Chastity, Marriage, Companionship (Ames)

In the last part of his Marrow of Modern Theology“, William Ames (d. 1633) expounded upon ethics from a biblical perspective. For example, some of his final chapters include love, taking oaths, telling the truth, and contentment. I recently read Ames’ section on chastity (sexual purity). It’s a very helpful section that is written as a selection of statements in a certain order. Below are a few highlights from Ames’ discussion of chastity. I’ve also included several of Ames’ statements on marriage. It’s wonderful how he emphasizes the friendship, companionship, and mutual comfort and help between a husband and wife in marriage.

Justice which relates to the purity of our neighbor is chastity.

Modesty is the virtue of containing ourselves within the bounds of bodily desire.

Dignity is the virtue of observing the decorum of purity.

Marriage is the individual joining of one man and woman by lawful consent for a mutual communication of their bodies and community of life together. It is of one man with one woman (Gen. 2:22, Mal. 2:15, Mt 19:4,5, 1 Cor. 7:2, Lev. 18:18).

The perfection of friendship and the mutual duties of marriage cannot be reached except between one and one. (i.e. Polygamy violates the laws of marriage.)

The institution of God which establishes the individual companionship of husband and wife looks toward the good of mankind and its rightful conservation through the raising up of children and their hereditary succession. This cannot be without the individual joining of parents.

…The body of the husband is said to be in the power of the wife and the body of the wife in the power of the husband. They should honestly consult each other’s good (1 Cor. 7:3-5).

Among the ends of marriage is a community of life or that most intimate sharing for mutual comfort and help. Because a man must leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife (Gen 2:24), and because woman is said to be a helper suited to man (Gen. 2:18), this community of mutual help is not only for the propagation of the human race but far all the amenities of this life.

William Ames, The Marrow of Theology, p. 317-320.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015