Were there any early Christians who defended non-procreative sex as licit?


Having read through quite a bit of the Ante-Nicene Church Fathers, I can't remember ever seeing anyone advocate for non-procreative sex. Rather it was common to advocate for remaining a virgin for life.

I think if anyone in the early church did advocate for non-procreative sex, you are more likely to find them among those whom the Church Fathers debated against and labeled as heretics.

Keep in mind, also, that they didn't have condoms back then or the concept of "safe sex." And there most certainly weren't any church fathers advocating for homosexuality - which would contradict the scriptures (and the early church fathers drew heavily from the scriptures).

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  • Out of interest, were any Church Father's arguing that all sex must be procreative or potentially procreative? – DJClayworth Nov 5 '18 at 3:00
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    @DJClayworth I know Justin Martyr says something like “we only have sex for procreation,” and I believe Clement of Alexandria (or Origen, I can’t remember) says something similar. – Joseph Hinkle Nov 5 '18 at 3:49
  • "condoms ... safe sex". It seems there were spermicidal substances, probably moderately effective, in at least Greece and Egypt, according to Wikipedia article on "history of birth control". Condoms of some sort are old, but may or may not have been available in the Mediterranean area. I would suggest it is likely that the early church was aware that many new converts practiced some form of birth control. This answer would be greatly improved if you can add references. – Bit Chaser Nov 5 '18 at 15:25
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    My only goal is to help you make your answer more complete. You have a good point that infanticide was common, and church leaders should have spoken up against it in the apostolic and post-apostolic eras. It will be most interesting to see what -- if anything -- they said about the more benign methods of birth control. – Bit Chaser Nov 5 '18 at 17:17
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    At earlychurchhistory.org/medicine/… I found two references to early Christian statements against abortion, but haven't checked to see what else they said. “You shall not abort a child, nor again, commit infanticide.” Letter of Barnabas 19.5 (c.130 AD) and Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul 37 (c. 200 AD). – Bit Chaser Nov 5 '18 at 17:37

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