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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
On Marriage and Concupiscence.: Chapter 1

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 1.—Concerning the Argument of This Treatise.

Our new heretics, my dearest son Valerius, who maintain that infants born in the flesh have no need of that medicine of Christ whereby sins are healed, are constantly affirming, in their excessive hatred of us, that we condemn marriage and that divine procedure by which God creates human beings by means of men and women, inasmuch as we assert that they who are born of such a union contract that original sin of which the apostle says, “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for in him all sinned;” 2060 and because we do not deny, that of whatever kind of parents they are born, they are still under the devil’s dominion, unless they be born again in Christ, and by His grace be removed from the power of darkness and translated into His kingdom, 2061 who willed not to be born from the same union of the two sexes. Because, then, we affirm this doctrine, which is contained in the oldest and unvarying rule of the catholic faith, these propounders of the novel and perverse dogma, who assert that there is no sin in infants to be washed away in the laver of regenp. 264 eration, 2062 in their unbelief or ignorance calumniate us, as if we condemned marriage, and as if we asserted to be the devil’s work what is God’s own work—the human being which is born of marriage. Nor do they reflect that the good of marriage is no more impeachable on account of the original evil which is derived therefrom, than the evil of adultery and fornication is excusable on account of the natural good which is born of them. For as sin is the work of the devil, from whencesoever contracted by infants; so man is the work of God, from whencesoever born. Our purpose, therefore, in this book, so far as the Lord vouchsafes us in His help, is to distinguish between the evil of carnal concupiscence from which man who is born therefrom contracts original sin, and the good of marriage. For there would have been none of this shame-producing concupiscence, which is impudently praised by impudent men, if man had not previously sinned; while as to marriage, it would still have existed even if no man had sinned, since the procreation of children in the body that belonged to that life would have been effected without that malady which in “the body of this death” 2063 cannot be separated from the process of procreation.



In quo omnes peccaverunt, Rom. v. 5.


Col. i. 15.


Titus iii. 5.


Rom. vii. 24.

Next: Chapter 2