Ethics for Young Girls
Young Woman’s Journal, 1900-1901
Lesson 2: The Social Unit
Ethics is the science of right living, yet it is a subject of which the masses of humanity know but little. The spirit of the Lord helps us to understand principles underlying the actions of men and women who live according to ethical laws. When one principle is found, which actuates many people to perform the same kind of act, we may call that principle a general motive of action, and it may be applied to most lives. Let us take a common occurrence for an illustration: Mrs. Jones nurses her baby because it is helpless; Mrs. French nurses her baby because it is helpless; another woman nurses her baby, etc.; another; another; another. From these observations, the general truth, most mothers nurse their babies because they are helpless, is obtained. This performance of duty on the part of the mother is certainly a right action; therefore, from these observations may be deduced an ethical law or principle which all mothers may apply in their lives. The statement of this law is: All mothers should nurse their babies because they are helpless.
It is the object of these lessons on ethics to give laws of right action which are the fundamental principles governing the most perfect lives.
The home is the unit of society; that is, it is the cornerstone of society. A collection of these little units, or families, form a village, town, city. A collection of towns forms a county; a number of counties, a state; a number of states, a country; countries, a continent; continents, the world; all the people in the world form what is known as society, which has its beginning in the unit family. If each of these little units works according to ethical law, society, the whole – made up of families – will very likely work according to the same law. For that reason these lessons will be upon home ethics.
At a certain period in the lives of all normal men and women, the sexes are drawn toward each other with irresistible power. What is the ethical meaning of this? It means simply that the God-given instinct to mate is developing. Why should He desire the union of the sexes? That the race may multiply and replenish the earth.
The young man and woman, after a courtship of happiness, become husband and wife. They are married for life by civil law, which is recognized by governments of all lands. They are married also by God in the Holy Temples. This marriage is binding for this life and for all eternity.
Thus with doubts and perplexities, love and faith, the little unit of society is established. Will it be a unit of peace and love?
The father, by virtue of his God-given rights, becomes the head, or authority of the home.
In each form of government throughout the world, there is but one chief authority. In Salt Lake City it is the mayor; in Utah, the governor; in the United States, the president; in England, the queen; in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the president.
When authority is divided between two heads, things do not get into working order; there is indefiniteness in work; one depends upon the other for the execution of work, and oftentimes neither does it. If you have ever worked on committees, you know how unsatisfactory are the results, unless there is a head to direct matters and apportion the work to be done.
All governments recognize the fact that divided authority is no authority; therefore one person is placed at the head of each department or government.
The same principle holds true in the home; and for that reason God placed husband at the head of the family, and He tells us that we should obey our husbands in righteousness.
As soon as young wives recognize this principle as an ethical law, much of the friction between husband and wife will vanish.
The husband of a strongminded woman once told her that her mother must be sent from his home. What a grief that was to her only a dutiful daughter can know.
It had always been a principle in her life that she must do as her husband desired, so she complied with her husband’s wish, and thereby preserved the unity of the home. Two years after, the husband saw his error and sent for his mother-in-law, and she is now a beloved member of his family. What the results would have been had she not complied with his wishes, we can all imagine.
As these talks are for young girls we will not treat more definitely of ethical relations of husband and wife, but will pass on to the relations between other members of the family. In general terms, however, it may be said, the right relations between husband and wife are based upon the following ethical principles: Trust, confidence, charity, justice; mellowing and beautifying these are love and sympathy.
1. Define ethics as found in dictionaries.
2. What is your definition of ethics?
3. Name five social organizations based on ethics (e.g., the church, school).
4. Do parents ever cease to have authority in the home?
5. Name five duties wives owe their husbands.
6. Name five duties husbands owe their wives.
7. What is law as given in encyclopedias?
8. What is your idea of law?
9. Who is the chief authority in the home? The school? The ward? The state? The Young Ladies’ meetings?
10. What is one duty young ladies owe their presidents? One duty officers in Young Ladies’ meetings owe their presidents?
11. Name one duty that you all owe to those in authority over you.
12. What is the meaning of the word principle?
12. In order that a principle may become a factor in your lives, what must you do in regard to it?