May 2, 2008

Adultery and fidelity

From St. John Chrysostom:

What shall we say about adultery? Let us ask an adulterer why he commits this sin. "It is the tyranny of lust," he replies. "Why," we ask, "are you under this tyranny? Why could you not satisfy your sexual desire through intercourse with your spouse?" The adulterer replies: "I am consumed with passion for someone else's spouse." Yet this very reply reveals the contradiction in which the adulterer places himself. If it is a physical lust which impels him, then he could resist that lust; no physical desire is stronger than the power of the soul to resist it. If it is a loving passion which impels him, then he should be repelled by the very thought of adultery: a truly loving man could not indulge his love for someone else's wife at the expense of his own wife. Besides, love can never force someone to do anything: love is gentle, not violent, even when it is passionate. Sexual desire is a very powerful craving which even a life of celibacy does not suppress. But adultery is always a matter of choice; no amount of lust, and no passion of love, can overwhelm a person's capacity to choose between fidelity and betrayal.

4 comments:

Petersen said...

Nice post. Thanks.

Fr John W Fenton said...

Pr Esget,

Thanks for highlighting these words from St John Chrysostom. What is the source?

Christopher Esget said...

I wish I could remember. In 1999 I made a pamphlet of patristic quotations on marriage for my first parish, with four from Chrysostom. I didn't note the citations, regrettably, but when I came across the pamphlet again the other day I thought I'd post them.

Vicar John Sias said...

Chrysostom's second homily on Ephesians, NPNF First Series, vol. XIII, p. 57. (No, I didn't know that offhand... I looked it up in Libronix.)