Thursday, March 26, 2020

Early Christian Quotes on Women

Early Christian Quotes on Women

Tertullian’s On the Apparel of Women 

(Late 2nd Century)

Chapter 13:


Blessed sisters, let us meditate on hardships, and we will not feel them. Let us abandon luxuries, and we will not regret them. Let us stand ready to endure every violence, having nothing we fear to leave behind. It is these things that are the bonds that block our hope.


Let us cast away earthly ornaments if we desire heavenly. Do not love gold, in which that one substance are branded all the sins of Israel's people. You should hate what your fathers mined from the earth, what was adored by them who were forsaking God. Gold is food for the fire.


But Christians always, and now more than ever, pass their time bound in iron chains rather than surrounded with gold. The hoods covering us for martyrdom dress us for the occasion; the angels who are to carry us away are waiting! Would you go forward to meet them wearing makeup and accessories? The prophets and apostles don’t wear those things! Does your makeup give you simplicity or modesty? Do you paint your eyes with bashfulness and your mouth with silence, implanting in your ears the words of God, fitting on your necks the yoke of Christ?


Submit your head to your husbands, and you will be adorned enough. Busy your hands with spinning; keep your feet at home, and you will find more favor than by arraying yourselves in gold. Clothe yourselves with the silk of uprightness, the fine linen of holiness, the purple of modesty. Dressed like this, you will have God as your Lover!



Clement of Alexandria's Instructor, Book 3

(Early 3rd Century)

Chapter 11:


Women and men are to go to church dressed appropriately, with natural step, embracing silence, possessing honest love, pure in body, pure in heart, fit to pray to God. Women should observe this more. Let her be entirely covered, unless she is at home. For that style of dress lends to seriousness and protects from being gazed at. Is she puts modesty before her eyes, her shawl will never fall; nor will she invite another to fall into sin by uncovering her face. For this is the wish of the Word since it is becoming for her to pray veiled.



Clement of Alexandria’s Miscellanies, Book 4

(Early 3rd Century)

Chapter 20, Paragraph 8:


In perfect properness, Scripture has said that woman is given by God as "a help" to man. It is evident, then, in my opinion, that she will use kindness and persuasion to fix anything that annoys her husband in her management of the home. And if he will not pleased, she will strive to lead a sinless life, as far as possible for human nature, whether it be necessary to die or live, according to reason. Considering that God is her helper and associate in such a course of conduct. He is her true defender and Savior both for the present and for the future. If she makes Him the leader and guide of all her actions, and seriousness and righteousness her work, then the favor of God will be her end.



Didascalia Apostolorum

(Early to Mid-3rd Century)

Chapter 15, Paragraph 2:


It is neither right nor necessary that women should be teachers, and especially concerning the name of Christ and the redemption of His passion. For you have not been appointed to teaching, O women, and especially widows. Instead, your appointment is to pray and appeal to the Lord God. For He, the Lord God, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, sent us the Twelve to instruct the People and the Gentiles. There were women disciples with us, Mary Magdalene and Mary the daughter of James and the other Mary, but He did not send them to instruct the people with us. If it were required that women teach, our Master Himself would have commanded these to instruct us.



Didascalia Apostolorum

(Early to Mid-3rd Century)

Chapter 16, Paragraph 1:


Whether you, bishop, baptize people or command the deacons, elders, or ministers to baptize,- let a woman deacon anoint the women. But let a man pronounce over them the invocation of the divine Names in the water. And when she is being baptized and has come up from the water, let the deaconess receive her and teach and instruct her how the seal of baptism ought to be kept unbroken in purity and holiness.


For this cause, we say that the ministry of a woman deacon is especially necessary and important. For our Lord and Savior was also ministered to by women ministers, Mary Magdalene, Mary the dauther of James and mother of Jose, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee, among others. And you also need the ministry of a deaconess for many things. A deaconess is required to go into the houses of the heathen where there are believing women. A deaconess is needed to visit the sick, minister to the needy, and bathe those who have begun to recover from sickness.



Commodianus’ Instructions

(Mid-3rd Century)

Chapter 60:


You dye your hair; you paint the opening of your eyes with black; you lift up your pretty hair one by one on your painted brow; you brush your cheeks with some sort of pink color; and, moreover, earrings hang down with very heavy weights. You cover your neck with necklaces; with gems and gold, you bind hands worthy of God with an evil omen. Why should I tell of your dresses, or of the devil’s show? You are rejecting the law when you wish to please the world. You dance in your houses. Instead of psalms, you sing love songs. Although you may be honorable, you do not show it to be true when you follow evil things.



Cyprian’s On the Dress of Virgins

(Mid-3rd Century)

Paragraphs 9, 13-15:


If your hair is done elegantly, and you walk so as to draw attention in public, and attract the eyes of youth, and draw the sighs of young men after you, and nourish the lust of sexual desire, and inflame the fuel of sighs, so that, although you yourself do not perish, you cause others to perish and offer yourself as a sword or poison to the spectators, you cannot be excused on the pretense that you are honorable and modest in mind. Your shameful dress and immodest jewelry accuse you. You cannot be counted now among Christ’s maidens and virgins, since you live in such a manner as to make yourselves objects of desire…


Having put on silk and purple, they cannot put on Christ; adorned with gold and pearls and necklaces, they have lost the jewelry of the heart and spirit…


God did not make the sheep scarlet or purple, or teach the juices of herbs and shell-fish to dye and color wool. He did not arrange necklaces with stones set in gold and with pearls distributed in a woven series or numerous cluster so that you could hide the neck which He made. What God formed on humans is covered, while what the devil has invented is seen. Has God willed that wounds should be made in the ears, so that ears that are innocent and unconscious of worldly evil may be put to pain? Or that afterward, from the scars and holes in the the ears precious beads may hang heavy, if not by their weight, then still by the amount of their cost?


All these things, sinning and apostate angels put forth by their arts, when, lowered to the temptations of earth, they turned their back on their heavenly power. They taught them also to paint the eyes with blackness drawn round them in a circle, and to stain the cheeks with a deceitful red, and to change the hair with unnatural colors, and to drive out all truth, both of face and head, by the assault of their own corruption…


God says, “Let us make man in our image and likeness,” and does anyone dare to alter and change what God has made? They are laying hands on God when they try to re-form what He formed and transfigure it, not knowing that everything that comes into being is God’s work. Everything that is changed is the devil’s. If any artist were to complete a painting characterizing the demeanor, likeness, and bodily appearance of anyone, and another painter laid hands on it after it was painted to change it, that would be a serious wrong, and the original artist would be justified in his anger.



Cyprian’s On the Lapsed

(Mid-3rd Century)

Paragraphs 6, 30:


[As to why God allowed a recent period of persecution:] Women’s complexion was dyed, the eyes were falsified from what God’s hand had made them, their hair was dyed with colors not given to them by God…


Does she groan and lament who has time to put on the clothing of precious apparel, and not to consider the robe of Christ which she has lost; to receive valuable ornaments and richly made necklaces, and not to cry over the loss of divine and heavenly accessories? Although you dress yourself in foreign garments and silken robes, you are naked. Although you wear so much jewelry, pearls, gems, and gold, yet without the adornment of Christ, you are ugly. You who stain your hair, now at least show some sorrow; and you who paint the edges of your eyes with a line drawn around them of black powder, now at least wash your eyes with tears.


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