A Wife’s Role

“If God had made man capable in both areas, it would have been easy for men to despise womankind. If, on the other hand, God had assigned the greater and more important matters to woman, He would have filled women with presumption. For this reason He did not give both spheres to one sex, lest the other seem inferior and superfluous.”

Saint John Chrysostom says the preceding quote in his Homily, “On Choosing a Wife” (SVS Press p 97). One of the major facets of discussion among those who look down upon the church’s traditional views is that women are considered inferior to men. Feminists then take offense to the fact that women cannot serve as clergy. They argue that the traditional roles of man and woman are upheld and enforced in the church to the woman’s disadvantage. How interesting is it to see the words of Chrysostom inthe third century! Chrysostom describes that although the man manages all of the affairs outside of the household, his wife is the manager of all of the affairs within the home. This included the oversight of servants and the most precious task of all, the raising of children.

Chrysostom lays out in this quote perfectly why it is unreasonable for either the husband or the wife to be fully capable of every single task. God gave husband and wife certain qualities in order to complete one another and successfully run a home and a family while living in the world. In this way we see that husbands and wives are interdependant on one another for basic living.

Within the tradition of the church and Holy scripture we also see that husbands and wives are interdependent on one another for salvation. We often use the imagery of Christ, the bridegroom and His Bride the church. Chrysostom explains this relationship. He reminds us of how woman was created from tearing the rib of Adam. The church was born by Christ’s shedding of blood on the cross. “Just as the woman was fashioned while Adam slept, so also, when Christ had died, the Church was formed from His side” One cannot exist without the other. In the same fashion, husbands cannot achieve salvation without their wives, and wives cannot achieve salvation without their husbands’. It is not that one gender is more important than the other, rather the Church stresses the interdependence of the sexes.

Chrysostom then states what kind of a wife a husband should look for, one with “virtue of soul and nobility of character”

May we continue to grow and be noble women of the Lord.

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