Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Lt 6, 1888

Knight, Brother and Sister

Healdsburg, California

January 18, 1888

Previously unpublished.

Dear Brother and Sister Knight:

Last evening I returned from St. Helena. I have been having much labor with Sister Harper whose mind has been alienated from her husband through an influence brought to bear upon her by those in Oakland who have moved unwisely in this matter, urging her to obtain a divorce from her husband. Those who have been most active in this matter have not been engaged in doing a work well-pleasing to God. They have brought Sister Harper into a fiery ordeal and said many things that should not have been said and left impressions upon your minds and upon Laura’s mind that are not just to Brother [Walter] Harper or to her. Those who enlisted themselves in this work to separate the two and make of no account the marriage vow had better been reading their Bibles or engaged in praying that the Lord would give them wisdom and pure hearts and clean hands. 5LtMs, Lt 6, 1888, par. 1

Very much has been presented to the dear child in such a perverted and objectionable light that the impression was left on her mind that this marriage was no marriage at all, [nothing] sacred or binding about it. They have left the case of Brother Harper in a most abominable cloud of darkness, which has not been either truth or justice. Were all the reports correct that have been bandied from one to another, this man, accepted by the California Conference as a canvasser and colporteur, is unworthy of any part to act in the cause or in the work of God. To my certain knowledge, some (not all) who had had much to say in this matter, if they were in the same condition as Brother Harper, might be in a more favorable position in the battle with the warfare against the lust of the flesh than they are in today; for unless they shall have the transforming power of God upon their lives and characters, they will not succeed in becoming overcomers. They will be weighed in the balances and found wanting. 5LtMs, Lt 6, 1888, par. 2

Be it understood, I do not advise or sanction the same process that Brother Harper has gone through to arrive at the results that he was desirous to secure, but this action on his part is not a sin which God marks against him. While some men may ridicule and blacken this man, they do not discern that they have been and are guilty of many abominable practices that will, if continued, leave them outside the city of God. The words of Christ should come home with force to those who would throw stones and batter down Brother Harper to discouragement and despair, Let him that is without sin among you cast the first stone. 5LtMs, Lt 6, 1888, par. 3

There are such terrible revelations made to me from men and women, bound by marriage ties, of the defilement of the marriage bed, the abuse of the marriage privileges, that the woman yields her body to administer to beastly passions that are destroying physical, moral, and religious health. The untold misery that women suffer through the uncontrolled passions of sensual minds and hearts, debase both the husband and wife beneath the level of the brute creation, and yet all is done under the garb of Christianity. Brother Harper, if he has done an unwise thing in suffering his body to be mutilated, has not committed a sin for which there is no pardon, but his case stands before God in a light as far removed from the low debasing crimes committed under the marriage vow as light is preferable to darkness. And those who have had so much to say in this case, which has humiliated Laura unnecessarily and laid a heavy cross on her shoulders to carry, will have this work to meet in the judgment. 5LtMs, Lt 6, 1888, par. 4

You have done enough to mar and blight. Had you stood up like a man and like a woman in behalf of the accused and the distressed, you would have met a better record in the books of heaven. We are living in the last days, on the very borders of the eternal world, and now is the time when married men that have wives be as though they had none. The base passions have been indulged and gratified to the expense of health and religion and life itself, and many married men and women will never be accounted worthy to have the pure robe of Christ’s righteousness because they are defiled in heart and in life, they are steeped in defiling sin. 5LtMs, Lt 6, 1888, par. 5

I might write hundreds of pages upon this subject, but I will say, knowing what I do of the truth and how little sanctifying power it has upon human hearts who love base self-indulgences, I would not censure or condemn Brother Harper in his position. How do you know that his case is not much more favorable in the sight of God than the very ones who make his case monstrous? The very ones who would look upon him as unworthy of the companionship of a respectable woman may be far more unworthy of connecting with a woman of elevated character, for they would debase her soul and body. 5LtMs, Lt 6, 1888, par. 6

Perhaps you have not looked upon all sides of this question, but I advise you to say and do nothing more to show your contempt of Brother Harper. Say no more to stir up the mind of Laura. It is your wisdom to keep still. 5LtMs, Lt 6, 1888, par. 7

It is not the worst thing Laura could do to connect in marriage with Brother Harper, unless everyone shall be able to prove him a monster. But he is in many respects a far more conscientious, God-fearing man than the ones who have handled him so roughly, without one thought of the injury they were doing to Jesus Christ in the person of His child. He is not perfect. He has many oddities to overcome, many battles to fight with self, and is in a better condition to become victor now in his present condition than when in the position very many young men are in today, whom you respect, whom you would not injure by word or act. Men do not view things as God views them. 5LtMs, Lt 6, 1888, par. 8

“Thus saith the Lord: Keep ye judgment and do justice; for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil. Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the Lord, speak, saying, The Lord hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a better name than of sons and of daughters.” [Isaiah 56:1-5.] 5LtMs, Lt 6, 1888, par. 9

We see those who claim to believe the truth increasing their family. The father knows that the mother cannot possibly do justice to the children they already have, yet he continues to bring children into the world, giving the mother no time to improve her mind. When he sees her physical strength severely taxed, it does not influence him to reason and to study from cause to effect, knowing the patience of the wife and mother is constantly tried almost beyond endurance with the undisciplined entrance of children for whom she has to care. Finally she drops into an untimely grave, unprepared. 5LtMs, Lt 6, 1888, par. 10

She had no time to read, no time to prepare her mind. She was degraded through the passions of her husband. The children came so fast and so many that she had lost all courage to try to give them that attention which every child should have; therefore, they come up to be a curse to their parents and a curse to society. This work is going on today to a large extent, and professed Christians versed in the truth are doing the greatest injustice to women. 5LtMs, Lt 6, 1888, par. 11

Looking the matter squarely in the face, I think Laura’s case is not the worst that can fall to women. In the providence of God she may make a wise, useful woman. She may make her aims high, she may devote to God her entrusted ability, and she may herself be the means of bringing many sons and daughters to God. 5LtMs, Lt 6, 1888, par. 12

If I had time, I would follow out this important subject to much greater length, but time forbids me to do so. I will say that it would be a far greater disgrace to Laura to obtain a divorce than to quietly stand in her place observing her marriage vows, fitting herself for usefulness, as she was trying to do when the unjust work was begun in Oakland against Brother Harper, which called her away from Healdsburg and threw her into such perplexity and distress that her confusion was so complete that she was in danger of making shipwreck of everything. 5LtMs, Lt 6, 1888, par. 13

I write this to you that you may no longer pursue the same course you have done, but that you may look on all sides of this question and move wisely and intelligently in the fear of God. Help the dear child to lift her cross. Help her to bear it rather than make it more heavy and disagreeable for her. I shall leave this with you, trusting it will change your mind materially. 5LtMs, Lt 6, 1888, par. 14