Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Chapter XX.—A Good Wife.
Chapter XX.—A Good Wife.
The woman who, with propriety, loves her husband, Euripides describes, while admonishing,—“That when her husband says aught,
She ought to regard him as speaking well if she say nothing;
And if she will say anything, to do her endeavour to gratify her husband.”
And again he subjoins the like:—“And that the wife should sweetly look sad with her husband,
Should aught evil befall him,
And have in common a share of sorrow and joy.”
Then, describing her as gentle and kind even in misfortunes, he adds:—“And I, when you are ill, will, sharing your sickness bear it;
And I will bear my share in your misfortunes.”
And:—“Nothing is bitter to me,
For with friends one ought to be happy,
For what else is friendship but this?”
The marriage, then, that is consummated according to the word, is sanctified, if the union be under subjection to God, and be conducted “with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and the body washed with pure water, and holding the confession of hope; for He is faithful that promised.” And the happiness of marriage ought never to be estimated either by wealth or beauty, but by virtue.
“Beauty,” says the tragedy,—“Helps no wife with her husband;
But virtue has helped many; for every good wife
Who is attached to her husband knows how to practice sobriety.”
Then, as giving admonitions, he says:—“First, then, this is incumbent on her who is endowed with mind,
That even if her husband be ugly, he must appear good-looking;
For it is for the mind, not the eye, to judge.”
And so forth.
For with perfect propriety Scripture has said that woman is given by God as “an help” to man. It is evident, then, in my opinion, that she will charge herself with remedying, by good sense and persuasion, each of the annoyances that originate with her husband in domestic economy. And if he do not yield, then she will endeavour, as far as possible for human nature, to lead a sinless life; whether it be necessary to die, in accordance with reason, or to live; considering that God is her helper and associate in such a course of conduct, her true defender and Saviour both for the present and for the future; making Him the leader and guide of all her actions, reckoning sobriety and righteousness her work, and making the favour of God her end. Gracefully, therefore, the apostle says in the Epistle to Titus, “that the elder women should be of godly behaviour, should not be slanderers, not enslaved to much wine; that they should counsel the young women to be lovers of their husbands, lovers of their children, discreet, chaste, housekeepers, good, subject to their own husbands; that the word of God be not blasphemed.” 2868 But rather, he says, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: looking diligently, lest there be any fornicator or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel surrendered his birth-right; and lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” 2869 And then, as putting the finishing stroke to the question about marriage, he adds: “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” 2870 p. 433 And one aim and one end, as far as regards perfection, being demonstrated to belong to the man and the woman, Peter in his Epistle says, “Though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations; that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than that of gold which perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise, and honour, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ; whom, having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 2871 Wherefore also Paul rejoices for Christs sake that he was “in labours, more abundantly, in stripes above measure, in deaths oft.” 2872
Tit. ii. 3-5.432:2869
Heb. xiii. 14-16.432:2870
Heb. xiii. 4.433:2871
1 Pet. i. 6-9.433:2872
2 Cor. xi. 23.
Next: Chapter XXI.—Description of the Perfect Man, or Gnostic.
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