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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. III:
Life and Works of Rufinus with Jerome's Apology Against Rufinus.: As to “Men loving their wives as their own bodies.”

Early Church Fathers  Index     

28. The sixth and last point which I am told that he brings against me (that is if my brother has not left anything unreported) is that, in the interpretation of the Apostle’s p. 497 words, 3053 “He that loveth his wife loveth himself, for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as Christ also the church,” after my own simple explanation I propounded the question raised by Origen, speaking his views though without mentioning his name, and saying:

“I may be met by the objection that the statement of the Apostle is not true when he says that no man hates his own flesh, since those who labour under the jaundice or consumption or cancer or abscesses, prefer death to life, and hate their own bodies;” and my own opinion follows immediately: “The words, therefore, may be more properly taken in a metaphorical sense.”

When I say metaphorical, I mean to shew that what is said is not actually the case, but that the truth is shadowed forth through a mist of allegory. However, I will set out the actual words which are found in Origen’s third book: “We may say that the soul loves that flesh which is to see the salvation of God, that it nourishes and cherishes it, and trains it by discipline and satisfies it with the bread of heaven, and gives it to drink of the blood of Christ: so that it may become well-liking through wholesome food, and may follow its husband freely, without being weighed down by any weakness. It is by a beautiful image that the soul is said to nourish and cherish the body as Christ nourishes and cherishes the church, since it was he who said to Jerusalem: 3054

“How often would I have gathered thy children together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings and thou wouldst not;” and that thus this corruptible may put on incorruption, and that being poised lightly, as upon wings, may rise more easily into the air. Let us men then cherish our wives, and let our souls cherish our bodies in a way as that wives may be turned into men and bodies into spirits, and that there may be no difference of sex, but that, as among the angels there is neither male nor female, so we, who are to be the Angels, may begin to be here what it is promised that we shall be in heaven.”


Footnotes

497:3053

Eph. 5:28, 29

497:3054

Matt. xxiii. 37


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