22. I say not, therefore, with what error, but with what utter madness, do the Manichees attribute our flesh to some, I know not what, fabled “race of darkness,” 1882 which they will have hath had its own nature without any beginning ever evil: whereas the true teacher exhorts men to love their own wives by the pattern of their own flesh, and exhorts them unto this very thing by the pattern also of Christ and the Church. Lastly, we must call to mind the whole place itself of the Epistle of the Apostle, relating greatly unto the matter in hand. “Husbands,” saith he, “love your wives, as Christ also loved the Church, and delivered Himself up for it, that He might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of the water in the word: that He might set forth unto Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it may be holy and unspotted. So,” saith he, “husbands also ought to love their own wives, as their own bodies. Whoso loveth his own wife, loveth himself.” 1883 Then he added, what we have already made mention of, “For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourisheth it, and cherisheth it; as also Christ the Church.” 1884 What saith the madness of most impure impiety in answer to these things? What say ye in answer to these things, ye Manichees; ye who wish to bring in upon us, as if out of the Epistles of the Apostles, two natures without beginning, one of good, the other of evil: and will not listen to the Epistles of the Apostles, that they may correct you from that sacrilegious perverseness? As ye read, “The flesh lusteth against the spirit,” 1885 and, “There dwelleth not in my flesh any good;” 1886 so read ye, “No one ever hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, as also Christ the Church.” 1887 As ye read, “I see another law in my members, opposed to the law of my mind;” 1888 so read ye, “As Christ loved the Church, so also ought men to love their own wives, as their own bodies.” Be not ye crafty in the former witnesses of Holy Scripture, and deaf in this latter, and ye shall be correct in both. For, if ye receive the latter as right is, ye will endeavor to understand the former also as truth is.
See De Ag. Christ. § 4.388:1883
Eph. 5.25-28Eph. v. 25-28388:1884
Eph. 5.29Eph. v. 29388:1885
Gal. 5.17Gal. v. 17388:1886
Rom. 7.18Rom. vii. 18388:1887
Eph. 5.29Eph. v. 29388:1888
Rom. 7.23Rom. vii. 23