Occasionally I hear people say that the Church Fathers had a negative view of sex or thought it was inherently sinful. I don’t think that’s true, so I made a page on my website to compile some writings of the Fathers where they speak positively about sex within marriage. It may be useful to think of it as a very early stage in the development of a theology of the body in the early Church. BTW I’d love to add to this; do any of you know any other Fathers who spoke positively about sex and sexuality within marriage?
The Fathers on the Goodness of Sex Within Marriage
Before 354 A.D. - St. Athanasius - “[There is a] lawful use [of the sexual organs] which God permitted when He said, ‘Increase and multiply, and replenish the earth,’ and which the Apostle approves in the words, ‘Marriage is honourable and the bed undefiled.’ … He is blessed who, being freely yoked in his youth, naturally begets children.” (Letter 48)
393 A.D. - St. Jerome - “[We] do not follow the views of Marcion and Manichaeus, and disparage marriage; nor, deceived by the error of Tatian, the leader of the Encratites, do we think all intercourse impure… We are not ignorant of the words, Marriage is honourable among all, and the bed undefiled. We have read God’s first command, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth; but while we honour marriage we prefer virginity… Will silver cease to be silver, if gold is more precious than silver?” (Against Jovinianus Book 1 Paragraph 3)
Before 397 A.D. - St. John Chrysostom - “[T]he [sexual] company of your own wife…is no blame at all… Have you not heard Paul, saying, Marriage is honorable, and the bed undefiled?” (Homily 51 on Matthew 15:1 Paragraph 5)