Thursday, January 30, 2014

Killing love -The Instructor on having children

This is a continuation of my series on Clement of Alexandria and his book, "The Instructor." If you are new to this series or are unfamiliar with Clement and his book, you may want to first read the introductionto this series. You may also want to read the introduction to Book 2 of The Instructor as it give advice on how to understand Clement and his writings. Finally, it may be helpful to review my first post on this chapter as it gives a good introduction into Clement's basic philosophy on sexuality.
"Love, which tends toward sexual relations by its very nature, is in full bloom only for a time, then grows old with the body; but sometimes, if immoral pleasure mars the chastity of the marriage bed, desire becomes insipid and love ages before the body does. The hearts of lovers have wings; affection can be quenched by a change of heart, and love can turn into hate if there creep in too many grounds for loss of respect. We should not even mention the names of impurity: ribald speech, indecent behavior, sensuous love affairs and all such immoralities. Rather, let us-obey the Apostle, who tells us explicitly: 'But all fornication and uncleanness and covetousness, let it not so much as be named among you, as becometh saints.'" (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 2, Chapter 10)
The love between a husband and a wife, and their desire for sexual intimacy, is natural and is blessed by God in marriage. Marital love and affection are built upon the foundation of respect, kindess, and fidelity. The violation of these virtues can affect the love and affection in a marriage and can even turn love into hatred. Indecency in speech or behavior can, over time, diminish love and extinguish affection. Worse yet is the heart that wanders outside the marriage, either through lust or action, because it has the power to bring death to love and to the marriage. Love and affection must be cultivated and nurtured just as character and holiness must also be cultivated and nurtured. Love does not just happen, it must be grown and protected.
"For such as these, darkness is a veil to conceal their passion. Yet, he who seeks only sexual pleasure turns his marriage into fornication. He forgets the words of the Educator: 'Every man that passeth beyond his own bed, who says in his soul: Who seeth me? Darkness compasseth me about, and the walls cover me, and no man seeth my sins: whom do I fear? The Most High will not remember.' Such a man is most wretched, for he fears only the eyes of men, and thinks to hide from God... A light that can be seen by the senses may pass unnoticed, but that which illumines the mind cannot be ignored... Scripture calls the reason of a good man a lamp which cannot be extinguished.' In fact, the very attempt to cover over what one is doing is a sign that the man is knowingly committing sin." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 2, Chapter 10)
Someone once said that no one knows what happens behind closed doors, and it is true, yet God knows. When we feel that we must hide what we are doing then it is a clear sign that what we are doing is sin. That which is done in darkness, which we fear to bring into the light, is born of darkness and is devoid of the light of truth. We must always judge our actions by the light of day, knowing that God is always watching. If we can be confident in the knowledge that God is watching, then we can be confident in our actions. Live like everyone is watching because the most important one of alll is!
"Anyone who does sin, for example by fornication, wrongs not so much his neighbor as himself by the very act of fornicating; he decidedly becomes more immoral and loses the right to respect. The sinner becomes more immoral and loses the right to respect which he had before, to the extent that he sins; yet, Lord knows, immorality is already present when a man gives in to base pleasure. (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 2, Chapter 10)
Respect breads love. We cannot love someone we do not respect. However, respect must be earned and earning respect is done primarily by the manor in which we live and relate to others. One who lives a life of selfishness and immorality forfeits his right to be respected by others. However, those who live lives of love and righteousness will be respected even by those who do not believe. Some of us are good at putting on fronts and hiding who we really are, but our wives see us in our totality; the good, the bad, and the ugly. To earn the love and affection of our wives we must learn to live godly lives before them; lives of virtue, self-control, and purity. These are the characters that engender respect and lead to love.

David Robison 

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