A chastity memorial arch in China.
On Curious Cat: What is the ideal attractive woman in terms of personality and attitude? You praised submissive women before, but what does that entail, and how do submissive women behave?
To me, the most important thing in a woman is that she be (1) in due submission to the word of God and (2) honest about herself, her weaknesses, and her true feelings. These two requirements are related to the twofold knowledge John Calvin says is the most important in life: knowledge of God and knowledge of self. These two things done, the rest will be as well.
To know God is to know how far higher his ways are than our own ways, and his thoughts than our thoughts; for the fear of God is the beginning of knowledge. Since the knowledge of God is something in which we grow, not by mere learning and making of many books, of which there is no end, but rather by obeying what we do know by the power of the Holy Ghost and thus feeling the life of Christ grow within ourselves, it is fundamental that a wife obey whatever she does know of God from his holy word. Obeying the word of God, she stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. Whatever the Lord commands, that must she doggedly do regardless of what it takes, even if she must kill or die to do it. This is the example of St Mary, St Perpetua, and many others who have lived in obedience to the Holy Ghost and been glorified by God in the Church. Thus, knowing that she has to fear not man but God, she must know and obey what St Peter says:
Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.
Being humble before the Lord her God, she will know it is to him first and foremost that she submits, because to him she owes her entire life, and only second does she submit to her husband; thus she will also know that she submits to her husband as to the Lord, and that she may disobey him only in matters in which obedience to her husband and lord is disobedience to the Lord. Her trust will not be in her husband’s virtue, nor in her own ability to manipulate him with her womanly wiles, but in the Lord’s unbreakable word. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. Her husband is wise to seek her perspective, because she draws her strength from submission to the Lord and her heart is at peace with the Lord’s love for those who trust in him. She will submit to her husband with courage, not because quiet subjection to a sinning husband is easy, but because the Lord has commanded it and promised the heavenly blessing of communion with himself to those who chastely obey. She will be diligent to obey what she does know, quick to acknowledge what she does not know, and diligent to find out what she does not know. Intellectually, this means she must be humble and willing to learn, not self-assured in what she does know.
For besides knowing how high God is, she must also know herself and ‘the lowliness of his handmaiden’. She is no more entitled to a husband than I am to a wife. If she knows no merit of mine makes me always worthy of reverence, she has also to know that no merit of hers makes her always worthy of love: rather, it is the holiness of Christ that calls me to love her always, and her to reverence me always. For this reason, she shall not even contemplate divorce. Rather than blaming others for her own weaknesses, she must bear in mind that she is responsible before God for her own deeds. And so, rather than dissembling or cloaking her sins before the face of Almighty God our heavenly Father, she must – as the Prayer Book says – confess them with an humble, lowly, pænitent, and obedient heart, to the end that she may obtain forgiveness of the same, by his infinite goodness and mercy. To do this well, it is good that she confess her sins daily before God, at both Morning and Evening Prayer, not merely to satisfy a form but to bare her heart before God and be shown the mirror of the soul. For she who has been shown her self by the mirror of God’s word, and acknowledged the truth before God, is not slow to own her thoughts and attitudes before her husband. She does not accuse others when she faces troubles, but her spirit is quieted by her knowledge of herself before her God. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
If a wife show the character of St Monica, entrusting herself to the Lord even when her husband and her son do not obey the word of God, modestly relying not on the seductions of Eve but on the power of Christ, can her husband repine? Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.