The Guardian Manchester
Letters to the Editor
"A Quaker view of sex"
Sir--We wish to say that we think the members of the Society of Friends who recently gave national publicity to their essay, "Towards a Quaker View of Sex," are muddled and mistaken. Their error does not lie in advocating greater compassion and deeper understanding in human relationships. But they are profoundly mistaken in suggesting, as they did in Sunday's television programme, that Christians should dispense with clear religious statements about morality,..the ideal of pre-marital chastity..with binding vows of marriage and fidelity. "Love," it was said, "cannot be confined to patterns." Perhaps not, but it easily deteriorates without them. The traditional patter can evolve and change without losing its ...authority and it remains relevant to an imperfect Christian society. We doubt the wisdom of kicking away the ladder (in spite of its steepness and narrowness) before we have grown wings.___Yours, etc.
Robin and Elizabeth Hodgkin
Abbotsholme School, Rocester,
March 3, 1963
Sir,--As an active Quaker, I would like to pay tribute to your very fair comment last Sunday on the controversy over the statement on sex and morality.
As Quakers, some of us are finding ourselves in an unaccustomed and not very welcome limelight as a result of Press and B.B.C. publicity. People tend to half-read the report and regard us as representing something lax and immoral. Comments such as yours and in certain of the daily papers do a great deal to put the matter in correct perspective.
When, however, Pendennis says that "Quakers will break their silence..." to discuss the new pamphlet, he seems to suggest that we normally have a kind of monastic vow of silence in our Meeting Houses. Quakers do, of course, meet in silent worship, but the silence is "broken" regularly as various Friends feel the call to stand up and minister or pray vocally. A completely silent meeting for worship is not unknown, but comparatively rare.
While (in Middlesbrough at least) the new statement has certainly been a topic for after-worship discussion, I do not imagine that in our "400 Meeting Houses up and down the country" the pattern of worship has differed from the normal.
Sydney E. Dexter
Sir.--Booklets published by the Friends' Home Service Committee contain the views of individual Friends on a variety of subjects and are mainly used for study and discussion within the Society of Friends itself. They are not in any sense authoritative statements.
A fundamental belief of Quakers is the ability of each individual; to communicate with and receive guidance directly from God. They therefore have no bishops or priests or the like who are accorded special authority to speak on behalf of the Society as a whole. The beliefs of the humblest Friend as to be accorded as much respect as those of "leading" Friends (as your writer calls them); and the procedure of the Society is in fact to send all matters of importance which are raised down to each Particular Meeting (local... [only fragments of the rest of the letter]