This section is from the book "Free Love: Or, A Philosophical Demonstration Of The Non-Exclusive Nature Of Connubial Love", by Austin Kent. Also available from Amazon: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures.
As much as our age professes to be in favor of free discussion, we find a large class, even among partial reformers, who can hardly look at and read dispassionately, - or have any patience with an argument in favor of freedom in love, from a harrowing fear of the real or imaginary consequences of the immediate possible success and spread of such views. Some of these, though of "little faith," are honest hearted in these fears. Such minds will say to us - "If it were true that freedom in love, and the modern principles of Free Love, would one day in the future of human progression be safe, and be the order of sexual harmony, is it wise to promulgate these sentiments now, when the race is yet so awfully perverted, and often make even truth a "Saviour of death?" These may add, - "admitting entire freedom, and a 'variety' is consistant with a perfect state of Society, do not men yet need restraining in some things which in themselves would be right? Did not the learned and wise Paul Bee some things in the 'third heavens' of the future glory of the church on earth, which he did not consider it 'expedient' or 'lawful for him to utter?' And did not a greater than Paul withhold even from his well beloved disciples, that which he well knew they could not as yet bear?"; We may furthur be reminded of the case of our modern Inspired writer, A. J. Davis, in still postponing his reply to the question, "What and Where is God!" in view of the present state of the public mind.
Reader, we admit, understand, and appreciate this respectable weight of testimony. Nature and the Bible both reveal truth little by little, and hold a "veil" over the rest for the time. Nothing can be plainer than this fact. But, in reply, we will present another phase of the subject, equally plain and undeniable. Jesus, Paul, and every Reformer before and since their day, have taught truths in advance of their respective ages. Such truths have always more or less been used to promote bad ends. We think no sudden and great change, which, on the whole, was of much utility, ever came in our world, without bringing with it its immediate present evils for a time. This is often true of scientific as well as moral changes. An increase of suffering is often the first effect of important and useful inventions. I will refer to the first effect upon the poor on the introduction of factories and sewing machines. Society is of very large dimensions, and complex in its parts, and it is not an easy matter to re-adjust it after a great change. This is true of every phase of it. In my opinion, man can never be freed, mentally and morally, without an increase of immediate suffering. Yet man never can be saved without such freedom.
All must learn more or less by experience, - and, in this experience, be "made perfect through suffering." It is naturally impossible for a child to develop into entire manhood or womanhood, without freedom. They must be trusted to go alone, and "at their own cost." Abolishing the law of imprisonment for debt, in our state, caused more or less immediate embarassment to both the rich and the poor. It has now greatly benefited all classes. It also removed a hinderence to the development of mind in moral honesty. That "the law makes nothing perfect" - is a truth found any where, or in any Book. Many of the books to which we have alluded in our Preface - even such as simply teach that love is marriage, - we believe, will not at first serve to lessen human suffering, in their love relations, but add to it. If we are correct in this - we only state it as our opinion - the same may be more true of ours. We flatter no man. Yet all of these books, with ours, will only hasten a crisis, through which the world must pass. There is no affectional salvation - no real or perfect manhood, this side of it. The most inveterate and deepest seated disease of civilization must be probed. The lance will be painful. The whole body will feel the shock.
But it must come !! I have not one doubt but that it will end in greater health to the Patient. It will promote real purity and chastity - and so an increase of peace, and a more perfect harmony. Woman can never rise to her entire womanhood without it.
The question as to the time when a higher truth shall be published, is one of expediency. It is important, but not of the first importance. Honest and good men may differ in relation to it. The most true friends of Free Love have differed here. We should seek to be guided by a wise and holy expediency. But no mind is prepared to judge correctly upon it, till he is at least thoroughly awake to a true sense of the terrible and wide-spread bondage and suffering in our present state of society. Its wrongs are as high as heaven and as deep as hell. Whoever sees this, will feel the need of some radical change for the better. The real conservative would never change. The Reformer alone must look, judge, and act. 1 was born through a long line of orthodox ancestry of New England Congregationalism; and trained, "in the way I should go," to an orthodox religion; and was once in the orthodox ministry. It has taken me a long time to lay off the unreal of the past. Long after I became established in my present views of Free Love, I could sympathize with Mr. Greeley and Mr. Ballou, in a dread to see these principles spread among the masses. But since I have laid off many of my conservative views, my faith in humanity has greatly increased.
My confidence in the power and safety of truth has alike increased.
We add further - the friends of Free Love are not alone responsible for the general spread of the more radical phases of these principles. The history of the past plainly shows that our opponents would never let us alone. Mr. Noyes was not allowed to rest in peace, in the retirement of his own private or select friends, and his own society. So it has ever been with myself. But so far from regretting the influence which has been brought to bear upon us, we are, at least, most grateful to a kind and wise Providence for in this way freeing us from the lingering remains of what we now believe was a false conservatism.
But, reader, the time has come when there is a necessity for every phase of this question to be thoroughly discussed. It is fairly up before the public mind. All sides have been broached, and more or less defended. Mind cannot be staid till it is fully canvassed. Men do not now, as in the past, follow simple instinct, or unenlightened passion or love. They demand mental instruction, and they will have it. They ask for something more than surface teachers, and human opinions. They ask for philosophy, and they will have it. "The supply will be equal to the demand." The true mind desires to see every possible objection urged against his most cherished positions. When these fail to stand the ordeal of any amount of the most searching criticism, he has no longer any confidence in, or respect for them. However sure he may be that he has the truth, he is more sure of the real power of truth, and of its entire ability to sustain itself. Such a mind knows, too, that truth is advanced by repulsion as well as by attraction; that every active mind puts it forward, whether in love with, or in opposition to it. If he stands in the latter relation to it, he is a repelling 'power. We only mean, while man is on the plane of hatred - hatred will work utility in his progress.
As God lives, this must be true. When will men more generally arrive at a proper confidence in the power of truth, and of God? Till this subject - marriage - is thoroughly handled on both sides, man's faith can not be deeply laid. Every effort of a true mind will lay the truth more and more fully upon the eternal rock of ages - nature. We always hail with pleasure the promise of any able and fair writer to review and criticise our most cherished faith. We never fail to buy such books. If our opponents have like confidence in truth, and feel as we do, that any agitation must advance it, they will cordially welcome our effort, and thank us for it, as we do them for theirs.
In our age, active minds have little time to parley with moral and mental cowards. We welcome the coming war - the "bloodless war," which we have long seen gathering. We shall pray for, work for, and welcome the crisis, and glory in the assurance that it will end in good.