Gregory of Nazianzus on Christian Marriage

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Gregory of Nazianzus (329–389), also known as Gregory the Theologian, served as Bishop of Constantinople during the second Ecumenical Council (381). His piety, eloquence, and depth of theological inquiry made him one of the most beloved figures in the Church—and a strong influence on people like John Chrysostom. He is known for his beautiful poetry, where he addresses a range of theological ideas, including the Trinity, Human Nature, and the Christian understanding of marriage and virginity. Let's look at what he has to say on the Christian Marriage.

Christian Marriage

In this poetic passage from Carmina (Latin for “songs”), Gregory celebrates the wonderful, exclusive features of companionship within the bounds of Christian marriage.

Through marriage we become one another’s hands, ears, and feet. Marriage doubles what had been weak. It is a great joy to our friends, a distress to our enemies. Sorrows shared hurt less; joys shared are sweeter for both; wealth brings greater joy to those who are like-minded. To those who are in need, being like-minded brings greater joy than wealth. Marriage supplies a lock of self-control over desires and sets a seal on our natural need for friendship... It is a drink from the household spring from which strangers cannot taste; it does not flow forth outside nor can another collect it from outside. The mutual love of those who are united in the flesh and are of one soul sharpens their piety to a fine point.1


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1 St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Carmina, in Everett Ferguson, Inheriting Wisdom: Readings for Today from Ancient Christian Writers (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2004), 5.