Saturday, January 25, 2014

Men with Men - 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.
"This is characteristic of both male and female hyena, because of hyperactive abnormal sexuality; the male lies with the male so that it rarely approaches the female. For that reason, births are infrequent among hyenas, because they so freely sow their seed contrary to nature." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 2, Chapter 10)
Clement begins his discussion on sexual intercourse between men with other men and men with boys by introducing us to the odd sexual behavior of hyenas. It was at one time believed that hyenas regularly changed their sex from male to female and vise versa thus accommodating the apparent homosexual nature of hyenas. Clement understands this "science"to be incorrect and details certain anatomical features of hyenas that assist in sexual acts between males and other males. However, knowing of this behavior among hyenas, Clement understands it to be "contrary to nature" as the purpose of the sexual organs, as created by God, were primary for the regeneration of life and all other uses, or the sowing of seed in a manor that could never support this goal, was therefore contrary to nature.
"This is the reason, I believe, that Plato, in excoriating pederasty in Phaedrus, terms it bestiality and says that these libertines who have so surrendered to pleasure, 'taking the bit in their own mouths, like brutish beasts rush on to enjoy and beget?' Such godless people 'God has given over,' the Apostle says, 'to shameful lusts. For the women change their natural use to that which is against nature, and in like manner the men, also, having abandoned the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men doing shameful things, and receiving in themselves the fitting recompense of their perversity?'" (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 2, Chapter 10)
Plato's morals were greatly influenced by Moses. Plato studied the writings of Moses and much of his philosophy can still be traced back to the basic laws and commands of God. In Clement's day it was fashionable, and even expected, for men of power and position to have their boy companions with them to meet their sexual desires. However, Clement, appealing to Plato and the Apostles, denounces pederasty and homosexuality as being against nature. It is interesting to note here that Clement is denouncing all sexual acts that are contrary to nature rather than judging sexual desires as being either in conformance or opposition to nature. Man was created for sexual acts but it is in his soul where his sexual desires are formed. Nature refers to design, the design of our body and the assigned functions and purposes of our organs, while desires and passions are formed; they are not part of nature but rather part of the soul. A man may burn with passion for another man or for a woman, but what matters is how they respond to those desires; whether they allow their desires to lead them into behavior that is in harmony with the designed of nature as created by God or into behavior that is contrary. The moral issue is not what a man feels but what he does.
"Yet, nature has not allowed even the most sensual of beasts to sexually misuse the passage made for excrement. Urine she gathers into the bladder; undigested food in the intestines; tears in the eyes; blood in the veins; wax in the ear, and mucous in the nose; so, too, there is a passage connected to the end of the intestines by means of which excrement is passed off. In the case of hyenas, nature, in her diversity, has added this additional organ to accommodate their excessive sexual activity. Therefore, it is large enough for the service of the lusting organs, but its opening is obstructed within. In short, it is not made to serve any purpose in generation: The clear conclusion that we must draw, then, is that we must condemn sodomy, all fruitless sowing of seed, any unnatural methods of holding intercourse and the reversal of the sexual role in intercourse. We must rather follow the guidance of nature, which obviously disapproves of such practices from the very way she has fashioned the male organ, adapted not for receiving the seed, but for implanting it." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 2, Chapter 10)
Again, Clement is speaking of sexual behavior not sexual orientation. Men were created by design to implant seed and women to receive it, not vice versa. This is the natural order as created by God and all attempts to modify this, or deviate from it, are contrary to the design and commandments of God. All such contrary sexual behavior Clement holds as sin. We must reject all desires and lusts within our souls that run contrary to nature and, even those that are in conformance with nature, we must hold in check so that our actions are regulated by reason and not passion. This is the path of maturity, to live by reason, even the reason (Logos) of God, and to not be ruled by our passions, especially when it comes to our sexuality.

David Robison

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