A couple could exchange consent anywhere, anytime." Markus notes this impact on the early Christian attitude, particularly as Christian anxiety about sex intensified after 400: ""The superiority of virginity and sexual abstinence was generally taken for granted.
But a dark undercurrent of hostility to sexuality and marriage became interwoven with the more benign attitudes towards the body and current as late as the second century.
This resonated with a widespread belief about the imminent coming of the Kingdom of God; and thus the exhortation by Jesus to avoid earthly ties.
The apostle Paul in his letters also suggested a preference for celibacy, but recognized that not all Christians necessarily had the ability to live such a life: "Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.
Attitudes diverged, and mainstream Christianity became infected with a pronounced streak of distrust towards bodily existence and sexuality.
But, if though bad, it is made venial, then it is allowed to prevent something which would be worse than bad. The difference, then, between marriage and virginity is as great as that between not sinning and doing well; nay rather, to speak less harshly, as great as between good and better." Regarding the clergy, he said: "Now a priest must always offer sacrifices for the people: he must therefore always pray.Bishop Ignatius of Antioch, writing around 110 to Bishop Polycarp of Smyrna said, "[I]t becomes both men and women who marry, to form their union with the approval of the bishop, that their marriage may be according to God, and not after their own lust." Tertullian (c. 225) noted as early as the second century that Christians were "requesting marriage" from their priests, and was satisfied ("Ad Uxorem") how a priestly blessing could transform a sinful act into a sanctified one; provided it was sanctified in moderation and only if children might be born of it.However, he also argued that a second marriage, involving someone freed from the first by the death of a spouse, "will have to be termed no other than a species of fornication", an argument based partly on the reasoning that such involves desiring to marry a woman out of sexual ardor. Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes. The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator.