Monday, March 30, 2015

ANF V: Cyprian? On Chastity

Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 5

Cyprian? Of the Discipline and Advantage of Chastity

Another treatise possibly written by Cyprian, this one on sex. Or at least, not having sex. Before getting to that, the author reminds the reader that it is his job as a preacher to preach the Word of God and encourage his congregation to live in a way that reflects that Word well. "For the danger is all the greater if we know the Lord's will, and loiter in the work of the will of God." Part of this life is chastity. This does not mean absolute abstinence, but rather putting sex in the place God wants it. That is, for singles and for the married it means being content with the sex God has called you to have, whether that means none or just with your spouse. We see this mandate laid down both in the creation order of Genesis and the recreation of God's people in the church through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The author then gives us several examples of chastity, both from Scripture (Joseph) and from the Apocrypha (Susanna). The author likewise notes the connection of chastity to modesty and caution in how we use our eyes and thoughts. These are only accomplished with the help of God working through His Word.

Overall, this is a fine little treatise. And while like many ancient Christian thoughts on sex it sometimes goes to unfortunate rhetorical extremes, by and large it is worth reading and benefiting from.

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