Roman law severely punished women for adultery, but figured boys will be boys. Asterius of Amasea, however, tells us that God has no double standard. The laws of marriage apply exactly equally to husband and wife.
Let both parties to the marriage contract practice self-control in the unbroken bond of wedlock. For where the honor of marriage is maintained, there must necessarily be affection and peace, with no vulgar and unlawful desire to excite the soul and expel legitimate and righteous love.
This law of self-control is not ordained by God for women alone, but for men also. But those who listen to secular lawgivers, and leave to men the unrestricted license of adultery, while they are stern judges and teachers of the sanctity of women, are themselves shamelessly licentious. As the proverb says, they heal others but are full of sores themselves.
If anyone reproaches them, they offer a subtle and playful defense. Men do their own hearth no harm, they say, even if they approach many women; but women, if they sin, introduce alien heirs into their houses and families.
But let the sophistical inventors of this frivolous justification of their conduct know that they themselves are overturning other hearths and homes. For the women with whom they associate are surely the daughters or wives of somebody; and in any case there will be found either a marriage plotted against, or a parent wronged who has begotten and reared a daughter. If the wretch is a father, let him think about the feelings of a father who has been thus disappointed; if he is a husband, let him imagine himself the injured man.
It is a good rule for each one to judge the affairs of another as he wishes another to judge his own. And if any, listening to the law of the Romans, consider fornication permissible, they make a dreadful mistake, not knowing that God lays down law in one way, while human beings make statutes in another. –Asterius of Amasea, Sermon 5IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
Do I tend to judge women’s failings in chastity more harshly than men’s?
Do I tend to judge my own failings in chastity more generously than other people’s?
Lord, strengthen the bonds of human love in my family, so that we may be witnesses of your love to the world.
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