Christian Sexual Ethics: What Went Wrong? pt. 4

This is the final installment of this series. For the full series here is Part 1,  Part 2, Part 3, of this series. This brings me to the second way in which Christianity performed an end-run around the entire complex of assumptions that governed ancient thought about sex and marriage. It did so, not by addressing these subjects directly, but by presenting a model of holiness even higher and more exalted than the ascetics. I have in mind, of course, the Virgin Mary. Her elevation to a central place in Christian life and devotion revolutionized how…

Christian Sexual Ethics: What Went Wrong? pt. 3

This is the third installment of this series. For the full series here is Part 1,  Part 2, Part 4, of this series. The first was monasticism. It is unfortunate that early in western Christianity monasticism came to be set in opposition to the married life, as if the two are rivals that must be judged against one another. Views on this subject were crystallized by the writings of a monk named Jovinian, who held that virgins, widows, and married women, if they are equal in other respects, are of “equal merit.” St. Jerome and others…

Christian Sexual Ethics: What Went Wrong? pt. 2

This is the second installment of this series. For the full series here is Part 1,  Part 3, Part 4, of this series. We must begin by recognizing that Christianity was born into a world whose assumptions about sex and marriage were radically foreign to our own. Aristotle devotes a chapter of the Politics to discussing the ideal age of marriage. Questions of mutual compatibility or love do not enter the discussion. The issue as he frames it is that of how to maximize the couple’s childbearing potential. Since a man (as he believes) remains fertile…

Christian Sexual Ethics: What Went Wrong? pt. 1

This is the first installment of this series. For the full series here is Part 2,  Part 3, Part 4, of this series. On September 12, 1966, William F. Buckley hosted Hugh Hefner on his weekly talk program, Firing Line. Their subject was the “Playboy philosophy” that Hefner advocated through his magazine and associated enterprises such as the Playboy Clubs. Hefner was an articulate and thoughtful spokesman for his views. He described his goal as to replace the “old legalism” of “thou shalt not” with a more flexible and realistic approach to sex that truly promotes…

Twenty-Eight Patterns of Living to Strive for to Enhance the Glory of your Marriage

Dr. David Ford and Dr. Mary Ford, professors of St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary,  have written the following for the edification of the faithful. These patterns are patterns emanating from the Kingdom of God – to enter into them is to enter into the mystery of God. At the end there are a collection of quotes from Fr. Alexander Elchaninov about the mystery of marriage. We share these patterns and sayings for the building up of marriage, a sacrament which sustains and blossoms into many blessings for the life of the world. Do everything with love…