The Church and the Social Evil, 1912
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THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL EVIL
CHRISTIAN RESPONSIBILITY FOR A TERRIBLE MODERN SCOURGE.
BY JANE ADAMS
A GREAT English preacher has said that life holds for every man one searching test of the sincerity of his religious life, and that although this test if often absurdly trivial, to encounter it is to "fall from grace." We all know these tests: a given relative or familiar friend has an irritating power of goading us into anger or self-pity; a certain public movement inevitably hardens us into a contemptuous mood of all uncharitableness; one particular type of sinner fills us with an unholy sense of superior virtue.
If we may assume that society itself is subject to one such test, if it, too, possesses a touchstone which reveals its inmost weakness and ultimate meanness, may we not say that the one supreme religious test of our social order is the hideous commerce of prostitution, and that the sorry results of that test are registered in the hypocrisy and hardness of heart of average good citizen toward the so-called "fallen" women? May we not claim that in consequence of this irreligious attitude, prostitution remains today a hard, unresolved mass in the midst of so-called Christianity civilization, until it has come to be regarded as a vice which cannot be eradicated, as a sin which cannot be forgiven, as a social disease which cannot be cured?
THE ATTITUDE OF JESUS.
This attitude on the part of the Christian is the more difficult to explain because Jesus himself was more explicit in the declaration of his own position in regard to the harlot. He did not for a moment imply that she could not be drawn into the radius of the wonderous affection that he radiated, the love of all mankind, so new in the history of the world, nor that the new solvent could not melt down— if I may use the phrase— that obstinate mass of wretchedness.
It is hard to forecast the results upon the social order if Christians from the beginning had followed their Master and had encompassed the harlot with his charity and loving-kindness, but it is certainly easy to point out the moral and religious disaster re-
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