Towards a Quaker View of Sex

Daily Mirror, 18 February 1963


This Daily Mirror article reported Bidder & Barnes' appearance on BBC-TV and included a sympathetic and pragmatic commentary by Marjorie Proops, one of the leading social commentators in the UK in that day.


clipping in Keith Wedmore Papers


Daily Mirror February 18, 1963

THE PROBLEM..discussed on TV last night

One of the most forthright reports on sex and morals ever published by a religious body was discussed on the BBC-TV programme "Meeting Point" last night.

The controversial and outspoken report was written by eleven Quakers--an unofficial group including doctors and headmasters.

Two of them--Yorkshire headmaster Kenneth Barnes and Cambridge teacher, Dr. Anna Bidder--discussed the report with a psychiatrist on TV.

The 75-page booklet rejects "almost completely" the traditional approach of the organised Christian Church to morality.

"We have to reason to say that sexuality, looked at dispassionately, is neither good nor evil--it is a fact of nature."

These were the factors facing the Quakers when they began their inquiry:

A great increase in sexual intimacy among adolescents.
An increase in pre-marital sexual intimacies generally. It is fairly common in young people with high standards of general conduct and integrity to have one or two love affairs, involving intercourse, before marrying, say the authors.

The high incidence of extramarital intercourse.

"There must be very many instances which do not lead to divorce or obvious harm and which are kept secret," says the report.


By Headmaster Kenneth Barnes

I agree that pre-marital intercourse isn't necessarily the disaster that some people regard it as.

But sex isn't a trivial thing. There should be no physical contact of any kind until there is a friendship in t he genuine sense of the word.

If people neck and pet with people they don't really know it only takes them down the sexual slope.

In our report we not advocating free should be approached on a proper level.

By Teacher Dr. Anna Bidder

I don't think pre-marital intercourse is necessarily an unmitigated disaster. Young people can learn something from it in terms of relationships.

I am a spinster, so it is not for me to say to young people: 'You mustn't."

But my advice to them would be to look at it carefully before anticipating marriage. If they leap into petting and then into bed they are missing much that can be gained from having developed a sincere and genuine friendship.

Interviewed by Mirror report John Smith after their appearance in "Meeting Point" on BBC-TV to discuss the Quaker Report.

And Marjorie Proops says...

Were you sitting like me around the fire with the family watching "Meeting Point" on TV last night? Did you, when you heard that word SEX being bandied about on the screen, rush to switch off, thinking it wasn't really the thing for the youngsters? I hope not.

It was like a breath of fresh, clean spring air listening to sensible people talking sense about sex and morality as set out in the report by eleven Quakers.

Two of the three TV speakers were Quakers, those tolerant Christians who look at the facts of life squarely, forsaking mealy-mouthed attitudes.

The third man was a psychiatrist, a practical man with practical views.

Sex, they said, must be valued highly. It shouldn't be treated trivially. But just the same, sex and love cannot be continued to a pattern.

Young people sleep together before marriage, or even without marriage in mind at all. Is this disaster? Not necessarily, said the Quakers and the psychiatrist.

Dr. Anna Bidder said: "You should never say to young people you may or may not have sexual relations."
I take a realistic view of life, too. I, too, know that young unmarried people have sex.

As the psychiatrist remarked in a rather casual, endearing kind of way, sex experience before marriage tends to make people better adjusted partners when they do marry.

Nods of confirmation from the Quakers. A nod of confirmation from me.


But they stressed (all three of them) that they are against the idea of young people sleeping together for the sheer fun of the thing.

The two Quakers and the psychiatrist all said that the Christian code of moral behaviour must be rejected.
Why? Because, they claimed, it doesn't work anyway.
It is a case of what things are like, they pointed out, not what they ought to be like.

Sex, said the three--dropping their bombshell into countless quiet family get-togethers after tea on Sunday--is NOT sin. Not is it is part of a whole, good worthwhile relationship.


They can say that again. And again. And drop as many bombshells like that on a quiet Sunday afternoon into a million parlours.

I'd be very sorry if the youngsters weren't allowed to listen to that fireside broadside on sex.

Or that parents missed one of the most vital statements of all:

That children brought up in the warmth and love of a tender relationships between parents will themselves one day understand how to bring warmth and love into adult relationships of their own.

While code is a child most likely to respond to?--this commonsense approach, or the rigid, unreasoning code of Thou Shalt Not.