View Of Marriage And Sexuality Theology Religion

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When one examines the early church ‘s position of matrimony and gender, one enters into a complex universe. General statements are hard to do, and one makes them at one ‘s ain hazard. Even within the New Testament there are many positions of matrimony and gender, which could be marshaled to back up a multiplicity of positions, even contradictory 1s. For case, one can confirm the goodness of matrimony by stressing Jesus ‘ words of Matthew 19:5 and Mark 10:8, which defend the legitimacy of matrimony and the bastardy of divorce. [ 1 ] Similarly, one can indicate out that in John 2:1-10 Jesus visits a nuptials banquet and execute his first miracle by transforming H2O into vino thereby non merely blessing the nuptials ceremonial, but besides kick offing an age of copiousness. [ 2 ] One can even mention to the book of Revelation, which depicts Jesus as the groom of the church in an eschatological nuptials. [ 3 ] When one adds the Hebrew Bible, the positive image for gender and matrimony is even stronger. [ 4 ]

However, this image is non the full narrative. One is able to foreground many other transitions in the New Testament and come to a diametrically different decision. A twosome of logical tax write-offs and illations can take a individual on an ascetic path. Did non Jesus talk about denying oneself to follow him? [ 5 ] And did non Paul province that it is better to stay in a province of virginity, even if it is permitted to get married? [ 6 ] Furthermore, Jesus even leaves open the chance of taking to be a eunuch for the land of God. [ 7 ] If one takes these words at face value, those who give up matrimony are in some sense better. This is exactly the ground why “ [ subsequently ] monastics ever looked back to the apostolic Church as the beginning of their manner of life. “ [ 8 ]

If one were now to see non-canonical texts, the image would look about hopelessly complex, non in the least, because in the early church the canon was a fluid construct. For illustration, Bentley Layton writes, “ Since there is nil particularly sectarian about the Thomas Bible, it must hold been a portion of the normal canon of Bible read by Mesopotamian Christians in the 2nd and early 3rd centuries. “ [ 9 ] I am certain that systematic theologists and historiographers can harmonise these texts, but I am besides certain that they will come to different decisions, which is the point. The position of matrimony and gender in the ancient church is a complex one.

Notwithstanding this complex image, there does look to hold been a alteration in position and pattern of matrimony in the history of the ancient church. The thought of virginity and asceticism began to turn. As Wayne Meeks says, “ Christianityaˆ¦democratized asceticism. “ [ 10 ] In other words, the chorus of the antediluvian anthem, “ I keep myself pure for thee, O Bridegroom, and keeping a lighted torch I go to run into thee, ” [ 11 ] is in some ways different from Jesus ‘ apprehension of matrimony. More pointedly, the narrative of a “ monastic who dipped his cloak into the putrefying flesh of a dead adult female, so that the odor might ostracize ideas of her, ” [ 12 ] must be judged as going from the pattern of the earliest Christian communities.

The purpose of this paper will non be to offer an account for the rise of virginity in the ancient church ; it is much more modest. The end of this paper will be to analyze one figure of the ancient universe, Clement, and his position of matrimony and gender. I have chosen Clement for two grounds. First, Clement is a transitional figure in the rise of ascetic positions of matrimony in the church. It is clear from Clement ‘s Hagiographas that he is contending on two foreparts – non merely against those who claim freedom from morality, but besides those who disparage and reject matrimony wholly. [ 13 ] Therefore, an scrutiny of Clement ‘s plants may uncover penetrations into the battles of the church ‘s apprehension of matrimony and gender. Another benefit of analyzing Clement is that he is steadfastly rooted in Classical civilization. Even a cursory glimpse at Clement ‘s Hagiographas will demo a individual who possesses equal installation in utilizing Homer, Plato, Philo and Christian literature. Therefore, an scrutiny of Clement may offer understanding on how the Greco-Roman universe contributed, if at all, to the rise of ascetic patterns in the church. In position of these points, subdivision two of this paper will analyze Clement ‘s apprehension of matrimony and gender. Section three will offer a few remarks on the rise of virginity in the church.

2. Marriage and Sexuality in Clement

Even before one considers Clement ‘s position of matrimony and gender, the first point to emphasize is that Clement did non denounce matrimony or sex ; he merely regulated it. [ 14 ] In fact, the many ordinances that are found in Clement are likely the most conspicuous characteristic of his work. Clement has guidelines for everything. He remarks on nutrient, drink, table manners, bearing, slumber, laughter, and even vesture. This subdivision will concentrate on Clement ‘s apprehension of matrimony and sex. More peculiarly, this subdivision will concentrate on three inside informations: when one should prosecute in sexual intercourse ; with whom one should mate ; and eventually the proper mode of sexual activity. [ 15 ]

a. When

Clement offers two guidelines refering appropriate times for sexual intercourse. First, he states that the lone proper clip for sexual intercourse is after matrimony ; anything prior to this, he states, is fornication. Second, even within the bonds of matrimony, he states that there are appropriate times for sexual intercourse.

Clement ‘s get downing point in his treatment of gender in the Paidogogos is that sexual intercourse is confined to marriage entirely. “ It remains for us now to see the limitation of sexual intercourse to those who are joined in marriage. “ [ 16 ] This point may look excessively obvious to do ( what else would a church leader propose? ) . However, it must be stated, that there were certain Christian groups that did non keep on to marriage and monogamy as the instructions of Christianity. For illustration, Clement argues against the positions of Carpocrates and Epiphanes, which province that wives should be held in common. [ 17 ] He non merely ridicules their apprehension of Christian philosophy, but besides seeks to take them from the family of the church. “ How can this fellow still be listed in our church members ‘ registry when he open does off with the Law and Gospels alikeaˆ¦ ? “ [ 18 ] For Clement adulterous sex is condemnable and does suit the character of a Christian. From this point, Clement begins to pass proper sexual etiquette for the Christian.

The first point is that even within matrimony there are times of continency. A twosome may wish to forbear voluntarily from sexual dealingss for the interest of giving themselves to God in supplication. [ 19 ] Clement sees this act as baronial, non merely because Paul offers this advice in 1 Corinthians 7:5, but besides because times of entire continency offers exercise in self-denial. Clement writes, “ It is a lesson in self-discipline if physical brotherhood, ‘is given a remainder by understanding to let clip for supplication. ‘ ” [ 20 ] However, it should be added that these times of continency are non to be ageless. Marriages should seek to reproduce. But even when a twosome seeks to reproduce, they must maintain in head that certain times of the twenty-four hours are better than others.

For Clement, the best clip for sexual activity is during the dark, a small after dinner. The idea of sex during the forenoon hours or twenty-four hours is inappropriate. Harmonizing to Clement, twenty-four hours should be reserved for work, and nil should impede this fact. He writes:

Those whom nature has joined in marriage need the Educator that they might larn non to observe the mysterious rites of nature during the twenty-four hours, nor like the cock copulate at morning, or after they have come from church, or even from the market, when they should be praying or reading or executing the good plants that are best done by twenty-four hours. In the eventide, after dinner, it is proper to retire after giving thanks for the good things that have been received. [ 21 ]

More to the point, the loss of one ‘s sperm or seed during intercourse may render a individual weak and hence uneffective for the remainder of the twenty-four hours. This seems to be Clement point when he states, “ aˆ¦ those who pattern abstention while prosecuting in competitions get the best of their oppositions ; while animate beings are easy captured if they are caught at and all but torn from sexual intercourse, because so they are wholly emptied of strength and energy. “ [ 22 ]

Clement ‘s plan of sex instruction does non halt here. Even within acceptable times of sexual activity, he states that one must ne’er bury modesty and self-denial. He severely warns that dark must ne’er be a screen for unchecked passion, because undue passion can turn “ matrimony into fornication. “ [ 23 ] More significantly, Clement adds that there is an all-seeing God that watches over the sleeping room. “ aˆ¦the eyes of the Most High are far brighter than the Sun, lay eyes oning all the ways of work forces and looking into the most concealed parts. “ [ 24 ] In short, for Clement sexual intercourse is an activity that should take topographic point within the bonds of matrimony, with a temperament of gratefulness and control, without passion or pleasance, and during the dark.

B. With Whom

Refering the inquiry of with whom one should hold sex, Clement argues that sex is merely appropriate in the context of matrimony for the intent of reproduction. He comes to this decision from the observation of nature and Godhead disclosure. Clement opens chapter 10 of Paidagogos with an drawn-out metaphor of seeding seeds. [ 25 ] He uses this metaphor to do several points, but his dominant focal point is on the importance of seeding seeds in appropriate countries, viz. , fertile evidences. Clement argues that what is true of nature should besides be true of human gender. He states:

Now, non every land is suited to the response of seed, and, even if it were, non at the custodies of the same husbandman. Seed should non be sown on bouldery land nor scattered everyplace, for it is the primary substance of coevals and contains imbedded in itself the rule of nature. It is undeniably irreverent, so, to disgrace rules of nature by blowing them on unnatural resting topographic points. [ 26 ]

Clement draws two decisions from this illustration. First, sex should be for the intents of reproduction merely. Any other usage of sex must be out ( such as for pleasance ) . Second, homosexualism is an aberrance of the natural order, and hence must besides be rejected. Harmonizing to Clement, both sexual intercourse for pleasance and homosexualism are tantamount to blowing one ‘s seed on sterile land. From these general rules, Clement proceeds to do more specific remarks.

Clement straight states that anal sex is contrary to nature by the really fact that body waste is made to come out of this opening. In fact, harmonizing to Clement, assorted other transitions of organic structure confirm this same point.

Yet, nature has non allowed even the most animal of animals to sexually misapply the transition made for body waste. Urine she gathers into the vesica ; undigested nutrient in the bowels ; cryings in the eyes ; blood in the venas ; wax in the ears, and mucose in the olfactory organ ; so, excessively, there is a transition connected to the terminal of the bowels by agencies of which body waste is passed away. [ 27 ]

For Clement there is merely one decision, “ aˆ¦we must reprobate buggery, all bootless sowing of seed, any unnatural methods of keeping intercourse and the reversal of sexual function in intercourse. “ [ 28 ]

Clement does non halt at this point. In fact, his philippic against homosexualism picks up steam. Harmonizing to Clement, if nature taught against homosexualism, so the Hebrew Bible did so even more. Through an allegorical reading of Deuteronomy 14:7, Clement states that Moses ‘ dietetic Torahs were instituted to guard against homosexualism. Harmonizing to Clement the prohibition of eating hyaena was due to the fact that the hyaena possessed an gap in forepart of the anus, closely resembling the female sex organ in form, which besides had no functional intent other than to fulfill sexual wantonness. [ 29 ]

This [ gap ] is a feature of both male and female hyaena, because of overactive unnatural gender ; the male lies with the male so that it seldom approaches the female. For that ground, births are infrequent among hyaenas, because they so freely sow their seed reverse to nature. [ 30 ]

So, for Clement hyaenas are an illustration of both unchecked sexual activity, and unnatural homosexualism. Refering the prohibition of the hare, Clement states that the hare is a premier illustration of hyper-sexuality due to the fact that the hare has a dual uterus. [ 31 ] Furthermore, the emptiness of the uterus causes a deep lecherousness for more sex. Hence, harmonizing to Clement, Moses prohibited the feeding of hares, because these animate beings are characterized by “ violent sexual urges, and intercourse in excessively frequent sequence, ” [ 32 ] which may take a individual to hold “ dealingss with a pregnant adult female, paederasty, criminal conversation, and obscenity. “ [ 33 ]

At this occasion, one concluding point must be underlined. Clement ‘s sex instruction did non merely condemn homosexual patterns, but besides affirmed the importance of monogamous relationships within matrimony. To utilize the fable of the sower one time once more, Clement states that one must non seed seeds on any fertile dirt, because that dirt may belong to another. In a word, sexual intercourse is merely proper in the context of matrimony. “ Do non touch anyone, except your wedded married woman, because she is the lone 1 with whom it is lawful to bask the pleasances of the flesh for the intents of engendering lawful inheritors. “ [ 34 ]

c. In What Manner

The most interesting facet of Clement ‘s sex instruction is his instructions on the mode in which the act of intercourse should be conducted. Sexual intercourse for reproduction is good merely provided that the act is guided by ground and self-denial. Sexual actions apart from ground are morally condemnable for the Christian. Clement writes, “ It is unmistakably iniquitous to give in to sexual pleasance or to go inflamed by our lecherousnesss or to be overly aroused by our unreasonable desires or to want to disgrace oneselfaˆ¦Against every other kind of self-indulgence the best redress is ground. “ [ 35 ] Again, he states, “ We must maintain a house control over the pleasances of the tummy, and an perfectly sturdy control over the variety meats beneath the tummy. If, as the Stoics Teach, we should non travel even a finger on mere urge, how much more necessary is it that they who seek wisdom control this organ of intercourse. “ [ 36 ]

For Clement this is an of import point, because he believes that the deficiency of self-denial in sexual intercourse carries with it a battalion of other frailties such as gluttony, inebriation, and lecherousness. [ 37 ] In fact, Clement proceeds to province, “ A thousand-and-one like frailties join the company and assistance in set uping a thoroughly dissolute character. “ [ 38 ] In the visible radiation of this, Clement ‘s end is non simply to endeavor against desire, but to seek complete freedom from it – peculiarly, sexual desires. [ 39 ]

At this point Clement states that this triumph over desire is merely possible by the grace of God. For this ground, Clement calls his readers to seek God for strength. “ It is non possible to get this signifier of self-control except by the grace of God. That is why he says, “ Ask, and it shall be granted to you. “ [ 40 ] Clement besides furnishes a practical illustration of the ability to get the better of one ‘s desires by the grace of God – Moses felt no hungriness or thirst for 40 yearss in the presence of God. [ 41 ] For Clement, this is the ideal for the Christian. Therefore, a Christian must ne’er prosecute in intercourse from desire, non even for his married woman. [ 42 ] Discipline, self-denial, and ground must undergird every action.

Within this model, it should non be surprising that Clement repudiates pleasance. The true Christian sage does non happen pleasance in earthly things – gender, nutrient, and other justnesss of life. Harmonizing to Clement:

He, hence, ne’er surrenders himself to the rabble that regulations supreme over the theaters, and gives no entree even in a dream to the things which are spoken, done, and seen for the interest of tempting pleasances ; neither, hence, to the pleasances of sight, nor the assorted pleasances which are found in other enjoyments, as dearly-won incense and smells, which bewitch the anterior nariss, or readyings of meats, and indulgences in different vinos, which ensnare the roof of the mouth, or fragrant corsages of many flowers, which through the senses effeminate the psyche. [ 43 ]

For Clement, many things are acceptable for the Christian – including matrimony and sex. However, there is one grave caution: 1 must non happen pleasance in it. Veronika Grimm provinces, “ Eating, imbibing and marrying are necessary and hence permitted to Clement ‘s Christians every bit long as they do non bask any of it! [ 44 ]

3. Observations

In position of Clement ‘s apprehension of sex and matrimony, two observations can be made. First, Clement is in the inside informations ; he cares about the small things. Second, the same complexnesss that one sees in the New Testament and the early church concerning matrimony are in Clement. Undoubtedly, Clement attempts to maneuver his manner safely between what he deems as the mistakes of asceticism and libertinism, but in the terminal he is slightly inconsistent.

a. In the Detailss

Possibly the most outstanding characteristic of Clement ‘s Hagiographas is his preoccupation with and attending to detail. Practically every facet of a individual ‘s life is addressed. What one chow, how one chow, what one wears, and when one laughs are all of import to the formation of Christian character. For Clement, “ [ Christian character ] is seen in a courtesy expressed in the smallest inside informations of life – in a adult male ‘s pace when walking, in his behavior at repasts, and in ordinary societal contractsaˆ¦ ” [ 45 ] No item is excessively little!

This attending to detail must be seen as a new development within Christian pattern. To be certain, the New Testament and other early Christian literature have bids and exhortations, but they pale in comparing to the figure of exhortations in Clement ‘s work. As Veronika Grimm points out, “ The Jesus of the Gospels provided moral instruction, but he himself did non supply systematic counsel on how to eat decently, how and when to rinse or what apparels to have on. His message of Love did non include learning on how to do loveaˆ¦ ” [ 46 ] The unfortunate consequence of this development is that the monolithic figure of bids curbed one ‘s single freedom. Bing told what to make, how to make it, and when to make it doubtless went a long manner towards a more oppressive signifier of Christian pattern. And what is worse than this is that the private inside informations of the single were now accountable to the ordinance of the church.

The consequence of this unfortunate entreaty to the highest possible authorization for the support of Clement ‘s ain biass, which St Paul himself did non hazard to do when giving his positions on matrimony, was to open up the most intimate portion of an person ‘s life to ecclesiastical examination. [ 47 ]

This new development may hold played an unintentional function in the rise of ascetic sexual patterns in the early church for the simple ground that the actions of a individual are far more regulated than earlier. To be certain, there is nil in Clement that rejects matrimony or sexual intercourse ; on the contrary Clement defends both of these with both cogency and great rhetorical genius. However, his ordinances are unquestionably more rigorous and legion than the authors of the Gospel and Paul. Therefore, aberrant sexual patterns, which included everything except controlled, passionless intercourse, were apt to ecclesiastical animadversion.

B. Tensions Remain

A close reading of Clement ‘s apprehension of matrimony and sex leaves the reader without declaration. One the one manus, matrimony is a good and baronial thing. To bring forth kids is to work with the God, [ 48 ] and to raise a household is an chance to turn in sanctification. [ 49 ] Furthermore, the organic structure is nil to be ashamed of, and sexual intercourse for the interest of reproduction does non sully a individual or endanger a individual from God ‘s favour. In fact, Clement states that celibacy is no better. [ 50 ]

On the other manus, Clement intimates ( inconsistently ) that virginity is better than matrimony. He writes, “ If a individual is traveling to be capable of maintaining his life strict he is traveling to accomplish greater worth for himself in God ‘s eyes since his self-control combines celibacy and reason. “ [ 51 ] Similarly, he writes:

Right mystically and religiously the apostle, learning us the pick which is genuinely gracious, non in the manner of rejection of other things as bad, but so as to make things better than what is good, has spoken, stating, “ So he that gives his virgin in matrimony doeth good ; and he that gives her non doeth better ; every bit far as respects seemliness and undistracted attending on the Lord. “ [ 52 ]

From these words, it is clear for Clement that matrimony is good, but virginity is better. This point is nil new since Paul foremost spoke these words in 1 Corinthians 7:38. [ 53 ] However this point is important in the visible radiation to the Clement ‘s historical context. It is clear from his Hagiographas that Clement is contending against extremist abstainers, who have rejected matrimony and sex wholly. Therefore, his understanding that virginity is better than matrimony could hold merely weakened his statement well. However, he still states that virginity is better. The lone decision that one can do is that Clement truly believed that virginity was better.

This tenseness between virginity and matrimony in Clement is existent. John Ferguson remarks that Clement is non entirely consistent in his positions of matrimony and virginity. [ 54 ] More significantly, Ferguson even goes every bit far as to state that Clement ‘s position of matrimony “ stands closer to the abstainers. “ [ 55 ] If Ferguson is right, which I believe, so Clement ‘s positions can be seen as a measure towards a more stiff and controlled position of gender – a measure compatible with asceticism.

4. Decision

I do non desire to give the feeling that Clement played an indispensable function in the rise of asceticism. He likely did non for three grounds. First, Clement affirmed the goodness of matrimony, and besides fought against extremist abstainers. Second, much of what Clement wrote on matrimony and gender was taken from the general rational surroundings of the clip. In other words, Clement ‘s sex instruction was nil new. [ 56 ] Therefore, if Clement played a function in the rise of ascetic sexual patterns, so did Musonius Rufus. Third, it is non clear how many people read Clement in antiquity. Other church male parents such as Origen overshadowed him. With this said, one may still state that he may hold aided the growing of ascetic patterns in two indirect ways. First, he opened the most intimate inside informations of an person to the eyes of the church. Second, he did non flatly reject the impression that virginity is better, even if he came near. Within this theological matrix, there was small to look into the tide of asceticism, particularly if the church was the one promoting it. Virginity is better.

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