Essay on The On Asceticism And Sexuality

Essay on The On Asceticism And Sexuality

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In the fourth to fifth centuries, despite a general preference for asceticism among major theologians of the era, differing ascetic messages emerged in theological writing and teaching as the church began to integrate the general populous into the Christian community. This diversity revels the inherent self-contradiction in Christian asceticism in that it requires a denial of the body and renunciation of the flesh, but this teaching needs to be congruous with the inherent goodness of a body created by God that is commanded to “be fruitful and multiply,” and a body that is sanctified by the Incarnation. Jovinian with his resistance to the ascetic ideal and his hierarchy that placed ascetic Christians over those who married and had children is most noteworthy. His teaching on asceticism and sexuality became a defining narrative that forced many ancient authors to address such issues. In this paper, I will elaborate on the position staked out by Augustine in the Jovinian Controversy using his treaties The Excellence of Marriage. In doing so, I will argue that Augustine offers the growing church an alternative view with a more moderate approach to marriage and celibacy than previous theologians had accommodated in an effort to create a more unified church.
The Excellence of Marriage begins with Augustine stating that, “Every human begin is part of the human race, and human nature is a social entity, and has naturally the great benefit and power of friendship.” Augustine goes on to say that God desires to create all humanity out of one so that humanity would be, “similar in race” and formed by “the bond of kinship.” It is this bond of kinship that is the husband and wife that is the primary bond of society in Augustine’s mind. Au...


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... Christ. This is not to say that married persons are not responsible for acting in accordance with Christian teaching, but that virgins can obey Christ more perfectly because of their intention of Christ.
From the former we see that Augustine offers a moderate view as compared to previous discussions on sexuality in order to incorporate the variety of lifestyles within the growing church of his time. I have shown how there are lessor and greater goods when it comes to marriage and sexuality and how Augustine understands these lifestyles contribute to the Church as a whole. Augustine’s framework is viewed through an eschatological lens in that he is most concerned about how one’s obedience contributes to the City of God. This, therefore, contributes to his preference of virginity over persons who married in his hierarchy of goods within, The Excellence of Marriage.

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