Monday, February 15, 2021

Early Christian Quotes On Self-Control

Early Christian Quotes On Self-Control


Justin Martyr’s First Apology

(Mid-2nd Century)



But if we marry, it is only to raise children; if we decline marriage, we live in abstinence.



Clement of Alexandria's Miscellanies, Book 3

(Early 3rd Century)

Chapter 1, Paragraph 4:


Abstinence is an ignoring of the body by the confession of faith in God. Abstinence is not just a matter of sexual fasting but also applies to the other things for which the soul has an evil desire because it is not satisfied with life's necessities. There is also abstinence of the tongue, of money, of use, and of desire. It does not only teach us to exercise self-control but that self-control is granted to us because it is a divine power and grace.



Clement of Alexandria's Miscellanies, Book 3

(Early 3rd Century)

Chapter 7, Paragraphs 1-3:


The human ideal of abstinence, which Greek philosophers set forth, teaches that one should fight desire and not give in to it, so you do not make it a common practice. But our ideal is not to experience desire at all. Our goal is not that while a man feels desire, he should conquer it, but that he should be under control even when it comes to desire itself. This decency cannot be attained in any other way except by God's grace. That was why He said, "Ask, and it will be given to you."


Our general argument concerning marriage, food, and other matters will show that we should do nothing "from desire." Our will is to be directed only towards what is necessary. For we are children not of desire but of will. A man who marries for the sake of having children must practice abstinence so that it is not desire he feels for his wife, whom he should love, but that he may have children with a decency and a controlled will. For we have learned not to "have thought for the flesh to fulfill its desires." We are to "walk honorably as in the way," that is in Christ and in the enlightened conduct of the Lord's way, "not in showy behaviors and drunkenness, not in seduction and lust, not in conflict and envy."


However, one should consider all forms of abstinence. It is not only concerning one form of it, sexual relations, but regarding all the other indulgences the soul craves. It is abstinence to despise money, luxury, property, outward appearance, to control one's tongue, and master evil thoughts.



Cyprian's On the Dress of Virgins

(Mid-3rd Century)

Paragraph 23:


The first instruction commanded by God was to increase and to multiply. The second was to rule over His creation. While the world was still rough and void, we were propagated by the fruitful increasing of numbers, and we increased to the enlargement of the human race. Now, when the world is filled, and the earth supplied, those who can abstain from sexual desires, living after the manner of eunuchs, are made eunuchs to the kingdom.



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