Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Lt 85, 1888

Caldwell, Dr.; Gibbs, Dr.

Healdsburg, California

May 10, 1888

Portions of this letter are published in 7MR 224-225; 8MR 330-331; 13MR 371-372.

Dear Brethren Caldwell and Gibbs:

I feel very much burdened. While I was at Crystal Springs, I was far from feeling that it was the wisest plan to have you two physicians together for the reason that there is not that fine delicacy of address and high sense of propriety in your association and treatment of women and girls that there should be. I tell you plainly that there needs to be far greater refinement and delicacy in the treatment of delicate diseases than either of you manifests. When I know that there will be in your influence with youth and with women a tendency to break down the barriers of reserve that ever should exist between women and men, I am more and more grieved and burdened over the present state of things existing in the [Rural] Health Retreat. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 1

I am far from feeling that there is a proper education being given to those who are now under drill upon subjects of physiology, and while I know there is a want of refinement and delicacy with you both, I am greatly alarmed. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 2

Dr. Caldwell, you desired to read to me some things in regard to sexual practices of married people. I have not encouraged it. I have taken the position that the least possible familiarity that could be encouraged in conversation between men and women, especially [between] physicians and young girls, on these subjects, the better, 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 3

In many things in regard to these subjects, ignorance is bliss. I know it is not productive of pure thoughts and chaste conduct, by the confessions that have been made to me, that every girl and woman should make it a common matter of thought and conversation, even with medical men. The very first impure thoughts and practices commenced with the free common talk upon these things. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 4

I knew, Dr. Caldwell, that, as a practicing physician, you needed far greater refinement and delicacy than you possess. I do not doubt but that you think it is best that others should become acquainted with all that you know in regard to these delicate subjects, but I differ with you. I fear through their education and training, young girls now attending our school will be left in a more dangerous condition in thought and in regard to temptations than when they came to the Health Retreat, for the reason that you both, Dr. Caldwell and Dr. Gibbs, are not as reserved and elevated on these points as you ought to be. I cannot sanction this kind of (I call it indelicate and familiar) talk and attitudes and practice. There is not that natural dignity clothing your words or your practice that there ought to be. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 5

The association of Dr. Caldwell with Dr. Gibbs will not have an elevating influence in the very points upon which he needs to possess dignity and reserve. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 6

Your medical knowledge in regard to delicate subjects is not to be made so common as you make it. I was, Dr. Caldwell, shocked to hear you converse as you did before _____ in regard to the birth of your child. You went on to state all the particulars to a young, unmarried girl. With her it might do no positive harm, as her interest and her work had been in this line of preparing matter for medical journals. In Europe familiarity on these subjects is far more common than in America. But this talk would do harm to some, and you know not who. This conversation has not increased my confidence in you as a wise manager in these matters. I have some knowledge of your dangers and of your want of dignity and reserve in your conversation, and your familiarity toward young women and married women is not as it ought to be. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 7

We are living in a time when the world is represented as in Noah’s time and as in the days of Sodom, and I am constantly being shown the dangers of this time to which youth and men and women who have reached manhood and womanhood, and also of men and women of mature years are exposed, and I dare not hold my peace. There is need of greater refinement both in thought and association. There is need of Christians being more elevated and delicate in words and deportment. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 8

The work of a physician is of that character that, if there is a coarseness in his nature, it will be revealed. I cannot consent for Dr. Caldwell or Dr. Gibbs to take charge of the Health Retreat unless there is a higher, purer atmosphere surrounding them. Strive to meet a higher standard. Be refined in your expressions and avoid all commonness in conversation. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 9

I cannot admit a possibility of men in such sacred trust in the institution, professing to believe the truth, but possessing so [few] high and holy thoughts and practices in your profession. If you did not claim to be Sabbathkeepers or Seventh-day Adventists, then I should not feel so great danger of your misleading others and putting a reproach upon the truth. But I am exceedingly troubled. It is painful to think that this common, low, cheap conversation and familiarity shall get standing for one moment in our institution. Remember that the people of the world are sharp and critical. Every patient you treat is reading the tone of your morals and the traits of your character by the way you talk and by your actions. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 10

Always feel that it is a sacred thing to preserve the privacy of persons who feel that they must submit to an examination. The manner in which you do this work may be of that character to inspire confidence in you, or disgust with you and hatred of you. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 11

Women should be educated to a high intelligence to work for women, men to work for men. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 12

I cannot express to you the burden I feel, the distress of mind I am under. I am at times overwhelmed at the revelations of immoral practices among us as a people. I feel the remorse as if I myself were guilty. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 13

I was taken through the rooms where you were performing your work as physicians in delicate cases. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 14

I was shocked with the careless familiarity of the works and words of those associated with you, all unnecessary. I had less confidence in you both than I had heretofore as wise, dignified physicians. I am compelled to say that if our institution is to be molded after this order of your influence, it will become such as God will frown upon. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 15

You have lessons to learn that unless you do learn, you will never give the right mold to youth, and there will be a commonness, a cheapness and want of refinement with our youth and the workers in the institution that it would be better if it were burned to the ground. You both need to leave a different stamp of character. You need more refined delicacy of thought, to be more, very much more select in your words. You need sanctified minds and sanctified hearts and refinement of manners. Your work has a natural tendency to lower your estimate of women, and unless there is the cultivation of refinement and delicacy in you both, and strict purity of thought, you will be an offense to God; for you will break down the barriers of delicacy and bring in a forwardness, a boldness of speech, a coarse, common state of actions, and create thoughts and impure practices that the inexperienced youth would be led astray in these very things, to their ruin. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 16

I see no necessity in physicians coming down in the least to any low, undignified management, even if you are physicians. I make my protest against this kind of work, and if there is not an entire and decided reform in these things, then we must consider your hopelessly defective, and we must seek other physicians. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 17

We cannot, we will not, tolerate anything of the looseness that savors of immorality. I know what I am talking about, and I will not for one moment sanction any course of action that will leave impressions upon minds that may be carried away and reported to others, that which the physicians said or did, which will place a blot upon them or the institution. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 18

The standard must be elevated and kept up, and not allowed to be lowered in the least degree. There must be a work done for you both, which you may not or do not now think essential. You must see and feel your need of the Spirit of Christ every day. Your tastes, your habits, your practices, must be Christlike. In word and in deportment, show ever that you are refined Christian gentlemen. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 19

If your hearts are sanctified, if Jesus is in all your thoughts, there is then no danger to be apprehended. The result of pure and undefiled religion in the heart will be to change the whole character. If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. We will not, must not, be double-minded, unstable. The renewing grace of Christ renounces everything bad in action, in emotion, in thought. That which was good is purified from its selfishness and every taint of impurity. There is a decided change in the whole life. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 20

If a brackish fountain has suddenly lost its bad qualities, the change will be discovered in the purity and sweetness of the streams that flow from it. There is a great responsibility resting upon Seventh-day Adventist physicians. This field is a peculiar one. He is sowing on the field of hearts, and he is to be careful whether the seed sown on the varied soil be pure wheat or foul grain, whether it is thorns sown or unadulterated wheat, whether the thirty, sixty, or one hundredfold to the reaper be pure grain or mingled with thistles and thorns, only fit to be burned. This matter demands your serious consideration. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 21

No doubt your work leads to a depreciation of human beings, but remember that Christ considered them of great value, that He gave His life to save them from eternal ruin in the place of making the physician more careless as he ... [word(s) missing]. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 22

Brethren, there is ever to be a secrecy maintained and honorably preserved between men and women. Let it be considered that Satan is ever at work to demoralize, and all that is necessary to bring the soul into a condition of weakness is to break up the pure home associations. Let them—men, women, or youth—escape from the accustomed influences which hold power over them to preserve virtue and strengthen its power to resist temptation and nourish the religious life, and they will more readily become the prey of their own evil propensities through the demoralizing influences that assail them from without. Impure influences are lurking everywhere, ready to seize upon any victim that gives them any chance by word or deportment, to make advances. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 23

Some who have observed decorum, and appear exemplary young men or women at home, when in summer travel or even in such a place as the Rural Health Retreat, break down the barriers of propriety, show great familiarity, and those even who are in offices of trust in churches, in our institutions forget their high calling, become boyish, hilarious; the cords of the moral nature regarded and kept straight under other circumstances are broken when brought in certain relations bearing upon certain things. The soul, like the body, lives and grows upon that upon which it feeds. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 24

Young men and young women who go to health resorts or boarding places find themselves in new conditions. The restraints of home are removed, and they plunge into various forms of sin. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 25

The injunction of Peter is, “Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge.” [2 Peter 1:5.] But there must be a living connection of the soul with the virtue of God, then with the fear of God before it, the mind is prepared for knowledge. Learning we cannot, dare not demerit, but I must say that, disconnected from God it has stood in the way of men and women really valuing the power and purity and glory of the divine power as much as it has contributed to it. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 26

Now I come directly to the inculcation of knowledge of physiology. Were individuals to give themselves up to the decided aim to practice medicine, then the unfolding before the mind of the character of the abuses of private life and the actualities they will have to become acquainted with in sinful indulgences and in the abuse of the organs of the body in secret vice and in many ways that demoralize the soul and spirit and body may be essential. The young women and young men who listen to lectures which open before them the secrets of the most private subjects need all the while an influence surrounding their souls that is firm, ennobling, elevating, constantly exerting its place upon them. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 27

Both women and men have a knowledge that each knows what the other knows, and the barrier is broken down. If the knowledge is strictly guarded and bound about, if there is not manifest a willingness to dwell upon these subjects, [that is best, but if they are] putting the matter before them in its worst bearings, in not very select language, then they are far better off without this instruction. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 28

The Bible speaks upon the subject of the [word(s) missing] of women as being attended by women, and thus it ought always to be, women educated and qualified just as thoroughly as possible to become practitioners in the delicate diseases which afflict women, that their secret parts shall not be exposed to the notice of men. And then women physicians should utterly refuse to look upon the secret parts of men. There are men physicians, plenty of them, who can be called to the treatment of men patients, but it is not as easy for a woman to obtain a skillful practitioner of her own sex. This ought not to be. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 29

There should be a much larger number of lady physicians educated not only as trained nurses, but as physicians. It is a most horrible practice, this revealing the secret parts to men, or men being treated by women. Let men know they must go to those of their own sex, and not apply to lady physicians. It is an insult to women, and God looks upon these things of commonness with contempt. These things need to be adjusted. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 30

While men are called to talked in regard to purity, why not practice that delicacy which is a constant lesson in practical purity? Women may do a noble work as practicing physicians, but when gentlemen would solicit a lady physician to examine and practice for them, which demands the exposure of private parts, let her refuse decidedly to do this kind of work. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 31

There is very much which may be said to arouse the moral sensibilities that will aid the hearers in keeping up a balance between the physical and mental powers and so fasten truth and their obligations to their Creator in their minds that they will see and sense their accountability; and not only the institution will be benefitted, but the world will be benefitted by the existence of such an institution. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 32

Then, physicians should practice what they teach. They should teach that by studying after nine o’clock, there is nothing gained but much lost. Teach and practice that the time can be systematically employed, one duty after another attended to promptly, not allowed to lag, so that midnight hours will not have to be employed in laborious studies. I know from the testimonies given me from time to time for brain workers that sleep is worth far more before than after midnight. Two hours’ good sleep before twelve o’clock is worth more than four hours after twelve o’clock. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 33

There is a large field for you to work in. Both of you can give short lectures in the parlor at stated times, which will be select but plain, upon the human body and how to treat this wonderful house the Lord has given us, which will aid you in your work as physicians as nothing else can. The people are ignorant, and need to be enlightened on almost every point of how to treat their own bodies. Then there will not need to be a dwelling upon the delicate diseases near as much. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 34

Tell those who are sick that if the hosts of those who are dyspeptics and consumptives could turn farmers they might overcome disease, dispense with drugs and doctors, and recover health. But farmers themselves must get educated to give heed to the laws of life and health by regulating their labor, even if there is some loss in their grain or the harvesting of crops. Farmers work too hard and too constantly, and violate the laws of God in their physical nature. This is the worst kind of economy. For a day he may accomplish more, yet in the end he is a loser by his ill management of himself. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 35

Every day the people, be they few or many, need to be enlightened how to take care of themselves. To subject one’s self to a severity of labor which is constantly straining the physical power of endurance, the constitution cannot endure; it is a violation of physical law which sooner or later will bring its pain of penalty according to the transgression. Talk to them in regard to the necessity of resting after eating. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 36

The ignorance is lamentable upon the matter of the digestive process. Rapid eating should be condemned. The food is to be masticated and thoroughly mixed with the saliva in order to do the good that nature designed it should. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 37

Physical as well as mental workers should take a much longer time to eat than they generally allow; then one hour spent after eating, upon matters which are of little more consequence than to interest or amuse, before they subject themselves to hard labor again. He will be more able in one month if he strictly adheres to all the principles involved in healthful living, than if he occupied every moment of his time before eating and after eating. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 38

They hurry down a hearty dinner, then go in to work while all the nervous energies are needed in the digestive process, and they force these powers away from their legitimate work and duty to the muscular system, and at the close of the day they are exhausted and overdone. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 39

Oh, how much might be done in educating, giving short talks! I need now dwell on these points. You can take the matters up and carry them through and leave the best impression on minds if you will put your mind to the kind and quality of work to be done. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 40

You can make up a lecture in regard to the prevailing vices and purity of character which will create in those who listen, lustful thoughts which lead to lustful practices. [Or] you can, from a pure, sanctified heart, present your lessons in a manner that will be elevating and which will make sin appear exceeding sinful and disgusting. 5LtMs, Lt 85, 1888, par. 41