Life And Writings Of Sulpitius Severus by Sulpitius Severus
Chapter XI. |A certain soldier had renounced the military life in the Church√†
|A certain soldier had renounced the military life in the Church, having professed himself a monk, and had erected a cell for himself at a distance in the desert, as if with the purpose of leading the life of an eremite. But in course of time the crafty adversary harassed his unspiritual nature with various thoughts, to the effect that, changing his mind, he should express a desire that his wife, whom Martin had ordered to have a place in the nunnery of the young women, should rather dwell along with him. The courageous eremite, therefore, visits Martin, and makes known to him what he had in his mind. But Martin denied very strongly that a woman could, in inconsistent fashion, be joined again to a man who was now a monk, and not a husband. At last, when the soldier was insisting on the point in question; asserting that no evil would follow from carrying out his purpose; that he simply desired to possess the solace of his wife's company; and that there was no fear of his again returning to his own pursuits; adding that he was a soldier of Christ, and that she also had taken the oath of allegiance in the same service; and that the bishop therefore should allow to serve as soldiers together people who were saints, and who, in virtue of their faith, totally ignored the question of sex, -- then Martin (I am going to repeat his very words to you) exclaimed: Tell me if you have ever been in war, and if you have ever stood in the line of battle?' In answer he said, Frequently; I have often stood in line of battle, and been present in war.' On this Martin replies: Well, then, tell me, did you ever in a line which was prepared with arms for battle, or, having already advanced near, was fighting against a hostile army with drawn sword -- did you ever see any woman standing there, or fighting?' Then at length the soldier became confused and blushed, while he gave thanks that he had not been permitted to follow his own evil counsel, and at the same time had not been put right by the use of any harsh language, but by a true and rational analogy, connected with the person of a soldier. Martin, for his part, turning to us (for a great crowd of brethren had surrounded him), said: Let not a woman enter the camp of men, but let the line of soldiers remain separate, and let the females, dwelling in their own tent, be remote from that of men. For this renders an army ridiculous, if a female crowd is mixed with the regiments of men. Let the soldier occupy the line, let the soldier fight in the plain, but let the woman keep herself within the protection of the walls. She, too, certainly has her own glory, if, when her husband is absent, she maintains her chastity; and the first excellence, as well as completed victory of that, is, that she should not be seen.'