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    Chapter 16—Social Purity

    “Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.” [Matthew 5:8.] Man has fallen, and the work of his life-time, be it longer or shorter, must be to recover through Christ what he has lost by sin,—the likeness to the divine. This work requires a thorough transformation of soul, body, and spirit. God mercifully sends rays of light to show man his true condition; but if he will not walk in the light, it is manifest that he takes pleasure in darkness. He avoids the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.CTBH 127.1

    A picture of the terrible condition of the world has been presented before me. Immorality abounds on every hand. Licentiousness is the prevailing sin of this age. Never did vice lift its deformed head with such boldness as now, and by its strength and prevalence the lovers of virtue are almost discouraged. Unless man has more than human strength to resist the current of evil, he will be overcome, and borne down to perdition.CTBH 127.2

    But the mind does not come down in a moment from purity and holiness to depravity, corruption, and crime. To degrade to the brutal and satanic those who are formed in the image of God, takes time. By beholding we become changed. Though formed in the image of his Maker, man can so accustom himself to evil that the sin which he once loathed will become pleasant to him. As he ceases to watch and pray, he ceases to guard the citadel—the heart—and is betrayed into sin and crime. Constant war against the carnal mind must be maintained; and we must be aided by the refining influence of the grace of God, which will attract the mind upward, and habituate it to meditate upon pure and holy things.CTBH 127.3

    A large class of the human beings we everywhere meet are a curse to the world. They live only for self-indulgence, and are given up, soul and body, to corrupt and dissolute habits. What a terrible rebuke are such lives to the mothers who have worshiped at fashion's shrine, and have neglected to cultivate their own mind and to form their own character after the divine Pattern; and who have thus been unprepared to fulfill the sacred trust committed to them,—to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.CTBH 127.4

    It is almost impossible to arouse those who need to be awakened, to any just sense of the power which Satan has over the mind. Neither are they aware of the corruption teeming all around them. Satan has blinded them, and lulled them to carnal security. Iniquity abounds, and it is not confined merely to the unbeliever and the scoffer: many who profess the religion of Christ are also guilty. Their love is waxing cold. Alas! how few there are, even among professed Christians, who do the right for its own sake,—who will shun evil when public opinion does not restrain them!CTBH 128.1

    In the battle with inward corruption and outward temptation, even the wise and powerful Solomon was vanquished. His life began under favorable auspices. He was beloved of God; and, had virtue been preserved, his life might have closed in prosperity and honor. But he surrendered this special grace to lustful passion. In his youth he trusted in God, and looked to him for guidance; and the Lord gave him power and wisdom that astonished the world. His fame reached to all lands. But when he began to descend the declivity of life, he yielded principle, thus placing himself in the current of evil, and separating himself from God, the foundation and source of his strength; he lost his firmness of character, and wavered, like a giddy youth, between right and wrong. His love of women was his sin. This passion he did not control in his manhood, and it proved a snare to him. He took many wives, some of whom were daughters of heathen kings; and they led him into idolatry. In his youth, wisdom had been more precious to him than the golden wedge of Ophir. But, alas! lustful passions gained the victory. He was deceived and ruined by women. What a lesson is here taught! What a demonstration of the need of strength from God to the very last! It is not safe to permit the least departure from strict integrity.CTBH 128.2

    “Let not sin, therefore, reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” [Romans 6:12, 13.] Professed Christians, if there were no further light given you than that contained in this text, you would be without excuse in suffering yourselves to be controlled by base passion. The word of God is sufficient to enlighten the most beclouded mind, and it can be understood by those who have any wish to understand it. But in order to give men and women every possible warning, God has sent plain, direct testimonies, pointing them to the word they have neglected to follow. Yet the light is often rejected. Those who serve their own lusts, continue to take pleasure in unrighteousness, notwithstanding the vengeance threatened against those who do such things.CTBH 129.1

    Some will acknowledge the evil of sinful indulgence, yet will excuse themselves by saying that they cannot overcome their passions. This is a terrible admission for a Christian to make. “Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” [2 Timothy 2:19.] Why is this weakness?—It is because men and women have so long pampered their depraved appetites that they have no power of self-government;—because the lower passions of their nature have taken the reins, and high moral principle, which should be the governing power, is gone. Sensuality has quenched the desire for holiness, and has withered spirituality. The soul is held in lowest bondage.CTBH 129.2

    The sacred covenant of marriage is often made to cover sins of the darkest hue. Men and women professing godliness give way to corrupt passions, and thus place themselves on a level with the brute creation. The powers which God has given them to be preserved in sanctification and honor, they abuse, yet think they commit no evil. Health and life are sacrificed upon the altar of lust. The higher, nobler powers are brought into subjection to the sensual nature. Those who thus sin may not foresee the result of their course. Could they realize the amount of suffering which they are bringing upon themselves and their children, they would be alarmed, and some, at least, would shun a course which brings such dreadful results. So miserable an existence is entailed upon a large class that death would be to them preferable to life; and many do die prematurely, their lives ingloriously sacrificed to the basest passions.CTBH 129.3

    By such misuse of the marriage relation, the animal passions are strengthened; and as these grow stronger the moral and intellectual faculties become weaker. The spiritual is overborne by the sensual. The character thus acquired by the parents is transmitted to the children, and they come into the world with their moral powers weakened and the lower passions predominant. The gross passions of the parents are perpetuated in their children. Satan seeks to lower the standard of purity, and to weaken the self-control of those who enter the marriage relation, because he knows that while the baser passions are in the ascendency, the moral powers grow steadily weaker, and he need have no concern as to their spiritual growth. He knows, too, that in no way can he better stamp his own hateful image upon their offspring, and that he can thus mould their character even more readily than he can the character of the parents.CTBH 130.1

    As I have been shown the dangers of those who profess better things, and the sins that exist among them,—a class who are not suspected of being in any danger from these polluting sins,—I have been led to inquire, “Who, O Lord, shall stand when thou appearest?” Only those who have clean hands and a pure heart shall abide in the day of his coming. O that I could make all understand their obligation to preserve the body in the best condition to render perfect service to their Maker!CTBH 130.2

    I feel impelled by the Spirit of the Lord to urge my sisters who profess godliness to cherish modesty of deportment and a becoming reserve, “with shamefacedness and sobriety.” [1 Timothy 2:9.] The liberties allowed in these corrupt times should be no criterion for Christ's followers. The exhibitions of familiarity which the world tolerates, should not exist among Christians fitting for immortality. If lasciviousness, vice, and crime are the order of the day among those who refuse to be controlled by the principles of God's word, how important that those professing to be followers of Christ, closely allied to God and angels, should show them a better and nobler way! How important that by their chaste conduct they should stand in marked contrast to the class who are controlled by base passion!CTBH 131.1

    My sisters, avoid even the appearance of evil. In this fast age you are not safe unless you stand on your guard. Virtue and modesty are rare. I appeal to you as followers of Christ, in view of your high profession, to cherish the priceless gem of modesty. As you hope to be finally exalted to join the society of sinless angels, and to live in an atmosphere where there is not the least taint of sin, seek purity; for nothing else will abide the searching test of the day of God, and be received into a pure and holy heaven.CTBH 131.2

    The slightest insinuation of evil, the least approach to unwarrantable familiarity, from whatever source it may come, should be resented as the worst of insults to your dignified womanhood. If it is from one in high position, who is ministering to the flock of God, the sin is of the greater magnitude, and should lead a God-fearing woman to recoil with horror from the hypocrisy and villainy of one whom the people respect and honor as God's servant. He is handling sacred things, yet hiding his baseness of heart under the cloak of his high calling. Be afraid of anything like this familiarity. Be sure that it is evidence of an impure mind. If you give the least encouragement in this direction, you make it evident that your mind is not pure and chaste as it should be, and that sin has charms for you. You lower the standard of your womanhood.CTBH 131.3

    Our sisters should cultivate true meekness. They may be courteous; but they should not be forward, talkative, and bold. To be kind, tender, pitiful, forgiving, and humble is well pleasing to God. If they occupy this position, they will not be burdened with undue attention from the other sex. There will be a sacred circle of purity around them, which will shield them from unwarrantable liberties.CTBH 132.1

    Vainglory, the fashion of the world, the desire of the eye, and the lust of the flesh, are closely connected with the fall of the unfortunate. If these things had been rooted out of the heart, these fallen ones would not be so weak. If women could view these matters as God has presented them to me, they would have such an abhorrence of impurity that they would not be found among those who fall through the temptations of Satan, no matter whom he might select as the medium.CTBH 132.2

    Those godly women whose minds and hearts are occupied in meditating upon themes which strengthen purity of life, and which elevate the soul to commune with God, will not be easily led astray from the path of rectitude and virtue. Such will be fortified against the sophistry of Satan; they will be prepared to withstand his seductive arts.CTBH 132.3

    My soul mourns for the youth who are forming character in this degenerate age. I tremble for their parents also; for they do not realize their obligation to train up their children in the way they should go. Custom and fashion are consulted, and as the children soon learn to be swayed by these, they are easily corrupted; while their careless and indulgent parents are asleep to the danger which threatens their offspring.CTBH 132.4

    But few of the youth are free from corruption. Impure habits are practiced to an alarming extent, and have done more than any other evil to cause the degeneration of the race. Children who indulge secret vice are often puny and dwarfed. The anxious parents seek a physician, and drugs are administered; but the evil is not removed, for the cause still exists.CTBH 132.5

    The victims of this habit do not love work; and when engaged in it, they complain of fatigue,—they have backache, headache, and what not? Be sure, parents, if simple, well-regulated labor exhausts your children, there is something else that is enervating their system. Do not be hasty to excuse them from physical exercise. Do not lift the burdens they should bear. Overwork is hurtful, but indolence is much more to be dreaded. Do not release them from responsibility, and indulge their complaints. It would be the worst thing you could possibly do for them. It would remove almost the only barrier against Satan's free access to their weakened minds. The weariness attending useful labor lessens the inclination to indulge in vice. Active hands and minds do not find time to heed every temptation which the enemy suggests; but idle hands and brains are all ready for him to control. The mind, when not occupied, is inclined to dwell upon improper things. “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters.” [Ezekiel 16:49.]CTBH 133.1

    Children tend naturally to evil. Unless parents keep their children under firm control, with the fear of God before them, Satan will take possession of their young minds, and corrupt them. As they increase in years, the lustful passions grow with their growth and strengthen with their strength. And they cannot rest until their guilty secret is imparted to those with whom they associate. Curiosity is aroused, and the knowledge of vice is passed from youth to youth, from child to child, until there is scarcely one to be found who is ignorant of it. Why do fathers and mothers act as though a lethargy were upon them? They do not mistrust that Satan is sowing evil seed in their families. They are as blind and reckless in regard to these things as it is possible for them to be. Why do they not awake, and inform themselves upon these subjects? Why do they not try to become intelligent in regard to the laws of life, that they may be prepared to care for their own and their children's bodies in a way to promote physical health?CTBH 133.2

    The power of Satan over the youth of this age is fearful. Unless the minds of our children are firmly balanced by religious principle, their morals will become corrupted by the vicious examples with which they come in contact. The greatest danger of the young is from a lack of self-control. Indulgent parents do not teach their children self-denial. The very food they place before them is such as to irritate the stomach. The excitement thus produced is communicated to the brain, and as a result the passions are roused. It cannot be too often repeated, that whatever is taken into the stomach affects not only the body, but ultimately the mind as well. Gross and stimulating food fevers the blood, excites the nervous system, and too often dulls the moral perceptions, so that reason and conscience are overborne by the sensual impulses. It is difficult, and often well-nigh impossible, for one who is intemperate in diet to exercise patience and self-control. Hence the special importance of allowing children, whose characters are yet unformed, to have only such food as is healthful and unstimulating. It was in love that our heavenly Father sent the light of health reform, to guard against the evils that result from unrestrained indulgence of appetite.CTBH 134.1

    “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” [1 Corinthians 10:31.] Are parents doing this when they prepare food for the table and call the family to partake of it? Do they place before their children that only which they know will make the very best blood, that which will keep the system in the least feverish condition, and will place it in the best relation to life and health? Or do they, regardless of the future good of their children, provide for them unhealthful, stimulating, irritating food?CTBH 134.2

    There is nothing which more surely leads to evil than to lift all burdens from children, leaving them to an idle, aimless life, to do nothing, or to occupy themselves as they please. The minds of children are active, and if not occupied with that which is good and useful, they will inevitably turn to what is bad. While it is right and necessary for them to have recreation, they should be taught to work, to have regular hours for physical labor, and also for reading and study. See that they have employment suited to their years, and are supplied with useful and interesting books. Satan improves the opportunity to educate idle minds. It is a sin to let children grow up in idleness. Let them exercise their limbs and muscles, even if it wearies them. If they are not overworked, how can weariness harm them more than it harms you? There is quite a difference between weariness and exhaustion. Children need more frequent change of employment and intervals of rest than grown persons do; but even when quite young, they may begin learning to work, and they will be happy in the thought that they are making themselves useful. Their sleep will be sweet after healthful labor, and they will be refreshed for the next day's work.CTBH 134.3

    Some do not realize the sinfulness of impure habits, and the sure results. Long indulgence in evil has blinded their understanding. The sensitive nerves of the brain have lost their healthy tone, and the result is a deadening of the moral sensibilities. The solemn message from heaven cannot forcibly impress the heart. Moral power is exceedingly weak when it comes in conflict with established habits. Impure thoughts have control of the imagination, and temptation is almost irresistible. If the mind were accustomed to contemplate elevating subjects, the imagination trained to behold pure and holy things, it would be fortified against temptation. It would linger upon the heavenly, the pure, the sacred, and could not be attracted to the base, corrupt, and vile.CTBH 135.1

    I have some knowledge of Satan's manner of working, and know how well he succeeds in it. He has caused a paralysis to come upon the minds of parents, and they are slow to suspect evil habits in their children. Some of these youth profess to be Christians, and the parents sleep on, fearing no danger, while their children are wrecking both body and mind.CTBH 135.2

    It is the special work of Satan in these last days to take possession of the minds of youth, to corrupt the thoughts, and inflame the passions; for he knows that by so doing he can lead to impure actions, and thus all the noble faculties of the mind will become debased, and he can control them to suit his own purposes. All are free moral agents, and as such they must train their thoughts to run in the right channel. The first work of those who would reform is to purify the imagination. Our meditations should be such as will elevate the mind. “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” [Philippians 4:8.] Here is a wide field in which the mind can safely range. If Satan seeks to turn it to low and sensual things, bring it back. When corrupt imaginings seek to gain possession of your mind, flee to the throne of grace, and pray for strength from heaven. By the grace of Christ it is possible for us to reject impure thoughts. Jesus will attract the mind, purify the thoughts, and cleanse the heart from every secret sin. “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God; ... casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” [2 Corinthians 10:4, 5.]CTBH 136.1

    The youth are seldom taught self-denial and self-control. They are allowed to have their own way till they become headstrong and self-willed, and parents are put to their wit's end to know what course to pursue in order to save them from ruin. The corrupting doctrine that has prevailed, that, from a health standpoint, the sexes should mingle together, has done its mischievous work. When parents and guardians manifest a tithe of the shrewdness that Satan exercises, then can the association of the sexes be more nearly harmless. As it is, he is only too successful in his efforts to bewitch the minds of the youth, and the association of boys and girls only increases the evil. Young boys have scarcely entered their teens before they begin to show attention to girls of their own age, and the girls show a painful lack of maidenly reserve and modesty.CTBH 136.2

    What is the effect of this association? Does it tend to promote purity?—No, indeed. Children become infatuated with a love-sick sentimentalism, and religion has no influence over them to arrest their wrong course. What can be done to stay the tide of evil? Parents can do much if they will.CTBH 137.1

    If a young girl is accosted with low familiarity, she should be taught to so resent it that no such advances will ever be repeated. When a girl's company is frequently sought by boys or young men, something is wrong. She needs the restraining and guiding influence of a firm and wise mother.CTBH 137.2

    Young persons who are thrown into one another's society, may make their association a blessing or a curse. They may edify and strengthen one another, improving in deportment, in disposition, in knowledge; or, by permitting themselves to become careless and unfaithful, they may exert only a demoralizing influence.CTBH 137.3

    Many of the young are eager for books. They read everything they can obtain. Exciting love stories and the specimens of nude art displayed in art galleries, have a corrupting influence. The imagination becomes defiled. Then follow sins and crimes which drag beings formed in the image of God down below the level of the brutes, and sink them at last in perdition. Avoid reading and seeing things which will suggest impure thoughts. Cultivate a love for high moral and intellectual themes. Let not the noble powers of the mind become enfeebled and perverted by much reading of even story-books. I know of strong minds that have been unbalanced and almost paralyzed, by intemperate and indiscriminate reading.CTBH 137.4

    It requires skill and patient effort to mould the young in the right manner. Especially do children who have come into the world burdened with a heritage of evil, the direct result of the sins of their parents, need the most careful culture to develop and strengthen their moral and intellectual faculties. And the responsibility of the parents is heavy indeed. Evil tendencies are to be carefully restrained and tenderly rebuked; the mind is to be stimulated in favor of the right. The child should be encouraged in attempting to govern himself. And all this is to be done judiciously, or the purpose desired will be frustrated.CTBH 138.1

    Parents may well inquire, “Who is sufficient for these things?” God alone is their sufficiency; and if they do not seek his aid and counsel, hopeless indeed is their task. But by prayer, by the study of the Bible, and by earnest zeal on their part, they may succeed nobly in this important duty, and be repaid a hundred-fold for all their time and care. Gossiping and anxiety concerning the external appearance have often taken the precious time that should have been devoted to prayer for wisdom and strength from God to fulfill this most sacred trust. Fathers and mothers who are wise unto salvation will seek to make their surroundings such that they will be favorable to the formation of correct character in their children. The source of wisdom is open to them, and from it they may draw the knowledge which they need. The Bible, a volume rich in instruction, should be their text-book. If they train their children according to its precepts, they are not only setting their young feet in the right path, but are educating themselves in their holy duties as well.CTBH 138.2

    The young should not be suffered to learn good and evil indiscriminately, with the idea that at some future time the good will predominate and the evil lose its influence. The evil will increase faster than the good. It is possible that after many years the evil they have learned may be eradicated; but who will venture this? Time is short. It is easier and much safer to sow clean, good seed in the hearts of your children, than to pluck up the weeds afterward. Impressions made upon the minds of the young are hard to efface. How important, then, that these impressions be of the right sort,—that the elastic faculties of youth be bent in the right direction!CTBH 138.3

    Throw around your children the charms of home and of your society. Treat them with candor, Christian tenderness, and love. This will give you a strong influence over them, and they will feel that they can repose unlimited confidence in you. Then they will not have so much desire for the society of young associates. Because of the evils now in the world, and the restriction which it is necessary to place upon children, parents should have double care to bind them to their hearts, and to let them see that they wish to make them happy.CTBH 139.1

    Among the youth there is an inclination to associate with those who are inferior in mind and morals. What real enjoyment can a young person expect from a voluntary association with those who have a low standard of thought, feeling, and deportment? Some are debased in taste and depraved in habit, and all who choose such companions will be in danger of following their pernicious example.CTBH 139.2

    Those who desire immortality must not allow an impure thought or act. If Christ be the theme of contemplation, the thoughts will be widely separated from every subject which will lead to impurity in action. The mind will be strengthened by dwelling upon elevating subjects. If trained to run in the channel of purity and holiness, it will become healthy and vigorous. If trained to dwell upon spiritual themes, it will come naturally to take that channel. But this attraction of the thoughts to heavenly things cannot be gained without the exercise of faith in God, and an earnest, humble reliance upon him for that strength and grace which will be sufficient for every emergency.CTBH 139.3

    Ample provision has been made for all who sincerely, earnestly, and thoughtfully set about the work of perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Strength and grace have been provided through Christ, to be brought by ministering angels to the heirs of salvation. None are so low, so corrupt and vile, that they cannot find in Jesus, who died for them, strength and purity and righteousness, if they will put away their sins, turn from their course of iniquity, and with full purpose of heart seek the living God. He is waiting to take away their stained garments, polluted by sin, and to put upon them the pure robe of his righteousness, to bid them live and not die. In him, as branches of the Living Vine, they may flourish. Their boughs will not wither nor be fruitless. If they abide in him, they can draw nourishment from him, be imbued with his spirit, walk as he walked, overcome as he overcame, and be exalted to his own right hand.CTBH 140.1

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