DECEPTION EXPOSED - THE CHURCH FATHERS
JEROME ON MARRIAGE AND SEX
The truth is that, in view of the purity of the body of Christ, all sexual intercourse is unclean. - Jerome
Do you know that marriage and sex were degraded as unclean and polygamy so despised and demeaned to the place of sin and adultery in the Universal Church? It was not like that in the beginning. Do you know why and how this happened?I believe that many, as will read this article to the end will re-evaluate what they have always thought to be truth, and their attitude to the present religious system will never be the same again. For my axe is aimed at the root of the deception.
I maintain that the present understanding of the present Church concerning many truths, especially of the marriage institution, are in many ways not just unbiblical but erroneous and even pagan. Such assertion, I know will certainly arouse much displeasure and anger from many believers. This, I can understand and it is obvious that some form of justification is needed. Thus, I shall do so in this paper, by exposing some big and grievous errors of a renowned hermit, whose thoughts and philosophy had greatly influenced and shaped the Universal Church and the world. Any student of Church history will know him. He is Jerome, one of the 3 most powerful writers and theologians of the Church in the 4th and 5th centuries, the other 2 being Ambrose and Augustine. These 3 are called the Latin Church Fathers, who played prominent roles in consolidating the Church theology that continued to these days. Their authority works remain rooted as unquestioned fundamentals. Jeromes monastic theology and life of asceticism in many ways define the standard of holiness in the Church. For 34 years, he stayed in a cave in Bethlehem (supposedly next to the cave in which Christ was born) and he translated the Bible from the Hebrew Tanakh into the Latin Vulgate Bible, which is the common version used by the Roman Catholic church to this day. The breakaway Protestants are not spared of his errors because much of their beliefs, especially that of marriage are still largely influenced by Jeromes monastic theology and asceticism.
Who am I to question a sage and Church father of such high esteem? I dare not. I will let his own writing speak for him. Thus, I have chosen to come right to the point, short and sharp. However, as we run along, I will give some comments, something which I do not think anyone who cares for the truth can refrain from doing.
For you will soon discover that paganism, anti-polygamy and anti-Semitism are actually of the same source. Where then is the snake pit from which they spring forth? You will soon find out.
Quotations from Jeromes article blue
My comments black
I will quote from a treatise, AGAINST JOVINIANUS, in which Jerome unleashed a fierce attack against one called Jovinian, whose stand, especially on marriage and virginity greatly aroused his anger. Jovinians book was condemned in synods at Rome and Milan at about AD 390, and his materials subsequently sent to Jerome who answered him in this treatise in AD 393. My purpose is not to debate between Jovinian and Jerome, but to glean from the reply of Jerome such underlying thoughts and philosophy that had devastated the truths of God, especially that of the marriage institution in the Universal Church. It should suffice to represent Jeromes view and be sufficient to answer in part how deceptions were so etched into the Church.
What do we look for and be concerned about as we run along?
- Jeromes way of interpreting and using the Scriptures in this specimen which is representative of many other such truths and sentiment that have become the mindset of the Church.
- The method by which asceticism was introduced and exalted in the Church
- How marriage and other truths were stripped of esteem and demeaned
- How such deceptions finally permeated the entire Church and became the unquestioned value in religious holiness.
This is what Jerome wrote of Jovinian:
I read but could not in the least comprehend them. I began therefore to give them closer attention But the style is so barbarous, and the language so vile and such a heap of blunders, that I could neither understand what he was talking about, nor by what arguments he was trying to prove his points. At one moment he is all bombast, at another he grovels: from time to time he lifts himself up, and then like a wounded snake finds his own effort too much for him For how can you overcome a man when you are quite in the dark as to his meaning? What, I ask, is the meaning of these portentous words and of this grotesque description? Would you not think he was in a feverish dream, or that he was seized with madness and ought to be put into the strait jacket which Hippocrates prescribed?
I will briefly set forth our adversarys views, and will drag them out from his books like snakes from the holes where they hide, and will separate the venomous head from the writhing body. What is baneful shall be discovered, that, when we have the power, it may be crushed.
What did Jovinian do to deserve such severe blows of condemnation from Jerome? In Jeromes own words:
He (Jovinian) says that "virgins, widows, and married women, who have been once passed through the layer of Christ, if they are on a par in other respects, are of equal merit." He endeavors to show that "they who with full assurance of faith have been born again in baptism, cannot be overthrown by the devil." His third point is "that there is no difference between abstinence from food, and its reception with thanksgiving." The fourth and last is "that there is one reward in the kingdom of heaven for all who have kept their baptismal vow."Jerome considered such teachings the hissing of the old serpent that drove man from Paradise. He added:
This is the hissing of the old serpent; by counsel such as this the dragon drove man from Paradise. For he promised that if they would prefer fullness to fasting they should be immortal, as though it were an impossibility for them to fall; and while he promises they shall be as Gods, he drives them from Paradise
And I beg the reader not to be disturbed if he is compelled to read Jovinians nauseating trash. He will all the more gladly drink Christs antidote after the devils poisonous concoction. Listen with patience, ye virgins; listen, I pray you, to the voice of the most voluptuous of preachers; nay rather close your ears, as you would to the Syrens fabled songs, and pass on. For a little while endure the wrongs you suffer: think you are crucified with Christ, and are listening to the blasphemies of the Pharisees.
With such harsh words of condemnation, Jerome the supposedly spiritual and holy man with 34 years of hermit life in the cave with God, relentlessly hammered his fellow man and brother, Jovinian. Without doubt he was furious and his religious zeal and outcry were very aggressive against anyone who dared equal marriage to virginity. This we shall see, for his reply for the most part covers this aspect.
Next came a lengthy but bold defense of his monastic truth and exaltation of virginity over marriage, which he asserted, is in every way more acceptable, superior and spiritual. But this is the teaching of pagan ascetic religions but of the Scriptures. Modernism has identified some of those "truths" as plainly ridiculous and impractical for living. But because it is religious in approach, the underlying thoughts remain "holy", keeping people under bondage. I do not think many readers would be interested to go through the entire winding discourse. If you want the full document, I shall be glad to give it to you. It is at the end of this article. But as for this paper, I shall highlight the source of deception that had crept into the Church and this should be enough for most people. Of marriage, he wrote:
We know that in a great house, there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and earthenware. And that upon the foundation, Christ, which Paul the master-builder laid, some build gold, silver, precious stones: others, on the contrary, hay, wood, straw. We are not ignorant of the words, " Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled." We have read Gods first command, "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth "; but while we honor marriage we prefer virginity which is the offspring of marriage. Will silver cease to be silver, if gold is more precious than silver? Or is despite done to tree and corn, if we prefer the fruit to root and foliage, or the grain to stalk and ear? Virginity is to marriage what fruit is to the tree, or grain to the straw. Although the hundred-fold, the sixty-fold, and the thirty-fold spring from one earth and from one sowing, yet there is a great difference in respect of number. The thirty-fold has reference to marriage.
The very way the fingers are combined see how they seem to embrace, tenderly kiss, and pledge their troth either to other is a picture of husband and wife. The sixty-fold applies to widows, because they are placed in a position of difficulty and distress. Hence the upper finger signifies their depression, and the greater the difficulty in resisting the allurements of pleasure once experienced, the greater the reward. Moreover (give good heed, my reader), to denote a hundred, the right hand is used instead of the left: a circle is made with the same fingers which on the left hand represented widowhood, and thus the crown of virginity is expressed.
I will therefore do battle In the front rank I will set Apostle Paul, and, since he is the bravest generals For the Corinthians asked many questions about this matter, and the doctor of the Gentiles and master of the Church gave his full replies. "Let us turn back to the chief point of the evidence: "It is good," he (Paul) says, "for a man not to touch a woman." If it is not good for a man not to touch a woman, it is bad to touch: for there is no opposite to goodness but badness. But if it be bad and evil is pardoned, the reason for the concession is to prevent worse evil. But surely a which is allowed because there may be something worse has only a slight degree of goodness."
Now concerning touching a woman, there was no doubt that Paul was referring to unlawful sexual relationship or co-habitation, not marriage. But this was what Jerome saw and propagated, that marriage is somewhat evil, but a better of 2 evils and is pardoned because man just cant help it. Since it is a means to satisfy carnality and to prevent fornication. Thus, virginity and celibacy were certainly considered as being more spiritual and superior!
When you are discussing continence and virginity you say, "It is good for a man not to touch a woman." And, "It is good for them if they abide even as I." And, "I think that this is good by reason of the present distress." And, "That it is good for a man so to be." When you come to marriage, you do not say it is good to marry, because you cannot then add "than to burn;" but you say, "It is better to marry than to burn." If marriage in itself be good, do not compare it with fire, but simply say" It is good to marry." I suspect the goodness of that thing which is forced into the position of being only the lesser of two evils. What I want is not a smaller evil, but a thing absolutely good.
"He that is able to receive it, let him receive it." He does not say,you must drink, you must run, willing or unwilling: but whoever is willing and able to run and to drink, he shall conquer, he shall be satisfied. And therefore Christ loves virgins more than others, because they willingly give what was not commanded them. And it indicates greater grace to offer that you are not bound to give, than to render what is exacted of you. The apostles, contemplating the burden of a wife, exclaimed, "If the case of the man is so with his wife, it is not expedient to marry." Our Lord thought well of their view. You rightly think, said He, that it is not expedient for a man who is hastening to the kingdom of heaven to take a wife: but it is a hard matter, and all men do not receive the saying, but they to whom it has been given He who is able, he says, to receive it, let him receive it. It is a mark of great faith and of great virtue, to be the pure temple of God, to offer oneself a whole burnt-offering, and, according to the same apostle, to be holy both in body and in spirit.
Observe the twist in such reasoning. The grace and call to be an eunuch for the Kingdom and the urgency of time and distress due to suckling babies became a mark of more superior faith, greater virtue, purer and holier in body and spirit. This implies that those who are married (which also implies that marriage and sex) are more inferior spiritually and less holy. Even though such sentiment had been somewhat changed in the Reformation, the underlying pattern of thoughts still remains and is affecting the life of Christians worldwide, keeping believers under the unseen shackles of the bondage of asceticism and false guilt.
"But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned." It is one thing not to sin, another to do good.
Which means that it is not good to marry. But the Scriptures say, "He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the LORD." (Prov 18:22)
"But I would spare you." Thus, he (Paul) says, I allege tribulation as a motive, as though there were not greater obligations to refrain. "But this I say, brethren, the time is shortened, that henceforth both those that have wives may be as though they had none." "He that is unmarried is careful for the things of the Lord how he may please the Lord: but he that is married is careful for the things of the world how he may please his wife, and is divided." Let us look at the difference between the cares of the virgin, and those of the married man. The virgin longs to please the Lord, the husband to please his wife, and that he may please her be is careful for the things of the world, which will of course pass away with the world.
Because of erroneous interpretations and wrong applications of such teachings, at later times, priests who were married, whether monogamous or polygamous had to abandon their wives and families in order to be most faithful to God. For it was assumed that those who were married would care for their spouses and not the things of God. This was in direct contradiction to the Jewish belief that an elder (both in OT and NT) would should be married to be able to handle the household of God and give good counsel to the community.
"He who marries a wife does not sin": here he tells us "He that keepeth his own virgin doeth well." But it is one thing not to sin, another to do well. " Depart from evil," he says, "and do good." The former we forsake, the latter we follow. In this last lies perfection.
His case is now almost established. One who is married does not do well and is almost evil, whereas one who is virgin does well, is good and going towards perfection. See how deception works, even using scriptures!
Lamech, a man of blood and a murderer, was the first who divided one flesh between two wives.
His statement presumptuously implies, "Lamech was the first polygamous man. He was a murderer, and polygamous men tend to be men of sins like murder." But there are many bad errors in this statement. Lamech was the first recorded polygamous man in the Bible, but not necessarily the first polygamous man. The first murderer was undoubtedly Cain, a presumably monogamous man. The passage on Lamechs words in itself does not make much sense to most people. The Book of Jasher gives the explanations. It says that because Cain was cursed by God, he appeared like an attacking animal from afar, and Lamech accidentally shot him with an arrow and killed him, thus fulfilled Gods prophecy concerning Cain. In the passage, he was telling his 2 wives, that if Cain who was a cold-blooded murderer was to be avenged 7 times, how much more Lamech, should be avenged 77 times, for he had accidentally shot him. This passage has always been misquoted by anti-polygamy proponents for their own purposes. Lamech was most likely not the first polygamist at that time and he was not a murderer. There was no record in the Bible, neither anywhere in Jewish history or even folklore that he was avenged even once, not mentioning 77.
And as regards Adam and Eve we must maintain that before the fall they were virgins in Paradise: but after they sinned, and were cast out of Paradise, they were immediately married.
How distorted and biased a wayward view can be! He did not accept that God had married them and he held the view that they must not have had sex in Eden, for sex must be something unholy, unclean or inferior (which is heathen and pagan belief). And they immediately had sex (as if its the only thing in marriage) after they were cast out because they fell. Thus sex is identified with sin. It seems that marriage to Jerome is not anything beyond sexual activities. However, he did not consider how they were supposed to multiply in Eden if they had not sinned.
The link of marriage is not found in the image of the Creator. When difference of sex is done away, and we are putting off the old man, and putting on the new, then we are being born again into Christ a virgin, who was both born of a virgin, and is born again through virginity. And whereas he says "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth," it was necessary first to plant the wood and to let it grow, so that there might be an after-growth for cutting down.
He totally ignored the prevailing polygynous marriage theme of God and His people throughout the entire Bible. But here seems to be another proof of his problem with repressed sex, typical of an eunuch who was not given the grace to be a celibate. He did not see God as the Husband of the Church and the Church as the Bride and Wife (Revelation) of Christ. He saw sex as a burden of the old man for replenishing the earth that will be put away by those who are spiritual well before the new world comes.
Marriage replenishes the earth, virginity fills Paradise. This too we must observe, at least if we would faithfully follow the Hebrew, that while Scripture on the first, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth days relates that, having finished the works of each, "God saw that it was good," on the second day it omitted this altogether, leaving us to understand that two is not a good number because it destroys unity, and prefigures the marriage compact.
Another proof. Psychologists will tell us that this is the repressed sex urge that is exploding everywhere before his eyes. He seemed all sexed up in everything he saw. Anything that is 2 is now viewed as marriage, sex and bad. Yet such a person had become a founding church father whose theology has been firmly rooted into the hearts of millions of believers through the ages.
Hence it was that all the animals which Noah took into the ark by pairs were unclean. Odd numbers denote cleanness. And yet by the double number is represented another mystery: that not even in beasts and unclean birds is second marriage approved. For unclean animals went in two and two, and clean ones by sevens, so that Noah after the flood might be able to immediately offer to God sacrifices from the latter.
Here we see an example of the ridiculous rationale and perhaps one of the origins of the religious and legalistic disapproval of second marriage, whether monogamous or polygamous. Surprisingly this was found its way into many denominations, even among the Protestants. Being blindly biased, his argumentative mind failed to see, perhaps refuse to see that the clean animals were not just brought in pairs but in seven pairs.
He (Jovinian) raises the objection that when God gave his second blessing, permission was granted to eat flesh, which had not in the first benediction been allowed. He should know that just as divorce according to the Saviors word was not permitted from the beginning, but on account of the hardness of our heart was a concession of Moses to the human race, so too the eating of flesh was unknown until the deluge. But after the deluge, like the quails given in the desert to the murmuring people, the poison of flesh-meat was offered to our teeth.
He is another introduction of pagan practice of "vegetarian as holiness" (as in Hinduism and Buddhism) into the Church. Jerome equaled eating meat to the sin of careless divorce. It was not the eating of the quail meat that was sin. God gave it. It was the indulgence that was sin.
But after the deluge, together with the giving of the law which no one could fulfill, flesh was given for food, and divorce was allowed to hard-hearted men, and the knife of circumcision was applied, as though the hand of God had fashioned us with something superfluous. But once Christ has come in the end of time, and Omega passed into Alpha and turned the end into the beginning, we are no longer allowed divorce, nor are we circumcised, nor do we eat flesh, for the Apostle says, "It is good not to eat flesh, nor to drink wine." For wine as well as flesh was consecrated after the deluge.
The scripture is again grossly misquoted. Paul was saying that it was not good to eat flesh or drink wine nor to do any such thing if they stumble a weak brother, not that a believer should not eat flesh or drink wine at all. Which is worse, to eat flesh or to smoke tobacco? But since cigarettes were not mentioned, Catholicism allow their believers and even their priests to smoke to this day, despite scientific proof of cancer risk. This passage also exposes an origin of anti-Semitism in the Church, where the Jews were persecuted for their practices of the Law. One really cannot undermine the influence of someone like Jerome upon the Church.
What shall I say of Abraham who had three wives, as Jovinianus says, and received circumcision as a sign of his faith? If we follow him in the number of his wives, let us also follow him in circumcision. We must not partly follow, partly reject him.
Is Jerome saying that polygamy should be made acceptable for any believer who is willing to be circumcised? This would not be difficult. Jerome argued just to win.
And if Jacob had two pairs of wives and concubines, and our opponent (Jovinian) will not admit that blear-eyed Leah, ugly and prolific, was a type of the synagogue, but that Rachel, beautiful and long barren, indicated the mystery of the Church,
No sound theologian would agree with this, such wickedness which clearly stamps from anti-Semitism, the Scriptures were blatantly misquoted to the Church against the Jews to violently persecute them.Thus we see that paganism, anti-polygamy and anti-Semitism are actually of the same source.
As regards Moses, it is clear that he would have been in peril at the inn, if Sephora which is by interpretation a bird, had not circumcised her son, and cut off the foreskin of marriage with the knife which prefigured the Gospel. This is that Moses who when he saw a great vision and heard an angel, or the Lord speaking in the bush, could not by any means approach to him without first loosing the latchet of his shoe, that is, putting off the bonds of marriage.
How in this instance, did he relate the shoes and circumcision to marriage we do not know, for earlier he was talking about being circumcised like Abraham if one wish to be polygamous like him. But one can tell that he seems to see marriage and sex everywhere. My concern is that such a one had greatly influenced the Church in the teaching of holiness and marital standard and purity.
Ahimelech the priest to David when he fled to Nob: "If only the young men have kept themselves from women." And David answered," of a truth about these three days." For the shew-bread, like the body of Christ, might not be eaten by those who rose from the marriage bed. And in passing we ought to consider the words "if only the young men have kept themselves from women."
Another twist of the Word here because of obsession. The keeping from women clearly speaks of keeping away from strange women rather than from the marriage bed for they had been in the wilderness with David.
The truth is that, in view of the purity of the body of Christ, all sexual intercourse is unclean.
Like a great advocate and orator, Jerome finally, in one stroke, boldly thrust forth his "truth" after he so carefully and painstakingly built his case The truth is that, in view of the purity of the body of Christ, all sexual intercourse is unclean. These are Jerome's own words. Thus behind all his reasoning was that sexual intercourse within marriage was unclean and bed, after all is defiled, in another word, marriage and sex are sin.
He went on and on the great Jerome,
And no one doubts that in both passages Moses signifies the law. We read that Moses, that is the law, had a wife: shew me then in the same way that Joshua the son of Nun had either wife or children, and if you can do so, I will confess that I am beaten. He certainly received the fairest spot in the division of the land of Judah, and died, not in the twenties, which are ever unlucky in Scripture being a hundred and ten
Wherefore when Moses died, the people of Israel mourned for him but Joshua like one on his way to victory was unmourned. For marriage ends at death; virginity thereafter begins to wear the crown.
The Bible did not mention anything about the marital aspect of Joshua, whether if he was married or not. For that, the renowned father and theologian of the Church, Jerome assumed that Joshua must be a virgin and challenged the readers to prove if Joshua was ever married. And he contended that because Joshua was a virgin, he was preferred to Moses, given better land and did not die in the twenties (120), for "two" is ever unlucky in the Scripture. These are direct quotations of Jeromes words, not my deduction of his words.
As soon as this Joshua reached Jordan, the waters of marriage, which had ever flowed the land, dried up and stood in one heap;
Thus Jerome contended that Jordan was the waters of married life must be put to death if one is to enter the promised land.
And if Samuel who was brought up in the tabernacle married a wife, how does that prejudice virginity? And so he is not named in the Psalms among the priests, but among those who call upon the name of the Lord: "Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among those who call upon his name."
Now Jerome asserted that Samuel was not named among the priests because he was not a virgin, unlike Moses and Aaron who were among the priests. But he just forgot that he just had said that Moses was married and thus was not as well rewarded as Joshua.
In accordance with this rule Peter and the other Apostles (I must give Jovinianus something now and then out of my abundance) had indeed wives, but those which they had taken before they knew the Gospel. But once they were received into the Apostolate, they forsook the offices of marriage. For when Peter, representing the Apostles, says to the Lord: "Lo we have left all and followed thee," the Lord answered him, "Verily I say unto you, there is no man that hath left house or wife, or brethren, or parents, or children for the kingdom of Gods sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this time, and in the world to come eternal life."
Thus Jerome maintained that these Apostles literally and physically forsook, disowned their families and wives to follow Jesus. Thus priests had to abandon their responsibilities to their wives and families too. That became the iron rule for all priests, which Martin Luther defied.
As of the "Have we no right to lead about women or wives even as the rest of the apostles" which Paul spoke, Jerome contended that these women or wives are to be interpreted as "women of that we must understand, not wives, but those women who ministered of their substance" that supported the Apostles. But 1 Cor 9:5 clearly speaks of a "right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?" Contextually, it was not possible that Paul was referring to other women.
But we might say concerning Peter, that he had a mother-in-law when he believed, and no longer had a wife, although in the "Sentences" we read of both his wife and daughter.
Does this mean that ministers can acknowledge only mother in law and not wives and daughters?
And yet John, one of the disciples, who is related to have been the youngest of the Apostles, and who was a virgin when he embraced Christianity, remained a virgin, and on that account was more beloved by our Lord, and lay upon the breast of Jesus. And what Peter, who had had a wife, did not dare ask, he requested John to ask. And after the resurrection, when Mary Magdalene told them that the Lord had risen, they both ran to the sepulcher, but John outran Peter. And when they were fishing in the ship on the lake of Gennesaret, Jesus stood upon the shore, and the Apostles knew not who it was they saw; the virgin alone recognized a virgin, and said to Peter, "It is the Lord." whereas we have maintained that his virginity was the cause of the special love our Lord bore to him), let him explain, if he was not a virgin, why it was that he was loved more than the other Apostles.
Sad to observe, Jerome was so virgin conscious that he did not see that the obvious reason behind Johns leaning on the breast of Jesus and his running faster than Peter was simply that he was a much younger man. He contented that it was because he was a virgin. And perhaps it was also because being younger, he could identify Jesus from afar rather than what Jerome assumed, that because he was a virgin thus given the spiritual eyes to identify Jesus from afar.
He continued to prove that John had a higher call than Peter because he was a virgin:
Peter is an Apostle, and John is an Apostle the one a married man, the other a virgin; but Peter is an Apostle only, John is both an Apostle and an Evangelist, and a prophet.
Simply ridiculous and even childish. The same words that he spoke of Jovinian should be applied to himself:neither understand what he was talking about.
Of Adam and Eve he said, They are driven out of Paradise; and what they did not there, they do on earth; so that from the very earliest days of humanity virginity was consecrated by Paradise, and marriage by earth. "Let thy garments be always white." The eternal whiteness of our garments is the purity of virginity. In the morning we sowed our seed, and in the evening let us not cease. Let us who served marriage under the law, serve virginity under the Gospel.
Which means that marriage is not "white", rather it is earthly and unclean. Also marriage belongs only to those under the law and those who receive the Gospel ought not to get married.
Of widows and virgins:
For if a chastity which comes too late, when the glow of bodily pleasure is no longer felt, makes them feel superior to married women, why should they not acknowledge themselves inferior to perpetual virginity.
For he does not say: Let a bishop be chosen who marries one wife and begets children; but who marries one wife, and has his children in subjection and well disciplined. You surely admit that he is no bishop who during his episcopate begets children. The reverse is the case if he be discovered, he will not be bound by the ordinary obligations of a husband, but will be condemned as an adulterer. Either permit priests to perform the work of marriage with the result that virginity and marriage are on a par: or if it is unlawful for priests to touch their wives, they are so far holy in that they imitate virgin chastity. But something more follows. A layman, or any believer, cannot pray unless he abstain from sexual intercourse. Now a priest must always offer sacrifices for the people: he must therefore always pray. And if he must always pray, he must always be released from the duties of marriage.
Thus Jerome insisted that a bishop should first be a husband who should then forsake his wife and children and if found to bear children after his office is to be considered an adulterer. Priests are not allowed to be married and laymen and believers are not allowed to pray unless they abstain from sexual intercourse.
Some more, but I now lack words to comment:
Lord said in the Gospel: "The law and the prophets were until John," they because they were virgins are related to have prophesied even after John. For they could not be bound by the law of the Old Testament, who had shone with the brightness of virginity.
He again said of Jovinian,
And yet that handsome monk so fat and sleek, and of bright appearance, who always walks with the air of a bridegroom, must either marry a wife if he is to show that virginity and marriage are equal: or if he does not marry one, it is useless for him to bandy words with us when his acts are on our side.
Thus it seems that unlike Jerome, Jovinian even though a monk and a celibate did not insist that others must be like him to attain spirituality. If it was so, then Jovinian was indeed a true celibate living in the liberty and grace of of God.
If virgins are first-fruits, it follows that widows and the continent in marriage, come after the first-fruits, that is, are in the second and third rank:
So, in Jerome's eyes, virgins are of first rank, followed by widows, then the married in the third rank. What followed after, to the end of the article was a laundry list and his high praises of virgins who died for their virginity and widows who sacrificed themselves to avoid remarrying again. These were unsung heroes to Jerome and it did not even matter whether they were believers or not.
And this he spoke of the divinity of Buddha:
To come to the Gymnosophists of India, the opinion is authoritatively handed down that Buddha, the founder of their religion, had his birth through the side of a virgin.
But authoritative Buddhist religious materials that I happened to lay my hands on tells me that Buddha was born of the natural process by an earthly king and queen. His mother was certainly not a virgin. Jerome was therefore grossly mistaken here again. Buddha never claimed he was born sinless or of a virgin mother like Christs birth. He married his cousin at the age of 16 and according to those materials, "He was merely enjoying worldly pleasure, living within the palace." - until he had a son at the age of 29, which was when he left his home and became "a penniless wandering ascetic He had no fixed abode. He was living in caves or at the foot of trees." Jerome was perhaps imitating a lifestyle like that. But what is most alarming is that Jerome was so obsessed with his virginity theology that he would misquote another religion by digging out a piece of obscure unauthenticated information which such religion itself would not officially claim or endorse. But Jerome in his mad zeal, in so quoting it, had falsely exalted the birth of its leader to that of Christs without considering the inference and consequences thereof. Perhaps, it did not matter to him.
Such is the early church father, Jerome, his obsession with his virginity theology and his wayward understanding of Christian holiness. No wonder, marriage and sex were degraded as unclean and polygamy so despised and demeaned to the place of sin and adultery in the Universal Church. Perhaps, the errors on marriage have been corrected to some measure since the Reformation. But to this very day, the Biblical validity of polygamy and many issues of sex and marital relationships in relation to holiness are still grossly misconstrued. For example, the more holy a person is, the lesser sex he must have. Such a notion is still very much pagan.
Jerome to this day, remains a Christian sage that believers are still afraid to question. Yet this specimen article represents but only one amidst the many erroneous documents of many early Church fathers of the dark ages. Such materials had become a source and propellantof Church paganism, anti-polygamy and anti-Semitism. Many of such heathen teachings remain firmly rooted in the Universal Church to this present age and have become the modern worldview in many ways as Christianity spreads.
Why didnt the Truth prevail in those days? For at least a few reasons that I can think of. Anything and everything Jewish (which was the root of many truths) were kept out of the Church for the leadership was taken over by ferocious and ambitious wolves that were heathen and were neither even born-again nor truly know the Word of God. Theology like that was beneficial to the religious system of those days to keep the religious order exclusive and powerful, and Jerome, a brilliant scholar with such obsession would be a candidate to invest in. Also, as Christianity, the new religion and awakening spread, adulterations like that, that were akin to the heathen Roman world were easily accepted by the undiscerning new believers. All these became part of Christianity wherever the Gospel went. Only a few were allowed access to the Word of God. Many like Jovinian were gagged to silence before they could speak loud enough. Yet there is one who had been watching over everything all these while, whose eyes we cannot pull the wool over forever. He is but the owner God and He alone is the reason, good enough for things to return to set His people free and to give Him back the full ownership, the glory and honor. The time has come. The truth must be brought to light, and it is happening. Should you not also play a part to raise thealarm and bring an awakening? The choice is yours. You have to decide.
Click Here For Full .txt Document (75 pages) Jerome's AGAINST JOVINIANUS
The SAGE Digital Library Vol 1 - 4
The Nicene & Post Nicene Fathers Series II
Vol 6, St Jerome: Letters
Pages 750 to 825
Read also AUGUSTINE ON LOVE AND SEX
RESTORATION OF BIBLICAL PATRIARCHY
HEBRAIC ROOTS OF CHRISTIANITY
Copyright © Israel CS Lim, May 1999