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The Early Church's Views on Sex

Discussion in 'One Bread, One Body - Catholic' started by LilyLamb, Mar 14, 2002.

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  1. LilyLamb

    LilyLamb The Lord is My Shepherd

    never mind then ....
    We teamed up with Faith Counseling. Can they help you today?
  2. Dave Ulchers

    Dave Ulchers Active Member

    OK, let's try it again:

    1) Tertullian and Ambrose

    No cite is given in the quote. A cursory search on the internet returns atheist and Protestant websites making this claim. Nothing in the articles in the Catholic Encyclopedia on these men suggests they supported genocide, even if through chastity. The idea is absurd, if you stop and think about it, so I don't feel much need to research further.

    2) Origen castrated himself

    Dubious. Just because a scandalous story is ancient doesn't make it true. The claim has elements of an Urban Legend, like the story about Mr. Rogers being a sniper in 'Nam. Origen was a guy who found symbolism in everything, so the idea that he would take Jesus's saying about eunuchs literally and castrate himself it so out of character, it sounds true simply for the "no one would make that up" factor.

    For the record, Mr. Rogers was not a sniper in 'Nam.

    3) Adam and Eve

    Yeah, there was a lot of debate in the 4th and 5th centuries about Adam and Eve. I think Gregory claimed than man was simply created out of whole cloth, like the angels, before the fall. Which depending on how literally you take Genesis is a fine way to explain Abel seeming to be the first child born while Cain goes off and lives in a city settles down and marries a person from another lineage. Just one example.

    But, so what? If a minister insists today that Cain married his sister, does that mean his church supports incest?

    4) Jerome

    Nothing about him and thorn bushes either propagating either online. Nothing at newadvent.org.

    I mean, think about this one. How often do you walk by a thorn bush? Are we supposed to believe that Jerome, who traveled and lived in dozens of cities always made sure he was close enough to a briar patch?

    5) Augustine

    Lust always sinful? Sure, sounds like something he'd say. But even Jesus didn't say lust was OK with your spouse.

    6) "througout the Middle Ages"

    I seriously doubt this next statement without any citation. Nor is any good explanation made as to why at some unknown point the Church suddenly changed its teaching to what it is today. Don't tell me the regions most under the sway of Catholicism -- modern Spain, France, and Italy -- just coincidentally speak the Romance languages, from which we get the word Romance. There was plenty of courtly love back then.

    7) 500s

    1200s, as previously mentioned, I'm pretty sure.

    8) Banned sex on some days

    Well, that is a stretch. Half the calendar were Holy Days, which were the equivalent of the Sabbath. During which work was frowned upon, and maybe having too much fun as well.

    Two points: one, I doubt this was taken too seriously, even if it was at some point discouraged. Many Holy Days were feast days and not bad parties I hear tell.

    Two: I'd gladly live in a world where six months of the year are vacation days, even if it meant giving up some nooky.

    9) Aquinas

    Yeah, he said that. "Aliquando etiam bonus dormitat Homerus" -- sometimes even Homer dozes. It is a unitive act as well, of course, in current Catholic teaching.

    10) Luther

    Luther thought breathing through your nose was a sin. He believed man's every waking moment was so sinful that there was nothing he could ever do to stop sinning. His theology follows from this precept this precept of total depravity. Of course, note that he's the only person your author has been able to find a quote for.

    I may not be the first person to point this out, but Luther's teachings were in many ways a break from those of the early church, but often the ignorant atheist will presume more of a straight line, where none exists.
  3. VOW

    VOW Moderator

    Hey, I'm doubled over with laughter over this one. After all that has been thrown around lately about Luther, hearing this just make me crack up. I bet Freud would have had a great time getting Luther into analysis, the way he said everything was rooted in sex.

    Peace be with you,
  4. LilyLamb

    LilyLamb The Lord is My Shepherd


    Okay, so can anyone tell me what how the early church DID view sex??

  5. edjones

    edjones Active Member

    Hebrews 13:4
    Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled:

    1 Corinthians 7:2
    Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

    1 Corinthians 7:4
    The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.
  6. LilyLamb

    LilyLamb The Lord is My Shepherd

  7. Dave Ulchers

    Dave Ulchers Active Member

    The Early Church's view was probably very prudish by today's secular standards. Without birth control, safe abortion, or the many recent cures for STDs, and with the risk of death in child birth, unchastity could be quite deadly and thus frowned upon. Of course, nothing has changed all that much, but there have been some technological innovations.

    Your original post, which I found amusing though I understand why you felt the need to delete it, has an air about it like someone pointing out that the Church Fathers probably walked everywhere they went with the implication they had something against the automobile.

    So, technology confuses things. Today there are places you can't even walk to because the roads ban people without cars! What a world.

    Despite the confusion, there are two ways of looking at right and wrong prior to the recent innovations. Either you say that unchastity is wrong and stone people who get caught in it as an example to others, or you say it is wrong and forgive people. I believe we know which the Early Church practiced. Their views on sex, though probably backed with more religious zeal, probably differed little from the views of most civilized societies for the past 6000 years excepting the last hundred or so, and was as is more typical among such societies monogamous in marriage.

    That's the best I've got. If we forget what life was like in the old days, Hardy's "Jude the Obscure" makes for a good reminder.
  8. patriarch

    patriarch Senior Member

    Obviously the categories, the headings and the words in parentheses are the interpretation of the person who assembled these quotes, not me. I found them assembled on another site. Not all the headings or the words in parentheses seem apt, though it is a fact that the ancients did have oral contraceptives, abortifacients and etc to accomplish the same wickedness at which we are far more adept.


    Oral Sex

    The Letter of Barnabas

    "Moreover, he [Moses] has rightly detested the weasel [Lev. 11:29]. For he means, 'Thou shall not be like to those whom we hear of as committing wickedness with the mouth with the body through uncleanness [orally consummated sex]; nor shall thou be joined to those impure women who commit iniquity with the mouth with the body through uncleanness'" (Letter of Barnabas 10:8 [A.D. 74]).


    "But I wonder why he [the heretic Jovinianus] set Judah and Tamar before us for an example, unless perchance even harlots give him pleasure; or Onan, who was slain because he grudged his brother seed. Does he imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of children?" (Against Jovinian 1:19 [A.D. 393]).


    "For necessary sexual intercourse for begetting [children] is alone worthy of marriage. But that which goes beyond this necessity no longer follows reason but lust. And yet it pertains to the character of marriage . . . to yield it to the partner lest by fornication the other sin damnably [through adultery]. . . . [T]hey [must] not turn away from them the mercy of God . . . by changing the natural use into that which is against nature, which is more damnable when it is done in the case of husband or wife. For, whereas that natural use, when it pass beyond the compact of marriage, that is, beyond the necessity of begetting [children], is pardonable in the case of a wife, damnable in the case of a harlot; that which is against nature is execrable when done in the case of a harlot, but more execrable in the case of a wife. Of so great power is the ordinance of the Creator, and the order of creation, that . . . when the man shall wish to use a body part of the wife not allowed for this purpose [orally or anally consummated sex], the wife is more shameful, if she suffer it to take place in her own case, than if in the case of another woman" (The Good of Marriage 11-12 [A.D. 401]).



    Clement of Alexandria

    "Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted" (The Instructor of Children 2:10:91:2 [A.D. 191]).

    Clement of Alexandria

    "To have coitus other than to procreate children is to do injury to nature" (ibid. 2:10:95:3).


    "God gave us eyes not to see and desire pleasure, but to see acts to be performed for the needs of life; so too, the genital ['generating'] part of the body, as the name itself teaches, has been received by us for no other purpose than the generation of offspring" (ibid. 6:23:18).

    Epiphanius of Salamis

    "They [certain Egyptian heretics] exercise genital acts, yet prevent the conceiving of children. Not in order to produce offspring, but to satisfy lust, are they eager for corruption" (Medicine Chest Against Heresies 26:5:2 [A.D. 375]).


    Contraception/Birth Control


    "[Christian women with male concubines], on account of their prominent ancestry and great property, the so-called faithful want no children from slaves or lowborn commoners, they use drugs of sterility [oral contraceptives] or bind themselves tightly in order to expel a fetus which has already been engendered [abortion]" (Refutation of All Heresies 9:12 [A.D. 225]).


    "[Some] complain of the scantiness of their means, and allege that they have not enough for bringing up more children, as though, in truth, their means were in [their] power . . . .or God did not daily make the rich poor and the poor rich. Wherefore, if any one on any account of poverty shall be unable to bring up children, it is better to abstain from relations with his wife" (Divine Institutes 6:20 [A.D. 307]).

    John Chrysostom

    "Why do you sow where the field is eager to destroy the fruit, where there are medicines of sterility [oral contraceptives], where there is murder before birth? You do not even let a harlot remain only a harlot, but you make her a murderess as well. . . . Indeed, it is something worse than murder, and I do not know what to call it; for she does not kill what is formed but prevents its formation. What then? Do you condemn the gift of God and fight with his [natural] laws? . . . Yet such turpitude . . . the matter still seems indifferent to many men--even to many men having wives. In this indifference of the married men there is greater evil filth; for then poisons are prepared, not against the womb of a prostitute, but against your injured wife. Against her are these innumerable tricks" (Homilies on Romans 24 [A.D. 391]).


    "You may see a number of women who are widows before they are wives. Others, indeed, will drink sterility [oral contraceptives] and murder a man not yet born, [and some commit abortion]" (Letters 22:13 [A.D. 396]).


    "This proves that you [Manicheans] approve of having a wife, not for the procreation of children, but for the gratification of passion. In marriage, as the marriage law declares, the man and woman come together for the procreation of children. Therefore, whoever makes the procreation of children a greater sin than copulation, forbids marriage and makes the woman not a wife but a mistress, who for some gifts presented to her is joined to the man to gratify his passion" (The Morals of the Manichees 18:65 [A.D. 388]).


    "You [Manicheans] make your Auditors adulterers of their wives when they take care lest the women with whom they copulate conceive. They take wives according to the laws of matrimony by tablets announcing that the marriage is contracted to procreate children; and then, fearing because of your law [against childbearing] . . . they copulate in a shameful union only to satisfy lust for their wives. They are unwilling to have children, on whose account alone marriages are made. How is it, then, that you are not those prohibiting marriage, as the Apostle predicted of you so long ago [1 Tim. 4:1-4], when you try to take from marriage what marriage is? When this is taken away, husbands are shameful lovers, wives are harlots, bridal chambers are brothels, fathers-in-law are pimps" (Against Faustus 15:7 [A.D. 400]).


    "For thus the eternal law, that is, the will of God creator of all creatures, taking counsel for the conservation of natural order, not to serve lust, but to see to the preservation of the race, permits the delight of mortal flesh to be released from the control of reason in copulation only to propagate progeny" (ibid., 22:30).


    "I am supposing, then, although are not lying [with your wife] for the sake of procreating offspring, you are not for the sake of lust obstructing their procreation by an evil prayer or an evil deed. Those who do this, although they are called husband and wife, are not; nor do they retain any reality of marriage, but with a respectable name cover a shame. Sometimes this lustful cruelty, or cruel lust, comes to this, that they even procure poisons of sterility [oral contraceptives] . . . Assuredly if both husband and wife are like this, they are not married, and if they were like this from the beginning they come together not joined in matrimony but in seduction. If both are not like this, I dare to say that either the wife is in a fashion the harlot of her husband or he is an adulterer with his own wife" (Marriage and Concupiscence 1:15:17 [A.D. 419]).

    Caesarius of Arles

    "Who is he who cannot warn that no woman may take a potion [an oral contraceptive] so that she is unable to conceive or condemns in herself the nature which God willed to be fecund? As often as she could have conceived or given birth, of that many homicides she will be held guilty, and, unless she undergoes suitable penance, she will be damned by eternal death in hell. If a women does not wish to have children, let her enter into a religious agreement with her husband; for chastity is the sole sterility of a Christian woman" (Sermons 1:12 [A.D. 522]).



    Council of Nicaea I

    "f anyone in sound health has castrated [sterilized] himself, it behooves that such a one, if enrolled among the clergy, should cease [from his ministry], and that from henceforth no such person should be promoted. But, as it is evident that this is said of those who willfully do the thing and presume to castrate themselves, so if any have been made eunuchs by barbarians, or by their masters, and should otherwise be found worthy, such men this canon admits to the clergy" (canon 1 [A.D. 325]).

    John Chrysostom

    "n truth, all men know that they who are under the power of this disease [the sin of covetousness] are wearied even of their father's old age [wishing him to die so they can inherit]; and that which is sweet, and universally desirable, the having of children, they esteem grievous and unwelcome. Many at least with this view have even paid money to be childless, and have mutilated nature, not only killing the newborn, but even acting to prevent their beginning to live [sterilization]" (Homilies on Matthew 28:5 [A.D. 391]).

    John Chrysostom

    "[T]he man who has mutilated [sterilized] himself, in fact, is subject even to a curse, as Paul says, 'I would that they who trouble you would cut the whole thing off' [Gal. 5:12]. And very reasonably, for such a person is venturing on the deeds of murderers, and giving occasion to them that slander God's creation, and opens the mouths of the Manicheans, and is guilty of the same unlawful acts as they that mutilate themselves among the Greeks. For to cut off our members has been from the beginning a work of demonical agency, and satanic device, that they may bring up a bad report upon the works of God, that they may mar this living creature, that imputing all not to the choice, but to the nature of our members, the more part of them may sin in security as being irresponsible, and doubly harm this living creature, both by mutilating the members and be impeding the forwardness of the free choice in behalf of good deeds" (ibid. 62:3).

    John Chrysostom

    "Observe how bitterly he [Paul] speaks against their deceivers . . . 'I would that they which trouble you would cut the whole thing off" [Gal. 5:12] . . . . On this account he curses them, and his meaning is as follows: 'For them I have no concern, "A man that is heretical after the first and second admonition refuse" [Titus 3:10]. If they will, let them not only be circumcised but mutilated.' Where then are those who dare to mutilate [sterilize] themselves, seeing that they drawn down the apostolic curse, and accuse the workmanship of God, and take part with the Manichees?" (Commentary on Galatians 5:12 [A.D. 395]).


  9. cherie

    cherie New Member

    There is nothing evil about sexual intimacy within marriage.
    Anyone who is married, and can honestly say, that the only reason they have sexual relations with their spouse is to bring children into this world,is either lying, or is deluding themselves. It is perfectly natural to desire sexual intimacy with the one we love. Lust is altogether different, it is solely for sexual gratification, it involves no feelings of love for the other person, and no commitment.Many of the so called "saints" in days of old, had serious psychological disturbances, with a warped view of sexuality, and a fear and contempt of women. That is the truth. :wave:
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