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Clement Paidagogos

Clement, Paidagogos II.10 'A discussion on procreation'

[83] It has been left to the married alone to consider the best moment for intercourse. Their aim is the procreation of children, and their objective is healthy children - just the reason the farmer casts seed is forethought for food and his objective in farming is the harvesting of the crops. Much superior is the farmer who sows a living field. The former is striving for food in the right season; the latter farms with forethought for the permanance of the All. The former plants for himself; the latter plants through God. 'Multiply', He said, and we should understand by this that Man is the Image of God, inasmuch as Man works with him for the generation of Man. Not every land is suitable for receiving seeds; and if every one is, at least it is not for all farmers. We should not sow on rocks; nor should we mistreat the seed, the leader and essence of generation which contains Nature's principles sown into it. To disgrace Nature's principles by irrationally (sowing them) into unnatural channels is very impious. See how the all-wise Moses sometime rejects unfruitful sowing in a symbolic way: 'Do not eat', he says, 'the hare or the hyena'. He does not want Man to share their qualities nor to get a taste for their like immorality. For these animals get extemely excited about sex. They say that the hare increases its vent year every year and has as many holes as the number of years it has lived. When he forbids eating hare, he means to avert us from pederasty. The hyena changes every year from male to female: in an enigmatic way he says that keeping off hyena means we shouldn't have an urge to adultery.

[84] Well, I also agree that the all-wise Moses admittedly speaks enigmatically in the prohibition before us, that we must not resemble these animals; but I do not assent to the explanation of what has been symbolically spoken. For nature can never be forced to change. What once has been impressed on it, may not be transformed into the opposite by passion. For passion is not nature, and passion tends to deface the form, not to cast it into a new shape. Many birds are said to change with the seasons, both in colour and voice, as the blackbird, which becomes yellow from black, and a chatterer from a singing-bird. Similarly the nightingale changes by turns both its colour and note. But they do not alter their actual nature, as in the transformation to become female from male. But the new crop of feathers, like new clothes, produces a kind of colouring of the feathers, and a little after it evaporates in the rigour of winter, as a flower when its colour fades. And in like manner the voice itself, injured by the cold, is enfeebled. For, in consequence of the outer skin being thickened by the surrounding air, the arteries about the neck being compressed and filled, press hard on the breath; which being very much confined, emits a stifled sound. [85] When, again, the breath is assimilated to the surrounding air and relaxed in Spring, it is freed from its confined condition, and is carried through the dilated, though till then obstructed arteries, it warbles no longer a dying melody, but now gives forth a shrill note; and the voice flows more widely, and Spring now becomes the song of the voice of birds. Thus there is no reason to think the hyena changes its nature. The same creature does not have both sets of genitals at the same time, male and female, as some suppose when they make up stories of monstrous hermaphrodites and invent a new 'third' nature of an 'androgyne' between female and male. Their mistake is that they have not considered the ingenuity of all-maternal and generative Nature. Since the hyena is the most lustful of animals, under its tail before the passage for excrement there has developed a fleshy receptacle which is similar in form to the female genitals. I declare the shape of the flesh gives no passage which leads to anything of use like a womb or a rectum. Rather it has only a large cavity with which it receives the semen in vain whenever the passages for giving birth are occupied with pregnancy and are diverted. [86] This has developed in the male and female hyena due to the animal's excessive love of penetration. The male likes taking turns, and for this reason you can rarely find a female hyena. Conception is not frequent in this animal because insemination contrary to nature is so usual among them.

This is what I think Plato meant in the Phaedrus when he rejected pederasty and called it a 'beast' because the dissolute and lustful 'bite through the bridle' and 'go in like farm animals and try to inseminate children' (250e). Such impious men, says the Apostle, 'God has given up to dishonourable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error' (Rom. 1:26-27). [87] But nature has not permitted even the most lustful of animals to inseminate the anal passage. Urine is separated off into the bladder, while moistened food descends into the bowels, tears into the eyes, blood into the veins, wax into the ears, mucus into the nostrils. The bottom joins onto the end of the rectum through which the excrement is squeezed out. Only in the case of the hyena has manifold nature devised this superfluous part for its superfluous inseminations. It is to an extent hollow for the purpose of serving the parts that itch, but the cavity is blind: it has not been invented for procreation. From this it is completely clear that intercourse between males is to be banned along with unfruitful sowings, sex from the rear, androgyne couplings which are out of kilter with nature, and we should follow nature itself which forbids this through the layout of the parts and created the male not for receiving seed but for ejaculating it. Jeremiah - when he speaks, it is the Spirit talking through him - says, 'My house has become the lair of the hyena' (12.9), expressing his loathing of food from corpses as a clever allegory for condemning idolatry. Truly the House of the Living God must be holy.

[88] Again, Moses forbids us to eat the hare. The hare has sex in every season, and approaches the female from behind as she squats. It likes rear entry. It conceives each month and is made additionally pregnant. It is impregnated and gives birth, is pregnant straightaway and is impregnated by any male hare (for it is not monogamous). It conceives even when lactating. For its womb is bifurcated. The void of the womb alone is not a sufficient stimulus to it for intercourse: every void desires to be filled, and it happens that, when they are pregnant, the other part of the womb is seized by desire and swells up. This is why superfetation is possible in them. The prohibition expressed enigmatically exhorted them to keep away, then, from extreme appetites, continual sex, intercourse with pregnant women, mounting each other, corruption of children, adulteries, and lusts. [89] For this reason the same Moses declared openly and not through riddles, 'Do not be a prostitute, do not commit adultery, do not corrupt children' (Ep. Barn. 19.4a). The command of the Logos must be upheld with all our might and never in any way contravened and we must not invalidate its injunctions.

The name for bad desire is hybris, and the horse of desire Plato has called 'hybristic', reading 'You became unto me stallions mad for females' (Jer. 5.8). The angels who came to Sodom will make you know the punishment for hybris. Those who wanted to disgrace themselves they burnt up along with the whole city, recording as a clear example the fire which is the fruit of lust. What happened to the ancients has been written down, as we have remarked before, to admonish us against being captured by the same vices and to put us on our guard against falling into similar trouble. [90] We must think of boys as our sons, look on women belonging to other men as our own daughters, control the pleasures of the belly and master like strong rulers the pleasures beneath the belly. If, as the Stoics confess, Logos does not even permit the wise man to wag his finger as it will, how can it not be even more important for men pursuing wisdom to control the part of the body concerned with intercourse? . . . For this reason I think it is called pudendum, because this more than the rest of the body must be used with a feeling of shame. As with food, Nature permitted us to make use of lawful marriage as far as is suitable, useful, and proper. It permitted us an appetite for procreation. Those who pursue this to excess slip up on what is unnatural and harm themselves through intercourse that is unlawful. Above all it is right that we should never associate with young men for the sex we have with females. Thus Moses the philosopher said, 'Do not sow on rocks and stones, since it will never take root and receive its generative nature'. [91] The Logos passed this on through Moses most clearly: 'You shall not lie with a male as with a woman: it is an abomination' (Lev. 18.22).

In addition, 'Keep away from all female land' not your own is the advice of that fine Plato drawing on the holy Scriptures and taking his regulation from 'And you shall not give the couch of your seed to your neighbour's wife and defile yourself with her' (Lev. 18.20). 'Unholy and bastard are the seeds of concubines'. Do not sow where 'you do not wish the seed to grow'. Do not 'touch a woman unless she is married and completely one's own wife', from whom alone the pleasures of the flesh may be enjoyed rightfully for legitimate succession. These things alone are considered lawful by the Logos. Those who share in the divine and creative portion are not to cast away their seed nor to abuse it nor sow horn-shot seed. [92] And the same Moses forbids you to approach even your wedded wives if they should happen to be occupied by their monthly purifications. It is not sensible to pollute the most generative element of the seed and what will soon be a person with the purgings of the body or to wash away with the filthy flux of material and purging the seed of natural generation and deprive it of the furrows of the womb. Nor was any of the ancient Hebrews induced to go with his own wife when she was pregnant: this is simply for pleasure, even if taken in marriage - illegal, unjust, and irrational. Again, Moses removes men from pregnant women till they have given birth. The fact of the matter is that the womb is situated under the bladder and above the rectum and extends its neck between the 'shoulders' in the bladder, and the opening of the neck, where the seed enters, is closed when filled, and again when it is purged by birth is rendered empty, and jettisoning the fruit it is then receptive of the seed. (There is no shame in us naming for the benefit of our hearers the organs of conception which God was not ashamed to create.) [93] Now the womb thirsts with desire for the seeding to make children, it rejects the blame attached to intercourse, and after the seeding it now completely excludes licentiousness by shutting its mouth. The appetites which were previously spent in the excitement of affectionate embraces are diverted and busied internally with the making of children in cooperation with the Creator. It is not at all acceptable to trouble nature yet further when it is at work by crossing the line into wantonness.

Wantonness comes in many names and forms. When it is turned to that part of indiscipline which concerns sex, it is called lust, common, plebeian, unholy, the inclination to sexual intercourse, the name making it clear. From its increase arises a large number of disorders, love of food, of wine, of women, and in general dissoluteness and all love of pleasure, and desire rules them like a tyrant. Countless related vices grow alongside these, and the intemperate character is the sum of them. Scripture says, 'Whips are being readied for the intemperate and punishments for the backs of fools' (Prov. 19.29); it calls the strength of intemperance and the active toleration of it the 'backs of fools'. Thus also it says, 'Remove from my slaves empty hopes and avert from me improper desires, lest the my belly's appetite and sexual intercourse take hold of me' (Ecclesiasticus 23.4-6 adapted). Keep at a distance the multitude of evil-doing by those who plot against you. Not against Crates' knapsack alone, but not even against our city 'does there sail a stupid parasite, nor a gluttonous sodomite taking pleasure in the buttocks, nor a treacherous prostitute', nor any other such beast of pleasure. For much worthy conduct is implanted in us for our whole lives.

[94] In sum, whether we should marry or abstain from marriage - and this is a matter of debate - has been discussed in our On Self-Control. If it is this - i.e. should we marry? - we would need to consider how it could be simply permitted to use sex on any occasion as something necessary like food . . . From this it can be seen that the nerves are like threads pulled apart and snapped in the intensity of sexual intercourse. Indeed it spreads a fog over the senses and strikes at one's efficiency. This is clear in the irrational animals, and in the case of men in training those who abstain beat their opponents in the contests while those who are dragged away from love-making are pulled around, almost being hauled, and are completely devoid of all their strength and willpower. The sophist from Abdera calls sex 'a small epileptic fit', considering it an incurable disease. Do not feelings of release follow in accordance with the size of the ejaculation? . . . 'A person is grown and separated from a person'. See the size of the loss: a whole person is separated in the ejaculation during intercourse. For it says, 'This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh' (Gen. 2.23). The man is drained by the seed as can be seen in his body; the beginning of generation is separation. But the seething of the material upsets and disturbs the harmony of the body. [95] The man who was asked how he felt about sex made a smart reply when he said, 'It sounds good; but I'm most pleased to have escaped what is a rabid and wild mistress'. But marriage is sanctioned and ordained. 'Multiply' - for the Lord wants humankind, but He does not say, 'Be immoral', and He did not wish them to be given up to pleasures as if they were created for sex. Let the Tutor put us off when he cries out through Ezekiel, 'Circumcise your fornication'. Even the irrational animals have a set time for sowing. Intercourse which is not for procreation is a violation of nature whom we must register as our teacher and keep the wise instructions she has introduced regarding the right time - I mean concerning old age and childhood. In the case of the latter she never concedes it, while she no longer wants the former to marry, or rather not at any time to marry. Marriage is the appetite for procreation, not the indiscrimate, illegal, and unaccountable secretion of seed. [96] Our whole life should proceed according to nature, controlling desires from the beginning and not using evil contrivances to murder the race of men which grows by divine providence. To provide a cover for fornication these women employ lethal drugs to drag it down to utter destruction and along with the embryo they abort humanity itself.

Those who have been granted marriage are in need of the Tutor so that the mystical rites of nature are not celebrated during the day nor does one make love for example after church or coming home early from the agora in the manner of a rooster, when it is rather the occasion for prayer and reading and the good deeds of the daytime. In the evening it is appropriate to take rest after one's meal and the thanksgiving for our blessings. [97] Nature does not allow every occasion to perform married intercourse. The embrace is more enjoyable that is delayed. You must not however behave intemperately at night because you are in the dark; but modesty must be enclosed in the soul like the light of reason. We shall not differ from Penelope working at her loom if we weave resolutions of continence in the day, and undo them at night when we go to bed. If dignity is to be practised, as it is, one must display it far more to one's own wife by seeking to avoid unseemly embraces, and let the guarantee of faith in the purity of dealings with neighbours be established at home. For it is not the case, and no dignity can be expected in a woman whose keenness for pleasures attests no dignity. Friendly feeling which knows it slips into sexual intercourse flowers for but a short while and grows old with the body. Sometimes it ages prematurely as desire wilts when pleasures associated with courtesans do violence to married continence. Lovers' hearts have wings, and the passion of love is extinguished by a change of mind, amiability is often converted to hatred when disgust brings a feeling of condemnation. [98] Uncontrolled language, unseemly positions, kisses suitable for courtesans, [lasicivious names], and certain types of lust like this, are not even to be mentioned, if we obey the plain language of the Blessed Apostle, 'But immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is fitting among saints' (Eph. 5.3). I think someone put it pretty well by saying, 'Intercourse benefitted no-one, but was acceptable if it didn't cause harm'. Sex which is lawful is dangerous except inasmuch it occurs for procreation.

Concerning unlawful sex Scripture says, 'Thou hired woman will be reckoned up as like unto the hog, while a woman subject to a husband will be a tower of death to men that use her'. It compared affection for a prostitute to a goat or a pig and pronounced adultery with a guarded prostitute to be a death sought for. The house and the city in which they practice licentiousness are condemned by the poem you have which goes like this, [99] 'Adulteries you have and sex among men, lawless, womanish, and unjust, O Evil City, unclean in every way'. On the other hand it admires those who show chastity: 'having no vile want for another's bed, nor rushing to hateful and foul violation of a male', because it is contrary to nature. Many think these are luxuries, their own sins, while more reasonable people recognize they are sins, but are overcome by pleasure and use darkness to veil their vices. For he who uses his marriage like a courtesan practices adultery in it, and he does not hear the voice of the Tutor, crying, 'The man who ascends his bed, who says in his soul, Who sees me? . . . Darkness is around me, and the walls are my covering, and no one sees my sins. Why am I cautious . . . lest the Highest will remember?' (Ecclesiasticus 23.18-19). Most wretched is such a man, dreading men's eyes alone, and thinking that he will escape the notice of God. 'For he knows not,' says the Scripture, 'that brighter ten thousand times than the sun are the eyes of the Most High, which look on all the ways of men, and cast their glance into hidden parts'. Thus again the Tutor threatens them, speaking through Isaiah: 'Woe to those who hide deep their counsel, and say, Who sees us? . . . ' (Is. 29.15). For one may escape the light of sense, but that of the mind it is impossible to escape. 'For how,' says Heraclitus, 'can one escape the notice of that which never sets?' Let us by no means, then, veil ourselves with the darkness; for the light dwells in us. 'And the darkness,' it says, 'does not overcome it' (John 1.5). And the very night itself is illuminated by chaste reason. The thoughts of good men Scripture has named 'sleepless lamps'. [100] For one even to attempt to practise concealment with reference to what he does is confessedly to sin. And every one who sins, directly wrongs not so much his neighbour if he commits adultery, as himself, because he has committed adultery, besides making himself worse and less honourable. For he who sins, in the degree in which he sins, becomes worse and less honourable than he was; and he who has been overcome by base pleasures has now intemperance wholly attached to him. Therefore the fornicator is wholly dead to God and is abandoned by the Logos as a corpse by its spirit. For what is holy, as is right, abhors to be polluted. But it is always lawful for the pure to touch the pure. Let us not, I pray, take off our shame at the same time as we take off our clothes; because it is never right for the just man to divest himself of his continence. For, look, this mortal shall put on immortality; when the insatiability of desire, which runs into licentiousness, is educated to self-restraint and made free of the love of corruption and shall consign the man to everlasting chastity. 'For in this world they marry and are given in marriage' (Mt 22.30 adapted). But having done with the works of the flesh, and having been clothed with immortality with the flesh itself pure, we pursue what is according to the measure of the angels.

Thus in the Philebus, Plato, who had been the pupil of the barbarian philosophy, mystically called Atheists those who as far as they can in their appropriation of vices destroy and pollute the Deity dwelling in them, that is, the Logos. [101] Those, therefore, who are consecrated to God must never live mortally. 'Nor,' as Paul says, 'must we make the members of Christ the members of a prostitute; nor must the temple of God be made the temple of base vices' (1 Cor. 6.15, 19 adapted). Remember the four and twenty thousand that were rejected because of fornication. But the experiences of those who have committed fornication, as I have already said, are examples which correct our desires. Moreover, the Tutor warns us most distinctly: 'Do not go behind your desires, and abstain from your appetites' (Ecclesiasticus 18.30), 'for wine and women will remove the wise; and he that cleaves to harlots will become more daring. Corruption and the worm shall inherit him, and he shall be held up as showing a greater example' (Ecclesiasticus 19.2, 3, 5). And again - for He never wearies of doing good - 'He who can stare straight at pleasure crowns his life'. [102] It is not right to be subject to sexual relations nor to be all agape for one's desires, nor to indulge one's vices for irrational appetites, nor to want to be polluted. The married man alone has been authorized, like a farmer, to sow when the time is right for receiving the seed.

Bk 2, ch. 10 bis

The Logos is the best medicine for other types of absence of self-control, and what helps also is the lack of that satiety by which desires are inflamed and leap around the pleasures.