Athenagoras’ Plea for the Christians (Late 2nd Century) Chapter 33:
Therefore, having the hope of eternal life, we despise the things of this life, even to the pleasures of the soul, each of us reckoning her his wife whom he has married according to the laws laid down by us, and that only for the purpose of having children. For as the husbandman throwing the seed into the ground awaits the harvest, not sowing more upon it, so to us the procreation of children is the measure of our indulgence in appetite. Nay, you would find many among us, both men and women, growing old unmarried, in hope of living in closer communion with God. But if the remaining in virginity and in the state of an eunuch brings nearer to God, while the indulgence of carnal thought and desire leads away from Him, in those cases in which we shun the thoughts, much more do we reject the deeds. For we bestow our attention; not on the study of words, but on the exhibition and teaching of actions,--that a person should either remain as he was born, or be content with one marriage; for a second marriage is only a specious adultery. "For whosoever puts away his wife," says He, "and marries another, commits adultery;" not permitting a man to send her away whose virginity he has brought to an end, nor to marry again. For he who deprives himself of his first wife, even though she be dead, is a cloaked adulterer, resisting the hand of God, because in the beginning God made one man and one woman, and dissolving the strictest union of flesh with flesh, formed for the intercourse of the race.
Clement of Alexandria’s Miscellanies, Book 2 (Early 3rd Century) Chapter 13, Paragraphs 2-3:
We ask if we ought to marry; which is one of the points, which are said to be relative. For some must marry, and a man must be in some condition, and he must marry some one in some condition. For every one is not to marry, nor always. But there is a time in which it is suitable, and a person for whom it is suitable, and an age up to which it is suitable. Neither ought every one to take a wife, nor is it every woman one is to take, nor always, nor in every way, nor inconsiderately. But only he who is in certain circumstances, and such an one and at such time as is requisite, and for the sake of children, and one who is in every respect similar, and who does not by force or compulsion love the husband who loves her…But they who approve of marriage say, Nature has adapted us for marriage, as is evident from the structure of our bodies, which are male and female. And they constantly proclaim that command, "Increase and replenish."…we must by all means marry, both for our country's sake, for the succession of children…But it is the diseases of the body that principally show marriage to be necessary. For a wife's care and the assiduity of her constancy appear to exceed the endurance of all other relations and friends, as much as to excel them in sympathy; and most of all, she takes kindly to patient watching. And in truth, according to Scripture, she is a needful help.
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