Tuesday, January 17, 2012

When Marriage Makes One A Philosopher


The following advice is given by St. John Chrysostom for married couples who seek a divorce; that it is better to become a philosopher in such matters rather than interrupt the union of a husband and wife, which is forbidden by the Church and discouraged at all costs even if lawful.

"By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you'll become happy; if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher." - Socrates

"This is the higher philosophy, not only not to requite evil with evil, but to render good for evil." - St. John Chrysostom


By St. John Chrysostom

Though she be poor do not upbraid her: though she be foolish, do not trample on her, but train her rather: because she is a member of you, and you have become one flesh. "But she is trifling and drunken and passionate." You ought then to grieve over these things, not to be angry; and to beseech God, and exhort her and give her advice, and do every thing to remove the evil. But if you strike her thou dost aggravate the disease: for fierceness is removed by moderation, not by rival fierceness.

With these things bear in mind also the reward from God: that when it is permitted you to cut her off, and you do not so for the fear of God, but bearest with so great defects, fearing the law appointed in such matters which forbids to put away a wife whatsoever disease she may have: you shall receive an unspeakable reward. Yea, and before the reward you shall be a very great gainer, both rendering her more obedient and becoming yourself more gentle thereby. It is said, for instance, that one of the heathen philosophers, who had a bad wife, a trifler and a brawler, when asked, "Why, having such an one, he endured her;" made reply, "That he might have in his house a school and training-place of philosophy. For I shall be to all the rest meeker," says he, "being here disciplined every day." Did you utter a great shout? Why, I at this moment am greatly mourning, when heathens prove better lovers of wisdom than we; we who are commanded to imitate angels, nay rather who are commanded to follow God Himself in respect of gentleness.

But to proceed: it is said that for this reason the philosopher having a bad wife, cast her not out; and some say that this very thing was the reason of his marrying her. But I, because many men have dispositions not exactly reasonable, advise that at first they do all they can, and be careful that they take a suitable partner and one full of all virtue. Should it happen, however, that they miss their end, and she whom they have brought into the house prove no good or tolerable bride, then I would have them at any rate try to be like this philosopher, and train her in every way, and consider nothing more important than this. Since neither will a merchant, until he have made a compact with his partner capable of procuring peace, launch the vessel into the deep, nor apply himself to the rest of the transaction. And let us then use every effort that she who is partner with us in the business of life and in this our vessel, may be kept in all peace within. For thus shall our other affairs too be all in calm, and with tranquility shall we run our course through the ocean of the present life. Compared with this, let house, and slaves, and money, and lands, and the business itself of the state, be less in our account. And let it be more valuable than all in our eyes that she who with us sits at the oars should not be in mutiny and disunion with us. For so shall our other matters proceed with a favoring tide, and in spiritual things also we shall find ourselves much the freer from hindrance, drawing this yoke with one accord; and having done all things well, we shall obtain the blessings laid up in store; unto which may we all attain, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, with the Holy Ghost, be glory, power, and honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

From Homily 26 on First Corinthians.
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