Posted by: Shawn Ragan | July 7, 2008

St. John Chrysostom on Marriage and Family Life

From a book given to me last Christmas:

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church” (Ephesians 5:25).  You have heard how importance obedience is; you praise and marvelled at Paul, how he welds our whole life together, as we would expect from an admirable and spiritual man.  You have done well.  But now listen to what else he requires from you; he has not finished with his example.  “Husbands,” he says, “love your wives, as Christ loved the Church.”  You have seen the amount of obedience necessary; now hear about the amount of love necessary.  Do you want your wife to be obedient to you, as the Church is to Christ?  Then be responsible for the same providential care of her, as Christ is for the Church.  And even if it becomes necessary for you to give your life for her, yes, and even to endure and undergo suffering of any kind, do not refuse.  Even though you undergo all of this, you will never have done anything equal to what Christ has done.  You are sacrificing yourself for someone to whom you are already joined, but He offered Himself up for one who turned her back on Him and hated Him.  In the same way, then, as He honored her by putting at His feet one who turned her back on Him, who hated, rejected, and disdained Him, as He accomplished this not with threats, or violence, or terror, or anything else like that, but through His untiring love; so also you should behave towards your wife.  Even if you see her belittling you, or despising and mocking you, still you will be able to subject her to yourself, through affection, kindness, and your great regard for her.  There is no influence more powerful than the bond of love, especially for husband and wife.  A servant can be taught submission through fear; but even he, if provoked to much, will soon seek his escape.  But 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?  What sort of satisfaction could a husband himself have, if he lives with his wife as if she were a slave, and not with a woman by her own free will?  Suffer anything for her sake, but never disgrace her, for Christ never did this with the Church.”

From St. John Chrysostom, “On Marriage and Family Life”  Homily 20



  1. i have a question about this quote. is this an entire excerpt from this book or is this a quote plus your interpretation of what St. John means? this is very beautiful and what i have always thought of how a husband should treat they’re wife, its very eloquent. maybe i could barrow this book???

  2. Chris,

    This was all a quote from the book. I’d be happy to loan it to you…


  3. St. John nails it… not bad for a single guy. 🙂

  4. I’m glad you’ve publish something about St. John… But I’m much more thankful if you could provide more about St. John’s work about family life… or if you can help me refer to other websites that provide notes about the works of St John on family life… I am actually researching on the pedagogy of st. john on family life… You’re a great help if you can provide something for me… Thanks.

  5. “St. John nails it… not bad for a single guy.”

    St. John was a bishop, thus in person of Christ and in his ordination , just as it is done today with priest, the matrimonial hymns were chanted. He was not single. He was married to the Church. Every bishop and priest is married to the Church. If that is not a difficult marriage that yields fruit of wisdom, I do not know what is.

  6. Chris,

    I am not sure if you are a man or women.
    If you are a women dont get excited with this words. You are supposed to read God has asked a wife to do. Only men need to read this part.

    • Shobin,

      Chris is a man…but the whole book is a great book for any married couple.


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