Was Marcion Against Fucking or Pregnancy or Bringing Souls into the World?

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Secret Alias
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Was Marcion Against Fucking or Pregnancy or Bringing Souls into the World?

Post by Secret Alias » Tue Oct 13, 2020 10:51 am

It's an important distinction. What evidence do we have that Irenaeus was an ascetic? The Church Fathers liked to box the heresies into a corner to make them less appealing. When you think about it, I don't think ancient people had any reliable forms of birth control. If the Marcionites were against sex, then they would also be against childbirth but as something of an afterthought. Similarly if the Marcionites were pro-castration then they sex and childbirth were consequences of being pro-testicle chopping or burning. It all depends on where they drew the line.

I know modern vegetarians think meat is cruel but some ancients seemed to think animals and animals souls were vile and disgusting.

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Re: Was Marcion Against Fucking or Pregnancy or Bringing Souls into the World?

Post by perseusomega9 » Tue Oct 13, 2020 10:58 am

Were they against against homosexual acts or other non-conceptive forms of sex?

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Re: Was Marcion Against Fucking or Pregnancy or Bringing Souls into the World?

Post by Peter Kirby » Tue Oct 13, 2020 4:48 pm

First Apology of Justin Martyr, Chapter 26
And there is Marcion, a man of Pontus, who is even at this day alive, and teaching his disciples to believe in some other god greater than the Creator. And he, by the aid of the devils, has caused many of every nation to speak blasphemies, and to deny that God is the maker of this universe, and to assert that some other being, greater than He, has done greater works. All who take their opinions from these men, are, as we before said, called Christians; just as also those who do not agree with the philosophers in their doctrines, have yet in common with them the name of philosophers given to them. And whether they perpetrate those fabulous and shameful deeds — the upsetting of the lamp, and promiscuous intercourse, and eating human flesh — we know not; but we do know that they are neither persecuted nor put to death by you, at least on account of their opinions.
Here it is suggested that the Marcionites may be involved in "promiscuous intercourse," of which Christians are accused.

These two charges, along with the charge of atheism, are addressed as the entire topic of the apology of Athenagoras:
Three things are alleged against us: atheism, Thyestean feasts, Œdipodean intercourse
Athenagoras claims that the accusers are hypocrites:
For those who have set up a market for fornication and established infamous resorts for the young for every kind of vile pleasure — who do not abstain even from males, males with males committing shocking abominations, outraging all the noblest and comeliest bodies in all sorts of ways, so dishonouring the fair workmanship of God (for beauty on earth is not self-made, but sent hither by the hand and will of God) — these men, I say, revile us for the very things which they are conscious of themselves, and ascribe to their own gods, boasting of them as noble deeds, and worthy of the gods.
Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 3.3
If Plato himself and the Pythagoreans, as indeed later also followers of Marcion, regard birth as something evil (though the last named was far from thinking that wives were to be held in common), yet by the Marcionites nature is regarded as evil because it was created out of evil matter and by a just Creator. On this ground, that they do not wish to fill the world made by the Creator-God, they decide to abstain from marriage. Thus they are in opposition to their Maker and hasten towards him who is called the good God, but not to the God, as they say, of the other kind. As they wish to leave nothing of their own behind them on this earth, they are continent, not of their own free choice, but from hatred of the Creator, being unwilling to use what he has made. But these folk, who in their blasphemous fight against God have abandoned natural reasoning, and despise the long-suffering and goodness of God, even if they do not wish to marry, use the food made by the Creator and breathe his air; for they are his works and dwell in his world.
Continence is defined by Clement this way:
There is also a continence of the tongue, of money, of use, and of desire. I t does not only teach us to exercise self-control; it is rather that self-control is granted to us, since it is a divine power and grace.
But if both can have no anxiety, he who chooses incontinence and he who chooses abstinence, yet the honour is not equal.
Of course, it's possible that Clement was misinformed or otherwise misleading, but he suggests that birth and marriage were considered especially evil by Marcionites, since they lead souls to be mired in evil matter. A possible suggestion is that eating and sex could be equally mundane evil, apart from the possible consequences of the latter in bringing another soul into the world. There's room for certain libertine interpretations where all of these evils are permitted without distinction. Whether they were genuinely Marcionite interpretations is another question.

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Re: Was Marcion Against Fucking or Pregnancy or Bringing Souls into the World?

Post by Secret Alias » Wed Oct 14, 2020 11:05 am

That's an intriguing argument.
[Simon described first] And there is Marcion, a man of Pontus, who is even at this day alive, and teaching his disciples to believe in some other god greater than the Creator. And he, by the aid of the devils, has caused many of every nation to speak blasphemies, and to deny that God is the maker of this universe, and to assert that some other being, greater than He, has done greater works. All who take their opinions from these men (i.e. Simon and Marcion), are, as we before said, called Christians; just as also those who do not agree with the philosophers in their doctrines, have yet in common with them the name of philosophers given to them. And whether they perpetrate those fabulous and shameful deeds — the upsetting of the lamp, and promiscuous intercourse, and eating human flesh — we know not; but we do know that they are neither persecuted nor put to death by you, at least on account of their opinions.
So:

1. Simon and Marcion = the founders of heresy (first century CE even though Marcion still lives)
2. the contemporary heresies = mid second century CE
3. contemporary pagan gossip

I'd think that 3 applies to 2 rather than 1 but am open to any arguments to the contrary.

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