Monday, January 31, 2011

4th Century Preaching - Obedience in Marriage, What it Ain't

Icon by the hand of Nicholas Papas and available for purchase from Come and See Icons.

This will be the last installation for the month from On Living Simply (which can be purchased here ).  It's a terrific little book with 84 mini sermons in all.  In addition to St. John's sermons on social issues, his Scriptural exegesis' are among the finest to be found in the history of Christianity. I recommend the book The Bible and the Holy Fathers compiled by Johanna Manley and published by SVS Press. It's a little pricey, $60, but well worth it if you love the Scriptures (which we all should!) St. John Chrysostom's commentaries make up a large portion of this book and seamlessly reside next to commentaries from the 20th century. 

St. John is also the author of many prayers and the one responsible for writing a shorter version of the Divine Liturgy (the primary worship service of the Orthodox Church in which the Eucharist is served) that is used during "regular" days in the Orthodox Church.  Needless to say, St. John Chrysostom is a very prominent figure in the Orthodox Church.  He is remembered three times during the year: November 13th, January 27th, and January 30th. 

I thought for the last installment I would return to the topic of marriage and obedience.   I know there are some Christians (and other faiths) that believe that obedience in a marriage is akin to obedience in the military.  In Orthodox Christianity, we adhere to the Scriptural teaching that husband and wife are obedient to each other, and not one barking orders to the other.  Here's what our beloved St. John says from excerpt 72:

When we speak of the wife obeying the husband, we normally think of obedience in military or political terms:  the husband giving orders, and the wife obeying them.  But while this type of obedience may be appropriate in the army, it is ridiculous in the intimate relationship of marriage.  The obedient wife does not wait for orders.  Rather, she tries to discern her husband's needs and feelings, and responds in love.  When she sees her husband is weary, she encourages him to rest; when she sees him agitated, she soothes him; when he is ill, she nurses and comforts him; when he is happy and elated, she shares his joy.  Yet such obedience should not be confined to the wife; the husband should be obedient in the same way.  When she is weary, he should relieve her of her work; when she is sad, he should cherish her, holding her gently in his arms; when she is in good cheer, he should also share her good cheer.  Thus a good marriage is not a matter of one partner obeying the other, but of both partners obeying each other.
That's it for January.  I'm still waffling on February's topic.  I have a few ideas knocking around in my noggin, but if you have any ideas, leave a comment and I'll see if I'm smart enough to tackle it!


No comments: