it has competence here in an attempt to answer the question bearing on his moral fitness.
After he had made inquiries as above, he visited a Mr. Carlsen, a New Jersey attorney, and petitioner testified as to the advice given him as follows: 'he thought the best way out of this was a Mexican divorce, and he gave me the address of a Mexican lawyer in New York and told me to go to him. * * * The final result was a Mexican divorce * * * .' I find nothing in the foregoing which would indicate that petitioner is not of good moral character. Obviously, he was making a bona fide attempt to conduct himself within the law. But this is not all. An opinion issued by Attorney General David T. Willentz of New Jersey was introduced in evidence, from which it appears that he has advised those who are authorized to issue marriage licenses as follows: 'When a decree of divorce granted by a court of a foreign nation has been produced to a Registrar, he is under no duty to make further inquiry concerning the same, but should recognize it as valid.' Thus, when petitioner produced his Mexican divorce for the purpose of obtaining a license to marry, the official issuing the same, for marriage purposes, was authorized to recognize the validity of the Mexican divorce and did in fact so recognize it in this case. Upon the presentation of the license to the magistrate who married petitioner to Evelyn M., the magistrate also acted within the sanction of the opinion. To hold that this petitioner is blighted with a bad moral character in thus conducting himself would make it difficult, indeed, not to find that the Attorney General, the licensing official, and the magistrate who aided in the consummation of the marriage contract, were not also of bad moral character.
In considering moral character it is not easy to draw a line between principles which fall in the sphere of the ecclesiastical law and those which are exclusively within the temporal sphere. Moreover, with our traditions and our Anglo-Saxon approach, it is difficult indeed to reason on ethics at all without entering into the sphere of Christian, or biblical ethics, since our laws are so permeated with what Blackstone refers to as the 'Revealed Law,' nor do I believe, where copulation is involved, a satisfactory study can be made in the absence of the Revealed Law. For present purposes we may go back to the subject of adultery, with its highest source in the Decalogue. We learn, from sacred literature, that there were two sets of Commandments engraved on stone at different times, and delivered to Moses and that in a fit of righteous indignation he did 'brake' the first set at the base of Mount Sinai. We have minutes on the subject somewhat analogous to modern committee minutes. They are found in the Book of Exodus, from which it appears that Moses went up into the mountain a second time and was given a second set. It appears that insofar as adultery is concerned the two sets were identical, because of the Lord said to Moses before he handed him the second set, '* * * I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thous brakest.' The point here is, that while adultery was mentioned, fornication was not dealt with either in the original or in the second set of tables. That there was a distinction at that time would seem to appear from Exodus 22.16 dealing with the punishment for enticing 'a maid that is not betrothed,' from which I conclude that fornication was not, and is not today, considered as serious an offense as adultery. Nor does it always and under all circumstances, strike with great violence against the perpetrator's moral character, much depends upon the surrounding circumstances.
Assuming arguendo that the petitioner here is found to have fornicated within the meaning of the law, what of it, can this conclusion, in the realm of the law, be arrived at without carrying the blight of immorality with it? I think it can. The true character of a man is largely, if not entirely, hidden in the secret recesses of his mind. Only by his conduct and by his words are we able to obtain any evidence of it. Moreover, as we have seen the generally accepted rules of morality or ethics fluctuate in each era and the best we can do with the subject is to apply the generally accepted rules of our own day. The statutory words 'good moral character' do not confine us to the eccelesiastical sphere nor yet to the temporal. We may enter the philosophical wherein the two are mingled. See Encyc. Americana Vol. 10 'Ethics' 540 to 546.
At the base of the petitioner's difficulty lies the subject of divorce, fraught as it is with great confusion and uncertainty in these United States and almost totally lacking in unanimity among them. Through it all is woven the ecclesiastical strands of a sacrament and as well the temporal strands of a contract. Looking then to the character of the man, it is noted that he has been governed by a natural desire for the marital relation not altogether from the sex urge but form the yearnings for a home life. These honorable, impelling motives did not carry him so far however, as to desire to fly in the face of the social amenities not to knowingly consent to a conflict with the law. Evidence of this is found in his resort to legal advice where he would be advised not only as to the law but also as to the implications of a Mexican divorce. It appears that he acted on the advice of counsel and whether or not his counsel was in error on the close points involved, he was himself satisfied from the advice received that he was free to proceed as he did. Before one can be said to be of immoral character, a wrongful intent must be found. I find no intent in this petitioner either to violate the law or to violate a moral precept.
The prayer of the petition is granted.