Towards a Quaker View of Sex

Freeman letter & Cornell Daily Sun article


Ruth Freeman, from Cornell United Religious Work, sent a brief letter with a copy of an article from the Cornell Daily Sun as well as a copy of a review in their Dialogue magazine (see below).


HSC Quaker Group on Homosexuality records, Friends House, London


Mrs. Harrop Freeman
108 Needham Place,
Ithaca, New York
January 18, 1964

Dear Friends:

We thought that you might be interested in what the CURW (Cornell United Religious Work--the inter-faith organization at Cornell University) has done with "The Quaker View of Sex," and the comment from the daily paper published by the students. The Friends Meeting here has also have a discussion group which has considered the pamphlet.

We do a great deal of pre-marriage and marriage counseling ourselves and have found the pamphlet most helpful in encouraging young people (and older ones as well) to think out a code of moral and spiritual approach to the subject of sex.

Harrop & Ruth Freeman

Cornell Daily Sun 1/17/64

Toward a New Morality
by R.V. Denenberg

",,,In subscribing to a moral code, some of which is no longer accepts, society merits the charge of hypocrisy..."

With this assumption a group of British Friends set off "Toward a Quaker View of Sex," in the current Dialogue's featured article. The issue, as the Quakers discuss it, is far from the "explosive subject" that the magazine's editors proclaim it to be. It is, rather, an eminently thoughtful and disarmingly frank consideration of the ethical, religious and psychological weakness of what we have some to call "conventional morality."

The very currency of that term suggests that we are already way ahead of the Friends in assuming a detached a relativistic attitude toward an ossified sexual code, but underlying so much of the au courant criticism is a marked scorn for the religious bases of sexual mores. The significant of the Friend's essay is that is represents the search of profoundly religious men of new standards, standards which would embody Christian ideals, rather than hollow, lip-served precepts.

They express their attitude with words whose tone conveys the gentleness and compassion of the Quaker faith: "It is the awareness that the traditional code, in itself, does not come from the heart; for the great majority of men and women it has no roots in feeling or true conviction. We have been seeking a morality that will indeed have its roots in the depths of our being and in our awareness of the true needs of our fellows."

They find society plagued by sexual difficulties for which "a distorted Christianity must bear some of the blame," and hence they are led to an empiricism which asks if homosexuality is really unnatural or pre-marital intercourse always sinful. In the process they develop a humane and undogmatic concept of sin which takes exploitation of one person by another as its criterion.

They founder, however, in attempting a universal morality to replace the conventional one. Trying to avoid advocating license, they stipulate that some "external morality" is necessary to govern sexual relationships, but after their stress upon individual needs, the insistance up an essentially social code to regulate private relationships which do not affect the community in any extend seems strangely out of keeping.

A reading of their essay, nevertheless, remains a moving and challenging experience.