"Therefore shall a man [husband] leave his father
and his mother, and cleave unto his wife."

45. Obedience to this fundamental marriage law of Genesis 2:24 would have saved women from ever becoming mere chattels, and thus have kept the entire race on a higher level. Imagine, please, what could be accomplished even now, for the elevation of pagan races, if missionaries would require their converts to observe the Scriptural law of marriage. The factors that would operate to relieve the oppression of Oriental women would be as follows: (1) The husband, as a bread-winner, would have a pecuniary value in the home of his wife; whereas, as it now is, the wife, as a producer of more children to be fed, is subject to abuse, more particularly when she brings forth a female child. (2) Man, not handicapped by unborn children, nurslings, or a helpless little brood, could not be reduced to slavery in an alien home, because he would forsake it, and leave his helpless wife and children for those who abused him to support. But the hampering effects of motherhood, and the strength of mother-love, leave the mother a victim of those who would enslave her. (3) Man is not so constituted that he can be robbed, by force, of his virtue, or his person be made a matter of trade and gain for an alien household; but these calamities are so frequently the lot of a widow left in the alien home of her deceased husband, that in some Oriental countries, notably India, the very word "widow" is disreputable. (4) Before gestation and parturition a mother would generally be tenderly cared for, if with her own mother, under her father's roof, or near by. But in an alien home she is often shamefully neglected at such times; and this weakens the entire race, in course of time. (5) The practice of keeping the daughter at home, after marriage, and sending the son out of the home, after marriage, would put a tremendous check upon child-marriage, since parents would be in no great haste to part with wealth-producing members of the family.

46. All women should know that the Word of God started the world right, in this regard, and put such a tremendous bar to her degradation as this marriage law, in the very forefront of human history,-it being, in fact, the first social moral law enunciated for human guidance. Moreover, the testimony is increasing daily, that in the earliest ages of human history this law was not a dead letter, as it is at the present time, with few exceptions. It was customary for the husband either to go and live under the roof of his wife's parents, or to make frequent visits to her there—she never leaving the protection of her parents. The parents were the "natural protectors" of their married daughters,—not the husband who not infrequently has proved unworthy of his trust. The early custom was, to eye him with a certain amount of wholesome suspicion, as an alien, until he had actually demonstrated his ability to care for a wife in a proper manner.

47. Above all things, the greatest advantage of a woman remaining with, or near, her own kin, after marriage, (her family being her "natural protectors"), is, that it would conserve social morality. Some years ago, a physician in one of our largest cities was given police aid to make a very thorough investigation into the "social evil" of the city; and he published the sifted testimony of hundreds of women and girls in the disreputable ranks of life. I have not his book at hand to quote from, but his conclusion was, as I remember, that marriage to wicked men was a prolific cause of prostitution. Young girls married those who made love to them, without much thought or knowledge of the character of the men; and after that, marriage placed them in such a disadvantageous position, in relation to their husbands, that they could be driven, or worried, into the street, to earn money by their vice. Perhaps, in the first place, the husband may not have married with the object of compelling his wife to earn her living after such a manner; but having no proper sense of decency himself, when hard times came on, he could appreciate no reason why his wife should not help to earn the living by vice. Now it is precisely against such emergencies, that a woman's own kindred ought to have the right to interfere, if any such danger threatens. The marriage law should allow them to keep in close touch with their daughter or sister. But as it now is, such a husband can carry his wife off to the ends of the earth, if he wish, and no one can hinder his doing so.

48. With what results, one only has to visit a large Oriental city to learn. We shall not soon forget, to instance one such investigation only, a visit, after dark, to a notorious street in one of these great Oriental cities. Among the many unfortunate girls that we saw, we were told that a large number were young wives who had thought themselves married to gentlemen of large affairs in Oriental business houses. Slave-hunters had found these girls in the villages of Europe, England and America, they had made love to them, and gone through a regular marriage ceremony with them, and then brought them to the Oriental slave-market. Regularly, every evening, their "husbands" would go the rounds of the houses they owned, and see that everything was in order for the night. Then they would go to their near-by Club House (which we went and saw, in their absence), feast themselves on the food and drink their slaves had earned, and return, at two or three o'clock in the morning, after an abundant carousing, and take away from their slave-wives every penny that they had earned in the meantime. Often they flogged them if the amount of money fell below the usual amount expected. The White Slave Trade will never receive its death-blow until we have marriage laws which will allow of an adequate protection of women as against wicked husbands; and such protection will not be adequate until a wife's own kindred, if respectable, are recognized by law as her "natural protectors," laws which will not permit a husband to take his wife away to a strange country, even if the over trustful wife is willing to go, if the removal is against the judgment of her family,—that is, unless he can show adequate reason for doing so, before the courts.

49. Precisely this same abuse of the marriage relation can be seen among the Japanese (and to a painful extent), on the Pacific Coast of the United States. There is in Japan a secret marriage agency, constantly on the lookout for Japanese girls who will go to America to be married. Also, men of this agency return to Japan, over and over, to marry girls and bring them to America. Often these Japanese men belong to good families, but they themselves have become corrupted by residence in foreign parts. Knowing they are of good families, the parents of girls trust them to bring their daughters away, after they have married them. So these girls are entrapped; and every night, in America, they are driven out upon the street, and to Japanese lodging houses, to earn money for these "husbands," to whom they were honorably married. This is no imaginary picture. We have it on the testimony of Christian Japanese gentlemen, Christian mission workers, Japanese consuls, and such persons.

What lessons God's marriage law teaches us, as to God's fatherly care and protection for His daughters! Away back at the beginning, His first uttered commandment shows that He had their rights and dignity on His heart.

Lesson 7   Index           Home