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Fake Lao Tzu Quote

"Marriage is three parts love..."

Fake Lao Tzu quote: Marriage is three parts love and seven parts forgiveness of sins.

This is NOT a quote from Tao Te Ching:


"Marriage is three parts love and seven parts forgiveness of sins."






Lao Tzu did not write about marriage and marital love at all. Nor would he be comfortable with the word "sin," which is something closely linked to Christianity. Still, this quote is frequently accredited to him - I fail to see why.

       It is, in fact, from a play called The New York Idea by Langdon Elwyn Mitchell (1862-1935). It premiered 1906, and was published in a book 1908. John, one of the characters of the play, speaks bitterly about his former wife (pages 62-63):


Well, she was an heiress, an American heiress - and she'd been taught to think marriage meant burnt almonds and moonshine and a yacht and three automobiles, and she thought - I don't know what she thought, but I tell you, Mrs. Phillimore, marriage is three parts love and seven parts forgiveness of sins.



Fake Lao Tzu Quotes - Erroneous Tao Te Ching Citations Examined. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Now it's a book, too!

90 of the most spread false Lao Tzu quotes, why they are false and where they are really from. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

       More about the book here.


       This comment about love and sins has been quoted in many books through the years, ascribing it to its proper author. The first book to ascribe it to Lao Tzu, as far as I have found, is Making a Short Speech or Toast from 2016, by Jackie Arnold. I have not been able to check its first edition from 2007, but I assume the quote was there as well.

       The earliest web page I have found accrediting the quote to Lao Tzu is in a comment from February 25, 2011, on a blog post on temptation and sin. It appeared on Facebook for the first time the same year, ascribing it correctly to Mitchell. The following year, on April 26, 2012, the first Facebook post ascribing it to Lao Tzu appeared.

       I am not convinced that ascribing the quote to Lao Tzu originated with Arnold's book, but I have not found any earlier source to it. Why anyone would imagine this to be a genuine Lao Tzu quote remains a mystery.

Stefan Stenudd
September 18, 2020.



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Fake Lao Tzu Quotes - Erroneous Tao Te Ching Citations Examined. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Fake Lao Tzu Quotes

Erroneous Tao Te Ching Citations Examined. 90 of the most spread false Lao Tzu quotes, why they are false and where they are really from. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

       More about the book here.



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