I’m in the process of reading a great deal of writings by Margaret Sanger in an effort to understand the mind that went into the formation of one of the most diabolical organizations in America today, that of Planned Parenthood. Tonight I spent a good amount of time reading The Pivot of Civilization. (Lots to wade through there!!)
What I am learning as I read her writings is that beneath her many delusions, what she really longed for, though she did not know it, was what we as believers long for and what scripture calls New Creation. In her heart she knew that something whole, something perfect, something unmarked by the pox of human suffering and evil, was “out there.” She just had all the wrong ideas about how to get there. Socialism, eugenics, birth control and personal empowerment were her saviors of choice. But beneath and behind the harsh callousness and merciless scorn, what she really wanted was Kingdom Come.
Sanger looked with derision upon the “unfit” in a blind frustrated attempt to explain and fix the problem of evil, the problem of fallen bodies and minds, the problem of poverty and excessive cycles of oppression. And she looked upon it all without acknowledging God, the created order or sin. Beneath her misguided assessments as to the origins of these problems she sought the eradication of chaos, disorder, poverty, oppression and all evils and social ills (never mind that her solutions were their own ills!) Hidden in the curves and shadows of these desires one can find the shadowy figure of a deep yearning to see heaven come down, beauty and order restored, humanity to be fully and more gloriously human (we would say, more gloriously and perfectly reflecting the image of God), women to actually be fruitful in mind as much as body, to love motherhood, to do good to the world around them, for men and women to mutually esteem each other, rather than being locked in dueling enslavements.
I’m not suggesting she was a soft hearted woman at all. But as I read her rants and her frustration, she wanted the broken fixed.
Listen to how she inadvertently longs for Eden.
“Nevertheless it would be wrong to shut our eyes to the vision of a world of free men and women, a world which would more closely resemble a garden than the present jungle of chaotic conflicts and fears. One of the greatest dangers of social idealists, to all of us who hope to make a better world, is to seek refuge in highly colored fantasies of the future rather than to face and combat the bitter and evil realities which to-day on all sides confront us. I believe that the reader of my preceding chapters will not accuse me of shirking these realities; indeed, he may think that I have overemphasized the great biological problems of defect, delinquency and bad breeding. It is in the hope that others too may glimpse my vision of a world regenerated that I submit the following suggestions. They are based on the belief that we must seek individual and racial health not by great political or social reconstruction, but, turning to a recognition of our own inherent powers and development, by the release of our inner energies. It is thus that all of us can best aid in making of this world, instead of a vale of tears, a garden.“
At one point she talks about how she believes (obviously wrongly) that birth control will help to turn sex into the thing which it is supposed to be and quotes at length a man who gives an eloquent speech to the Birmingham Church Congress. You can hear that she loves what he says (and it’s obviously rare for a churchman to speak so passionately and beautifully about the beauty of sex). It’s interesting because she hates the “animal like” lust of the sensual but evolution is at the heart of her whole worldview. She wants people to feel less repressed and more free to express themselves sexually but she doesn’t want them to be lascivious. In essence, she wants sex elevated to what we understand to be a truly Biblical view of sex in many ways. Of course her view of unrestricted birth control access morphed to unrestricted abortion access, neither of which has obviously served to elevate sex to something of a spiritual expression, to say the very least.
“With the realization of the moral responsibility of women,” writes Havelock Ellis, “the natural relations of life spring back to their due biological adjustment. Motherhood is restored to its natural sacredness….
Moreover, woman shall further assert her power by refusing to remain the passive instrument of sensual self-gratification on the part of men. Birth Control, in philosophy and practice, is the destroyer of that dualism of the old sexual code. It denies that the sole purpose of sexual activity is procreation; it also denies that sex should be reduced to the level of sensual lust, or that woman should permit herself to be the instrument of its satisfaction. In increasing and differentiating her love demands, woman must elevate sex into another sphere, whereby it may subserve and enhance the possibility of individual and human expression. Man will gain in this no less than woman; for in the age-old enslavement of woman he has enslaved himself; and in the liberation of womankind, all of humanity will experience the joys of a new and fuller freedom.
On this great fundamental and pivotal point new light has been thrown by Lord Bertrand Dawson, the physician of the King of England. In the remarkable and epoch-making address at the Birmingham Church Congress (referred to in my introduction), he spoke of the supreme morality of the mutual and reciprocal joy in the most intimate relation between man and woman. Without this reciprocity there can be no civilization worthy of the name. Lord Dawson suggested that there should be added to the clauses of marriage in the Prayer Book “the complete realization of the love of this man and this woman one for another,” and in support of his contention declared that sex love between husband and wife—apart from parenthood—was something to prize and cherish for its own sake. The Lambeth Conference, he remarked, “envisaged a love invertebrate and joyless,” whereas, in his view, natural passion in wedlock was not a thing to be ashamed of or unduly repressed. The pronouncement of the Church of England, as set forth in Resolution 68 of the Lambeth Conference seems to imply condemnation of sex love as such, and to imply sanction of sex love only as a means to an end,—namely, procreation.
The Lambeth Resolution stated:
“In opposition to the teaching which under the name of science and religion encourages married people in the deliberate cultivation of sexual union as an end in itself, we steadfastly uphold what must always be regarded as the governing considerations of Christian marriage. One is the primary purpose for which marriage exists—namely, the continuation of the race through the gift and heritage of children; the other is the paramount importance in married life of deliberate and thoughtful self-control.”
In answer to this point of view Lord Dawson asserted:
“Sex love has, apart from parenthood, a purport of its own. It is something to prize and to cherish for its own sake. It is an essential part of health and happiness in marriage. And now, if you will allow me, I will carry this argument a step further. If sexual union is a gift of God it is worth learning how to use it. Within its own sphere it should be cultivated so as to bring physical satisfaction to both, not merely to one…. The real problems before us are those of sex love and child love; and by sex love I mean that love which involves intercourse or the desire for such. It is necessary to my argument to emphasize that sex love is one of the dominating forces of the world. Not only does history show the destinies of nations and dynasties determined by its sway—but here in our every-day life we see its influence, direct or indirect, forceful and ubiquitous beyond aught else. Any statesmanlike view, therefore, will recognize that here we have an instinct so fundamental, so imperious, that its influence is a fact which has to be accepted; suppress it you cannot. You may guide it into healthy channels, but an outlet it will have, and if that outlet is inadequate and unduly obstructed irregular channels will be forced….
“The attainment of mutual and reciprocal joy in their relations constitutes a firm bond between two people, and makes for durability of the marriage tie. Reciprocity in sex love is the physical counterpart of sympathy. More marriages fail from inadequate and clumsy sex love than from too much sex love. The lack of proper understanding is in no small measure responsible for the unfulfillment of connubial happiness, and every degree of discontent and unhappiness may, from this cause, occur, leading to rupture of the marriage bond itself. How often do medical men have to deal with these difficulties, and how fortunate if such difficulties are disclosed early enough in married life to be rectified. Otherwise how tragic may be their consequences, and many a case in the Divorce Court has thus had its origin. To the foregoing contentions, it might be objected, you are encouraging passion. My reply would be, passion is a worthy possession—most men, who are any good, are capable of passion. You all enjoy ardent and passionate love in art and literature. Why not give it a place in real life? Why some people look askance at passion is because they are confusing it with sensuality. Sex love without passion is a poor, lifeless thing. Sensuality, on the other hand, is on a level with gluttony—a physical excess—detached from sentiment, chivalry, or tenderness. It is just as important to give sex love its place as to avoid its over-emphasis. Its real and effective restraints are those imposed by a loving and sympathetic companionship, by the privileges of parenthood, the exacting claims of career and that civic sense which prompts men to do social service. Now that the revision of the Prayer Book is receiving consideration, I should like to suggest with great respect an addition made to the objects of marriage in the Marriage Service, in these terms, ‘The complete realization of the love of this man and this woman, the one for the other.'”
I am learning a lot about her and while it hasn’t changed my firm understanding of the evils perpetrated on men, women and children by Planned Parenthood, it does help me trace the outlines of how even legitimate frustrations with the brokenness of the world can travel down the line and become powerful forces of evil when coupled with misguided notions of the origins of the problems. Jesus is so much better a savior than any one we could ever construct or imagine.