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To His Wife by Tertullian

Chapter V.--Of the Love of Offspring as a Plea for Marriage.

Further reasons for marriage which men allege for themselves arise from anxiety for posterity, and the bitter, bitter pleasure of children. To us this is idle. For why should we be eager to bear children, whom, when we have them, we desire to send before us (to glory) (in respect, I mean, of the distresses that are now imminent); desirous as we are ourselves, too, to be taken out of this most wicked world, and received into the Lord's presence, which was the desire even of an apostle? To the servant of God, forsooth, offspring is necessary! For of our own salvation we are secure enough, so that we have leisure for children! Burdens must be sought by us for ourselves which are avoided even by the majority of the Gentiles, who are compelled by laws, who are decimated by abortions; burdens which, finally, are to us most of all unsuitable, as being perilous to faith! For why did the Lord foretell a |woe to them that are with child, and them that give suck,| except because He testifies that in that day of disencumbrance the encumbrances of children will be an inconvenience? It is to marriage, of course, that those encumbrances appertain; but that (|woe|) will not pertain to widows. (They) at the first trump of the angel will spring forth disencumbered -- will freely bear to the end whatsoever pressure and persecution, with no burdensome fruit of marriage heaving in the womb, none in the bosom.

Therefore, whether it be for the sake of the flesh, or of the world, or of posterity, that marriage is undertaken, nothing of all these |necessities| affects the servants of God, so as to prevent my deeming it enough to have once for all yielded to some one of them, and by one marriage appeased all concupiscence of this kind. Let us marry daily, and in the midst of our marrying let us be overtaken, like Sodom and Gomorrah, by that day of fear! For there it was not only, of course, that they were dealing in marriage and merchandise; but when He says, |They were marrying and buying,| He sets a brand upon the very leading vices of the flesh and of the world, which call men off the most from divine disciplines -- the one through the pleasure of rioting, the other though the greed of acquiring. And yet that |blindness| then was felt long before |the ends of the world.| What, then, will the case be if God now keep us from the vices which of old were detestable before Him? |The time,| says (the apostle), |is compressed. It remaineth that they who have wives act as if they had them not.|

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