I have been reading Stephen Greenblatt's book, The Swerve, and have been fascinated by the history of the Christian Church and its rise after the fall of Rome. There was a time of great suffering and the body became something that was seen as bad, sanitation fell by the wayside and sexuality was dangerous. The understanding of the blessings of suffering became more evident in Christian writing, and more and more those who denied the flesh were exalted. But I began wondering, would my wife find it at all appealing that I beat myself because I was thinking about other women, as a way to only think about her. That I would continually whip myself and deny myself because of how I was so greatly tempted. I think she would wonder how much I really loved her.
The great timing of the Pax Romani led to the ability of Christianity to spread quickly and far and wide, but the fall of Rome also led to the addition of suffering and its importance as being a key element in Christianity, that and the suffering on the cross. But the body is important. For Christianity it is vital, as God chose to enter into the created physical realm of life on earth to reestablish the connections of life, and the interdependence of love.