Skip to comments.THE EARLY CHURCH FATHERS ON SEXUAL SIN...
Posted on 04/07/2013 5:48:06 PM PDT by markomalley
1. The Didache 8. Eusebius of Caesarea
You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not commit pederasty, you shall not commit fornication, you shall not steal, you shall not practice magic, you shall not practice witchcraft, you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill one that has been born (Didache 2:2 [A.D. 70]).1
2. Justin Martyr
[W]e have been taught that to expose newly-born children is the part of wicked men; and this we have been taught lest we should do anyone harm and lest we should sin against God, first, because we see that almost all so exposed (not only the girls, but also the males) are brought up to prostitution. And for this pollution a multitude of females and hermaphrodites, and those who commit unmentionable iniquities, are found in every nation. And you receive the hire of these, and duty and taxes from them, whom you ought to exterminate from your realm. And anyone who uses such persons, besides the godless and infamous and impure intercourse, may possibly be having intercourse with his own child, or relative, or brother. And there are some who prostitute even their own children and wives, and some are openly mutilated for the purpose of sodomy; and they refer these mysteries to the mother of the gods (First Apology 27 [A.D. 151]).
3. Clement of Alexandria
All honor to that king of the Scythians, whoever Anacharsis was, who shot with an arrow one of his subjects who imitated among the Scythians the mystery of the mother of the gods . . . condemning him as having become effeminate among the Greeks, and a teacher of the disease of effeminacy to the rest of the Scythians (Exhortation to the Greeks 2 [A.D. 190]).
[According to Greek myth] Baubo [a female native of Eleusis] having received [the goddess] Demeter hospitably, reached to her a refreshing draught; and on her refusing it, not having any inclination to drink (for she was very sad), and Baubo having become annoyed, thinking herself slighted, uncovered her shame, and exhibited her nudity to the goddess. Demeter is delighted with the sightpleased, I repeat, at the spectacle. These are the secret mysteries of the Athenians; these Orpheus records (ibid.).
It is not, then, without reason that the poets call him [Hercules] a cruel wretch and a nefarious scoundrel. It were tedious to recount his adulteries of all sorts, and debauching of boys. For your gods did not even abstain from boys, one having loved Hylas, another Hyacinthus, another Pelops, another Chrysippus, another Ganymede. Let such gods as these be worshipped by your wives, and let them pray that their husbands be such as theseso temperate; that, emulating them in the same practices, they may be like the gods. Such gods let your boys be trained to worship, that they may grow up to be men with the accursed likeness of fornication on them received from the gods (ibid.).
(NB: If I had gathered these extracts, myself, I would have put something in from Chapter 8 of the above piece in order to make the point:
It is now time, as we have dispatched in order the other points, to go to the prophetic Scriptures; for the oracles present us with the appliances necessary for the attainment of piety, and so establish the truth. The divine Scriptures and institutions of wisdom form the short road to salvation. Devoid of embellishment, of outward beauty of diction, of wordiness and seductiveness, they raise up humanity strangled by wickedness, teaching men to despise the casualties of life; and with one and the same voice remedying many evils, they at once dissuade us from pernicious deceit, and clearly exhort us to the attainment of the salvation set before us.
In accordance with these remarks, conversation about deeds of wickedness is appropriately termed filthy [shameful] speaking, as talk about adultery and pederasty and the like (The Instructor 6, ca. A.D. 193).
The fate of the Sodomites was judgment to those who had done wrong, instruction to those who hear. The Sodomites having, through much luxury, fallen into uncleanness, practicing adultery shamelessly, and burning with insane love for boys; the All-seeing Word, whose notice those who commit impieties cannot escape, cast his eye on them. Nor did the sleepless guard of humanity observe their licentiousness in silence; but dissuading us from the imitation of them, and training us up to his own temperance, and falling on some sinners, lest lust being unavenged, should break loose from all the restraints of fear, ordered Sodom to be burned, pouring forth a little of the sagacious fire on licentiousness; lest lust, through want of punishment, should throw wide the gates to those that were rushing into voluptuousness. Accordingly, the just punishment of the Sodomites became to men an image of the salvation which is well calculated for men. For those who have not committed like sins with those who are punished, will never receive a like punishment (ibid., 8).
[A]ll other frenzies of the lusts which exceed the laws of nature, and are impious toward both [human] bodies and the sexes, we banish, not only from the threshold but also from all shelter of the Church, for they are not sins so much as monstrosities (Modesty 4 [A.D. 220]).2
[God forbade the Jews to eat certain foods for symbolic reasons:] For that in fishes the roughness of scales is regarded as constituting their cleanness; rough, and rugged, and unpolished, and substantial, and grave manners are approved in men; while those that are without scales are unclean, because trifling, and fickle, and faithless, and effeminate manners are disapproved. Moreover, what does the law mean when it . . . forbids the swine to be taken for food? It assuredly reproves a life filthy and dirty, and delighting in the garbage of vice. . . . Or when it forbids the hare? It rebukes men deformed into women (The Jewish Foods 3 [A.D. 250]).3
6. Cyprian of Carthage
[T]urn your looks to the abominations, not less to be deplored, of another kind of spectacle. . . . Men are emasculated, and all the pride and vigor of their sex is effeminated in the disgrace of their enervated body; and he is more pleasing there who has most completely broken down the man into the woman. He grows into praise by virtue of his crime; and the more he is degraded, the more skillful he is considered to be. Such a one is looked uponoh shame!and looked upon with pleasure. . . . Nor is there wanting authority for the enticing abomination . . . that Jupiter of theirs [is] not more supreme in dominion than in vice, inflamed with earthly love in the midst of his own thunders . . . now breaking forth by the help of birds to violate the purity of boys. And now put the question: Can he who looks upon such things be healthy-minded or modest? Men imitate the gods whom they adore, and to such miserable beings their crimes become their religion (Letters 1:8 [A.D. 253]).
Oh, if placed on that lofty watchtower, you could gaze into the secret placesif you could open the closed doors of sleeping chambers and recall their dark recesses to the perception of sightyou would behold things done by immodest persons which no chaste eye could look upon; you would see what even to see is a crime; you would see what people embruted with the madness of vice deny that they have done, and yet hasten to domen with frenzied lusts rushing upon men, doing things which afford no gratification even to those who do them (ibid., 1:9).
[T]he mother of the gods loved [the boy Attis] exceedingly, because he was of most surpassing beauty; and Acdestis [the son of Jupiter] who was his companion, as he grew up fondling him, and bound to him by wicked compliance with his lust. . . . Afterwards, under the influence of wine, he [Attis] admits that he is . . . loved by Acdestis. . . . Then Midas, king of Pessinus, wishing to withdraw the youth from so disgraceful an intimacy, resolves to give him his own daughter in marriage. . . . Acdestis, bursting with rage because of the boys being torn from himself and brought to seek a wife, fills all the guests with frenzied madness; the Phrygians shriek, panic-stricken at the appearance of the gods. . . . [Attis] too, now filled with furious passion, raving frantically and tossed about, throws himself down at last, and under a pine tree mutilates himself, saying, Take these, Acdestis, for which you have stirred up so great and terribly perilous commotions (Against the Pagans 5:67 [A.D. 305]).
NB: Again, I would have added a little bit to the quote that this person used, specifically from later in the letter:
14. What say you, O races and nations, given up to such beliefs? When these things are brought forward, are you not ashamed and confounded to say things so indecent?...
15. We might long ago have urged you to ponder this, were it not foolish to ask proofs of such things, as well as to say them. But this story is false, and is wholly untrue. It is no mat ter to us, indeed, because of whom you maintain that the gods have been driven from the earth, whether it is consistent and rests on a sure foundation, or is, on the contrary, framed and devised in utter falsehood. For to us it is enough who have proposed this day to make it plain that those deities whom you bring for ward, if they are anywhere on earth, and glow with the fires of anger, are not more excited to furious hatred by us than by you; and that that story, has been classed as an event and committed to writing by you, and is willingly read over by you every day, and handed down in order for the edifying of later times....
17. Or if the things which we say are not so declare, say yourselves those effeminate and delicate men whom we see among you in the sacred rites of this deity what business, what care, what concern have they there; and why do they like mourners wound their arms and breasts, and act as those dolefully circumstanced?....
44. But if you come to the conclusion that these fables have been written allegorically, what is to be done with the rest, which we see cannot be forced into such changes of sense? For what are we to substitute for the wrigglings into which the lustful heat of Semele's offspring forced him upon the sepulchral mound? And what for those Ganymedes who were carried off and set to preside over lustful practices? What for that conversion of an ant into which Jupiter, the greatest of the gods, contracted the outlines of his huge body? what for swans and satyrs? What for golden showers, which the same seductive god put on with perfidious guile, amusing himself by changes of form?:that we may not seem to speak of Jupiter only, what allegories can there be in the loves of the other deities? What in their circumstances as hired servants and slaves? What in their bonds, bereavements, lamentations? What in their agonies, wounds, sepulchres? Now, while in this you might be held guilty in one respect for writing in such wise about the gods, you have added to your guilt beyond measure in calling base things by the names of deities, and again in defaming the gods by giving to them the names of infamous things.
[H]aving forbidden all unlawful marriage, and all unseemly practice, and the union of women with women and men with men, he [God] adds: Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for in all these things the nations were defiled, which I will drive out before you. And the land was polluted, and I have recompensed [their] iniquity upon it, and the land is grieved with them that dwell upon it [Lev. 18:2425] (Proof of the Gospel 4:10 [A.D. 319]).
9. Basil the Great
He who is guilty of unseemliness with males will be under discipline for the same time as adulterers (Letters 217:62 [A.D. 367]).
If you [O, monk] are young in either body or mind, shun the companionship of other young men and avoid them as you would a flame. For through them the enemy has kindled the desires of many and then handed them over to eternal fire, hurling them into the vile pit of the five cities under the pretense of spiritual love. . . . At meals take a seat far from other young men. In lying down to sleep let not their clothes be near yours, but rather have an old man between you. When a young man converses with you, or sings psalms facing you, answer him with eyes cast down, lest perhaps by gazing at his face you receive a seed of desire sown by the enemy and reap sheaves of corruption and ruin. Whether in the house or in a place where there is no one to see your actions, be not found in his company under the pretense either of studying the divine oracles or of any other business whatsoever, however necessary (The Renunciation of the World [A.D. 373]).
10. John Chrysostom
[The pagans] were addicted to the love of boys, and one of their wise men made a law that pederasty . . . should not be allowed to slaves, as if it was an honorable thing; and they had houses for this purpose, in which it was openly practiced. And if all that was done among them was related, it would be seen that they openly outraged nature, and there was none to restrain them. . . . As for their passion for boys, whom they called their paedica, it is not fit to be named (Homilies on Titus 5 [A.D. 390]).
[Certain men in church] come in gazing about at the beauty of women; others curious about the blooming youth of boys. After this, do you not marvel that [lightning] bolts are not launched [from heaven], and all these things are not plucked up from their foundations? For worthy both of thunderbolts and hell are the things that are done; but God, who is long-suffering, and of great mercy, forbears awhile his wrath, calling you to repentance and amendment (Homilies on Matthew 73:3 [A.D. 391]).
All of these affections [in Rom. 1:2627] . . . were vile, but chiefly the mad lust after males; for the soul is more the sufferer in sins, and more dishonored than the body in diseases (Homilies on Romans 4 [A.D. 391]).
[The men] have done an insult to nature itself. And a yet more disgraceful thing than these is it, when even the women seek after these intercourses, who ought to have more shame than men (ibid.).
And sundry other books of the philosophers one may see full of this disease. But we do not therefore say that the thing was made lawful, but that they who received this law were pitiable, and objects for many tears. For these are treated in the same way as women that play the whore. Or rather their plight is more miserable. For in the case of the one the intercourse, even if lawless, is yet according to nature; but this is contrary both to law and nature. For even if there were no hell, and no punishment had been threatened, this would be worse than any punishment (ibid.).
[T]hose shameful acts against nature, such as were committed in Sodom, ought everywhere and always to be detested and punished. If all nations were to do such things, they would be held guilty of the same crime by the law of God, which has not made men so that they should use one another in this way (Confessions 3:8:15 [A.D. 400]).
12. The Apostolic Constitutions
[Christians] abhor all unlawful mixtures, and that which is practiced by some contrary to nature, as wicked and impious (Apostolic Constitutions 6:28 [A.D. 400]).
8. Eusebius of Caesarea
I also added a couple of other extracts where I thought it would be a little bit clearer.
exposing a newborn meant leaving it out somewhere to die
And so almost all so exposed (both boy and girl) end up as prostitutes.
(This implies that somebody comes and picks the kid up after the parent leaves him/her out to die)
if they are taken by somene otherwise they die
Justin's point is that if you end up going to a prostitute (after having done such a thing as leaving your own child out to die), how do you know that you aren't doing your own daughter (or, ewwwwww, son)? A grave evil added to another grave evil.
they could also end up slaves or being picked up by somene and crippled on purpose to make into beggars
The Bible plus these statements from the early church fathers prove that there is no such thing as a true Christian church that promotes such vices.
My understanding is the Romans left them on a hill if the father rejected the newborn. The wolves would then devour the newborn. Not sure about the prostitute references.
Nice work. Thanks.
I'm certain that was the intent of the parents.
Justin, who wrote this during the middle of the second century AD, seems to indicate that this was not always the children's fate.
And there is also the sin in the opposite direction, that of certain CFs making the marriage bed unclean under the premise that even all marital relations must involved sexual lust. And then using contrived Scriptural arguments to support this and to denigrate marriage.
Thanks markomalley. bump.
The Spartans of Greece tossed any new-born male child deemed even in the slightest to be less than perfect over the side of a hill. Did other Greeks come along and take these kids?
people in Sparta did not adopt those kids
No, I meant would other Greeks, outside of the Spartans have done so?
Adoption was not uncommon, especially for the Romans who also had this “exposure” crap
#5 was very interesting.....now the leftist Jews still won’t eat pork, but ABORTION and HOMOSEXUALITY is more than Fine, it’s CELEBRATED and people get ELECTED so MORE of these can happen!!!
And while many RCs will invoke mercy for allowing liberal pols to take part in RC Communion, wafer, earlier you had the opposite extreme:
Writing in the middle of the fourth century Basil the Great, the Bishop of Caesarea, describes in great detail the different classes of penitents and the type and length of penance one must undergo for committing any form of sexual sin, murder or apostasy. The following is but one example of many that are given in his writings: The intentional homicide, who has afterwards repented, will be excommunicated from the sacrament for twenty years. The twenty years will be appointed for him as follows: for four he ought to weep, standing outside the door of the house of prayer, beseeching the faithful as they enter in to offer prayer on his behalf, and confessing his own sin. After four years he will be admitted among the hearers, and during five years will go out with them. During seven years he will go out with the kneelers, praying. During four years he will only stand with the faithful, and will not take part in the oblation. On the completion of this period he will be admitted to the sacrament. - Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. VIII, St. Basil, Letter 217, Canon LVI, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955), p. 256.