12 SEPTEMBER 1925, Page 16


[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] Sra,—Your correspondent, " Layman," deserves the sympathy of all men of good will. Does Christianity really run " contrary, to Nature and Common Sense " ? Is this credible ? Is it even- conceivable to the truly Christian mind ? Yet we of the clergy have blundered somehow into a false position, and our attitude towards marriage and divorce offends the public conscience and is bringing marriage into contempt. And why ? Because we have studied books more than life, poring over the decrees of bygone councils but neglecting the study of marriage itself in the light of Christianity. We quote the words of the Master as a heathen might have quoted an oracle. Words should be interpreted with reference to the character of the speaker when his character is known, and the character of Christ is known, since it is fully and clearly por- trayed in the New Testament. But who would guess when Christ's words about divorce are quoted that they fell from the same gracious lips that talked long with the woman of Samaria, who had had five husbands ; that refused to con-1 demn the woman taken in adultery ; and spoke words of mercy to the prostitute ? What layman could guess that we clergy had ever read these Scriptures ? We ignore these pregnant narratives, and in consequence both marriage and divorce arel clumsily and cruelly mishandled.

Legalized prostitution may receive the blessing of the Church. A rich old roué may marry a girl of seventeen without protest from us, but if a woman deserts her husband or a hus- band is faithless to his wife we forbid the innocent party to remarry. One partner may become a confirmed drunkard or a hopeless lunatic, but there is no relief for the other, and we

keep a woman bound for life to a murderer whose sentence has been commuted to penal servitude.

Does anyo= believe that abominations like these are in accordance with the teaching of Christ ? Cannot we clergy try to be true to the Master ? Let us cast off the dead hand of ancient monks and honestly try to christianize marriage here and now in this our England of the twentieth century.— I am, Sir, &c., C. POYN. TZ • SANDERSON, Emsworth, Hants, Clerk in Holy Orders.