St. Basil the Great on the Dignity of Women

armorofgodwoman

“And God made human being according to his image.” “The [masc.] human being,” says the woman, “What does that have to do with me? The man came to be, for it does not say the [fem.] human being,” she says, “but by setting forth the [masc.] human being, it implies the masculine.” But that nobody may ignorantly ascribe the name of human only to the man, it adds, “Male and female he created them” [Gen. 1:27]. The woman also possesses creation according to the image of God, as indeed does the man. The natures are alike in honor, the virtues are equal, the struggles equal, the judgement alike. Let her not say, “I am weak.” The weakness is in the flesh, in the soul is the power. Since indeed that which is according to God’s image is of equal honor, let the virtue be of equal honor, the showing forth of good works. There is no excuse for one who wishes to allege that the body is weak. And why is it simply delicate? But through compassion it is vigorous in patient endurance and earnest in vigils. When has the nature of man been able to match the nature of woman in patiently passing through her own life? When has man been able to imitate the vigor of women in fastings, the love of toil in prayers, the abundance in tears, the readiness for good works?

I have seen a woman secretly committing good thefts, doing good works apart from her husband for the sake of her husband, for the sake of the household’s growth, for the sake of the children’s long life. She gives and hides it from her husband’s knowledge, distributing alms for his sake and concealing it from him. For since the Creator sees the things that are hidden, she does not make public her well-doing.

The good woman has that which is according to the image. Do not cling to the outer human being, it is molded [like clay]. The soul is placed within, under the coverings and the delicate body. Soul indeed is equal in honor to soul; in the coverings is the difference.

Therefore you have become like God through kindness, through the endurance of evil, through communion, through love for one another and love for brethren, being a hater of evil, dominating the passions of sin, that to you may belong the rule.

-St. Basil the Great, part 18, On the origin of humanity, discourse 1

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