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Table of contents
PREFACE
THE MOTHER AND HER CHILD-1.1
THE MOTHER AND HER CHILD-1.2
THE MOTHER AND HER CHILD-1.3
THE MOTHER AND HER CHILD-1.4
THE MOTHER AND HER CHILD-1.5
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.1
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.2
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.3
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.4
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.5
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.6
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.7
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.8
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.9
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.10
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.11
SEXUAL EDUCATION AND NAKEDNESS-3.1
SEXUAL EDUCATION AND NAKEDNESS-3.2
SEXUAL EDUCATION AND NAKEDNESS-3.3
SEXUAL EDUCATION AND NAKEDNESS-3.4
THE VALUATION OF SEXUAL LOVE-4.1
THE VALUATION OF SEXUAL LOVE-4.2
THE VALUATION OF SEXUAL LOVE-4.3
THE VALUATION OF SEXUAL LOVE-4.4
THE FUNCTION OF CHASTITY-5.1
THE FUNCTION OF CHASTITY-5.2
THE FUNCTION OF CHASTITY-5.3
THE FUNCTION OF CHASTITY-5.4
THE FUNCTION OF CHASTITY-5.5
THE FUNCTION OF CHASTITY-5.6
THE PROBLEM OF SEXUAL ABSTINENCE-6.1
THE PROBLEM OF SEXUAL ABSTINENCE-6.2
THE PROBLEM OF SEXUAL ABSTINENCE-6.3
THE PROBLEM OF SEXUAL ABSTINENCE-6.4
THE PROBLEM OF SEXUAL ABSTINENCE-6.5
THE PROBLEM OF SEXUAL ABSTINENCE-6.6
PROSTITUTION-7.1
PROSTITUTION-7.2
PROSTITUTION-7.3
PROSTITUTION-7.4
PROSTITUTION-7.5
PROSTITUTION-7.6
PROSTITUTION-7.7
PROSTITUTION-7.8
PROSTITUTION-7.9
PROSTITUTION-7.10
PROSTITUTION-7.11
PROSTITUTION-7.12
PROSTITUTION-7.13
PROSTITUTION-7.14
PROSTITUTION-7.15
FOOTNOTES-1
FOOTNOTES-2

Clement of Alexandria, with all the eccentricities of his over-subtle 

intellect, was yet the most genuinely Greek of all the Fathers, and it is 

not surprising that the dying ray of classic light reflected from his mind 

shed some illumination over this question of sex. He protested, for 

instance, against that prudery which, as the sun of the classic world set, 

had begun to overshadow life. "We should not be ashamed to name," he 

declared, "what God has not been ashamed to create."[52] It was a 

memorable declaration because, while it accepted the old classic feeling 

of no shame in the presence of nature, it put that feeling on a new and 

religious basis harmonious to Christianity. Throughout, though not always 

quite consistently, Clement defends the body and the functions of sex 

against those who treated them with contempt. And as the cause of sex is 

the cause of women he always strongly asserts the dignity of women, and 

also proclaims the holiness of marriage, a state which he sometimes places 

above that of virginity.[53] 

 

 

Unfortunately, it must be said, St. Augustine--another North African, but 

of Roman Carthage and not of Greek Alexandria--thought that he had a 

convincing answer to the kind of argument which Clement presented, and so 

great was the force of his passionate and potent genius that he was able 

in the end to make his answer prevail. For Augustine sin was hereditary, 

and sin had its special seat and symbol in the sexual organs; the fact of 

sin has modified the original divine act of creation, and we cannot treat 

sex and its organs as though there had been no inherited sin. Our sexual 

organs, he declares, have become shameful because, through sin, they are 

now moved by lust. At the same time Augustine by no means takes up the 

mediaeval ascetic position of contemptuous hatred towards the body. Nothing 

can be further from Odo of Cluny than Augustine's enthusiasm about the 

body, even about the exquisite harmony of the parts beneath the skin. "I 

believe it may be concluded," he even says, "that in the creation of the 

human body beauty was more regarded than necessity. In truth, necessity is 

a transitory thing, and the time is coming when we shall be able to enjoy 

one another's beauty without any lust."[54] Even in the sphere of sex he 

would be willing to admit purity and beauty, apart from the inherited 

influence of Adam's sin. In Paradise, he says, had Paradise continued, the 

act of generation would have been as simple and free from shame as the act 

of the hand in scattering seed on to the earth. "Sexual conjugation would 

have been under the control of the will without any sexual desire. The 

semen would be injected into the vagina in as simple a manner as the 

menstrual fluid is now ejected. There would not have been any words which 

could be called obscene, but all that might be said of these members would 

have been as pure as what is said of the other parts of the body."[55] 

That, however, for Augustine, is what might have been in Paradise where, 

as he believed, sexual desire had no existence. As things are, he held, we 

are right to be ashamed, we do well to blush. And it was natural that, as 

Clement of Alexandria mentions, many heretics should have gone further on 

this road and believed that while God made man down to the navel, the rest 

was made by another power; such heretics have their descendants among us 

even to-day. 

 

Alike in the Eastern and Western Churches, however, both before and after 

Augustine, though not so often after, great Fathers and teachers have 

uttered opinions which recall those of Clement rather than of Augustine. 

We cannot lay very much weight on the utterance of the extravagant and 


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