Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 31, 1957
NUMBER 38, PAGE 4-5b

Salacious Literature

Arthur W. Atkinson, Jr., Columbus, Ohio

There is an old adage that a "proposition well defined is half proven." The title of our article is not a proposition to be proven but rather a subject to be discussed. However, to understand our discussion we should be well aware of the meaning of the words in the title. We shall use the term "literature" in a colloquial sense meaning, "any kind of printed matter" and include advertising. Salacious means, "having a propensity to venery; lustful." Speaking as plainly as we deem proper, our subject has to do with that type of printed matter which has a definite tendency to produce within the reader an inordinate desire for venery.

This sin is spoken of very clearly in the scriptures as "lasciviousness." It is described as a work "of the flesh" by Paul in Galatians 5:19. You will note in reading this passage that "lasciviousness" is categorized with three other sensual sins. Lasciviousness is defined as that "which tends to promote lewd and lustful emotions."

Other scriptures which have to do with this are Mark 7:22, II Corinthians 12:21, Ephesians 4:19, I Peter 4:3, and Jude 4.

"Salacious literature" produces lasciviousness which in turn brings about uncleanness, adultery and fornication as well as other sins which we do not category as sensual.

All should realize that our hearts or minds determine our conduct. This is a Bible principle which all should know. Proverbs 4:23, "Keep thy heart (or above all that thou guardest) with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." A wiser man than Solomon said: "A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things." (Matthew 12:35.) Paul realized that thoughts were important, thus he writes: "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, . . . honest, . . . just, . . . pure, . . . lovely, . . . of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." (Philippians 4:8.)

All must agree that thoughts are motivated by something. Good things produce good thoughts which result in a good life. Bad or evil things produce evil thoughts which result in an evil life. Salacious literature cannot be expected to produce the type of thinking and life that should characterize a Christian.

Since thinking produces the actions of life we must direct our axe to the root of the matter; that which produces the evil thoughts. Books and magazines are published today by the millions of copies. Some are good; many are bad. Some are worthwhile; many are worth nothing.

One need only walk into a drug store, grocery, news stand, etc., and an abundance of literature confronts him. Some of it is not so easy to recognize. All of it is for sale to whomever has the price of the magazine. This includes the youngest child to the oldest adult. Some salacious material is disguised as "children's literature" when in reality it is not even fit for adult reading.

One of the greatest mediums of spreading salacious literature is the 25 to 50 cent pulp novels available to all on every news-stand. We believe that someone would do a great service to humanity if a complete survey of these novels would be made showing their general content, the influence they could have and have had upon young and old, and their general detriment to the morale of our nation. That they are a detriment can be easily observed. One just needs to look at the pictures on some of the novels, read the suggestive titles, notice the descriptive phrases concerning the content, and it is easily seen that they are not fit for digestion. Recently I was presented with thirteen such novels that had been sold on the news-stands across the nation. They were not presented to me for my personal enjoyment for I do not enjoy reading such filth. However, I did use them to make the following survey:

1. Five of the thirteen had suggestive titles such as "Lament for Four Virgins," and "Memory of Desire."

2. Nine of the thirteen had provocative and lewd pictures such as half nude or fully nude women and men.

3. Ten of the thirteen had suggestive descriptive phrases such as "hot dope .. . . loose women ... . and murder in Reno . . ," "Midnight lovers in a 9 o'clock town" and "Loved my one man — Mistress of many."

4. All thirteen of the novels carried gaudy descriptions of the story and its characters which ranged from indecent to vulgar.

5. That there was illicit love portrayed in all thirteen is easily seen by reading the synopsis of each.

6. Five of the thirteen spoke of violence within the covers of the book. It is very likely that there was violence in more than this number, but we were interested only in what was contained in the descriptive language on the cover or fly-leaf of the books.

7. These thirteen represented six different publishing houses showing that no one publisher has a monopoly on salacious literature.

One of the books has reprints of several reviews of it. One review is significant in that it gives us the purpose of this particular writer, and we can no doubt expect that most other writers have the same purpose. The review says: "Almost all of the principal figures in . . . are outwardly disreputable characters. But the author has matched them so strongly against the bigots and hypocrites of Haviland's society that we see them only as brave and honest human beings." The author thus subtly weaves his story in such a fashion that when it is done the reader sees these disreputable sinners as "brave, honest human beings." The next review says the novel contains "greed, envy, jealousy, gossip, backbiting, . .hate . ..." Are these the characteristics that make these "disreputable characters" "brave and honest human beings"? Sin is sin no matter how subtly a writer may rationalize it.

This is characteristic of much of our literature today. Sin is glorified. The novels are written as though sin was the thing most expected from man and thus should be accepted as "brave and honest." Those who commit murder, mayhem, fornication, adultery, etc., are not punished or looked upon as evil, but are actually elevated to the role of the heroes of the stories. It is no wonder that our moral standards are decaying. It is no wonder that our young are becoming delinquents. It is no wonder that divorce is becoming our national shame. It is no wonder that there are thousands of unwed mothers each year. Here is a part of the trouble — salacious literature. It deceives our youth and corrupts our adults. When a person reads evil he thinks evil and the end result can only be evil action unless the cause is removed and the remedy applied. (More next week.)