Three centuries ago, tales of the horrific abuse of young girls and women by male rogues and cads inspired one of the great Christian men of his time to write a book titled Thelyphthora. His name was Martin Madan (b. 1726 – d. 1790). You haven’t heard of him or this book before because Madan prescribed a biblical remedy for the abuse of the fairer and weaker sex by the stronger: polygyny, governed by the regulations contained within the first five books of the Bible, also known as the Torah. The fourth chapter of the first volume of Thelyphthora is a very thorough discussion of polygyny (one husband with one or more wives).
Madan wrote about how his heart broke over and over hearing these stories. He wrote,
That our brothels are filled with harlots, our streets with prostitutes, and our land with umpurity, is too dreadfully true. Magdalens Asylums, and all the kind and benevolent interpositions of public charities, however we may suppose them, with respect to some few individuals, to answer their benevolent designs, are inadequate to the cure of so crying an evil. A tree is not to be destroyed by plucking off a few leaves, or by cutting away here and there a branch; nor can so general an evil, as we have spoken of, be reformed by so partial, so precarious a remedy, as from the […] nature of things, it is in the power Of the best disposed, as matters are now constituted amongst us, to administer.Martin Madan, “Thelyphthora”, Introduction, Loc 421-435 in the Kindle version
The ax [should] be laid to the root – this is the divine wisdom. The truth is, that the evil above mentioned, as all others, arises from true neglect and contempt of the divine law, and the substitution of human laws in its stead. The wisdom and goodness of God, which he has [shewn] in the provision graciously made for the protection and defence of the weaker sex, from the villainy, treachery, and cruelty of the stronger, are disregarded. God’s laws are laid aside, for that system of baseness and barbarity, which permits men, with impunity, first to seduce, and then to betray, to infamy, want, misery, disease, and even death itself in many instances, thousands and tens of thousands of unhappy women, who (were the laws of Heaven regarded, as they ought to be, and made the foundation of our municipal laws) instead of becoming nuisances, and reduced to the […]
The pain in his words echo across the centuries. His heart would have been broken as mine was by reading these stories in this American Thinker article. But he wouldn’t have been surprised. In our day, as in his, the sex traffickers destroy untold number of lives. Law and order (and perhaps extrajudicial operators) may put the surviving perpetrators in prison for a short number of years, but punishing the perps does not do much to helping the victims heal and rebuild their lives. Godly men of sterling character with established families can help these wounded girls and women by marrying them and welcoming them into their own families. This is Madan’s prescription based on reading the Bible.
Madan’s personal commitment to helping the downtrodden ladies of his day was no mere theological exercise. He invested a huge amount of his personal fortune to establish the London Lock Hospital with a women’s section specifically for treating venereal disease. This alone was a ground-breaking ministry to the most needy in society, namely, the ‘have nots’. But Madan didn’t stop there. Trained as an attorney, he worked alongside Charles Wesley as an itinerant evangelist and deep theological thinker. Further, he wrote hundreds of hymns, many of which are still sung in churches today. But, it was his association through the Lock Chapel with the thousands of harlots and prostitutes being treated for disease that he became deeply burdened for these women and their plight.
His study of the Scriptures to understand God’s perspective led him to publish the book that theologians have blackballed. The full title of Thelyphthora, or A treatise on Female Ruin in its Causes, Effects, Consequences, Prevention and Remedy; Considered on the Basis of the DIVINE LAW, gives an idea of how thorough the three volume work is. The problem is the Christian Church wanted nothing to do with what God’s Word actually says on the matter. Madan strongly asserted and defended brilliantly from Scripture that GOD’s solution is polygyny and patriarchy. It is the same solution that Christendom is ignoring today.
While, today, feminism and liberalism defend pornography and sex trafficking as ‘freedom’ and ‘personal expression’, as the American Thinker article decries, the heart of man is no less wicked today than it was in Madan’s day. Just as the Church and the legal system desperately worked to erase Madan and his book from history, they are equally willfully blind in our day to the same self-evident solutions that Madan clearly articulated and defended in his brilliant work for the defense of the defenseless.
It’s easy to sing hymns in church, even those that Madan wrote, or contribute to charities. Signing petitions to shut down such evil organizations as Pornhub is also easy. There are those who are willing to put their careers and lives on the line to catch and prosecute perpetrators. But how many are willing to apply the Biblical remedy to open their hearts (Leviticus 19:16-18) and families to the broken victims of sexual abuse, inside and outside of sexual trafficking, and partner with the Father who is the Judge of widows and orphans (Psalm 68:5), and hears the cries of the bruised and broken-hearted (Psalm 34:18; 147:3)?