Early Writings Concerning
Marriage and Sexual Intimacy
And Feminine Beauty
CHASTITY OF THE CHRISTIANS WITH RESPECT TO MARRIAGE
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.
Vol 2 Pages 279-280
Tertullian, To His Wife,
Thus they have laid hold for themselves of an eternal gift of the Lord; and while on earth, by abstaining from marriage, are already counted as belonging to the angelic family. Training yourself to an emulation of (their) constancy by the examples of such women, you will by spiritual affection bury that fleshly concupiscence, in abolishing the temporal and fleeting desires of beauty and youth by the compensating gain of immortal blessings.
Tertullian, On Monogamy,
Read this carefully;
“Good,” he says, “(it is) for a man not to have contact with a woman.” It follows that it is evil to have contact with her; for nothing is contrary to good except evil. And accordingly (he says), “It remains, that both they who have wives so be as if they have not,” that it may be the more binding on them who have not to abstain from having them.
Tertullian, To His Wife,
But if they who have (wives) are (thus) bound to consign to oblivion [note this word means unconsciousness, or nothingness etc] what they have, how much more are they who have not, prohibited from seeking a second time what they no longer have; so that she whose husband has departed from the world should thenceforward impose rest on her sex by abstinence from marriage — abstinence which numbers of Gentile women devote to the memory of beloved husbands! When anything seems difficult, let us survey others who cope with still greater difficulties. How many are there who from the moment of their baptism set the seal (of virginity) upon their flesh? How many, again, who by equal mutual consent cancel the debt of matrimony — voluntary eunuchs for the sake of their desire after the celestial kingdom! But if, while the marriage-tie is still intact, abstinence is endured, how much more when it has been undone! For I believe it to be harder for what is intact to be quite forsaken, than for what has been lost not to be yearned after. A hard and arduous thing enough, surely, is the continence for God’s sake of a holy woman after her husband’s decease, when Gentiles, in honor of their own Satan, endure sacerdotal offices which involve both virginity and widowhood! At Rome, for instance, they who have to do with the type of that “inextinguishable fire,” keeping watch over the omens of their own (future) penalty, in company with the (old) dragon himself, are appointed on the ground of virginity. To the Achaean Juno, at the town Aegium, a virgin is allotted; and the (priestesses) who rave at Delphi know not marriage. Moreover, we know that widows minister to the African Ceres; enticed away, indeed, from matrimony by a most stern oblivion: for not only do they withdraw from their still living husbands, but they even introduce other wives to them in their own room — the husbands, of course, smiling on it — all contact (with males), even as far as the kiss of their sons, being forbidden
And we see men also keeping themselves virgins, some from the first, and some from a certain time; so that by their means, marriage, made lawless through lust, is destroyed. And we find that some even of the lower animals, though possessed of wombs, do not bear, such as the mule; and the male mules do not beget their kind. So that both in the case of men and the irrational animals we can see sexual intercourse abolished; and this, too, before the future world. And our Lord Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, for no other reason than that He might destroy the begetting by lawless desire, and might show to the ruler that the formation of man was possible to God without human intervention. And when He had been born, and had submitted to the other conditions of the flesh, — I mean food, drink, and clothing, — this one condition only of discharging the sexual function He did not submit to; for, regarding the desires of the flesh, He accepted some as necessary, while others, which were unnecessary, He did not submit to. For if the flesh were deprived of food, drink, and clothing, it would be destroyed; but being deprived of lawless desire, it suffers no harm. And at the same time He foretold that, in the future world, sexual intercourse should be done away with; as He says, “The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage; but the children of the world to come neither marry nor are given in marriage, but shall be like the angels in heaven.” Let not, then, those that are unbelieving marvel, if in the world to come He do away with those acts of our fleshly members which even in this present life are abolished.
The Life and Passion of Cyprian
While his faith was in its first rudiments, he believed that before God nothing was worthy in comparison of the observance of continency. For he thought that the heart might then become what it ought to be, and the mind attain to the full capacity of truth, if he trod under foot the lust of the flesh with the robust and healthy vigor of holiness.
The Epistles of Cyprian,
Yet virginity is not therefore deficient in the Church, nor does the glorious design of continence languish through the sins of others. The Church, crowned with so many virgins, flourishes; and chastity and modesty preserve the tenor of their glory.
"...however, to marriage; not as if we superseded a bad thing by a good, but only a good thing by a better. For we do not reject marriage, but simply refrain from it. Nor do we prescribe sanctity as the rule, but only recommend it, observing it as a good, yea, even the better state, if each man uses it carefully according to his ability; but at the same time earnestly vindicating marriage, whenever hostile attacks are made against it is a polluted thing, to the disparagement of the Creator. For He bestowed His blessing on matrimony also, as on an honorable estate, for the increase of the human race; as He did indeed on the whole of His creation, So, on the same principle, the estate of matrimony is not to be refused, because, when enjoyed without moderation, it is fanned into a voluptuous flame. There is a great difference between a cause and a fault, between a state and its excess. ... ...All proof of abstinence is lost when excess is impossible; for sundry things have thus their evidence in their contraries. Just as “strength is made perfect in weakness,” so likewise is continence made manifest by the permission to marry. Who indeed will be called continent, if that be taken away which gives him the opportunity of pursuing a life of continence? What room for temperance in appetite does famine give? What repudiation of ambitious projects does poverty afford? What bridling of lust can the eunuch merit? To put a complete stop, however, to the sowing of the human race, may, for aught I know, be quite consistent for Marcion’s most good and excellent god. For how could he desire the salvation of man, whom he forbids to be born, when he takes away that institution from which his birth arises? (ECF Vol 3 Page 533-534)
Clement of Alexandria, The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 2, Page 1012
He will therefore prefer neither children, nor marriage, nor parents, to love for God, and righteousness in life. To such an one, his wife, after conception, is as a sister, and is judged as if of the same father; ... ...Such, then, was the laughter of Sarah when she received the good news of the birth of a son; not, in my opinion, that she disbelieved the angel, but that she felt ashamed of the intercourse by means of which she was destined to become the mother of a son.
Clement of Alexandria, The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 2, Page 749,
Accordingly Homer makes a thing to be earnestly prayed for: — “A husband and a house;” yet not simply, but along with good agreement. For the marriage of other people is an agreement for indulgence; but that of philosophers leads to that agreement which is in accordance with reason, bidding wives adorn themselves not in outward appearance, but in character; and enjoining husbands not to treat their wedded wives as mistresses, [one meaning is sexual partner, sweet heart] making corporeal wantonness their aim; but to take advantage of marriage for help in the whole of life, and for the best self-restraint. Far more excellent, in my opinion, than the seeds of wheat and barley that are sown at appropriate seasons, is man that is sown, for whom all things grow; and those seeds temperate husbandmen ever sow. Every foul and polluting practice must therefore be purged away from marriage; that the intercourse of the irrational animals may not be cast in our teeth, as more accordant with nature than human conjunction in procreation. Some of these, it must be granted, desist at the time in which they are directed, leaving creation to the working of Providence.
Tertullian, On Exhortation to Chastity,
SECOND MARRIAGE A SPECIES OF ADULTERY MARRIAGE ITSELF IMPUGNED, AS AKIN TO ADULTERY If we look deeply into his meanings, and interpret them, second marriage will have to be termed no other than a species of fornication. For, since he says that married persons make this their solicitude, “how to please one another” (not, of course, morally, for a good solicitude he would not impugn); and (since), he wishes them to be understood to be solicitous about dress, and ornament, and every kind of personal attraction, with a view to increasing their power of allurement; (since), moreover, to please by personal beauty and dress is the genius of carnal concupiscence, which again is the cause of fornication: pray, does second marriage seem to you to border upon fornication, since in it are detected those ingredients which are appropriate to fornication? The Lord Himself said, “Whoever has seen a woman with a view to concupiscence has already violated her in his heart.” But has he who has seen her with a view to marriage done so less or more? What if he have even married her? —
Methodius, The Banquet of the Ten Virgins;
Lest, however, we should seem prolix in collecting the testimonies of the prophets, let us again point out how chastity succeeded to marriage with one wife, taking away by degrees the lusts of the flesh, until it removed entirely the inclination for sexual intercourse engendered by habit. For presently one is introduced earnestly deprecating, from henceforth, this seduction, saying, “O Lord, Father, and Governor of my life, leave me not to their counsels; give me not a proud look; let not the greediness of the belly, nor lust of the flesh, take hold of me.” And in the Book of Wisdom, a book full of all virtue, the Holy Spirit, now openly drawing His hearers to continence and chastity, sings on this wise, “Better it is to have no children, and to have virtue, for the memorial thereof is immortal; because it is known with God and with men. When it is present men take example at it; and when it is gone they desire it: it weareth a crown and triumpheth for ever, having gotten the victory, striving for undefiled rewards.”
Methodius, The Banquet of the Ten Virgins;
Because it was reserved for the Lord alone to he the first to teach this doctrine, since He alone, coming down to us, taught man to draw near to God; for it was fitting that He who was first and chief of priests, of prophets, and of angels, should also be saluted as first and chief of virgins. For in old times man was not yet perfect, and for this reason was unable to receive perfection, which is virginity.
ECF Vol 6 Page 567
Tertullian, On the Veiling of Virgins
Sure we are that the Holy Spirit could rather have made some such concession to males, if He had made it to females; forasmuch as, besides the authority of sex, it would have been more becoming that males should have been honored on the ground of continency itself likewise. The more their sex is eager and warm toward females, so much the more toil does the continence of (this) greater ardor involve; and therefore the worthier is it of all ostentation [means honor, display, ect] , if ostentation of virginity is dignity. For is not continence withal superior to virginity, whether it be the continence of the widowed, or of those who, by consent, have already renounced the common disgrace (which matrimony involves)? For constancy of virginity is maintained by grace; of continence, by virtue. For great is the struggle to overcome concupiscence when you have become accustomed to such concupiscence; whereas a concupiscence the enjoyment whereof you have never known you will subdue easily, not having an adversary (in the shape of) the concupiscence of enjoyment. How, then, would God have failed to make any such concession to men more (than to women), whether on the ground of nearer intimacy, as being “His own image,” or on the ground of harder toil? But if nothing (has been thus conceded) to the male, much more to the female. (ECF Vol 4 Page 66)
Tertullian, On Exhortation to Chastity,
Marry we, therefore, daily. And marrying, let us be overtaken by the last day, like Sodom and Gomorrah; that day when the “woe” pronounced over “such as are with child and giving suck” shall be fulfilled, that is, over the married and the incontinent: for from marriage result wombs, and breasts, and infants. And when an end of marrying? I believe after the end of living!
Tertullian, On Fasting
I recognize, therefore, animal faith by its care of the flesh (of which it wholly consists) — as prone to manifold feeding as to manifold marrying — so that it deservedly accuses the spiritual discipline, which according to its ability opposes it, in this species of continence as well; imposing, as it does, reins upon the appetite, through taking, sometimes no meals, or late meals, or dry meals, just as upon lust, through allowing but one marriage.
Articles Concerning Feminine Beauty
Tertullian [written to women]
And do you not know that you are (each) an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age: the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the devil’s gateway: you are the unsealer of that (forbidden) tree: you are the first deserter of the divine law: you are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God’s image, man. On account of your desert — that is, death — even the Son of God had to die. And do you think about adorning yourself over and above your tunics of skins? Come, now; if from the beginning of the world the Milesians sheared sheep, and the Serians spun trees, and the Tyrians dyed, and the Phrygians embroidered with the needle, and the Babylonians with the loom, and pearls gleamed, and onyx-stones flashed; if gold itself also had already issued, with the cupidity (which accompanies it), from the ground; if the mirror, too, already had license to lie so largely, Eve, expelled from paradise, (Eve) already dead, would also have coveted these things, I imagine! No more, then, ought she now to crave, or be acquainted with (if she desires to live again), what, when she was living, she had neither had nor known. Accordingly these things are all the baggage of woman in her condemned and dead state, instituted as if to swell the pomp of her funeral.
Tertullian, On the Apparel of Women
GRANT THAT BEAUTY BE NOT TO BE FEARED: STILL IT IS TO BE SHUNNED AS UNNECESSARY AND VAINGLORIOUS Let it now be granted that excellence of form be not to be feared, as neither troublesome to its possessors, nor destructive to its desirers, nor perilous to its compartners; let it be thought (to be) not exposed to temptations, not surrounded by stumbling-blocks: it is enough that to angels of God it is not necessary. For, where modesty is, there beauty is idle; because properly the use and fruit of beauty is voluptuousness, unless any one thinks that there is some other harvest for bodily grace to reap. Are women who think that, in furnishing to their neighbor that which is demanded of beauty, they are furnishing it to themselves also, to augment that (beauty) when (naturally) given them, and to strive after it when not (thus) given? Some one will say, “Why, then, if voluptuousness be shut out and chastity let in, may (we) not enjoy the praise of beauty alone, and glory in a bodily good?” Let whoever finds pleasure in “glorying in the flesh” see to that. To us in the first place, there is no studious pursuit of “glory,” because “glory” is the essence of exaltation. Now exaltation is incongruous for professors of humility according to God’s precepts. Secondly, if all “glory” is “vain” and insensate, how much more (glory) in the flesh, especially to us? For even if “glorying” is (allowable), we ought to wish our sphere of pleasing to lie in the graces of the Spirit, not in the flesh;.
Tertullian, On the Apparel of Women
CONCERNING THE PLEA OF “PLEASING THE HUSBAND” As if I were speaking to Gentiles, addressing you with a Gentile precept, and (one which is) common to all, (I would say,) “You are bound to please your husbands only.” But you will please them in proportion as you take no care to please others. Be ye without carefulness, blessed (sisters): no wife is “ugly” to her own husband. She “pleased” him enough when she was selected (by him as his wife); whether commended by form or by character. Let none of you think that, if she abstain from the care of her person, she will incur the hatred and aversion of husbands. Every husband is the exactor of chastity; but beauty, a believing (husband) does not require, because we are not captivated by the same graces which the Gentiles think (to be) graces: an unbelieving one, on the other hand, even regards with suspicion, just from that infamous opinion of us which the Gentiles have. For whom, then, is it that you cherish your beauty? If for a believer, he does not exact it: if for an unbeliever, he does not believe in it unless it be artless. Why are you eager to please either one who is suspicious, or else one who desires it not?
Tertullian, On the Apparel of Women
OF ELABORATE DRESSING OF THE HAIR IN OTHER WAYS, AND ITS BEARING UPON SALVATION What service, again, does all the labor spent in arranging the hair render to salvation? Why is no rest allowed to your hair, which must now be bound, now loosed, now cultivated, now thinned out? Some are anxious to force their hair into curls, some to let it hang loose and flying; not with good simplicity: beside which, you affix I know not what enormities of subtle and textile perukes; now, after the manner of a helmet of undressed hide, as it were a sheath for the head and a covering for the crown; now, a mass (drawn) backward toward the neck. The wonder is, that there is no (open) contending against the Lord’s prescripts! It has been pronounced that no one can add to his own stature. You, however, do add to your weight some kind of rolls, or shield-bosses, to be piled upon your necks! If you feel no shame at the enormity, feel some at the pollution; for fear you may be fitting on a holy and Christian head the slough of some one else’s head, unclean perchance, guilty perchance and destined to hell. Nay, rather banish quite away from your “free” head all this slavery of ornamentation. In vain do you labor to seem adorned: in vain do you call in the aid of all the most skillful manufacturers of false hair. God bids you “be veiled.” I believe (He does so) for fear the heads of some should be seen! And oh that in “that day” of Christian exultation, I, most miserable (as I am), may elevate my head, even though below (the level of) your heels! I shall (then) see whether you will rise with (your) ceruse and rouge and saffron, and in all that parade of headgear: whether it will be women thus tricked out whom the angels carry up to meet Christ in the air If these (decorations) are now good, and of God, they will then also present themselves to the rising bodies, and will recognize their several places. But nothing can rise except flesh and spirit sole and pure. Whatever, therefore, does not rise in (the form of) spirit and flesh is condemned, because it is not of God. From things which are condemned abstain, even at the present day. At the present day let God see you such as He will see you then.
Instructions of Commodianus,
When Almighty God, to beautify the nature of the world, willed that that earth should be visited by angels, when they were sent down they despised His laws. Such was the beauty of women, that it turned them aside; so that, being contaminated, they could not return to heaven. Rebels from God, they uttered words against Him. Then the Highest uttered His judgment against them; and from their seed giants are said to have been born. By them arts were made known in the earth, and they taught the dyeing of wool, and everything which is done; and to them, when they died, men erected images. But the Almighty, because they were of an evil seed, did not approve that, when dead, they should be brought back from death. Whence wandering they now subvert many bodies, and it is such as these especially that ye this day worship and pray to as gods.
TERTULLIAN REFERS AGAIN TO THE QUESTION OF THE ORIGIN OF ALL THESE ORNAMENTS AND EMBELLISHMENTS It was God, no doubt, who showed the way to dye wools with the juices of herbs and the humors of conchs! It had escaped Him, when He was bidding the universe to come into being, to issue a command for (the production of) purple and scarlet sheep! It was God, too, who devised by careful thought the manufactures of those very garments which, light and thin (in themselves), were to be heavy in price alone; God who produced such grand implements of gold for confining or parting the hair; (ECF, Vol 4, Page 45)
Tertullian, On the Apparel of Women
MEN NOT EXCLUDED FROM THESE REMARKS ON PERSONAL ADORNMENT Of course, now, I, a man, as being envious of women, am banishing them quite from their own (domains). Are there, in our case too, some things which, in respect of the sobriety we are to maintain on account of the fear due to God, are disallowed? If it is true, (as it is,) that in men, for the sake of women (just as in women for the sake of men), there is implanted, by a defect of nature, the will to please; and if this sex of ours acknowledges to itself deceptive trickeries of form peculiarly its own, — (such as) to cut the beard too sharply; to pluck it out here and there; to shave round about (the mouth); to arrange the hair, and disguise its hoariness by dyes; to remove all the incipient down all over the body; to fix (each particular hair) in its place with (some) womanly pigment; to smooth all the rest of the body by the aid of some rough powder or other: then, further, to take every opportunity for consulting the mirror; to gaze anxiously into it: — while yet, when (once) the knowledge of God has put an end to all wish to please by means of voluptuous attraction, all these things are rejected as frivolous, as hostile to modesty. For where God is, there modesty is; there is sobriety, her assistant and ally. How, then, shall we practice modesty without her instrumental mean, that is, without sobriety? How, moreover, shall we bring sobriety to bear on the discharge of (the functions of) modesty, unless seriousness in appearance and in countenance, and in the general aspect of the entire man, mark our carriage?
Tertullian, On the Apparel of Women,
Let a holy woman, if naturally beautiful, give none so great occasion (for carnal appetite). Certainly, if even she be so, she ought not to set off (her beauty), but even to obscure it.
Tertullian, On the Apparel of Women,
Female habit carries with it a twofold idea — dress and ornament. By “dress” we mean what they call “womanly gracing;” by “ornament,” what it is suitable should be called “womanly disgracing.” The former is accounted (to consist) in gold, and silver, and gems, and garments; the latter in care of the hair, and of the skin, and of those parts of the body which attract the eye. Against the one we lay the charge of ambition, against the other of prostitution; so that even from this early stage (of our discussion) you may look forward and see what, out of (all) these, is suitable, handmaid of God, to your discipline, inasmuch as you are assessed on different principles (from other women), — those, namely, of humility and chastity.
Clement of Alexandria,
Those, therefore, who are devoted to the image of the beautiful, that is, love of finery, not the beautiful itself, and who under a fair name again practice idolatry, are to be banished far from the truth, ... ...leaving the ornaments of earth to the world, and bidding them farewell before we fall quite asleep. I say, then, that man requires clothes for nothing else than the covering of the body, for defense against excess of cold and intensity of heat, lest the inclemency of the air injure us. And if this is the object of clothing, see that one kind be not assigned to men and another to women. For it is common to both to be covered, as it is to eat and drink. The necessity, then, being common, we judge that the provision ought to be similar. For as it is common to both to require things to cover them, so also their coverings ought to be similar; although such a covering ought to be assumed as is requisite for covering the eyes of women. ... ...For luxurious clothing, which cannot conceal the shape of the body, is no more a covering. For such clothing, falling close to the body, takes its form more easily, and adhering as it were to the flesh, receives its shape, and marks out the woman’s figure, so that the whole make of the body is visible to spectators, though not seeing the body itself. Dyeing of clothes is also to be rejected. For it is remote both from necessity and truth, in addition to the fact that reproach in manners spring from it. For the use of colors is not beneficial, for they are of no service against cold; nor has it anything for covering more than other clothing, except the opprobrium alone. And the agreeableness of the color afflicts greedy eyes, inflaming them to senseless blindness. But for those who are white and unstained within, it is most suitable to use white and simple garments. Clearly and plainly, therefore, Daniel the prophet says, “Thrones were set, and upon them sat one like the Ancient of days, and His vesture was white as snow.” The Apocalypse says also that the Lord Himself appeared wearing such a robe. It says also, “I saw the souls of those that had witnessed, beneath the altar, and there was given to each a white robe.” And if it were necessary to seek for any other color, the natural color of truth should suffice. But garments which are like flowers are to be abandoned to Bacchic fooleries, and to those of the rites of initiation, along with purple and silver plate, as the comic poet says: — “Useful for tragedians, not for life.” And our life ought to be anything rather than a pageant. Therefore the dye of Sardis, and another of olive, and another green, a rose-colored, and scarlet, and ten thousand other dyes, have been invented with much trouble for mischievous voluptuousness. Such clothing is for looking at, not for covering. Garments, too, variegated with gold, and those that are purple, and that piece of luxury which has its name from beasts (figured on it), and that saffron-colored ointment-dipped robe, and those costly and many-colored garments of flaring membranes, we are to bid farewell to, with the art itself. “For what prudent thing can these women have done,” says the comedy, “who sit covered with flowers, wearing a saffron-colored dress, painted?” The Instructor expressly admonishes, “Boast not of the clothing of your garment, and be not elated on account of any glory, as it is unlawful.” Accordingly, deriding those who are clothed in luxurious garments, He says in the Gospel: “Lo, they who live in gorgeous apparel and luxury are in earthly palaces.” He says in perishable palaces, where are love of display, love of popularity, and flattery and deceit. But those that wait at the court of heaven around the King of all, are sanctified in the immortal vesture of the Spirit, that is, the flesh, and so put on incorruptibility.
Clement of Alexandria
For love of display is not for a lady, but a courtesan [means sexual companion, prostitute, ect]. Such women care little for keeping at home with their husbands; but loosing their husbands’ purse-strings, they spend its supplies on their lusts, that they may have many witnesses of their seemingly fair appearance; and, devoting the whole day to their toilet, they spend their time with their bought slaves. Accordingly they season the flesh like a pernicious sauce; and the day they bestow on the toilet shut up in their rooms, so as not to be caught decking themselves. But in the evening this spurious beauty creeps out to candle-light as out of a hole; for drunkenness and the dimness of the light aid what they have put on. The woman who dyes her hair yellow, Menander the comic poet expels from the house: — “Now get out of this house, for no chaste Woman ought to make her hair yellow,” nor, I would add, stain her cheeks, nor paint her eyes. Unawares the poor wretches destroy their own beauty, by the introduction of what is spurious. At the dawn of day, mangling, racking, and plastering themselves over with certain compositions, they chill the skin, furrow the flesh with poisons, and with curiously prepared washes, thus blighting their own beauty. Wherefore they are seen to be yellow
Clement of Alexandria
THE HAIR. About the hair, the following seems right. Let the head of men be shaven, unless it has curly hair. But let the chin have the hair. But let not twisted locks hang far down from the head, gliding into womanish ringlets. For an ample beard suffices for men. And if one, too, shave a part of his beard, it must not be made entirely bare, for this is a disgraceful sight. The shaving of the chin to the skin is reprehensible, approaching to plucking out the hair and smoothing. For instance, thus the Psalmist, delighted with the hair of the beard, says, “As the ointment that descends on the beard, the beard of Aaron.”
The Treatises of Cyprian
For the rest, if you dress your hair sumptuously, and walk so as to draw attention in public, and attract the eyes of youth upon you, and draw the sighs of young men after you, nourish the lust of concupiscence, and inflame the fuel of sighs, so that, although you yourself perish not, yet you cause others to perish, and offer yourself, as it were, a sword or poison to the spectators; you cannot be excused on the pretense that you are chaste and modest in mind. Your shameful dress and immodest ornament accuse you; nor can you be counted now among Christ’s maidens and virgins, since you live in such a manner as to make yourselves objects of desire.
Tertullian, On the Apparel of Women,
Women who possessed angels (as husbands) could desire nothing more; they had, forsooth, made a grand match! Assuredly they who, of course, did sometimes think whence they had fallen, and, after the heated impulses of their lusts, looked up toward heaven, thus requited that very excellence of women, natural beauty, as (having proved) a cause of evil, in order that their good fortune might profit them nothing; but that, being turned from simplicity and sincerity, they, together with (the angels) themselves, might become offensive to God. Sure they were that all ostentation, and ambition, and love of pleasing by carnal means, was displeasing to God. And these are the angels whom we are destined to judge: these are the angels whom in baptism we renounce: these, of course, are the reasons why they have deserved to be judged by man. What business, then, have their things with their judges? What commerce have they who are to condemn with them who are to be condemned?
good writings on marriage and sex
The Works of Dionysius
by which the body is made a thing of life? For of all these things there is not one either idle or useless: not even the meanest of them — the hair, or the nails, or such like — is so; but all have their service to do, and all their contribution to make, some of them to the soundness of bodily constitution, and others of them to beauty of appearance. For Providence cares not only for the useful, but also for the seasonable and beautiful. Thus the hair is a kind of protection and covering for the whole head, and the beard is a seemly ornament for the philosopher. It was Providence, then, that formed the constitution of the whole body of man, in all its necessary parts, and imposed on all its members their due connection with each other, and measured out for them their liberal supplies from the universal resources.
Origen De Principiis
It will undoubtedly follow, that as the devil is not the cause of our feeling hunger and thirst, so neither is he the cause of that appetency which naturally arises at the time of maturity, viz., the desire of sexual intercourse. Now it is certain that this cause is not always so set in motion by the devil that we should be obliged to suppose that bodies would not possess a desire for intercourse of that kind if the devil did not exist.
The Seven Books of Arnobius
Have animals of the land and of the sea no sexual desires, and do they not conceive young? Do they not guard, according to their own habits and their own instinct, the offspring generated in their wombs? In fine, do men themselves, whom an active energy with its first impulses has scattered over habitable lands, not form marriages with due rites? Do they not beget dear children? do they not attend to public, to individual, and to family concerns? Do they not apply their talents as each one pleases, to varied occupations, to different kinds of learning? and do they not reap the fruit of diligent application? Do as is fitting, the gods are not degraded by being subjected to sexual impulses, what cause or reason will be pointed out for their being distinguished by those members by which the sexes are wont to recognize each other at the suggestion of their own desires?
Clement of Alexandria speaking of this wrote, “the head should be veiled and the face covered; for it is a wicked thing for beauty to be a snare to men.” Clement also wrote “Let the woman observe this, further. Let her be entirely covered, unless she happen to be at home. For that style of dress is grave, and protects from being gazed at. And she will never fall, who puts before her eyes modesty, and her shawl; nor will she invite another to fall into sin by uncovering her face. For this is the wish of the Word, since it is becoming for her to pray veiled.” Early Church Fathers Vol 2, Pages 516 & 566. aU-2:1
Tertullian writing on this subject writes, “So perilous a face, then, ought to be shaded, which has cast stumbling-stones even so far as heaven:” Tertullian also wrote “...and will joy in being known to herself alone and to God. But even if she has been recognized by any other, she is wise to have blocked up the pathway against temptations. For who will have the audacity to intrude with his eyes upon a shrouded face? Tertullian also wrote “Arabia’s heathen females will be your judges, who cover not only the head, but the face also, so entirely, that they are content, with one eye free, to enjoy rather half the light than to prostitute the entire face. A female would rather see than be seen. And for this reason a certain Roman queen said that they were most unhappy, in that they could more easily fall in love than be fallen in love with;” Early Church Fathers Volume 4 Pages 63, 73, 74. aU-2:2
Around year 350 A.D. another writer named Ambrose writing about this wrote. “Let custom itself teach us. A woman covers her face with a veil for this reason, that in public her modesty may be safe, That her face may not easily meet the gaze of a youth, let her be covered with the nuptial veil, so that not even in chance meetings she might be exposed to the wounding of another or of herself, though the wound of either were indeed hers. But if she cover her head with a veil that she may not accidentally see or be seen (for when the head is veiled the face is hidden), how much more ought she to cover herself with the veil of modesty, so as even in public to have her own secret place.” Early Church Fathers Vol 34, Page 678 aU-2:3