Bob Jones, Sr. preached the following sermon, The Modern Woman, all over the country in the 1910s and 20s. The potential for scholarly criticism in this text is significant, and I offer it in its entirety for reading in this post and for downloading the text here.
Its earliest use on record is in San Antonio, Texas in 1912. Later that year, a Southern Baptist pastor in Atlanta was appalled at Bob Jones’ gospel-less message and spoke out publicly, and Bob responded to him (incomprehensibly). Yes, Senior’s anti-Jesus sermons were not just part of the “good-ol’ days.” People of Faith have long criticized him.
This version was published in 1923 by “Glad Tidings Publishing Company” which published other pamphlets by Bob’s Indiana co-pastor William Biederwolf and a little gem called Home Coming in the Ozarks.
Before we think Bob’s slut-shaming diatribe has been long ago tossed in the dustbin, think again. These expressions of the rape culture are still favorites for preachers, from respectable to questionable. Yes, many of us remembering hearing such things from Bill Gothard, but his Sovereign Grace decedents are no different. Women enjoy the moral superiority too. The straw (wo)man is strong in the civic sphere as well, with the welfare mom trope popping up at politically advantageous times, stroking the reader’s self-righteousness.
I had read quotations of this sermon in newspapers, but seeing them altogether like this is chilling. Read it. This is not just how Bob Jones, Inc. sees women, this shaming is pretty much daily life for any woman.
The Modern Woman
A Sermon to Women
By Bob Jones
The Modern Woman
An Address to Women by Bob Jones
As preliminary to what I’m going to say but not as a text, I read a verse from the first chapter of Second Timothy. “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am pursuaded [sic] is in the also.” The apostle Paul is writing to Timothy and says in substance: “Timothy, I am sure you are a good man. You had such a good mother and such a good grandmother.” In other words, “Timothy, you could hardly be otherwise than good. A man having back of him such a wonderful mother and such a wonderful grandmother would naturally be a good man.”
As a rule, great women are the daughters of great men, but whenever a great man touches this earth, back of him was a great mother. This mother may have lived in obscurity, but you may rest assured that whenever you see a great man in any walk of life, that man had a great mother.
From a human standpoint the hope of the world has been the goodness of women. Men have always been bad, but women had to some extent at least counteracted the depravity of depraved men as generations have been born into this world. No nation ever went to ruin until the women of that nation became corrupt. All the forces of evil can never destroy America if our women remain pure.
In the sight of God the sin of man and the sin of woman is the same. Any sin that will damn a woman will damn a man. God makes no distinction. While this is true, the consequences of a woman’s sin in this world are more serious than the sin of man. In other words, if all men were corrupt, and all women were pure, I would still have some hope for the world, but if all women were corrupt, and all men were pure, I could have no hope for the future of the human race.
I am sorry to say to you that in my lifetime I have seen a change take place the women of this country. Do not misunderstand me, I have not lost faith in women. A man is far on the road to ruin when he loses confidence in all women. But I must be true to you, and say I think the percentage of good men in this country maybe on the increase, but I fear the percentage of good women is on the decrease. Women are still better than men, but if certain tendencies with which we are going to deal in this address are not checked, the women will not always be better than the men. I sometimes feel that in view of some conditions in our modern life I had rather have a responsibility of rearing a boy then a girl.
Woman in this country has come down from the pedestal where men admired her twenty-five years ago. Not long ago I made that statement on a certain platform in the South. Sitting behind me on this platform was one of the most brilliant ministers I know, and one of the truest gentleman I have ever met. As I continue to talk this minister began to sob. When I was through with my message he walked to the front of the platform and asked if he might make a statement. Tears were streaming down his cheeks, and he cried out between his sauce: “Oh for the ideals of my youth. When I was young I thought every woman I met was as pure as the snow. My mother taught me to believe this about women. I hate to admit it, but in my lifetime I have seen a change take place in the womanhood of my country.” Do you know that cry is going up from the hearts of thousands of men in America?
Men are losing respect for women as a whole. You take the nicest girl in the city and let her get aboard a railroad train and start on a journey. It would be surprising if she should reach the end of her journey without some wicked man on the train attempting to flirt with her. Why is that? The average man of the world knows that he can flirt with so many women he is willing to take chances with any of them. A few years ago even a wicked, malicious man would not dare flirt with a strange woman, but the godless, giddy, flippant and loud girls and women of this country have dragged down all women in the estimation of a great many men. It is a sad day for our world when men lose respect for women.
I wanted to say these preliminary things before I take my text. I am not here to entertain you. I am not here to be gallant. I am not here to please you, but I am here as a minister of the gospel of Christ to deliver a message which I believe God wants the women of America to hear and not only to hear but to heed.
When I am up to my subject please do not misunderstand me. I cannot talking about all women, but I am talking about a type of woman that has been developed in our modern life. I call her the Modern Woman the simple reason she is a product of this generation. This message does not apply to a great many of you women here in this audience. Many of you have never bowed your knees to the god of pleasure. Many of you are lifting up the banner up your womanhood, and he will agree with me as I go on with this message.
You will find my text in First Timothy, the fifth chapter and the six verse: “but she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.”
Type of woman I am talking about is the most adaptable creature in the world. She can adapt herself to any style. If it is stylish to be fat she can be fat. If it is stylish to be thin she can defend. It is no longer a question of the style fitting her. She fits the style. She knows what they are going to wear in this country next season, and she will be ready. If the styles are to be for fat women she will be fat and eat up everything in town. If the styles are to be for thin women she will get in or start herself to death. There is one thing about this woman. She will not excuse any woman in the world who doesn’t keep up-to-date. This Modern Woman thinks by day and dreams by night about what she’s going to wear. Her conversation always turns to close, for clothes she lives.
I haven’t seen the women in this country refused to wear or try to wear anything that Dame Fashion suggests. A few years ago some of them tried to wear the sheath gown, and a number of them were arrested in American cities. A year or two later they wore the hobble skirts and had to split them to walk. Lots of them broke their fool neck getting on and off the street cars. I was in New York about the time they introduced the street cars with the doors in the middle and the low step. These cars came in about the time the hobble skirt were involved. There are women in this audience who will wear anything, modest or a modest, decent or indecent, pure or if you are, if they think it’s a stylish. If fashion says, “go without sleeves,” you go without sleeves. If fashion says “low neck,” you say “low neck.” If fashion says “hi collars and long skirts,” you are for them.
I am glad there are some women who have enough character and individuality to dress attractively without worshipping the goddess of fashion. I think it is every woman’s duty to make herself attractive and neat, but I do protest against the tendency of a great number of superficial women who have no individuality but whose only ambition in this world is to have plenty of clothes and have them according to the latest styles.
Now let’s study for just a few minutes the effects and results of this fashion craze. In the first place let’s look at the effect upon the woman herself. God gave you a soul, a mind, and a body. Your soul is the highest part of your being. Your mind is next, your body is the lowest part of your being. The whole tendency of the modern craze is to concentrate the attention on the body. There was a time when men saw women they looked up. Now they look down. The tendency is to catch the attention of men and concentrate this attention altogether on the body. There are many of you women in this audience who are nothing more or less than decorated animals. You live on the animal plane. There is where you think.
There are mother here who take their girls when they are young and innocent and consecrate these girls on the altar of fashion. The girls in this country who ought to have roses of modesty blooming in their cheeks have their faces covered with paint. They are old before they are grown. Many of them are loud, and immodest, and you can’t expect anything else. A friend of mine told me recently about a fifteen-year-old girl who was dressed for the ball. Someone said, “You have such a beautiful dress.” The girl replied quickly and without a blush, “It isn’t naked enough.”
If men walked up and down the streets immodestly clad their faces would burn with shame. You women go out half dressed and your faces do not burn. Is it possible that the women in this country are less modest than men?
There is not only the immodesty of the dress, there is the extravagance. Here is a woman who says, “I have money to buy as nice clothes as I please. Haven’t I a right to spend my money as I wish?” No, you have not the right to buy extravagant clothes if you are liable by your influence to drag some other woman to ruin. Girls are going to ruin because they cannot keep pace with modern fads and fashions. Extravagant idle society women are opening the road to sin and degradation for many a poor girl. Trying to keep up with the times often causes married women to lose their honor and shadow their home. Marriage vows are broken for clothes. Why don’t you well-to-do women set an example of simplicity in dress for your sisters who are less fortunate in financial affairs?
There is the effect of extravagance on the home life in America. Some of you women listening to me now have your husband’s nose to the grindstone and you are turning the grindstone. There are men whose wives are in this service who are out in the business world sweating blood to pay for the expensive clothes that you wear to your social functions. There are men in the penitentiary today who would never have been there if they had been married to economical, practical, sensible women. If a worldly, extravagant, flippant butterfly of a wife drives a man to crookedness in business by her extravagance, she ought to be put behind the bars in the place of her husband, and he ought to be hung for being a fool.
Listen to me, ladies, the sin of America today is the sin of impurity. The battle that confronts the American manhood and womanhood is the fight for personal purity. I sometimes speak on the text, “They have eyes full of adultery.” I wish I had time to preach that sermon to you women. I tell you this much. The immodest dress of women has had more to do with filling the eyes of men with impurity than any other one influence. I tell you frankly I have ceased to hope for men to live pure as long as women dress indecently.
I know you say “Horrid men!” I agree with you. I am not talking about conditions as they ought to be; I am talking about conditions as they are. I tell you women as long as you wear immodest and suggestive clothes the minds of a big percent of men will be filled with impurity. You hear lots of talk about these ‘street mashers.’ These degenerates who gather on the street corner and feast their lustful eyes on women when they pass. You women are responsible for the ‘street mashers.’ They have been produced by the immodest clothes which women have worn up and down the streets of American cities. The way to break up this street mashing is easy. Just let the women in this country go back to their old-time modest street dressed and you will soon disperse that crowd of degenerates.
Another thing about the type of women I am discussing, she is inclined to be ‘bossy.’ She has made up her mind to run everything. When you and your husband married you had one room and one bureau. You said, “Now, dearie, you take this drawer and I will take this one.” In a few weeks you crowded him out of his bureau space and suggested to him that he must get a chiffonier or chifforobe, just for himself. It wasn’t long till you crowded him out of chiffonier space. You wanted to run the home and take possession of everything. Homes are not planned for women and girls. Your husband went uptown and got an office, and it wasn’t long until his stenographer was running that. You women have been running the Church for a number of years and now you are going to run the Government. When you were clamoring for woman suffrage I was often asked what I thought about women voting. I said my opinion has nothing to do with it. If they want to vote they will vote. When women want a thing they never give up till they get it.
I tell you frankly I never was for women suffrage. I was afraid of the tendency. Theoretically it was easy enough to convince me that at woman had the right to vote and that she had sense enough to vote, but I was afraid of the tendency of the movement. After you got the right to vote my wife and I went to the polls together and she voted with me. I think now that it is in the interest of good government for every good woman to vote, whether she believes in woman suffrage or not. All the bad women are voting. You good women go on and do your duty and counteract their influence.
I am willing for you to run the home, the business world, the church and the government, but I don’t like for you to be so ‘bossy’ about it. All of this spirit on the part of so many women of ‘standing up for my rights’ and ‘women’s privileges’ and wanting to go into politics and be the big thing, makes me tired. I recognize the fact that the conditions are abnormal and that it is necessary for some women to be in the business world, and that it is neither proper nor convenient for some women to have homes, but I have a contempt for any woman who can made a home and make it right who goes deliberately back on that opportunity for what she considers a larger field in public life.
A friend of mine some time ago called my attention to some interesting figures which he had worked out. If every normal (notice I say normal) married woman would become the mother of six children, and every child should have six children, and every grandchild six children, and every great grandchild six children, and every great great grandchild six children, and every great great great grandchild six children; she would be the mother, the grandmother, the great grandmother, the great great grandmother, the great great great grandmother, and the great great great great grandmother of fifty-five thousand, nine hundred and eighty-six human beings. Suppose in every family there should be one minister, and suppose this one minister in every family should lead just one hundred souls to Chris. She could go home to heaven and sit down in the gate of the city and wait for five million, five hundred and ninety-eight thousand six hundred human should to come home to heaven led to God through the direct influence of her offspring. When God gave a woman the privilege of becoming a mother and rearing a family. He gave her the greatest honor and the greatest opportunity for service that He every conferred upon a human being.
I know you women say conditions in the world are bad. That men have made a mess of everything. I am not trying to justify men, but I do not want you to dodge your responsibility. Remember that you were the mothers of the men. You had these men when they were little babies, and had the privilege of moulding them at the most impressionable period of human life. The world didn’t get hold of them until after you had them started. Some of you fell down on your job. You were running off after the world and neglecting your children for frivolities and pleasures, for political meetings and social gatherings, when you would have been of infinitely more service if you had stayed at home and shaped the lives of your children for God and the right.
I despise a bossy woman, who wants to be like a man. I don’t think a ‘sissy’ man is as unattractive as a ‘buddy’ woman. I heard my friend George Stuart lecture on the difference between women and men. You can’t be a man. You needn’t try. God made you different. God made your voice different. He made you voice to sing lullabies to a baby. He gave a man a voice so he could go out in the field and call the hogs. He gave you a dainty hand so you could pin the clothes and tie ribbons on the baby. He gave a man big hands to harness the horse and drive the cattle from the field. He gave you a fountain for the nourishment of your baby. When I say that some of these modern girls blush. If anything makes me tired it is to see some girl who exposes her form to the gaze of human society and then throws up her hands in holy horror at a good old-time American mother who nurses her baby in the old-time way.
There is nothing more beautiful than womanhood in its purity and reserve. There is nothing more detestable than for a woman to be like a man. I heard one not long ago on the platform trying to talk like a man. She was dressed as near like a man as she could and not be arrested. A few days later I heard another woman. She was a beautiful, modest, gentle type. She spoke to a great crowd in her winsome, quiet way. She stirred me with eloquence that only a woman has when she really talks like a woman. When she was through I said, “Thank God there are some left who are not trying to be men.”
Another thing about the type of woman I am discussing, she is lax in her ideals. In the old days with the old-time woman everything was black and white. Now things are a dull gray. The colors have come together. Here is what I mean, years ago if a woman had a bad name you kicked her out of society. Now you elect her president of a club. I can remember when a woman was divorced she was disgraced, but now she is one of the shining lights of society. I, of course, understand that the Bible gives one ground for divorce, but remember, there is only one. If your husband is untrue to you, you are entitled to a divorce according to the Bible. The trouble with the people today is they think they know more about it than God knows, and they are getting divorces on every kind of ground.
When I was a boy in Southeast Alabama we had what we considered a terrible scandal in that community. A boy was seen kissing his girl goodbye. We kicked this couple out of our social set. They didn’t come to any more of our candy pullings. The entire community felt like they were beyond the pale of decency.
A few months ago I was sitting in the dining room of a certain hotel trying to eat my lunch. At a table near me there was a group of frizzly-headed, painted-faced, loud-mouthed girls. They were trying to let everybody know they were in the dining room. You know the type I am describing. I have a contempt for these loud-mouthed, noisy, modern girls. God give us some of those good old-time refined, quiet, gentle-talking American women. This group of girls were discussing the dance they had just been attending. They talked about every boy in town, and how tight this one held them on the ballroom floor. They were joking about somebody kidding one of the group. They were brazen little devils. That kind of talk would make our grandmothers turn over in their graves. You gray headed mothers and grandmothers, remember when you were girls, that loud-talking, painted-faced, immodest girls lived in one section of the city to themselves. Things have changed. In the old days, if a woman had a bad name, society drew her garments about her and said, “I can’t touch her any more. She is defiled.” Do you women know any shadowed woman in this town who keeps her social position? “Yes,” you reply, “but we have learned to throw the mantle of charity about a fallen sister.” It is not a mantle of charity. It is a tolerance of evil.
If a girl can be crooked and keep her social position, society puts a premium on crookedness. The girls of the community say, “I don’t have to be good. Look at Miss So-and-So. She does as she pleases and she is the most popular girl in town.” I believe in the old method of casting them out when they are not straight.
Now do not misunderstand me. I am not talking about the women of the underworld. I have been down to those homes of sin where the lights of impurity were burning, where those soiled doves lived in their earthly hell. I have been there to take the gospel to them. I have told them God loved them, and I have seen the tears of penitence cut trenches in the paint on their faces. I have seen them weep their way into the arms of God. I stand ready to help those women. I would befriend them, try to get them on their feet, and secure for them an opportunity to make an honest living. The woman that I want to see cast out is the impenitent, brazen, shadowed society woman who sometimes is as crooked in the sight of God as a woman of the underworld, but who keeps her social position and lifts in society her defiant head and thinks she is as good as the best.
The Modern Woman is a novel reader. I have no objection to the right kind of fiction, but many of our women are reading sex novels. Most of these novels are written for women. Men don’t buy them. Several years ago I went into a book store in one of our southern cities. A girl standing at the country with the books piled up around her insisted that I purchase two or three very questionable books. I asked her if she ever sold any of those books to men. She replied that she had been in that place for months, and that all of the sex books she had sold were to women.
Several years ago I was talking to a prominent lawyer who is on the supreme bench of one of our southern states. This gentleman said, “Bob Jones, if the women do not quit reading the sex novels that are now being circulated among them, the purity of the womanhood of this country will soon be gone.” I have stood on many a street car and have seen some girl holding onto a strap and absorbed in some book that I personally would blush to read. Some of you girls get in your room at night and stay away for hours crying over the crooked hero of a dirty questionable novel. Much of this literature is a picture of sin in a gilded palace. Lust is painted in exquisite colors. Impurity is made fascinating. You can’t love the crooked hero of an impure book and have a pure heart. What you love and what you hate determine what you are.
There are mothers in this audience who pay no attention to the books their daughters read. Your daughter becomes a part of everything she reads, and she becomes a big part of the things that interest her most. It looks like some mothers in this country act as if they didn’t care if their daughters didn’t go to the devil. A friend of mine said to me recently, “Bob Jones, I believe that the mothers of this country are losing interest in their daughters, and many of them don’t care what becomes of their children.” It would pay you mothers to go home today and have a heart to heart talk with your daughters, and find out what they have read. Some of you will be very much surprised.
The woman I am talking about it unfit to marry. She is unfit to marry for two reasons. In the first place she despises restraint. She goes into married life with her mind made up to bear as few burdens as possible. She says, “When I get married I’m going my way and do as I please, and let my husband go his way and do as he pleases. I don’t expect to settle down and be an old woman. I am going to enjoy life.” When I hear them talk like that I know what is coming. There will soon be a divorce case, scandal will come, the man and wife are both doomed to ruin.
Many women deliberately plan when they marry to shirk the responsibility of motherhood. No woman is fit to marry until she is willing to become the mother of a child by the man she marries. In the old days when a couple married they settled down and were satisfied with each other. They reared a family. Those old couples, however narrow you think they may have been, are the people who made America. This generation is living on the piety which was handed down to us. If we are not careful we will soon lose this piety and have none of it to transmit to the next generation.
In the second place she is unfit to marry because so often she has been guilty of indiscretions. She goes into married life with a secret to keep from the man she marries. A few years ago, in a Pennsylvania city, at the close of my women’s meeting a lady came to me and said, “Mr. Jones, I am so anxious to talk to you. I live next door to your hotel. Will you come over to see me tomorrow morning? My husband was converted under your ministry a few nights ago. He is sick in bed and is anxious to see you, too.” The next day I called. I found her husband, the wife, and two sweet little children. The older child was a boy, about three years old. The baby was a little girls just a few months old. I had prayer with the husband and father. His conversion was genuine. I do not remember to have met a more magnetic and charming gentleman. I left his bedroom and started downstairs, followed by the wife and mother. She carried the sweet little baby in her arms and the beautiful little boy came behind holding to her skirts. When we were downstairs she asked me to step in the parlor so she could talk to me a minute. When we were seated she said, “Mr. Jones, when I was a little girl”—-then she sobbed—-the little boy caught her skirts and said, “What you cry about, mamma, what you cry about?” The mother began again, still sobbing. “When I was a girl I was indiscreet. There are secret sins in my life my husband knows nothing about. He is the loveliest man in the world. I am so wretched. I simply can’t be happy. I can’t afford to tell him, for it would ruin his life and would do me no good to confess it, but oh, Mr. Jones, it is terrible, terrible, terrible!” As she finished the little boy said again, “What you cry about mamma, what you cry about?” I said to myself, here is a tragedy of horrors—-a woman weeping over the secret of her girlhood indiscretions, while her own little boy begs for the secret of her weeping.
I don’t see how some of you girls expect to be happy. You girls who go out on these joy rides at night and spoon with the boys. You may retain your physical virtue, but you go hear enough to the fire to get scorched. Some day you will love a fine man and you and he will be married. You will go off on your honeymoon, then come back home, go uptown and first man you see will be some fellow who has hugged, and kissed, and fondled you. Girls, if nothing ever happens in your life that you would hesitate to tell your mother, or that you would blush for the man you marry to know, happy girl are you.
There is nothing like the consciousness of your own integrity. Years ago a warrior was leading an army to battle. False accusations were brought against him. He had in his hands the papers that would disprove these accusations. He was so conscious of his own integrity that he tore these papers to shreds and led the army to battle. You pure, sweet, modest girls may sometimes think that these loud, fast girls who attract most attention and have the most beaus are the girls who are winning in life’s deal. Don’t believe it. They are the ones who are playing the losing game. In the years to come there will settling in your soul the peace that comes from the abiding consciousness of the purity of your own soul. You can defy all hell if you know you have never compromised your honor.
There is another thing about the type of woman we are discussing. She lives for a good time. I have been out of in the world since I was fourteen years old and I have spent most of my time among strangers. I have seen girls parading up and down the streets, girls sometimes from the best homes, and I have seen them flirt through the window with men with whom I have been talking in the hotel lobby. Some of you mothers work and struggle to get your daughter off for a visit, and there are many tragedies that come to daughters visiting in homes where their mothers think they are perfectly safe. Knowing what I do, if I had a daughter I would hesitate to send her off visiting all over the country.
Some mothers send their daughters away from home to try to marry them off. Some of these girls can’t marry in the own where they are known and their mothers try to put them off on strangers. These girls return and meet their girl friends, and they discuss their trip something like this, “Oh I never had so much fun. I haven’t slept since I left. Parties? I had one every day I was away from home. Boys? I never saw so many boys in my life. Oh, I am going back soon. I can hardly wait. I am going home now and go to bed and try to get some sleep.” You go home and sit around the house and your mother waits on you. You are irritable, fussy, and mean. In a few weeks you recuperate and pack up for another visit.
When you train up a girl with a good time for her ideal you will ruin her and unfit her for womanhood, and for the highest and best things in this world. Our lives are shaped by our ideals. You show me your ideal and I will show you what you are. A thief is a man whose idea of life is money without work. Naturally, he steals.
“She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.” You will remember these are the words of our text. The Modern Woman is more and more becoming a pleasure lover. Her love of pleasure manifests itself in a number of different ways, but usually you will find that pleasure loving women do three things: They go to theaters, they play cards, and they dance. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule, and there are many other manifestations of the pleasure craze.
I think the histrionic talent is as God-given as any other talent, but I have long since learned that the devil has a mortgage on the American theatre. We have talked a great deal in this country about reforming the stage. To my mind the thing has reached the point where this is only one safe thing for Christian people to do, and that is to draw a line this side of the whole business.
The stage is the only place where a person does not have character to get by. I do not believe that all actors and actresses are crooked. I think some of them are decent people, but they don’t have to be decent to get along. A preacher has to be either a hypocrite or a good man. Lawyers or doctors must either be hypocrites, live clean, or lose their practice. Actors or actresses can have a bad name, and do many questionable things, and still people will crowd theaters to see them perform. I was in a certain city recently and made a similar statement to this. The next day an actor came out with a communication in the paper saying, “There are more preachers in jail in America than actors and actresses.” I do not know whether he was correct or not, but I said in reply, “These preachers in prison are no longer preachers. We kicked them out of the ministry. There are actors and actresses in this country who ought to be in prison who are shining lights in their profession.”
We have reached a terrible day in our history when moving picture actors and actresses who have been divorced and whose names have been connected with all kinds of scandal, have become the ideal and teachers of our boys and girls.
I am talking to girls now who will go to a show and witness every kind of scene which suggests impurity. These girls sit by boys and applaud the play. Maybe it is a picture of a man in some woman’s room, and the whole scene is painted in colors that fire the blood of youth. These same girls will come to hear me preach and call me ‘horrid’ because I tell them the truth.
You tell me that you go to the theatre for morals. That is like wading in filth for two hours and then drinking one drop of pure water. I don’t care to get my moral lessons that way. All of these pictures and play filled with kissing scenes and suggestive plots have had much to do with the pulling down of the barriers between the sexes and have contributed much to the production of the loud, immodest type of girl we have today.
If you good decent Christian women would unite with the other Christian women throughout America, you could put a stop to the whole wicked tendency of the stage and moving picture business, but you women permit your children to go and you go yourselves. I personally do not believe any woman can be going to a moving picture show four or five times a week without being developed into a superficial type. I don’t see how you care to go. There is a similarity about all the plays and it is the rarest thing in the world that you ever see one that has any refining influence.
Another thing about the type of woman I am discussing, she is a card fiend. There is something about a deck of cards which cannot be made decent, though it is shuffled by the jeweled fingers of a church society woman. There is the odor of a gambling hell about every deck of cards you ever saw. The spades tell of graves they have dug in every cemetery. The clubs speak to us of heads they have crushed, and the hearts bring to our memory the human hearts they have broken, yet there are church women who are listening to me now who are as much intoxicated with card playing as any drunkard was ever intoxicated with drink. Some of you women go to bed at night and in your dreams you see the cards. You go to church on Sunday morning and while you are trying to listen to the sermon you see a deck of cards before your face.
You tell me there is no difference between cards and any other game. I tell you, you are wrong. There is only one way to judge a tree, and that is by the fruit it bears. We judge any game or any pleasure by what the thing leads to. Cards lead to gambling. All card players are nor gamblers. All men who drink whiskey are not drunkard, but taking a drink leads to drunkenness. Card playing leads to gambling. I have a friend who was speaking to a great crowd of men. He said, “Gentlemen, I am getting some statistics for my own information. I have no desire to embarrass any of you men, but you will do me a great favor if you will respond to the proposition I am going to make. I want all of you gentlemen who ever gambled in your life to stand up.” There were several hundred men who stood. “Now gentlemen,” said the preacher, “you fellows who learned to play cards in some women’s parlor please sit down.” Only one of the group remained standing.
When I want information I always go to an authority on the subject in which I am interested. I was talking not long ago to a man who ran, for several years, a number of gambling hells in the underworld of one of our greatest cities. This gentleman is now a consecrated Christian, and is truthful and reliable in every particular. He told me that the underworld recruits its gamblers from the well-to-do families who teach their sons to play cards.
Several years ago I was conducting a meeting in a very aristocratic town. At the close of one of my services a charming, sweet, beautiful old woman took me to one side and speaking in her quiet, gentle, refined way she said, “Mr. Jones, I want to tell you a secret. Nobody knows what I am telling you. I am getting old, and I have had a heartache from my girlhood. During the Civil War I lived in Virginia, was active in the church but had some time for society. Like most of the girls in my group I was enthusiastic about card playing. I was engaged to a young army officer, who was such a charming fellow. I taught him to play cards. I have never known any man who became so fascinated with the game. As time passed he began to see me less often. One day the awful shock came. This dear boy was killed in a gambling hell. I have never before told anyone, but I feel like his blood is on my hands.”
You women may go ahead if you like and play your cards, play for money, or play for prizes, or play for fun, but remember that you must meet the result of your influence at the judgment bar of God. Some of you may have children who will escape, but not all of you. If you want to take chances on damning your son, your husband, your brother, and your sweetheart, the responsibility is on you. I have warned you faithfully, and the blood of your loved ones will not be on my hands. There is certainly only one right thing for you Christian women to do, and that is to give God the benefit of the doubt. There is at least a question in your mind about what you ought to do. Play the game safe. You can’t lose anything by burning your cards and turning your back on your bloc. You might lose something if you keep your cards and continue your playing.
The Modern Woman manifests her love for pleasure by participating in the modern dance. The dance has reached such a point nobody with any brains attempts to defend it. Even the dancing masters of American have been expressing themselves freely about the immodesty and indecency of the dance in which most of the young people and some of the older people of American are taking part. You women needn’t think that you can make dances decent with had their beginning in the underworld
The modern dance was born in the realm of lust and had its beginning in the underworld. In fact, society people are engaged in forms of dancing now which the police force used to break up in the dives of the cities of America. I could never understand how a decent, pure, modest woman could do anything that has been abused and talked about as much as the modern dance. I can’t understand how you women who call yourselves Christians can get on the ballroom floor and go through the giddy whirl of dances that have been denounced and opposed for all these years by that best people of all the churches.
You say the dance never hurts you. I tell you it has hurt you. Now don’t misunderstand me. You may have retained your virtue, but nobody can go through these modern dances and ever be the same again. I will prove it to you. Here is a girl sixteen years old. She is a modest, quiet, refined, pure child. Tonight she goes to her first dance. A man puts his arms around her and assumes with her a most familiar and suggestive posture. Her refined soul instinctively draws back from the embrace. Her cheeks burn, her eyes droop with the sense of shame. She goes home from this dance with her higher sensibilities jarred, and that voice which whispers in the soul of every pure girl says to her, “I should not have permitted that man to put his arm around me.” Next week the same girl goes to another dance. She blushes and her eyes droops with shame, but she doesn’t feel the jar so much. She continues to do to dances for three months, and by that time she can meet a strange man whom she never saw before and this stranger can assume with her all the familiar postures of the damnable modern dance and her cheeks do not burn and her eyes do not droop with shame. What caused the change? I can tell you. The dance has stabbed dead those nobler and purer impulses of modesty and refinement which God Almighty put in the heart of every pure, sweet girl. I tell you that no girl can ever be just the same after she goes through the dances we have had in this country for the past few years.
Let me reason with you girls for just a moment. I do not say all girls have evil thoughts when they dance. I know that there are some girls who go through life without ever having any real evil thoughts and impulses. This is not true, however, with all girls.
Do you, girl, back there listening to me now remember not long ago you were dancing with a rather fascinating man and he drew you up so close to him you could scarcely dance and you were forced to draw back from his too familiar embrace? Do you know what was the matter with your dancing partner? Let me explain. While he held you in his arms a devil of impurity awoke in his blood. Thoughts of lust filled his brain. You may have been as pure as snow, but I am telling you what was the matter with the man with whom you were dancing. If you are what you ought to be after this explanation you will never again be a willing instrument to fire the blood and stir thoughts of lust in any man on a ballroom floor. I can understand how girls dance and enjoy it before they have it explained to them. I have no confidence in any girl who continues to dance after she knows the facts.
Several years ago I was conducting a revival in one of the best towns in the state of Georgia. At the close of my women’s meeting a beautiful, modest, reserved and quietly dressed girl asked to speak to me. We sat down in one corner of a building and she began her speech: “Mr. Jones,” she said, “I guess I shouldn’t tell you, but I think my mother is to blame.”
“What do you mean?” I asked her.
“Oh, you don’t understand,” she replied. “I am a fallen girl. I have a little baby who has no legal father. My mother did what other church mothers in this town did, sent me to a dancing school. I became a very graceful dancer. One night at a ball I danced with the most fascinating man I ever saw. There awake in my nature strange impulses. I did not understand these impulses. That night on my way home I feel, and then the baby. I hope my mother is in heaven, but mother should have protected me from these pitfalls. I don’t understand how any mother can permit her daughter to dance.”
I tell you why you women let your daughters dance. Every married woman here knows that there is a danger lurking int he whirl and music and familiarity of a ballroom. You let your daughter dance because you have confidence in her, and you want her to be popular in the community. I tell you that you do not know what kind of devil sleeps in the blood of your child.
Several years ago I was conducting a revival in a city of the middle west. One day I called at the office of a doctor friend of mine. I called at his request. This physician said, “Mr. Jones, you are right about the dance. I didn’t know it until recently, but I know it now. A few days before your meeting began here I was called to see a dying woman. She was a woman of sin and was running a house in the underworld. I walked up to her bed and say the stare of death in her eye. Struggling for breath, she said, ‘Doctor, am I going to die?’
“I replied, ‘Madam, here is no hope for you. It is just a matter of a short while and you will be gone.’
“‘Doctor, before I die I want to tell you a story. For nineteen years I have been a woman of the underworld. I have been in houses of ill fame in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, San Francisco and all over America. I am a woman of education, and was reared in a home of culture. The dance is responsible for my ruin. The first impure thoughts I ever had I had on the ballroom floor. Since I have been in the underworld I have kept a record of the stories told me by fallen women. I think I know more women of ill fame than any other woman in this country. Nine out of ten of all the women with whom I have ever discussed the subject, told me that the first impure impulses they ever had they had while they were dancing.’”
If you church people would quit chaperoning and endorsing the dance you would close the door of the underworld.
“Mr. Jones,” the doctor continued, “my wife and I, though I am an official church member, have chaperoned dances in this town, but that night as I stood by the bed of that dying woman I promised myself and my God to use all my influence against the dance for the rest of my life.”
I could stand here for an hour and tell you one story after another, but there is one other incident I wish to relate.
Two or three years ago I was preaching in a little town in the South. There were only five thousand people in this town. There are eight girls in that town in society who have been ruined since these unmentionable modern dances were introduced. Those girls are not in the underworld. They are in society. Some day they are going to marry, and possible become mothers. The mother of one of these girls spent most of her time while I was there criticizing me for what she called “my extreme” position. I used to think if that old soul could only know what I knew about her daughter. I learned the story of the ruin of those eight fallen girls in a most peculiar way. I came about like this: One night after I had retired someone knocked at my door. I went to the door, and there stood a young man, prominent in the social life of the community. His face was pale as death. His lips were quivering. “Mr. Jones, I want to talk to you about my soul, “ he said.
I invited the young man into my room, and asked him what was his trouble. The story of depravity which he pour into my ears almost froze the blood in my veins. He named eight prominent girls in that town whom he had seduced during the past twelve months. He told me that he used the dance for the purpose of enticing those girls on.
In houses of sin in this country there are thousands and thousands of fallen women. A large percent of those women would never have been there if it had not been for the dance. Suppose you women and girls manage to keep your virtue, but your influence is back of the dance, and the dance leads other girls and women astray. When you go to the judgment bar of God you will have to answer for your influence. If you back the dance, and the dance damns somebody and you go to heaven, that soul in hell will cry out “Unjust, unjust, unjust,” until God’s thrown itself topples and falls.
“She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.” The love of pleasure deadens the finer feelings of womanhood. The love of pleasure kills a woman’s nobler impulses. The love of pleasure tends to destroy the innate sense of modesty in a woman’s heart. The society women of this country use paint on their faces where roses of modesty ought to bloom. When a woman reaches the point where she cannot blush the best in her should has been destroyed.
The love of pleasure kills the mother instinct in a woman’s heart. Society women have as few children as possible. You wait until judgment day. Some women in this audience will be looking into the face of God. A little baby will step up in from of you and say, “Do you know me?”
“No,” you will reply, “I don’t know you.”
“I am your baby,” the child will answer. “You murdered me before I was born.” God will send your soul to hell with the life blood of an unborn babe dripping from the tips of your damnable fingers. You can talk lightly about getting rid of a baby. You may run off to some quack doctor and ask him to commit the crime of child murder, but no woman ever got rid of a baby. You will meet the little one at the judgment. There are guilty parties at this service. You better get right with God. It will take lots of grace and mercy to blot out your terrible sin. If I had my choice I had rather meeting in the day of judgment a man forty years old whom I had murdered, than to meet a little baby whom I killed before the little thing was born. The most cruel murder that I can conceive of is the murder of a little unborn babe.
On the 30th of October, 1883, in a simple home in Southeast Alabama I saw the light of day. I was the eleventh child. When I was fourteen years old I knelt by my mother’s dying bed, and put her hand on my brow. I was trying to find a warm place in that hand, that I might remember that dying touch forever. I promised to meet her in heaven, and she closed her eyes in death. We took her dear body and buried it in a lonely graveyard not far fro home. Several years ago I put a simple monument to her grace. I planted flowers there. Many times I have sat by that grace and said, “Oh God, I had a good mother. Help me to be good.” If I knew my mother did not welcome me when I was born I would loathe the memory of my mother. The mother who does not welcome her child when he is born, deserves to be cursed by that child when he is grown. I don’t say the child ought to curse the mother, but the mother deserves to be cursed.
I think about my old-time mother. My mother belonged to the old school. She never shuffled any deck of cards. There was no ballroom where I lived. There was no theatre going, but there was a Bible, and there was a family altar. What I am today I owe to that Christian mother, and to the holy influence of a Christian father.
Let me plead with you women. Turn your back on these questionable, sordid things of the work. Dedicate your hands to God. Lift up the flag of purity. Hold true to the traditions handed down to you from the old-time women of this country. Dedicate your life unreservedly to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He’s a woman’s friend. He took the chains of slavery from your hand, and made you a queen. You owe your liberty and your all to Him. Come clean with him today.