Photo by Scala/Art Resource, New York, NY

Paul’s transfixing gaze, earnest and unabashed, seems to penetrate the human soul. This mosaic from the archepiscopal oratory of St. Andrew, in Ravenna, Italy, expresses well the frank and assured spirit of the apostle’s teachings on marriage and sex—teachings that have often been ironically misunderstood. Although he is commonly regarded as a prude who was hostile to women, Paul actually advocated marriage for those “consumed with the fire of sexual desire” (1 Corinthians 7:9) and saw women and men as equal partners in the marriage.