Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
ATHENAGORAS: Chapter XXXIII.—Chastity of the Christians with Respect to Marriage.
Chapter XXXIII.—Chastity of the Christians with Respect to Marriage.
Therefore, having the hope of eternal life, we despise the things of this life, even to the pleasures of the soul, each of us reckoning her his wife whom he has married according to the laws laid down by us, and that only for the purpose of having children. For as the husbandman throwing the seed into the ground awaits the harvest, not sowing more upon it, so to us the procreation of children is the measure of our indulgence in appetite. Nay, you would find many among us, both men and women, growing old unmarried, in hope of living in closer communion with God. 825 But if the remaining in virginity and in the state of an eunuch brings nearer to God, while the indulgence of carnal thought and desire leads away from Him, in those cases in which we shun the thoughts, much more do we reject the deeds. For we bestow our attention, not on the study of words, but on the exhibition and teaching of actions,—that a person should either remain as he was born, or be content with one marriage; for a second marriage is only a specious adultery. 826 “For whosoever puts away his wife,” says He, “and p. 147 marries another, commits adultery;” 827 not permitting a man to send her away whose virginity he has brought to an end, nor to marry again. For he who deprives himself of his first wife, even though she be dead, is a cloaked adulterer, 828 resisting the hand of God, because in the beginning God made one man and one woman, and dissolving the strictest union of flesh with flesh, formed for the intercourse of the race.
[This our Lord commends (Matt. xix. 12) as a voluntary act of private self-devotion.]146:826
[There is perhaps a touch of the rising Phrygian influence in this passage; yet the language of St. Paul (1 Tim. v. 9) favoured this view, no doubt, in primitive opinion. See Speakers Comm. on 1 Tim. iii. 2. Ed. Scribners, New York.]147:827
Matt. xix. 9.147:828
[But Callistus, heretical Bishop of Rome (a.d. 218.), authorized even third marriages in the clergy. Hippolytus, vol. vi. p. 343, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Edinburgh Series.]
Next: Chapter XXXIV.—The Vast Difference in Morals Between the Christians and Their Accusers.
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