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  • Martie Johnson Jr.

Thoughts on Chastity

From: St. Gregory the Theologian


"As far as chastity is concerned, I see that the majority of men are ill-disposed towards it, and that their laws are unequal and irregular. For what was the reason why they restrained the woman, but indulged the man, and that a woman who practises evil against her husband's bed is an adulteress, and the penalties of the law for this are very severe; but if the husband commits fornication against his wife, he has no account to give? I do not accept this legislation; I do not approve this custom. They who made the Law were men, and therefore their legislation is hard on women, since they have placed children also under the authority of their fathers, while leaving the weaker sex uncared for. God does not so; but says "Honor your father and your mother, which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with you;" and, "He that curses father or mother, let him die the death." Similarly He gave honour to good and punishment to evil. And, "The blessing of a father strengthens the houses of children, but the curse of a mother uproots the foundations" (Sirach 3:11). See the equality of the legislation. There is one Maker of man and woman; one debt is owed by children to both their parents.


How then do you men demand Chastity, while you do not yourselves observe it? How do you demand that which you do not give? How, though you are equally a body, do you legislate unequally? If you enquire into the worse— yes, "the woman sinned," and so did Adam (Genesis 3:6). The serpent deceived them both; and one was not found to be the stronger and the other the weaker. But do you consider the better? Christ saves both by His Passion. Was He made flesh for the man? So He was also for the woman. Did He die for the man? The woman also is saved by His death. He is called of the seed of David (Romans 1:3) and so perhaps you think the man is honoured; but He is born of a Virgin, and this is on the woman's side. "They two," He says, "shall be one flesh; so let the one flesh have equal honor."


And Paul legislates for chastity by His example. How, and in what way? "This mystery is great," he says, "but I speak concerning Christ and the Church" (Ephesians 5:32). It is well for the wife to reverence Christ through her husband: and it is well for the husband not to dishonor the Church through his wife. Let the wife, he says, see that she reverence her husband, for so she does Christ; but also he bids the husband cherish his wife, for so Christ does the Church". (Oration 37, Section 6 and 7).


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