The Sacrifice of Moses

Moses Hull, “A Personal Experience,” Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly (New York), August 23, 1873

“I want to be a martyr,
And with the martyrs stand.”

At least my would-be friends and trainers have said so when I have, in times past, published and preached certain unpopular sentiments.  Now it will probably be repeated with emphasis.  Very well; as I always expect to “break the way for others,” I will, at the cost of social and probably of financial ostracism, hand the world these thoughts:

Mrs. Woodhull has somewhere intimated that she believed promiscuity in the social relation to be abominable.  (No; anarchy.)  I will not dispute her.  It may be, and is in certain cases, “abominable.”  Yet I can mention many things which are to me more so, one of which, in many instances, is the entire confinement of one man to one woman and one woman to one man in the sexual relation.  A. J. Davis and other dietetic reformers have united in condemning the practice of filling the stomach with a dozen kinds of illy-prepared food.  In this they are right; yet I can mention a variety of two or three kinds of properly prepared food which will make a better dinner than to make an entire meal of any one of the two or three articles taken separately.

Milk, and milk alone, may be food for babes, who have but little to do except to kick and cry and grow; but it is a poor substitute for food for those who are of “full age,” and have the trials of life upon them.  The confinement of one man and one woman together sexually may do for those who do not attempt to do much besides following along as the lamb is led to the slaughter; but to the man or woman of mind, of brain, of intellectual labor, it is a different question.  Persons sometimes travel for change of air, change of scenery, who need a change of sexual relations more than either.  Many think they are improved physically and spiritually by a change of climate and scene, when their principal improvement is caused by a separation from their old sexual mate, and sometimes by the substitution of a new one.

No one need to tell me this is heterodoxy.  I know it.  If it had not been, I would not have written it.  “If I had not spoken unto them words that no other had spoken they had not had sin, but now they have no cloak for their sins.”  Still it must be confessed that what I am writing is not so out of harmony with the practice of the world as with its theories.  The world errs in two directions.  One part does not practice what it preaches; the other does not preach what it practices.  I differ from both parties.  I believe that what is good to practice is good to preach, and vice versa.

Babes do not like strong meat, neither are men and women in general prone to like anything until they have grown up to it.  So I do not fear the result of even this article.  Those who have not grown to its appreciation will damn me more than ever for writing it and pass on; those who have will think it over and probably by a change of their practice become better men and women.

Methodists, Baptists and Presbyterians prove their religion by their personal experiences.  Cannot we do the same?  I propose to break the ice by a partial relation of my own, and ask friends and enemies too, to follow with theirs.  The true relation of one hundred individual experiences on the various sides of this question will do much toward settling the issues now before the people regarding it.

Religionists usually commence their narratives by stating how badly they felt before they felt better, sometimes even before they knew what was the matter with them.  I know of no better way than to adopt that plan.  Allow me, then, to say, I lived years “in the gall of bitterness and the bonds of iniquity.”  Especially the bond that said: “Forsaking all others, I will cleave unto thee.”  I maintained perfect fidelity to man’s law as opposed to God’s law written in the heart where it was promised.  God had written certain precepts on my soul and the souls of others, and never did the rebellious Jonah try harder to get rid of the command to go to Ninevah than I tried to fight against inexorable law.  But something must break, law would not, and I fell upon the “rejected stone” and was broken.  Be assured that in all this warfare I was miserable, for no man can violate God’s law and be happy.  I was not much more miserable when away from home than when at home.  My confidence in an old bachelor, whom I regarded as a philosopher, led me to believe that “it is good for a man not to touch a woman.”  When away from home, sometimes as much as four months at a time, I lived that philosophy.  Be assured that, to a man of brain, heart and soul it was a living death.  I died daily.  When at home I was glad this same unmarried friend, who had “power to lead about a sister,” had said: “Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife.”  I had a wife whom I had used for that same purpose when at home.  In common with those words of ignorant husbands who daily do the same thing, I had abused my wife until sexual pleasure between us was impossible.  Mere momentary relief was all that could be said of it.  When I would take hold of the hand of a lady, whose very soul I could feel coming to me, and mine, in return going to her, my education had taught me to believe that that was wicked.  I did not know that that was one of the proofs that we needed each other, and that we would both be made happier here and hereafter for commingling, so I violated God’s command; I kept away from her.  Never once did I violate the strictest man-made marriage law until I had learned to read and interpret the higher law.  When I found there was an irreconcilable difference between the law of God and the law of man, after thorough deliberation and a desperate struggle—for I would not practice what I would not tolerate in and preach to others—I said: “Whether it is right to obey God or man, judge ye.  As for me and my house, so far as I have anything to say, we will obey God.”  I humbly and prayerfully yielded to the diviner impulses of my soul, and found that peace, happiness and intellectual growth for which I craved.  I felt that I had been baptized with a diviner baptism, had reached a higher and purer life, had entered the “Holy of Holies,” and found a divine benediction that never was reached by one who had not traveled the same road.

Several years have passed since the first choice between the law of God and the law of man, and I have never regretted the step, but have continued to repeat the offense against man-made institutions whenever God’s law in me commanded, and always with the same beneficial effects.  I therefore speak from experience.  I know it is better to obey God than men.  I never have visited what the world calls a prostitute; I do not think I ever shall.  I could not go where I could not find the love, the intellectual and spiritual food I need.  I think the woman who sells her body for gold or greenbacks, whether she sells herself daily to the first bidder that comes along, or sells herself for life for one man’s gold, not the one to administer the magnetic, the soul food I need.  There is nearly always something hollow, empty untrue there.  Let them bring forth fruits meet for repentence before they enter this higher life.

I find the change in theory and practice which came to me, brought my wife and myself the joys that had long departed from our household.  Believing that what was good to practice was good to preach, I concluded that I would risk a course of procedure that is sometimes called bearding the lion in his den.

I told my wife all; the scene which immediately followed I will not relate, as it was only the process of bringing the more remote, beneficial and lasting results.  The love that I found away from home gave me new elements that my wife could appreciate, elements that she as well as I needed; elements that waked up latent powers in her as well as myself and we were made more happy.  In fact our home is to-day a model of domestic happiness; my wife, so far as I am concerned, has had the same privileges I had taken.  Whether she used them or not is not for me to say; I am relating my own experience, not that of any other person.

Now that I have written this narrative, it may be well to offer a few thoughts on the objections commonly argued against this theory.  The most of the objections originate in either the ignorance or the selfishness of the objector.  I am willing to demonstrate this; will objectors please send me a list of their objections or publish them in Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly, and see whether I redeem this promise?

The first objection argued against this position is, that this decision is licentious, and those who practice it are sensual, animal, devilish.

In this the objector mistakes; those who believe and practice as I do are not necessarily more animal than others.  I will prove to any objector who has an active brain the size of mine (twenty-three and seven-eighths inches), and a healthy wife who will yield to his demands, that I do not require nor obtain sexual communion more frequently than he does.  Why should it be more animal to have sexual communion once in two months with two women, than once per month with one woman?  Why is it more animal to be once a year with twelve women than twelve times a year with one woman?  Remember I am not arguing that any person could consistently be sexually intimate with twelve others.  I am only arguing that there is not necessarily anything more licentious in the one mode of practice than in the other.  Right here I will say I know a man who is bitterly opposed to this theory, whose wife complains that she is compelled to yield to his unbridled lust as often as once, and sometimes twice in each consecutive twenty-four hours.  I have known her to frame all kinds of excuses to get off on a visit for a few hours rest.

If the reader would have my statement of what I regard as a licentious person, I would give it as follows: One who indulges in sexual gratification to excess, whether at home or abroad; and who gives way to only animal feeling without love; one who, simply to gratify the animal, holds animal communion without the beautiful commingling of spirits.  The man who will quarrel with his wife in the day time and then demand of her the sexual relation at night without regarding her desire in the matter, is a licentious, adulterous brute.  (I humbly ask pardon of the brute.)

Another objector says:  Then you justify adultery!

No, I do not.  I might actively differ with you, as in what is adultery.  You might justify what I call adultery, and I justify what you call adultery.  If adultery is “a violation of the marriage bed,” then I hold that those falsely said to be married adulterate every time.  They allow a communion of the male and female organs without a corresponding communion of souls—a blending of spirits.  In that spirit blending is one of the proofs that a physical blending may properly obtain.

An objector once argued, “That theory carried out would reduce the race to intellectual dwarfs.”

I think this is a mistake; on the contrary, directly the opposite would be the result.

1. When this sytem is universally adopted, no man and woman will ever sexually commune only as they feel the spirit or soul-blending.  One of the results will be, every mother will choose the father of her own children.  There will be no disgrace attached to the mother of a child because she is unmarried, nor will children who are now denominated illegitimate be under the ban of society.  Children will then be love children, they will come into the world because they are wanted and will, therefore, be more healthy, harmonious and intellectual.

2. The history of all nations and of all ages proves that as men and women have arisen in the scale of energy and intellectuality, they have departed from the marital rules prescribed by society.  I know of no great men whose real history we have but that have either secretly or openly defied the customs of society.  I might here give a list of great men who refused allegiance to the monogamic mogul, commencing with old Father Abraham, coming down through Jesus and Paul, and finally ripening in such men as Rev. Dr. [Lorenzo Dow] Huston, Rev. Henry Ward Beecher and others; or another list of equally illustrious departures from the programme laid down by society in the Grecian and Roman nations.

But this letter is already too long.  One thing I will say: Either the departures of the world’s great men from strictly monogamic relations has given them the power to become the great men they were, or their great energy and intellect demanded more food than could be found exclusively in the monogamic relation—in either case the result is the same.

With a desire above all things to arrive at the truth, I am, etc.

Vineland, N. J.

[ Elevating the Race ] [ Ephemera Home] [ Spiritualist Listings ]