Ιn the Epilogue To The Kreutzer Sonata, published in 1890, Tolstoy clarifies the intended message of the novella, writing, "We must cease thinking that carnal love is something peculiarly exalted; we must come to understand that the aim which is worthy of man is to serve humanity, his country, science, or art (let alone serving God)." Countering the argument that widespread abstinence would lead to a cessation of the human race, he describes chastity as an ideal that provides guidance and direction, not as a firm rule. Writing from a position of deep religiosity (that he had explained in his Confession in 1882), he points out that not Christ, but the Church (which he despises) instituted marriage. "The Christian's ideal is love of God and his neighbour, self-renunciation in order to serve God and his neighbour; carnal love, marriage, means serving oneself, and therefore is, in any case, a hindrance in the service of God and men".
During the international celebration of Tolstoy's 80th birthday in 1908, G. K. Chesterton would criticize this aspect of Tolstoy's thought in an article in the September 19th issue of Illustrated London News, writing: "Tolstoy is not content with pitying humanity for its pains: such as poverty and prisons. He also pities humanity for its pleasures, such as music and patriotism. He weeps at the thought of hatred; but in The Kreutzer Sonata he weeps almost as much at the thought of love. He and all the humanitarians pity the joys of men." He went on to address Tolstoy directly: "What you dislike is being a man. You are at least next door to hating humanity, for you pity humanity because it is human."