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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
On Marriage and Concupiscence.: Chapter 53

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 53 [XXXI.]—Concupiscence Need Not Have Been Necessary for Fruitfulness.

He says: “Therefore that marriage which might have been without concupiscence, without bodily motion, without necessity for sexual organs—to use your own statement—is pronounced by you to be laudable; whereas such marriages as are now enacted are, according to p. 305 your decision, the invention of the devil. Those, therefore, whose institution was possible in your dreams, you deliberately assert to be good, while those which Holy Scripture intends, when it says, ‘Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh,’ 2322 you pronounce to be diabolical evils, worthy, in short, to be called a pest, not matrimony.” It is not to be wondered at, that these Pelagian opponents of mine try to twist my words to any meaning they wish them to bear, when it has been their custom to do the same thing with the Holy Scriptures, and not simply in obscure passages, but where their testimony is clear and plain: a custom, indeed, which is followed by all other heretics. Now who could make such an assertion, as that it was possible for marriages to be “without bodily motion, without necessity for sexual organs”? For God made the sexes; because, as it is written, “He created them male and female.” 2323 But how could it possibly happen, that they who were to be united together, and by the very union were to beget children, were not to move their bodies, when, of course, there can be no bodily contact of one person with another if bodily motion be not resorted to? The question before us, then, is not about the motion of bodies, without which there could not be sexual intercourse; but about the shameful motion of the organs of generation, which certainly could be absent, and yet the fructifying connection be still not wanting, if the organs of generation were not obedient to lust, but simply to the will, like the other members of the body. Is it not even now the case, in “the body of this death,” that a command is given to the foot, the arm, the finger, the lip, or the tongue, and they are instantly set in motion at this intimation of our will? And (to take a still more wonderful case) even the liquid contained in the urinary vessels obeys the command to flow from us at our pleasure, and when we are not pressed with its overflow; while the vessels, also, which contain the liquid, discharge without difficulty, if they are in a healthy state, the office assigned them by our will of propelling, pressing out, and ejecting their contents. With how much greater ease and quietness, then, if the generative organs of our body were compliant, would natural motion ensue, and human conception be effected; except in the instance of those persons who violate natural order, and by a righteous retribution are punished with the intractability of these members and organs! This punishment is felt by the chaste and pure, who, without doubt, would rather beget children by mere natural desire than by voluptuous pruriency; while unchaste persons, who are impelled by this diseased passion, and bestow their love upon harlots as well as wives, are excited by a still heavier mental remorse in consequence of this carnal chastisement.



Gen. ii. 24.


Gen. i. 27.

Next: Chapter 54

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