Monasticism is the pursuit of spiritual ideals and separation from matters of the flesh and the world

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Monasticism is the pursuit of spiritual ideals and separation from matters of the flesh and the world

3.6.3. Attitudes toward sexuality

It implies a separation from ordinary life. Monks generally live in seclusion from the rest of society, and solitary prayer is common within monastic communities. Monasticism was very popular in early Christianity, and had its forerunners in Judaism. Of all the physical desires and distractions of the world, monks most reject sex, ily.

Even among those who did not pursue the complete monastic separation, sexuality and marriage were typically viewed as distractions at best. Within this view of sexuality there are several variations. Some viewed complete abstinence as the only way to be saved. Some viewed abstinence as the ideal, but not a requirement. Some viewed sex as necessary for continuation of the species, but only for the continuation of species (that is, they rejected sex outside of fertile times or for enjoyment). Recall that for those who believed the order of nature would change very soon, planning for future generations was a waste of time. The Essenes according to Josephus

These Essenes reject pleasures as an evil, but esteem continence and the conquest over our passions, to be virtue. They neglect wedlock, but select other persons’ children, while they are pliable, and fit for learning, and esteem them to be of their kindred, and form them according to their own manners. They do not absolutely deny the fitness of marriage, and the succession of mankind thereby continued; but they guard against the lascivious behavior of women, and are persuaded that none of them preserve their fidelity to one man.

Moreover, there is another order of Essenes, who agree with the rest as to their way of living, and customs, and laws, but differ from them in the point of marriage, as thinking that by not marrying they cut off the principal part of human life, which is the prospect of succession; nay rather, that if all men should be of the same opinion, the whole race of mankind would fail. However, they try their spouses for three years’ probation; and if they find that they have their natural purgations thrice, as trials that they are likely to be fruitful, they then actually marry them. But they do not use to accompany with their wives when they are with child, as a demonstration that they do not marry out of regard to pleasure, but for the sake of posterity. The Community Rule of the Qumran Sect (Yahad)

Multiple rule books were found at Qumran. The Damascus Document seems to reflect a wider, more permissive set of rules that permits marriage within certain limits. The stricter Community Rule assumes that only men are welcome in the community. The logic seems to have focused on the requirement of constant purity. They thought of themselves as living with angels and preparing for war that would be led by angels. Sex was seen as defiling and repulsive to angels. The Jesus Movement

Even before full organized monasticism, the early followers of Jesus expressed the ideal that marriage should be avoided, or those already married before following Jesus should avoid sex. Paul advises that sexuality within marriage is at least better than uncontrolled lust outside of marriage.

Now in regard to the matters about which you wrote: “It is a good thing for a man not to touch a woman,” 2 but because of cases of immorality every man should have his own wife, and every woman her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his duty toward his wife, and likewise the wife toward her husband. 4 A wife does not have authority over her own body, but rather her husband, and similarly a husband does not have authority over his own body, but rather his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other, except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, to be free for prayer, but then return to one another, so that Satan may not tempt you through your lack of self-control. 6 This I say by way of concession, however, not as a command. 7 Indeed, I wish everyone to be as I am, but each has a particular gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.

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