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The SEMI-MONTHLY MAGAZINE SECTION
CONTRIBUTING EDITORS The Church and the Social Evil By the Right Rev. David H. Greer Episcopal Bishop of New York WE ARE witnessing in this country at the present time, a tremendous awakening of conscience in regard to what is known as the social evil. All the moral forces of the community seem to be concentrated on the problem of how to rid society of an evil which has been endured, all too patiently, since the dawn of civilization. The question has been put to me, what should be the Church's contribution to this great crusade? What can the Church do to aid in crushing out the social evil? At the outset let me venture a word of caution. The problem is so large, so complex, so interwoven with other problems that it will never do to approach it as if it were something to be killed with one blow. I wish also to dissent from those who are so absorbed in the problem that they can see nothing but evil in society. These people have lost their sense of proportion. Without denying that we have an appalling amount of evil in the community, we must remember that the heart of society is still sound, the mass of men and women is still normal, decent and inclined toward good rather than evil. The situation, though bad, is far from hopeless. While it is true that hospital records have revealed a terrible amount of suffering on the part of innocent women and children, as a result of sexual excesses of others, this does not prove that immorality is gaining ground. In former times hos pital records were not made public. Now they are. That is all. The population of this coun try consists of moral men and women, living with their chil dren in good homes. There are millions of good homes in the United States, and there always have been. Otherwise our civ ilization would have broken down long ago, instead of ad vancing steadily as it has. But the good people and the quiet homes are never in the lime light of public interest. They never get into the newspapers. Remember that exceptional and abnormal facts, not common places, make up the news. We read the newspapers and we unthinkingly rush to the con clusion that the world must be approaching moral dissolution. This is not the case. People are still normal. They are still religious, they still go to church, they are still amenable to the voice of conscience. The Crusade Against Vice MOW, as to the practical * * question of the Church's part in the crusade against the evil which unquestionably does exist: I have great confidence in the work of the social service committees which are becom ing more active each year in seeking and reporting to the churches on community condi tions. I have confidence also in the work that is being done in many parishes to enrich the Jl Magazine for uour Reading Table \ «p* Keenly j There's something intensely M thedeliciousnessof I There's a bright clarity to the color—keen. An M M alertness to the sparkle—keen. The tang on the M Tm tongue—keen. Its cooling, refreshing, thirst- B quenching qualities—keen as frost. You will be X keen for it. X Delicious and Wholesome M. Demand the Genuine Refute Substitute* A^W Whenever You See an BooWeT COCA-COLA COMPANY^^L^T ATLANTA, CONTENTS COPYRIGHTED, 1913, BY THE ABBOTT a mticcs COMPANY Bishop David H. Greer demanding health certificates entering the married state. 1 nave always upheld their action and praised their courageous zeal. But I should hesitate before I advocated this procedure as a general policy of the Church at large. I am not at all certain that it would ac complish a great amount of permanent good. One guarantee of health does not insure a lifetime of health or morality. Then again, wholesale health requirements might drive a great many sensitive persons into civil marriages; worse still, it might be used by the unscrupulous as an excuse for unhallowed unions. Now if the state required health certificates as a prerequisite to a marriage license, we might see good results. HOWEVER, in effecting any reform I place legislation at the foot of the ladder. Next above I place the power of public opinion. And in line with public opinion I place the influence of the Church on the general morals of the community. On the question of the double standard of morals, for lives of working gir-s and young men. In clubs and classes and recreation circles, vacation homes, in m:«ny other agencies the Church is successfully over coming conditions that make for evil. The Church can and must extend all such work. We must con stantly exalt the ideal of a Church whose threefold mission is to preach, to teach and to serve. Not only the soul of man, but his mind and his body are the objects of Christ's divine love. The whole man must be the concern of the Church and of those who serve Her. Some of our clergy have taken a definite stand in regard to keeping immorality out of the home by The Firm Stand of the Church example, the Church ought to be uncompromising. Person ally I would punish the men as well as the women who con tribute to sexual immorality. I would go farther and punish the men more severely than the women, who are often the vic tims of men, and who in any case are more severely pun ished by nature and by society. Nothing in the teachings of Christ justifies the conven tional morality which places upon one partner to a sin the sole burden of expiation. What future is there for children, re pudiated by their fathers, often deserted by their unhappy and helpless mothers, save a future of pauperism and crime? For these society pays. The trouble with a very large group of peo ple is that they have not only a double standard of morals, they have a treble, a quadruple standard, in other words no standard at all. They have slipped all moorings. What the Church must do is to awaken in the individual the sense of personal responsibility to God. The power of God is, in the end, the only regenera ting influence in the world. All others are superficial and tem porary. The question in every heart, "If a man die shall he live again?" means more than physical death and resurrec tion, it means moral regenera tion, which the Church ho-ds out as a possibility to every human soul.