Chapter

Spiritual Marriage

Blake Leyerle

in Theatrical Shows and Ascetic Lives

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2001 | ISBN: 9780520215580
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520921634 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520215580.003.0004
Spiritual Marriage

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This chapter describes the practice and popularity of spiritual marriage. Medievalists define spiritual marriage as sexual abstinence within wedlock, or what historians of early Christianity would call chaste marriage. John Chrysostom argues that women and men would be better off spiritually if they refused the comfort of each other's services. His attack on couples living in spiritual marriage seems to presume that they were striving after this new kind of friendship. The couples living in spiritual marriage eschewed marriage vows because they had pledged themselves to virgin continence. The cachet of spiritual marriage is confirmed by the social status of the couples. Additionally, some primary social features of spiritual marriage are presented. Spiritual marriage features illicit sexuality and the corruption of marriage.

Keywords: spiritual marriage; Christianity; John Chrysostom; virgin continence; social status; sexual abstinence

Chapter.  10850 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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