If you are married or hope to be married this book is for you; if you’re preparing for marriage or tending to your marriage you will definitely want to read this text.
On Marriage and Family Life is a collection of sermons by St. John Chrysostom on various biblical texts that teach about marriage and parenting. He speaks of marriage’s role in controlling lust: that sexual relations is more a reason for marriage than having children. He presents a very insightful viewpoint on the issue of wives submitting to their husbands, and husbands being the head of their wives. St. Chrysostom outlines what kind of bond marriage is, and what is meant by that bond. He then gives an explanation on the overall goal of marriage and provides guidance on how to choose a mate. He also teaches on parenting and what parenting teaches us about God and our relationship with God.
This text is my favorite work on marriage: what it is and how to fulfill its obligations. St. John was given the name Chrysostom (“golden tongued”) because of his way with words…he had the gift of gab, and could communicate difficult theological concepts in simple ways. This point is made clear by his explanation of marriage.
I enjoy how St. Chrysostom explains marriage and the relationship between husband and wife. He does it in a way that is true to the Gospel and uplifting to both men and women.
His arguments and positions are so compelling that women will gladly embrace the command to submit to their husbands (yes, I said gladly). And husbands will rethink their position on their “headship” over their wives. Overall, both husbands and wives will have a much better understanding of the mystery of marriage being an icon of Christ and the Church.
“Wives, be subject to your husbands as to the Lord,” has been a passage that has caused many arguments. So much so that pastors tend to gloss over that passage when doing marriage counseling. Or, pastors hold such misogynistic and chauvinistic views that a completely warped interpretation akin to slavery is passed on to couples. Yet, St. Chrysostom advises that husbands achieve the “subjection” of their wives “through affection, kindness, and…great regard…” For as he says, “…one’s partner for life, the mother of one’s children, the source of one’s every joy, should never be fettered with fear and threats, but with love and patience. What kind of marriage can there be when the wife is afraid of her husband?”
Here is a view of marriage to consider! And, if St. Chrysostom is right, here we find the key to rebuilding Society. What do you think? Marriage is a sacrament, and therefore bears witness to a deeper and mysterious grace. But, does marriage have that kind of world-changing/revolutionary power?
If you are in the Orlando area, join us for Bible Study on Thursdays at noon and 6:30 pm. Alternatively, our series on marriage will be made available in late February. In the meantime, check out St. John Chrysostom’s guide to a thriving relationship: On Marriage and Family Life.