Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
On Marriage and Concupiscence.: Chapter 54
Chapter 54 [XXXII.]—How Marriage is Now Different Since the Existence of Sin.
God forbid that we should say, what this man pretends we say, “Such marriages as are now enacted are the invention of the devil.” Why, they are absolutely the same marriages as God made at the very first. For this blessing of His, which He appointed for the procreation of mankind, He has not taken away even from men under condemnation, any more than He has deprived them of their senses and bodily limbs, which are no doubt His gifts, although they are condemned to die by an already incurred retribution. This, I say, is the marriage whereof it was said (only excepting the great sacrament of Christ and the Church, which the institution prefigured): “For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh.” 2324 For this, no doubt, was said before sin; and if no one had sinned, it might have been done without shameful lust. And now, although it is not done without that, in the body of this death, there is that nevertheless which does not cease to be done so that a man may cleave to his wife, and they twain be one flesh. When, therefore, it is alleged that marriage is now one thing, but might have been another had no one sinned, this is not predicated of its nature, but of a certain quality which has undergone a change for the worse. Just as a man is said to be different, though he is actually the same individual, when he has changed his manner of life either for the better or the worse; for as a righteous man he is one thing, and as a sinful man another, though the man himself be really the same individual. In like manner, marriage without shameful lust is one thing, and marriage with shameful lust is another. When, however, a woman is lawfully united to her husband in accordance with the true constitution of wedlock, and fidelity to what is due to the flesh is kept free from the sin of adultery, and so children are lawfully begotten, it is actually the very same marriage which God instituted at first, although by his primeval inducement to sin, the devil inflicted a heavy wound, not, indeed, on marriage itself, but on man and woman by whom marriage is made, by his prevailing on them to disobey God,—a sin which is requited in the course of the divine judgment by the reciprocal disobedience of mans own members. United in this matrimonial state, although they were ashamed of their nakedness, still they were not p. 306 by any means able altogether to lose the blessedness of marriage which God appointed.
Gen. ii. 24.
Next: Chapter 55
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