God Speaks Out on "The New Morality" Ambassador College Department of Theology
Fixing Catholic Dogma of Sex
THE ROMAN WORLD of the first four centuries, A.D., had inherited this dualistic view of sex from the Greeks. But even though this concept was generally assumed, we must not suppose that the expanding Roman Catholic Church neglected to refine, and in specific terms define the interpretation as a dogma. It was Augustine, who lived 354-430, who first translated this general Hellenistic attitude into definite terms of theological doctrine. He was the real father of the Catholic teaching on sex. And since the Protestant world has passively assumed the Catholic view without any specific definitions of its own, Augustine was the pioneer interpreter of the sex-is-evil idea generally held until the present generation. To understand this sense of "shame" toward sex, therefore, we need to know certain essential facts about Augustine.
Augustine's Early Life
The Encyclopaedia Britannica describes him as one of the four great fathers of the Latin church. He was actually not a Roman, or Italian, but a North African — a dark-white Canaanite. He was born at Tagaste in North Africa of a pagan father and a Christian — professing mother. Vainly his mother tried to instruct him in the Scriptures. But his early studies in the Latin philosophers, Seneca, Cicero, Vergil, and Lucretius prejudiced the young man and convinced him — without examining it — that the Bible was full of contradictions. He had, also, some acquaintance with the writings of the Greek philosophers. His father set his heart on making young Augustine a rhetorician, and sent him to the University of Carthage to study rhetoric. Prior to this, he was once taken very ill. Afraid he might die, he called for baptism. But when the danger passed soon, he deferred, and then neglected the baptism entirely. From his father young Augustine inherited a sensually passionate nature. This, remember, is the real FATHER of the sex attitude that prevailed in all Christendom until the present generation! He entered into an illicit premarital sex relationship with a girl, while still in his teens. This fornication continued for fifteen years. A pregnancy and a son resulted. At Carthage he decided to devote himself to literary pursuits. Here he soon abandoned what little Biblical teaching he had imbibed from his mother. A turning point in his life came in 373, at age 18. He read Cicero's Hortensius, which aroused within him a passionate desire to study philosophy. And we should be reminded that philosophy means the thoughts, reasonings, theories, speculations and explanations of life, purposes, values, ethics and ways, written by men cut off from Godmen ignorant of God's authoritative revealed knowledge. Only the Creator Himself can tell us WHY we are here, the true meaning of life, the true values and the right ways. The world's philosophy, therefore, is pure fable. It is, of course, carnal and pagan. It is man's attempt to know that which is to him UNKNOWN and utterly inaccessible to the carnal mind. Yet this was the intellectual and spiritual food digested in Augustine's formative years. Augustine sought vainly to find some meaning to life. He leaped from one phase of speculative thought to another. Nothing satisfied him. He wanted a world-view that was all-embracing.
He Absorbs Pagan Dualism
This search led him into Manichaeism, a pagan mixture of Persian Zoroastrian dualism and Gnosticism. This doctrine teaches that man's "soul" sprang from the "Kingdom of Light," but is imprisoned in "the Kingdom of Darkness" which is the BODY, from which it seeks to escape. This weird teaching enthralled him. He became a fervent member of the sect. It seemed to him to solve the mysteries of the world. He accepted it as the explanation of his own personal problem with sex. It led him into a fanciful and mystic religious world, embellished with a wealth of Oriental myth. He remained wedded to this strange religion for nine years. It gave him, for the time being, great peace of mind. Its ideal was chastity and self-restraint. Sex, being of the physical body, was evil and degrading. His conscience had troubled him greatly, because he was bound in the fetters of sensuality. But now, even though he lacked the moral will power to break these fetters that enchained him, he seized on the HOPE that death ultimately would free his "pure soul" from the prison of his body. As the years passed, he occupied himself increasingly with the exact material sciences. Gradually these studies convinced him of the incompatibility of Manichaean astrology with the facts. Yet, from Manichaeism he had absorbed a belief in celibacy. The Manichee ideal of chastity — the virtue of celibacy, self-restraint from the "degrading" use of sex — of the continent life utterly denying the temptations of sex in any form, and under any conditions, had been too deeply imbedded in Augustine's mind to be ever given up. So, even though he did give up this Persian religion as a whole, he clung tenaciously to its interpretation of sex. In 383 the celebrated Manichaean Faustus sought vainly to hold Augustine within the ranks of that religion. But in the discussion, Faustus was unable to solve all the world problems that had puzzled and worried Augustine. The result: instead of holding Augustine as a Manichaeist, Faustus disillusioned him. All except Manichaeist teachings of the evils of sex, that is.
Swayed by Agnosticism
After this, Augustine went to Rome, where he opened a school of rhetoric. This he continued but a short time. He accepted a professorship at Milan and left Rome. Here he was swayed by new influences. Augustine was subject to being swayed by various influences, unsound though they were. He was torn between two strengths within himself. On the one hand, he possessed an unusually intellectual mind. Being carnal, he was filled with intellectual vanity. He took deep pride in the conviction that he was a Thinker. He was always trying to understand the mystery of life. But he never knew where to find it — in GOD'S WORD! On the other hand he had been unable to control his sex appetite. As one writer states it, "he could not subdue his lust of the flesh.... He was still tormented by guilt over his 'habit of satisfying an insatiable lust.'" At Milan his inner mental conflict in the search for truth continued. He soon associated himself with a group of professional intellectuals called "The Academics," or, "The New Academy." This was a school of thought followed by the philosophic successors of Plato. They had changed from the dogmatism of Plato to the extremes of agnosticism. Where Socrates, teacher of Plato, has said: "This alone I know, that I know nothing," Arcesilaus said: "I cannot know even whether I know or not." This Neo-Platonist society, also known as the Skeptics, denied the existence of absolute truth. Augustine's thinking was greatly influenced by this group. Of course he failed to find truth here, but it influenced him to seek for truth outside the world of materialism. Yet the factor that troubled Augustine was the existence of evil. His own inability to control his sex nature racked his conscience. If there was any PURPOSE in existence, why do we find pain, suffering, and evil present? If there be a God, why would He allow it? In this Neo-Platonic association, Augustine found partial solution in the theory that evil does not actually exist — it is merely the absence of good. One ought to be astonished at the ridiculous nonsense the carnal "intellectual" mind of vain "thinkers" will embrace. Much in this Neo-Platonic system of thought became the FOUNDATION for Augustine's later theology — and thus of Roman Catholic teachings. At Milan, Augustine also came under the influence of Ambrose, Bishop of Milan. The literary quality of Bishop Ambrose's sermons attracted Augustine. Also they overcame many of his objections to the Bible. Ambrose was a man of worldly culture, combined with the maturity of the "Christianity" of the period. Augustine sought vainly an opportunity to engage Ambrose in philosophic discussion — but found the Bishop inaccessible. Gradually, however, Ambrose's sermons drew Augustine toward embracing the Catholic faith.
Augustine Embraces Catholicism
The mental struggle now going on within him was becoming intolerable. The thought of divine purity condemned him for his equally strong love of the world and sensuality. All that held him back from now embracing Catholicism was his inability to control sex and live in continence. It was in the summer of 386 that he received a visit from a Catholic compatriot named Pontitian. He was shaken deeply to learn from Pontitian that two young officials, both engaged to be married, had suddenly turned their backs on the world, and had entered on a monastic life. Conscience-stricken, Augustine ran out into the garden, and flung himself under a fig tree. A passionate burst of weeping seized him. He seemed to hear a voice. It bade him: "Take up and read." He procured a Bible. As most religionists, churchmen, and the clergy of this world do, he took a single brief passage of Scripture by itself, without regard to context, imputing to it his own meaning. The ministers of this world's "Christianity" quote certain isolated verses from the Bible regularly. In many cases they impute to these a meaning entirely at variance to the real meaning of the passage in its context. And all the while they studiously avoid numerous other passages which clearly and plainly teach the very opposite of the meaning they are attempting to read into the passages they do quote and wrongly interpret. The passage to which Augustine happened to turn was Romans 13:13-14: "Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." Augustine said later: "I had neither desire nor need to read further. As I finished the sentence, as though the light of peace had been poured into the heart, all the shadows of doubt dispersed. Thus hast Thou converted me to Thee, so as no longer to seek either for wife or other hope of the world." There was absolutely nothing in this passage on which his eyes had lit which forbade a man to seek a wife — nor in any other teaching of the Bible. There was positively nothing in this passage which suggested celibacy or a life of retiring to the seclusion of the monastery. Neither this passage nor any in the Bible teaches that Christians must leave the world. There is nothing in the Bible to justify the monastery system. Rather, in Christ's own real "Lord's Prayer," in John 17, Jesus prayed thus for His followers: "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil" (verse 15). Actually, He commanded His Church: "Go YE INTO ALL THE WORLD, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mk. 16:15). But Augustine's mind was filled with ideas, convictions, and philosophies absorbed from Manichaeism, from the Skeptics, the Neo-Platonists, the pagan thinkers and philosophers, and his own stricken conscience. Therefore, to such a troubled mind, this Biblical passage was falsely interpreted to mean, "Withdraw from the world entirely. Do as these two men had done — flee from the world into the seclusion of hiding." This actually did much to firmly establish the monastic system in Roman Catholicism. I deem it well that the reader realize how some of these pagan ideas, teachings, and practices came to be accepted as "Christian," though they are in fact the very antithesis of REAL Christianity!
Now it so happened that at this precise moment Augustine was engaged to be married. He had sent away his unmarried partner in fornication. However, unable to control his sex appetite, he had indulged in fornication with a third woman. Now, upon what has been termed his "conversion," Augustine withdrew with a few male companions to the seclusion of a country estate near Milan. He announced himself as a candidate for baptism. His religious opinions and habits still were largely unformed. He did seek sternly to discipline himself, according to what he supposed to be right, awaiting baptism. He was baptized on Easter, 387, in his thirty-third year. Then Augustine spent a year in Rome, in literary work. In the autumn of 388 he returned to Tagaste. There he formed a small religious community, which he headed. Their mode of life was semi-monastic, but this experience of seclusion is said to have formed the basis for the monastic system. Augustine's fame began to spread. Many invitations for more active ecclesiastical life began to pour in. After two and a half years in retirement he went to Hippo, where the lay people ordained him a priest. Finally he became Bishop of the See there. What Augustine termed his conversion — when he heard the voice, and read the two Biblical verses — changed his whole life. His lust of the flesh was now so far overshadowed by his thirst for the spiritual that it no longer was a problem. But he did not banish reflections on the interpretations of sex from his mind. On the contrary, as he rose to prominence and greatness in Roman Catholicism, he virtually fixed the doctrine of the Church in regard to sex. In this he was subject to powerful influence, both by the various teachings, philosophies, and pagan schools of thought to which he had been partisan, and also by his own former problem and struggle with his own conscience. He never shook off the influence of the Hellenistic dualism that sex, being of the flesh, was in itself intrinsically evil. Augustine never did entirely rid himself, either, of his earlier aversion to the Scriptures — especially those of the Old Testament. Yet he was forced to recognize sex as a FACT of CREATION — an act of God. To that extent he was impelled to modify his dualistic views sufficiently to call the Creation good. He could not escape the admission that God intended man to marry. Otherwise God would have provided some different method for the reproduction of the human kind. But he did reason in his mind that, before what he assumed to be the "fall," man had originally been created so that sex and reproduction should have been entirely different. He reasoned that, before the "fall," sex would have been wholly a matter of the mind, and solely for procreation. There would have been no passion, no sensual, physical attraction whatsoever. Apparently it never did occur to him to see in sex any such thing as an expression of LOVE between a happily married husband and wife, bound together by God. To him it was wholly LUST. It had always been so in his personal experience.
The Roman world in the time of Augustine. Born in Tagaste, North Africa, in 354, Augustine attended the University of Carthage. Later, in Rome, he opened a school of rhetoric. At Milan he met Bishop Ambrose, who persuaded him to embrace the Roman Church. Augustine became Bishop of Hippo in 396. (See PDF for Map)
It had been painted in this color, solely, by the Manichees. Augustine never did become sufficiently versed in the Word of God — he never did drink in sufficiently of the MIND of Christ as revealed in the sacred Scriptures, to comprehend God's purposes in sex. Two things should be noted in this connection. It is many times more difficult to UNlearn error than to learn new truth. Augustine never succeeded in erasing from his mind many of these pagan concepts and attitudes and philosophies he had absorbed from earlier pagan associations. And secondly, he never came to regard the Bible as his source of knowledge — as the infallible AUTHORITY for faith and practice. He followed, instead, tradition and custom. He it was, who in large measure established Roman Catholic doctrine and practice as it continued through the Middle Ages. And from the founding days of Simon Magus (Acts 8) on through Constantine, Augustine, Leo I, Thomas Aquinas, the Council of Trent, and on to the present, the Roman Church has never regarded the Bible as its basic AUTHORITY or source of belief and practice. The Catholic Church teaches that the Bible is not a sufficient guide "to heaven." For Catholics, authority resides in THE CHURCH, not in the Bible. If this were not so, there would be no need for this book. The Catholic concept of sex was not derived from the Bible. It does not teach the revealed knowledge and purposes of God in regard to sex. It teaches the doctrines of THE CHURCH. And it was this Augustine who first began to define the CHURCH position on sex in definite terms. That is the reason, if we are to understand the real SOURCE of this view of SHAME in regard to sex, we need to examine and understand the real SOURCE of Augustine's interpretation. So it was that Augustine the Bishop viewed sex through the eye-glasses of Augustine the Manichaeist, and Augustine the Platonist "Thinker" — out of his own conscience-stricken experience. The concepts absorbed from Hellenistic dualism, and other assumptions received from the Skeptics and Neo-Platonic philosophers, influenced him heavily. Among the errors he carelessly ASSUMED to be true was the idea of the "fall of man." He supposed, falsely, that God had created a perfect man — who was an immortal soul composed of spirit, fused with, and housed in a body of flesh. He assumed that this soul was endowed with a holy, pure, righteous nature, perfect in character. Then, when God wasn't looking, Satan came along and WRECKED God's perfect handiwork. Man "fell" to a lower nature — one of lust — concupiscence — evil desire for sensual gratification. When God finally beheld, with horror, the wreckage perpetrated by Satan — when God came to realize how Satan had thwarted His PURPOSE — He had to think out some plan for "repairing the damage." In other words, redemption is God's effort to restore fallen man to a condition as good as Adam was, before the "fall."
God Contradicts Augustine
This concept is the very reverse of Biblical TRUTH. God's Word reveals that God formed MAN — not a prison — house in which man dwells — but the MAN, of the dust of the ground. This man became, or was, when breathing, a LIVING SOUL. The soul, says Genesis 2:7, is composed of MATTER out of the ground. The soul is mortal. The soul is the breathing body. It can SIN, and the soul that sins shall DIE (Ezek. 18:4, 20). Man did not "fall" to a lower NATURE of concupiscence. Human nature in us all, today, is the same human nature that, in Adam, caused him to SIN! IF Adam had been created "free from inordinate inclinations to sin," as a Catholic catechism states it — IF he had been created with a higher spiritual nature unable to sin — he simply could not, and would not, have sinned. If God had created Adam so he would not, or could not, sin, then THAT would have defeated God's PURPOSE! But God could never defeat His own Purpose. Nor was Satan allowed to thwart it. His PURPOSE is still, today, BEING CARRIED OUT! God's PURPOSE STANDS! (Isa.14:27; 46:9-11.) Man did not "fall" — in the sense that his nature was changed to a lower nature. It was SATAN who FELL! (See Luke 10:18.) And it is Satan who has deceived the whole world, using a great false church as his instrument! But, Augustine reasoned, Adam "fell" into a nature of concupiscence; and this concupiscence is transmitted, as original sin, by the very act of sexual intercourse which brings about conception. Therefore, no sexual union ever takes place — even for the purpose of reproduction in holy wedlock — without the corrupting lust of the flesh. All babies, he reasoned, are born as a result of this odious concupiscence. And they, in turn, receive concupiscence by heredity. This is simply false and unscriptural teaching. It was this false teaching which instilled a false sense of shame, and a feeling of GUILT, in the minds of married people. Yet Augustine had his own explanation of this guilt complex. He reasoned that "the fall" produced it. The sense of shame toward sex, he reasoned, was transmitted to each generation by heredity. But he did not receive his ideas from the Bible. He reasoned from personal experience, supposing all men to be like him. He, himself, possessed a strong sex drive combined with a weak will to control it. So Augustine excused his personal weakness — even though plagued by a guilt-stricken conscience-theorizing that all human wills, because of inherited "original sin" due to the "fall," are totally impotent in the area of sex. No man, he argued, can master his own body. And because of the odiousness of the act by which conception occurs, this sense of shame was passed on by heredity. His perverted reasoning bridged over the fact that it was this false teaching which instilled the unhealthy attitude toward sex, and induced the sense of guilt. He himself, was guilty of causing much of the suffering, unhappiness, and frustration that has come to succeeding generations.
HOW Was Christ Sinless?
But WHAT ABOUT CHRIST? If concupiscence — original sin — the state of sin — is universal in all men — if it is passed on by heredity — if man has no power to resist concupiscence and master his own body — HOW EXPLAIN A SINLESS CHRIST? Ah! This was a dilemma! But Augustine thought his way around it! His explanation was the doctrine of the "Immaculate Conception." Few non-Catholics properly understand this doctrine. It refers, not to the conception of Jesus in the womb of His mother, Mary, but to that of Mary. In brief, the doctrine, as now taught, is this: Because of the "fall," this "original sin" — this state of sin — this concupiscence — is transmitted by the father at the instant of conception. Because Mary was to receive the great dignity of becoming the "Mother of God," she was preserved free from "original sin," in the very instant of her conception. Apparently Mary's parents are supposed to have lived so righteously that they were changed from a carnal or human nature, to a spiritual or divine nature. Thus, according to this doctrine, Mary was born sinless. She was preserved from "original sin." The Catholic Church has always attributed to Mary the fullest possible measure of holiness and freedom from sin. Anyway, as Augustine reasoned, there was none of this concupiscence or hereditary sin in Mary at all. It was not there to be passed on, by heredity, to Christ. And since Jesus had no human father, but was begotten by God, through the Holy Spirit, Jesus was preserved from the stain of sin. He was thus made sinless, because there was no contaminating sex act involved in his begettal in Mary's womb. The world has little realized the tremendous scope and ramifications of Satan's many deceptions connected with this subject of sex! When David cried out, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Psalm 51:5), he was not accusing his mother of committing sin in the act of his conception. This Psalm is David's heart-rending prayer of REPENTANCE, and his broken-hearted and tearful plea for forgiveness. It followed his act of adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband. David is not trying to excuse himself by blaming the guilt on his mother. He is confessing his own sin! He is speaking of the human nature, which was in David from the very instant of conception. He referred to the sinful nature in him from the instant of conception. The act of conception — in marriage — IS NO SIN, but obedience to the COMMAND OF GOD (Gen. 1:28, and 9:1). There is not ONE WORD of Scripture to imply that the purpose of the virgin birth was to free Christ from the taint of sin! There is NO TAINT OF SIN connected with any birth. Even the birth of the child of unwed parents IS NOT A SIN! The fornication that brought about conception was a sin — on the part of the parents. But there is no sin on the part of the child. Such children are under NO CONDEMNATION — should feel none. Jesus Christ was HUMAN, born of a HUMAN mother — and He paid the debt of HUMAN sins for all humans who confess them and repent and believe. But His only Father was God, not a human man. Conception was produced by the Holy Spirit from God. Jesus' divine begettal, from God, made Him the Son of God. His birth of the virgin Mary, who was HUMAN, made Him the Son of MAN. As a man, he suffered death for the sins of MAN. As a divine Person, by whom the Father had created mankind, He gave a life of greater value than the sum total of all other human lives! How GREAT are the ways of God! But as a HUMAN, Jesus was TEMPTED in all points, just as we are (Hebrews 4:15). The temptation — the desire — was the same as with all men — but Jesus never harbored that desire. He put it instantly out of mind. He kept so close to God — His thoughts and affections so constantly on things above — as we are commanded to do (Col. 3:1-2), His mind so positively and vigilantly on the awareness of the true values as opposed to the false, that every wrong desire was banished before it could conceive.
The True Definition of Sin
Let James make clear what does constitute SIN. Of course the basic definition of sin is stated by John — "sin is the transgression of the Law" (I John 3:4), referring to the spiritual Law of God. And again, "All unrighteousness is sin" (I John 5:17) — and David defined God's Commandments as righteousness (Psalm 119:172). But James explains not only what is sin, but how it takes place. He says: "Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then, when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James 1:14-15). The Revised Standard translation renders it into more precise English: "... each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire." It is plainly stated in Hebrews 4:15 that Jesus "was in all points tempted like as we are, YET WITHOUT SIN." James states that the temptation never comes from God. Paul explains there is a "law of sin" "in our members" (Rom. 7:23) — that is, in human flesh. This law is, simply, human nature. And human nature is merely a "pull," like the downward pull of the force of gravity. You hold a book in your hand. Gravity exerts a pull downward — but you can resist, and hold up the book. Jesus was human, and in human flesh — as well as divine. This human "law" — the automatic pull of the flesh and its natural desires — was in Jesus. He was tempted — IN ALL POINTS, including sex temptations — yet WITHOUT SIN. The desire was present in His flesh. That desire came to His mind to tempt Him. But the instant awareness of the pull of the flesh in the wrong direction entered His mind HE PUT IT OUT! Too often WE DON'T! That's the difference! It is when your mind retains this desire of the flesh — this temptation — and it "conceives" into yielding — DOING wrong — that it becomes SIN. The temptation is NOT sin. Jesus was required to withstand the ordeal of being TEMPTED by Satan himself, before He qualified to replace Satan as GOD and KING of the world (Mat. 4:1-11) — and that, after He had been physically weakened by forty days' fasting. But the very fast which depleted physical strength increased spiritual power. In this supreme temptation at Satan's hands, Jesus was tempted with overwhelming physical desire. He was HUNGRY, to an extent few men have ever known. The desire to eat food was TREMENDOUS. He had the power, as the Son of GOD, to turn stones into bread which his stomach craved. But He did not yield to this desire. He rejected it instantly. He did not say: "Let me think it over." He did not harbor the temptation in His mind, and allow that desire to increase until it overwhelmed Him. But immediately, the instant the temptation was put to Him, He thrust it out of mind. Instead of obeying Satan and taking things into His own hands, He trusted God for His bodily need, rejecting what He knew to be the wrong way to supply His stomach's need. Sin is wrong DOING! It is transgression of God's Law. Jesus never sinned. All other humans, including YOU and me, have! The difference is that we have harbored wrong desires in our minds — allowed the temptations to overwhelm us and so weaken our spiritual resistance that we yielded in physical action. Sin is a spiritual principle — but concerned with PHYSICAL actions! We have allowed these temptations to remain in our minds long enough to take root — to conceive — to take the action of wrong doing. Jesus never did. That's the difference.
Augustine taught, contrary to God's Word, that Jesus was kept free from sin by virtue of being born of an immaculately conceived mother — that He was above even being tempted. IF that had been true, Jesus could not have paid the penalty of HUMAN sin for you and for me! Neither could He have died. The satanic immortal-soul doctrine presupposes that Jesus never died in reality. Satan's lie tries to make us believe that Jesus was an immortal Spirit being inside a body. But Jesus died. Jesus was DEAD! He was resurrected from the dead (I Cor. 15:3, 12-20). Jesus simply kept closer to God — and to TRUTH — than Augustine. Augustine tried to excuse his own sexual sins by postulating that no man can resist concupiscence. So he had to invent a different Jesus (II Cor. 11:4) who was actually not a MAN but a divine being never tempted by sex. This is not true. Jesus had the same human fleshly desires as Augustine and all other men. He simply never yielded to those desires. How DIFFERENT are the false reasonings of Augustine and Satan's deceiving church from the TRUTH taught by the true Church of God, as recorded in THE BIBLE! Augustine's reasonings were based, not on the Word of God, but on his early pagan associations and personal failures. So he reasoned that all sexual desire, whether harbored and acted on or not, was concupiscence and therefore sin. Of course, Jesus said: "... whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." But Jesus was talking, not about a temptation resisted, but the committing of an action, in his thoughts. In other words, whoever looks on a woman, and harbors sex desire, or lust, has committed adultery. Even though the inordinate desire is carried out in his mind only — not in actual physical contact — it still is AN ACTION — it is wrong DOING. He has done it in his mind. It was a mental action, not physical — yet the intent was there. But Jesus was not talking about a case of a man happening to glance at a voluptuous female in a bathing suit, and in a flash recognizing that here is TEMPTATION — and in that same flash turning eyes the other way and walking off with clean and pure thoughts in his mind. Such a man under such circumstances recognizes temptation, refuses to harbor it, does not let his mind dwell on illicit desire, immediately puts a thought of God, or of Christ, in his mind. This man did not commit the ACT, either mentally or physically. HE DID NOT SIN. Sin is wrong DOING, either mentally or physically. Augustine's corrupted thinking led him to rate celibacy as a blessed state compared to begetting children in marriage! Even the desire to be married — when the purpose desired was to rear children to be "saved" through Christ — was, in his warped reasoning, a low desire compared to being a celibate or a virgin. Even though God's inspired instruction to mankind in I Corinthians 7 teaches otherwise, Augustine interpreted this chapter in accordance with his contrary ideas! He termed marriage a "medicine for immorality." That is, marriage ideally ought to be engaged in only by those unable to contain themselves as virgins. It was merely the least of the evils — a lesser evil than fornication. And, further, sex, he reasoned, even within marriage, when not entered into for the express purpose of having children, is a sin! This is totally contrary to I Corinthians 7 — yet it is the Catholic position still! Of course it is spoken of as only "venial sin" — yet it is termed SIN. Incidentally, the grading of sin and the term "venial" is a Catholic term — not Biblical! To quote from Cole, in explaining how the Hellenistic interpretation of sex flowed from Greece into Roman Catholicism, Augustine "simply accepted the tradition as it was passed on to him from earlier hands, but he did systematize and solidify it, making it definitive for the medieval Church, and it is his mind which still dominates the Roman Catholic interpretation of sex." (Sex in Christianity and Psychoanalysis, by William Graham Cole.)
The Reasoning of Aquinas
During the Middle Ages, Catholicism, without altering basic tenets, did adapt to the ways of the barbaric Teutonic tribes who overran the Roman Empire. Its outstanding theologian of that era was Thomas Aquinas. This leader made a few minor alterations and adaptations in the Catholic teaching regarding sex. Thomas Aquinas, unlike Augustine, was an avid follower of the philosophy of Aristotle. Accepting Augustine's pronouncements regarding sex in the main — continuing, of course, the general thesis that sex is itself essentially evil and shameful, he nevertheless made a few additions. In these he harmonized the philosophies of Aristotle and the barbarians. It is significant that he followed pagan philosophies — NOT THE WORD OF GOD! In harmony with the pagan Aristotle, Aquinas was not quite so suspicious of physical pleasure as Augustine. He softened just slightly in this direction. He put major emphasis on devotion to thought, contemplation, using the mind in human REASON. The Word of God puts emphasis on the fact that human reason, unguided by God's Word, is unreliable and leads into false beliefs and ways. "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man," says God, through the wise Solomon, "but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25). The Bible warns repeatedly against vain reasonings. Paul writes, to the Romans: "... when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations [REASONINGS], and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools... who changed the truth of God into a lie" (Romans 1:21-25). But Thomas Aquinas glorified mental contemplation and human reason. The greatest good was to devote oneself to it. Whatever contributed to it was good — whatever hindered it was evil. A quiet life devoted to thought was much higher than a life of action and accomplishment. This, of course, was diametrically contrary to Biblical teaching. In the vanity of his supposed "intellectuality," Thomas Aquinas arranged the "sins of sex" in order of their supposed sinfulness. When sex desire disturbed or interrupted mental thought and processes of reason, it was sin. It must never disorder one's occupation with reasoning. He listed what he termed "unnatural vice" as the most sinful of sex sins. Among these, the worst was bestiality — the lowest depth of sin to which a man can sink. Next, in categorical order of "unnatural vices" he listed homosexuality, and lastly masturbation. By this time marriage had become a sacrament. Aquinas granted that marriage was not only acceptable by divine law, but also in harmony with his reason. He thought it was necessary for the world in general, though, like Augustine, virginity and celibacy were higher. Marriage was especially approved if a man's reason dictated it. Marriage, as a sacrament, was a sternly perpetual bond until death, and divorce and remarriage were forbidden. The opinions and declarations of Augustine, and of Thomas Aquinas, had remained just that. They were not actually official Church dogma. Yet they were accepted and followed within Catholicism as if they had been official doctrines. But Luther's "reformation" forced the Ecumenical Council of Trent. The Church now found it necessary to dogmatize doctrines and make them official, especially respecting sex and marriage. Luther had broken with the policy of celibacy.
The Council of Trent
This Council was not truly "ecumenical." It included no Protestants nor the Greek Orthodox Church. It was Roman Catholic only. It made no change in the general concept that sex itself is an odious and shameful thing. It merely left that general concept in the public mind as it was before. It did officially make marriage a sacrament of the Church. It had to find some way to make sex in marriage for the purpose of reproduction appear at least permissible — in view of God's command in Scripture: "Be fruitful and multiply." This difficulty was solved by declaring that "sacramental GRACE" of matrimony can remove the guilt of sin, but only when the motive is procreation. It must, of course, be understood that "sacramental grace" refers only to marriages performed officially by a Catholic priest, under Catholic terms and conditions. And "grace," remember, means "undeserved" or "unearned pardon, or gift." They allowed one other condition of receiving this "free pardon" from the Church. It was termed "rendering the debt." If a husband demanded sexual union when procreation was not the motive, and the wife was "forced to give in," her act was called "rendering the debt." The Church graciously "pardoned" her, bestowing its "grace." She, therefore, was not committing sin — but the husband who demanded this "debt" was guilty of sin — though it was termed "venial" sin. The position of this Council — the position of the Roman Catholic Church always — is that the only AUTHORITY is the Roman Catholic Church. They do not recognize God, or CHRIST, or the BIBLE as supreme authority. The position is that the CHURCH has usurped that authority. In the Work of God, which God through Christ carries on around the world, by the instrumentality of The WORLD TOMORROW broadcast, The PLAIN TRUTH magazine, the Ambassador Colleges, the only AUTHORITY is GOD ALMIGHTY, who speaks through CHRIST as the living Personal Word, and the BIBLE as the written Word of God — the Instruction Book of the Creator to the mankind of His creation! And so we see: 1) that humans are not animals of instinct; that humans know nothing at birth — humans must learn and be taught; that humans were made free moral agents, allowed to make wrong choices, commit wrong acts; that the first Teacher of the first humans was the Creator — but the humans and their descendants rejected revelation; that pagan thought — the reasonings of human minds cut off from God and His TRUTH formed the pagan teachings and customs of this world, swayed by Satan's deceptions; and that the pagan concept of sex, adopted and perpetuated until our time by the Roman Catholic Church, has been false and harmful. 2) that the western world, somehow, has come to assume that these pagan teachings masquerading as Christianity actually are the teachings of the Bible! This dualistic attitude that sex is evil in itself, and shameful, has caused tragic unhappiness in countless millions of marriages. This is emphatically NOT the teaching of God, or of the Bible. It has been a CURSE to humanity.