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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 16

Early Church Fathers  Index     

p. 12

Chapter 16.—Of the Violation of the Consecrated and Other Christian Virgins, to Which They Were Subjected in Captivity and to Which Their Own Will Gave No Consent; And Whether This Contaminated Their Souls.

But they fancy they bring a conclusive charge against Christianity, when they aggravate the horror of captivity by adding that not only wives and unmarried maidens, but even consecrated virgins, were violated.  But truly, with respect to this, it is not Christian faith, nor piety, nor even the virtue of chastity, which is hemmed into any difficulty; the only difficulty is so to treat the subject as to satisfy at once modesty and reason.  And in discussing it we shall not be so careful to reply to our accusers as to comfort our friends.  Let this, therefore, in the first place, be laid down as an unassailable position, that the virtue which makes the life good has its throne in the soul, and thence rules the members of the body, which becomes holy in virtue of the holiness of the will; and that while the will remains firm and unshaken, nothing that another person does with the body, or upon the body, is any fault of the person who suffers it, so long as he cannot escape it without sin.  But as not only pain may be inflicted, but lust gratified on the body of another, whenever anything of this latter kind takes place, shame invades even a thoroughly pure spirit from which modesty has not departed,—shame, lest that act which could not be suffered without some sensual pleasure, should be believed to have been committed also with some assent of the will.

Next: Chapter 17

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