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Nicene and Post-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     

29. The simple explanation of my own opinion in reference to the passage I stated before in these words:

“Taking the simple sense of the words, we have a command, following on the precept of mutual kindness between man and wife, that we should nourish and cherish our wives: that is, that we should supply them with the food and clothing which are necessary.”

This is my own understanding of the passage. Consequently, my words imply that all that follows after and might be brought up against me must be understood as spoken not as my own view but that of my opponents. But it might be thought that my resolution of the difficulty of the passage is too short and peremptory, and that it wraps the true sense, according to what has been said above, in the darkness of allegory, so as to bring it down from its true meaning to one less true. I will therefore come nearer to the matter, and ask what there is in the other interpretation with which you need disagree. It is this I suppose, that I said that souls should cherish their bodies as men cherish their wives, so that this corruptible may put on incorruption, and that, being lightly poised as upon wings, it may rise more easily into the air. When I say that this corruptible must put on incorruption, I do not change the nature of the body, but give it a higher rank in the scale of being. And so as regards what follows, that, being lightly poised as upon wings, it may more easily rise into the air: He who gets wings, that is, immortality, so that he may fly more lightly up to heaven, does not cease to be what he had been. But you may say, I am staggered by what follows:

“Let us men then cherish our wives, and let our souls cherish our bodies, in such 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 like the angels, may begin to be on earth what it is promised that we shall be in heaven.”

You might justly be staggered, if I had not, after what goes before, said “We may begin to be what it is promised that we shall be in heaven.” When I say, “We shall begin to be on earth,” I do not take away the difference of sex; I only take away lust, and sexual intercourse, as the Apostle does when he says, “The time is short; it remaineth therefore that those who have wives be as though they had none;” and as the Lord implied when, in reply to the question of which of the seven brothers the woman would be the wife, he answered: 3055 “Ye err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God; for in the resurrection they shall neither marry nor be given in marriage: but they shall be as the angels of God.” And, indeed, when chastity is observed between man and woman, it begins to be true that there is neither male nor female; but, though living in the body, they are being changed into angels, among whom there is neither male nor female. p. 498 The same is said by the same Apostle in another place: 3056 “As many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ. There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”



Matt. xxii


Gal. 3:27, 28

Next: To the charge of reading secular books I reply that I remember what I learned in youth.