You know it’s not very often that a man will commend a woman for her modesty. In fact, it is not often that women hear spiritual praises of any sort from the men in their lives. Instead, women will hear about the importance of being pretty and having a good body or a good sense of humor or not being high maintenance. Even in the company of men who have an active relationship with the Lord, women will still find themselves hearing about how hot or cool the other girls are, often feeling completely overlooked.
Commendations about our own modesty, passion for the Lord, or prayer life–those come few and far between.
With that in mind, I’m kickin it back old school today with an excerpt from the writings of Gregory of Nazianzus. Gregory is a Church Father who lived in the 4th century, and he wrote the below words in memory of his sister, Gorgonia, a valiant woman of the Lord. She managed to navigate the potential distractions of the world, and submit every aspect of her life to Christ in an exemplary way.
As you read this, I want you to remember two things. First is for the guys:
Gentlemen, the qualities here described not only constitute the standard you should seek in a wife, but Gregory’s words also serve as a great example of how to affirm your sisters in Christ. Women need to hear this kind of Christ-centered affirmation, or else we’ll be tempted to place our time, effort, and value in other, more superficial pursuits. Over and over he again he praises her love for Christ–that is exactly what we need to hear.
And to the ladies–this is the kind of language you should expect from your husband, as well as your male friends. Just because a man is a Christian does not mean he is a godly friend to you. When it comes to Christian community, do not put up with men who go to church on Sunday but want to go out and get trashed on the weekends, flirt with you without any intention of acting upon it, or talk about other women in a less than honorable way. You deserve much better, and such constant exposure to this behavior will slowly lower your standards for yourself.
So although these words were penned over 1,500 years ago, Gregory of Nazianzus was in love with Jesus and we can all learn from his legacy, as well as that of his sister.
In modesty she so greatly excelled, and so far surpassed those of her own day, to say nothing of those of old time who have been illustrious for modesty, that, in regard to the two divisions of the life of all, that is, the married and the unmarried state, the latter being higher and more divine, though more difficult and dangerous, while the former is more humble and more safe, she was able to avoid the disadvantages of each, and to select and combine all that is best in both, namely, the elevation of the one and the security of the other, thus becoming modest without pride, blending the excellence of the married with that of the unmarried state, and proving that neither of them absolutely binds us to, or separates us from, God or the world…
For though she had entered upon a carnal union, she was not therefore separated from the spirit, nor, because her husband was her head, did she ignore her first Head: but, performing those few ministrations due to the world and nature, according to the will of the law of the flesh, or rather of Him who gave to the flesh these laws, she consecrated herself entirely to God.
But what is most excellent and honourable, she also won over her husband to her side, and made of him a good fellow-servant, instead of an unreasonable master. And not only so, but she further made the fruit of her body, her children and her children’s children, to be the fruit of her spirit, dedicating to God not her single soul, but the whole family and household, and making wedlock illustrious through her own acceptability in wedlock, and the fair harvest she had reaped thereby; presenting herself, as long as she lived, as an example to her offspring of all that was good, and when summoned hence, leaving her will behind her, as a silent exhortation to her house.
On a final note, I should mention that while women do need godly affirmation from the men in their lives, men need to hear such praises from women as well. If you know men who are passionately following Christ and encourage you in your own walk, be sure to tell them!