The first essential equipment for a right journey through the country of sexual experience is that we should know the truth about our bodies —those temples of the Holy Ghost—and should understand the meaning of the emotions and desires which connect themselves with our physical constitution.
Further, because the problem of sex can only be solved by the cooperation of the sexes working together in mutual understanding it is right that men should know a good deal about women's bodies and vice versa. Such knowledge almost always begets sympathy and a certain intelligent tenderness. The lack of it has often led to unconscious cruelties, to misunderstandings, and even to serious mistakes. To mention one instance only, how can men be expected to treat the other sex with true consideration if they do not know that once a month for a period women ought to be saved from fatigue and strain? And yet there are many adult men in that position of ignorance.
But though the detailed facts are all clean, and really easy to be understood, the manner in which they are conveyed into our minds is of vital importance. I do not think they can be fully conveyed through any printed page. They are too delicate for such handling. They are not truly conveyed unless behind the mere words which express them there is a reverent soul that can impart the right tone and emphasis to them. I would quite gladly attempt to put them all down here could I only be assured that my words would only be read by men or women when alone and in a reverent mood. That being impossible I can only begin by insisting that they ought to be known. And this I can also do—I can assure all young people who read these pages that there is nothing whatever in the facts of the case to be afraid of—nothing that they cannot know with perfectly clean minds. There are no terrible mysteries in the matter. There are no horrors in normal sex life. The truth even about the ultimate intimacies of body between men and women is that when truly achieved they are beautiful, and holy, and happy.
But how are young people to get the right knowledge? The worst possible way in which to get it is to pick it up bit by bit in connection with evil stories, the reports of divorce cases, and the hints of vice which lurk in life's shadowy corners. Yet that has been the most common way in the past. Quite little boys have passed on mysterious stories from mouth to mouth defiling the whole matter. Many girls have first begun to wonder and to ask questions when they first heard of an illegitimate child. Words in the Bible, such as “lasciviousness” and so on, have started mere school children asking questions to which probably they only got distorted answers from other school children. Just because their parents did not tell them anything, they have assumed that there must be something to be ashamed of in the truth. And so ninety per cent of boys, and I know not what proportion of girls, have the subject of sex spoiled for them even before adolescence. Sex, sexual experience, passion, and so on are things they think half unclean and yet annoyingly interesting. They are half ashamed, and yet remain curious. Some are half afraid. Some rather more than half disgusted. Some indeed try to banish the whole subject from their minds. This may seem to be a refined thing to do; but, as we know with a new definiteness since the psychologists have explored the matter, it is really a disastrous thing to do. For to adapt ourselves to sex is one of the problems that cannot be escaped. In this world we cannot live the disembodied life. What we may do is to live a clean and happy bodily life, but only if we build our house of life on knowledge.