Sunday, January 26, 2014

Wontonness - 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.
"Again, Moses issued a prohibition against eating the hare. The hare is forever mounting the female, leaping upon her crouching form from behind... She conceives and begets, and as soon as she gives birth is fertilized again by the first hare she meets. Not satisfied with one mate, she conceives again, although she is still nursing... So the mysterious prohibition [of Moses] in reality is but counsel to restrain violent sexual impulses, and intercourse in too frequent succession, relations with a pregnant woman, pederasty, adultery, and lewdness." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 2, Chapter 10)
Along with the hyena, Moses also prohibited the eating of the hare. Clement understands this prohibition not only in its literal understanding of not eating them but also with a spiritual understanding that we should not be like them. In this case, we should not behave sexually after the manor of the hare or the hyena. Sexual desires are common to both men and women but we must not give ourselves over to every violent sexual impulse that wages war upon our soul. We are sexual creatures but we are not to be lead or ruled by our sexual desires or impulses. We are first rational beings, rational because we were created in the image of God, and secondly sexual beings in that we cooperate with God in the regeneration of the human race. We must by all means conquer our impulses that we might regulate our lives by reason rather than passion.
"Moses forbade, too, in clear language and with his head uncovered, no longer under a figure: 'Thou shalt not fornicate, nor commit adultery, nor corrupt children." This is the command of the Word; it must be obeyed with all our strength and not transgressed in any way; His commandments may not be set aside. Evil lust bears the name wantonness; Plato, for example, calls the horse representing lust 'wanton' when he writes: 'You have become in my eyes horses mad for the female.' The angels who visited Sodom reveal the punishment of wantonness. They struck down with fire those who attempted to dishonor them, and their city along with them." Such a deed demonstrates clearly that fire is the reward of wantonness. As we have already said, the calamities that befell the ancients are described for our instruction that we may not imitate their example and merit the same punishment." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 2, Chapter 10)
We cannot disregard or set aside the clear injunctions of scripture without reaping the just reward for our actions. Moses was clear; the law received from God is clear; its regulations upon our sexual behavior is clear; and it is up to us to choose whether to obey or disobey the law of God. Wantonness is the complete lack of self-control and then absence of any care for the safety, feelings, or rights of others. Wantonness in sex is a life that is given over to sexual activity without any care for themselves or others. Such behavior is the antithesis of love and the epitome of selfishness. We cannot live a wanton life without reaping the judgments of wantonness. Whether such judgement comes in this life or the life to come, we will certainly be judged for our actions. Paul warns us, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life." (Galatians 6:7-8) Sexual sin is serious and its consequences can be eternal. What God has declared in His wisdom we cannot simply sweep aside with impunity. What God spoke He spoke to all. It now remains to us to choose how we shall respond and the manor of life we shall live.

David Robison

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