injurious to the nation.
I need not say more.
10. The right of suffrage is, therefore, most clearly not an absolutely inalienable right universal in its application. It has its limits. These limits are marked out by plain justice and common-sense. Women have thus far been excluded from the suffrage precisely on the same principles--from the conviction that to grant them this particular privilege would, in different ways, and especially by withdrawing them from higher and more urgent duties, and allotting to them other duties for which they are not so well fitted, become injurious to the nation, and, we add, ultimately injurious to themselves, also, as part of the nation.
I need not say more.
11. The elevation of the entire sex, the general purification of politics through the influence of women, and the consequent advance of the whole race. Such, we are told, must be the inevitable results of what is called the emancipation of woman, the entire independence of woman through the suffrage.
This is what women thought they were getting through voting--independence. The joke is on them.
12. Then, again, as regards that talisman, the vote, we have but one answer to make. We do not believe in magic. We have a very firm and unchangeable faith in free institutions, founded on just principles. We entirely believe that a republican form of government in a Christian country may be the highest, the noblest, and the happiest that the world has yet seen. Still, we do not believe in magic. And we do not believe in idolatry. We Americans are just as much given to idolatry as any other people. Our idols may differ from those of other nations; but they are, none the less, still idols. And it strikes the writer that the ballot-box is rapidly becoming an object of idolatry with us. Is it not so? From the vote alone we expect all things good. From the vote alone we expect protection against all things evil. Of the vote Americans can never have too much--of the vote they can never have enough. The vote is expected by its very touch, suddenly and instantaneously, to produce miraculous changes; it is expected to make the foolish wise, the ignorant knowing, the weak strong, the fraudulent honest. It is expected to turn dross into gold.
This is a most powerful observation. Voting for Americans has become idolatry. As Christians, being aware of idols is one of our responsibilities. By voting, women thought they would instantly be wise, strong, and equal if not better to men. Ah, the ultimate lesson in futility. We think that just by voting all of our personal problems and nation's problems will be solved, however, that is hardly the case. It goes much deeper as she explains later.
13. Alas! we know only too well that when a man is not already honest and just and wise and enlightened, the vote he holds can not make him so. We know that if he is dishonest, he will sell his vote; if he is dull and ignorant, he is misled, for selfish purposes of their own, by designing men.
If men do that, than women can only do that on a larger, more destructive, scale. It was bad enough that men were doing it, now with women voting, the corruption is doubled.
14. And if the vote be really no infallible talisman for man, why should we expect it to work magical wonders in the hands of woman?
15. Let us suppose that to-day the proposed revolution were effected; all women, without restriction, even the most vile, would be summoned to vote in accordance with their favorite theory of inalienable right. That class of women, and other degraded classes of the ignorant and unprincipled, will always be ready to sell their votes many times over--to either party, to both parties, to the highest bidder, in short. They will sell their vote much more readily than the lowest classes of men now do. They will hold it with greater levity. They will trifle with it. They will sell their vote any day for a yard of ribbon or a tinsel brooch--unless they are offered two yards of ribbon or two brooches. They will vote over again every hour of every election day, by cunning disguises and trickery. And thus, so far as women are concerned, the most degraded element in society will, in fact, represent the whole sex.
I feel this everyday as the feminists and career women think they can speak for me. The vile women that are amongst us come out and represent the entire female sex.
16. But the great mass of women can never be made to take a deep, a sincere, a discriminating, a lasting interest in the thousand political questions ever arising to be settled by the vote. They very soon weary of such questions. On great occasions they can work themselves up to a state of frenzied excitement over some one political question. At such times they can parade a degree of unreasoning prejudice, of passionate hatred, of blind fury, even beyond what man can boast of. But, in their natural condition, in everyday life, they do not take instinctively to politics as men do. Men are born politicians; just as they are born masons, and carpenters, and soldiers, and sailors. Not so women. Their thoughts and feelings are given to other matters. The current of their chosen avocations runs in another channel than that of politics--a channel generally quite out of sight of politics; it is an effort for them to turn from one to the other. With men, on the contrary, politics, either directly or indirectly, are closely, palpably, inevitably blended with their regular work in life. They give their attention unconsciously, spontaneously; to politics. Look at a family of children, half boys, half girls; the boys take instinctively to whips and guns and balls and bats and horses, to fighting and wrestling and riding; the girls fondle their dolls, beg for a needle and thread, play at housekeeping, at giving tea-parties, at nursing the sick baby, at teaching school. That difference lasts through life. Give your son, as he grows up, a gun and a vote; he will delight in both. Give your daughter, as she grows up, a gun and a vote, and, unless she be an exceptional woman, she will make a really good use of neither. Your son may be dull; but he will make a good soldier, and a very tolerable voter. Your daughter may be very clever; but she would certainly run away on the battle-held, and very probably draw a caricature on the election ticket. There is the making of an admirable wife and mother, and a valuable member of society, in that clever young woman. She is highly intelligent, thoroughly well educated, reads Greek and Latin, and has a wider range of knowledge and thought than ninety-nine in a hundred of the voters in the same district; but there is nothing of the politician in her nature.
I need not say more.
17. The eye and the ear, though both belonging to the same body, are each, in a certain sense, a distinct creation. A body endowed with four ears might hear remarkably well; but without eyes it would be of little use in the world. A body with four eyes would have a fourfold power of vision, and would consequently become nearly as sharp-sighted as a spider; but without hearing its powers of sight would avail little. In both cases, half the functions of the human being, whether physical or mental, would be very imperfectly performed. Thus it is with men and women; each has a distinct position to fill in the great social body, and is especially qualified for it. These distinct positions are each highly important. And it is reasonable to believe that, by filling their own peculiar position thoroughly well, women can best serve their Creator, their fellow-creatures, and themselves. No doubt you may, if you choose, by especial education from childhood upward, make your girls very respectable politicians, as much so as the majority of your sons. But in that case you must give up your womanly daughters--you must be content with manly daughters. This essential difference between the sexes is a very striking fact; yetthe advocates of female suffrage constantly lose sight of it; they talk and write as if it had no existence. It is not lack of intellect on the part of women, but difference of intellect, or rather a difference of organization and affinities giving a different bias to the intellect, which is the cause of their distinct mental character as a sex. And, owing to this essential difference, the great majority of women are naturally disinclined to politics, and partially unfitted for action inthat field.
What an excellent analogy to explain the importance of gender differences. I like how she says that women can be politicians too, but be prepared for them to give up their womanly nature. You can't have it both ways.
18. We already know, for instance, from daily observation and actual experience, that, as a general rule, the kindness and consideration of American men have been great, both in public and in private life. We know that in American society women have been respected, they have been favored, they have been protected, they have been beloved. There has been a readiness to listen to their requests, to redress grievances, to make changes whenever these have become necessary or advisable.
Feminists would never want you to know just how well women were treated back in the day. They had all the respect and even more than they do now from men. But once women forced voting down everyone's throat, they lost their status of someone to be protected and looked out for.
19. Whenever women make ill-judged, unnatural, extravagant demands, they must prepare to lose ground.
Couldn't agree more!
20. Where lies this dim necessity of thrusting upon women the burdens of the suffrage? And why should the entire nation be thrown into the perilous convulsions of a revolution more truly formidable than any yet attempted on earth? Bear in mind that this is a revolution which, if successful in all its aims, can scarcely fail to sunder the family roof-tree, and to uproot the family hearth-stone. It is the avowed determination of many of its champions that it shall do so; while with another class of its leaders, to weaken and undermine the authority of the Christian faith in the household is an object if not frankly avowed yet scarcely concealed.
She recognizes that this is revolution that will ruin families and in turn Christian faith. What a prophet.
21. Degradation for the sex, and not true and lasting elevation, appear to most of us likely to be the end to which this movement must necessarily tend, unless it be checked by the latent good sense, the true wisdom, and the religious principle of women themselves, aroused, at length, to protest, to resist.
That is exactly what happened--the degradation of the the female sex. The women of the anti-suffrage league at least did what they could do in protesting.
22. Observe the patience with which our legislative bodies are now considering the petitions of a clamorous minority demanding the redress of a fictitious grievance--a minority demanding a political position which the majority of their sex still utterly reject--a position repugnant to the habits, the feelings, the tastes, and the principles of that majority. If men are willing to give their attention to these querulous demands of a small minority of our sex, how much more surely may we rely on their sympathy, and their efficient support, when some measure in which the interests of the whole sex are clearly involved shall be brought before them by all their wives and mothers?
"A fictitous grievance". She recognized what a bunch of phonies all the suffragettes were. Making up stuff to complain about. It still goes on today. Also, she says you can't trust the men that give these women the time of day. Yes, always beware of the man sympathetic to the feminist cause. Back in her time, I would of been the majority. How quickly things change.
23. Every branch of study which may be carried on thoroughly and successfully, without impairing womanly modesty of mind and manner, should be so far opened to the sex as to allow those individuals to whom Providence has given the ability for deep research to carry them to the farthest point needed. But as regards those studies which are intended to open the way to professions essentially bold and masculine in character, we do not see how it is within the bounds of possibility for young women to move onward in that direction without losing some of their most precious womanly prerogatives--without, in short, unsexing themselves.
I need not say more.
24. Individual fitness for this or that branch of work is what is required for success. And if, by thorough preparation, women can discharge this or that task, not essentially masculine in its requirements, as well as men, they may rest assured that in the end their wages will be the same as those of their fathers and brothers in the same field of work.
How interesting. Feminists are always going on and on about the wage gap. However, if women would just do jobs suitable to their nature they will find they get paid the same as those men in the same line of work. Perhaps another huge part of why women get lower pay in lofty positions is simply because they should not be in those positions. They are doing work that is not suitable to their womanly nature.
25. To all right-minded women the duties connected with home are most imperative, most precious, most blessed of all, partaking as they do of the spirit of religious duty. To women this class of duties is by choice, and by necessity, much more absorbing than it is to men. It is the especial field of activity to which Providence has called them; for which their Maker has qualified them by peculiar adaptation of body and mind. To the great majority of American women these duties are especially absorbing, owing to the difficulty of procuring paid subordinates, well qualified for the tasks they undertake.
I need not say more.
26. In this way the American mother rules the very heart of her family. If at all worthy she has great influence with her husband; she has great influence over her daughters; and as regards her sons, there are too many cases in which hers is the only influence for good to which they yield. Is there so little of true elevation and dignity in this position that American women should be in such hot haste to abandon it for a position as yet wholly untried, entirely theoretical and visionary?
Sometimes a mother is the only good influence her children will come across, yet here we are now taking away one of the last good things children have and place her in the workplace. No wonder why children are so messed up.
27. Let it be understood, once for all, that the champions of widows and single women are very much given to talking and writing absurdly on this point. Their premises are often wholly false. They often fancy discontent and disappointment and inaction where those elements have no existence. Certainly it is not in the least worth while to risk a tremendous social revolution in behalf of this minority of the sex. Every widow and single woman can, if she choose, already find abundance of the most noble occupation for heart, mind, body, and soul. Carry the vote into her niche, she certainly will be none the happier or more truly respectable for that bit of paper. It is also an error to suppose that among the claimants for suffrage single women are the most numerous or the most clamorous. The great majority of the leaders in this movement appear to be married women.
I suppose a lot of what I say in my blogging can be said to only be true of married women or women with children. What about the single women? Well, I think Ms. Cooper addresses this well here and more in depth in the article.
28. The commander of a regiment at the head of his men, the member of Congress in his seat, the judge on his bench, scarcely holds a position so important, so truly honorable, as that of the intelligent, devoted, faithful American wife and mother, wisely governing her household. And what are the interests of the merchant,the manufacturer, the banker, the broker, the speculator, the selfish politician, when compared with those confided to the Christian wife and mother? They are too often simply contemptible--a wretched, feverish, maddening struggle to pile up lucre, which is any thing but clean. Where is the superior merit of such a life, that we should hanker after it, when placed beside that of the loving, unselfish, Christian wife and mother--the wife, standing at her husband's side, to cheer, to aid, to strengthen, to console, to counsel, amidst the trials of life; the mother, patiently, painfully, and prayerfully cultivating every higher faculty of her children for worthy action through time and eternity?
I need not say more.
29. In its best aspects social life may be said to be the natural outgrowth of the Christian home. It is something far better than the world, than Vanity Fair, than the Court of Mammon, where all selfish passions meet and parade in deceptive masquerade. It is the selfish element in human nature which pervades what we call the world; self-indulgence, enjoyment, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, the pride of life, receive, in that arena, their full development.
Each individual woman is responsible for the right use of all her own social influences, whether for good or for evil.
I would say modern women use their social influence for evil. They relish in self-indulgence and gossiping. They parade in a "deceptive masquerade".
30. Undoubtedly, the very great majority of women are born modest at heart. Their nature is by many degrees less coarse than that of man. And their conscience is more tender. But there is one temptation to which they too often yield. With them the great dangers are vanity and the thirst for admiration, which often become a sort of diseased excitement--what drinking or gambling is to men. Here is the weak point. Yielding chiefly to this temptation, scores of women are falling every day. Vanity leads them to wear the extravagant, the flashy, the immodest, the unhealthy dress, to dance the immodest dance, to adopt the alluring manner, to carry flirting to extremes. Vanity leads them, in short, to forget true self-respect, to enjoy the very doubtful compliment of a miserably cheap admiration. They become impatient of the least appearance of neglect or indifference, they become eager in pursuit of attention, while men always attribute that pursuit to motives of the coarsest kind. It is generally vanity alone which leads a married woman to receive the first disgraceful flattery of dissolute men. Probably nine out of ten of those American women who have trifled with honor and reputation, whose names are spoken with the sneer of contempt, have been led on, step by step, in the path of sin by vanity as the chief motive. Where one woman falls from low and coarse passions, a hundred fall from sheer levity and the love of admiration.
This is modern women today! I have never seen a better description. All women need to read this and take heed.
31. Sensible women may always have a good measure of political influence of the right sort, if they choose. And it is in one sense a duty on their part to claim this influence, and to exert it, but always in the true womanly way. The influence of good sense, of a sound judgment, of good feeling may always he theirs. Let us see that we preserve this influence, and that we use it wisely. But let us cherish our happy immunities as women by keeping aloof from all public personal action in the political field. There is much higher work for us to do. Our time, our thoughts, our efforts may be given to labors far more important than any mere temporary electing, or law-making, passed today, annulled to-morrow, in obedience to the fickle
spirit of party politics.
See, women can still have political influence, even without voting.
32. We have already gone far enough in the path of universal manhood suffrage to feel convinced that no mere enlargement of the suffrage has power to save us from those evils. During half a century we have been moving nearer and nearer to a suffrage all but universal, and we have, during the same period, been growing more corrupt. The undisguised frauds at elections, the open accusations of bribery in legislative assemblies, the accusations of corruption connected with still higher offices--of these we read daily in the public prints. And these accusations are not disproved. They are generally believed. It is clear, therefore, that something more effectual than universal manhood suffrage is needed to stem the torrent. And it is simply ridiculous to suppose that womanhood suffrage can effect the same task. Who can believe that where men, in their own natural field, have partially failed to preserve a healthful political atmosphere, an honest political practice, that women, so much less experienced, physically so much more feeble, so excitable, so liable to be misled by fancy, by feeling, are likely, in a position foreign to their nature, not only to stand upright themselves, but, like Atlas of old, to bear the weight of the whole political world on their shoulders--like Hercules, to cleanse the Augean stables of the political coursers--to do, in short, all that man has failed to do?
This is 2010. I need not say more.
33. This admission becomes the more painful when we reflect that in America this full freedom of fundamental institutions, this relief from all needless shackles, is combined with a well-developed system of intellectual education. We are an absolutely free nation. We are, on the whole, and to a certain point, intellectually, an educated nation. Yet vice and crime exist among us to an extent that is utterly disgraceful. It is evident, therefore, that universal manhood suffrage, even when combined with general education, is still insufficient for the task of purifying either social or political life. The theoretical infidel philosopher may wonder at this fact. Not so the Christian. Great intellectual activity, and the abuse of that power for evil purposes, are a spectacle only too common in this world. Look at the present condition of the most civilized nations. Of all generations that have lived on earth, our own is assuredly the most enlightened, in an intellectual sense; mental culture has never been so generally diffused as it is to-day, nor has it ever achieved so many conquests as within the last half century; and yet mark how comparatively little has this wonderful intellectual progress accomplished in the noble work of improving the moral condition of the most enlightened countries. To the mind humbled by Christian doctrine, living in the light of a holy faith, these facts, though unspeakably painful, can not cause surprise. We are prepared for them. We have already learned that no mere legislative enactment and no mere intellectual training can suffice to purify the human heart thoroughly.
I can't say it any better!
34. ..., like other nations, we indulge in idolatries, and among our "gods many" are the suffrage and mental activity.
35. They bow the knee to the common idol. They dare not believe it possible for the suffrage to be carried too far. For ourselves we have no sympathies whatever with idolatry. We fearlessly declare our opinion, therefore, that no political institutions whatever, neither despotic, nor monarchical, nor aristocratic, nor yet the most free, are capable, in themselves, of achieving moral education for a people.
Yes, this is exactly what Christians should declare!
36. In fact, if we wish for a vigorous, healthful, lasting development of republican institutions, we must necessarily unite with these not only intellectual teaching, but also a sound moral education. This is a fact to which men, in the whirl of their political or commercial struggles, too often willfully shut their eyes. They are quite ready to acknowledge the truth of the assertion in a general way, but they choose to forget its vast importance in political or commercial practice. They recklessly lower the moral standard themselves, whenever that standard is at a height inconvenient for the attaining of some particular object toward which they are aiming. They are lacking in faith.
Truth of word, honesty of action, integrity of character, temperance, chastity, moderation, sincerity, subordination to just authority, conjugal fidelity, filial love and honor--these duties, and others closely connected with them, bear old and homely names. But, Christian women, you can not ask for a task more noble, more truly elevating, for yourselves and your country, than to uphold these plain moral principles, first by your own personal example, and then by all pure influences in your homes and in the society to which you belong.
This is the most beautiful wording I have ever seen for Christian women. If you exhibit these traits you will have the respect of men and the respect of God.
37. In this nineteenth century the civilization of a country must necessarily prove either heathen or Christian in its spirit. There is no neutral ground lying between these boundaries. Faith or infidelity, such is the choice we must all make, whether as individuals or as nations.
There you have the truth. We are either heathens or Christians. Immoral or moral. The choice is ours.