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SEX IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE - November / December 2001

A bi-monthly magazine dealing with theology, apologetics, and cultural issues from a Reformational perspective.

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by MICHAEL J . MCCLYMOND Two BecomeThree: P Early Christianity and Protestantism agan Romans were struck by the early Christians’ stringent stance on sexuality. Sex was only for married persons. Marriage was permanent, and divorce was either entirely forbid- den or grudgingly allowed in cases of adultery or abandonment. Although the early Christians did not disapprove of sexuality as such (as did certain Gnostic groups), many were sexual ascetics, suspi- cious of pleasure even in marriage. Clement of Alexandria, writing in about A.D. 200, tells us: “The manwho has taken awife in order to have children should also practice continence, not even seeking pleasure from his own wife, whom he ought to love, but with honorable and moderate desire hav- ing but one intention, children.” Augustine sanctioned and deepened the ten- dency to denigrate the goodness of sexual desire and fulfillment. He intimated that uncontrolled sexual desire (or concupiscentia) is a paramount dan- ger to believers, with the power to derail the Christian’s journey toward holiness. As readers of Augustine’s Confessions will be aware, the sinner- turned-saint wrote from personal experience. Once he had prayed for God to “give me chastity, Procreation in rstandings of Sex NOVEMB E R /DECEMB E R 2 0 0 1 | MODE RN R E FORMAT ION 1 7

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