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What was the early church's perspective of sexual immorality and sex outside of marriage? I know the biblical perspective, but I am incredibly interested in how the early church fathers viewed this issue and would greatly appreciate an answer.

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There is no reason to distinguish between the early church's view and the Biblical view. Acts 15 discusses the Jerusalem counsel, where the Apostle James says:

19 Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. 21 For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”

Later in that chapter, James' words are adopted and given to Paul and Barnabas to disseminate, and Judas and Silas to authenticate:

25 it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

Later in Acts, this is repeated:

25 But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality.” (Acts 21:25)

This would mean that the Jewish definitions and rules for sexual immorality would apply to Gentile believers.

This article comments on the progression of these ideas:

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevin-deyoung/first-sexual-revolution-triumph-christian-morality-roman-empire/

The article states:

The Christian sexual revolution became codified in law under the reign of Justinian (527-565).

One earlier source cited is Chrysostom.

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  • Evidence using quotations from early church fathers, preferably the apostolic fathers, seem necessary to answer this question. Maybe Didache have it? May 20, 2022 at 18:56

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