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To His Wife by Tertullian

Chapter III.--Remarks on Some of the |Dangers and Wounds| Referred to in the Preceding Chapter.

If these things are so, it is certain that believers contracting marriages with Gentiles are guilty of fornication, and are to be excluded from all communication with the brotherhood, in accordance with the letter of the apostle, who says that |with persons of that kind there is to be no taking of food even.| Or shall we |in that day| produce (our) marriage certificates before the Lord's tribunal, and allege that a marriage such as He Himself has forbidden has been duly contracted? What is prohibited (in the passage just referred to) is not |adultery;| it is not |fornication.| The admission of a strange man (to your couch) less violates |the temple of God,| less commingles |the members of Christ| with the members of an adulteress. So far as I know, |we are not our own, but bought with a price;| and what kind of price? The blood of God. In hurting this flesh of ours, therefore, we hurt Him directly. What did that man mean who said that |to wed a stranger' was indeed a sin, but a very small one?| whereas in other cases (setting aside the injury done to the flesh which pertains to the Lord) every voluntary sin against the Lord is great. For, in as far as there was a power of avoiding it, in so far is it burdened with the charge of contumacy.

Let us now recount the other dangers or wounds (as I have said) to faith, foreseen by the apostle; most grievous not to the flesh merely, but likewise to the spirit too. For who would doubt that faith undergoes a daily process of obliteration by unbelieving intercourse? |Evil confabulations corrupt good morals;| how much more fellowship of life, and indivisible intimacy! Any and every believing woman must of necessity obey God. And how can she serve two lords -- the Lord, and her husband -- a Gentile to boot? For in obeying a Gentile she will carry out Gentile practices, -- personal attractiveness, dressing of the head, worldly elegancies, baser blandishments, the very secrets even of matrimony tainted: not, as among the saints, where the duties of the sex are discharged with honour (shown) to the very necessity (which makes them incumbent), with modesty and temperance, as beneath the eyes of God.

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