A development in the thought of the great preacher of Christianity occurred also with regard to the concept of virginity. In his writings from the second period of his life, virginity acquires a different form and expression; it is no longer a physical condition but a spiritual one. Virginity is now the beauty of the soul; that beauty, which the Lord promised not to the unmarried women but rather to those with pure souls. Commenting on the words of St. Paul in 2Cor. 11:2, he explains:
“He did not say these things to the non-married alone, but to the whole Church. Because the woman who is pure in her soul is a virgin, even if she has a husband; she is a virgin and deserves to be marveled at, because she has the true virginity. Because this one (virginity in the flesh) is an outcome and a shadow of the other one (virginity in the soul) and that one (the virginity in the soul) is the true virginity.”
We will attain the virginity of the soul, he explains, if we do not allow the concerns of life to corrupt us, if we do not become attached to material things but desire the Bridegroom Christ.
In another text, he advises the husband to treat his wife with love and encourages him to confess his love to her without any fear that she may become prideful. He advises them to pray together, to attend church together and after they return home to demand from each other the observance of the commandments of God, exercise of patience, frugality, modesty and decency, and concludes:
“If someone marries a wife in this way, and he is no less prudent in these things than the monastics, then he will not be inferior to the monastics who are not married.”
If married people, then, where to live in this way, i.e., in the ascesis of prayer, obedience to God and the ascesis of love toward their spouse, children and the poor, not only would they become virgins, but they will even surpass the monks and the virgins in virtue!
In spite the fact that St. John Chrysostom began his writing carrier as a young monk and deacon proposing the superiority of monasticism and virginity Vs marriage using a rhetorical style reminiscent of his Stoic teacher Libanius, gradually over time, and especially during the second period of his life as a presbyter in Antioch, he modified his positions, enlightened now by a deeper understanding of the Christian theology of marriage, but also because of the maturing of his thought as he served and guided people. He arrived eventually to a view of marriage different from his early years, no longer seeing marriage as a medicine against fornication, nor as an obstacle to the perfection of man, but rather as equal to monasticism in the effort of man to please God and cultivate the virtues.
A little while later, during his last years in Antioch and before his election to the episcopal throne of Constantinople, he saw marriage as a Christian community of love and an arena and opportunity within which love can be perfected according to the image of the love of Christ for the Church. He saw eros as the innate natural force, which unites the two separated parts in humanity. Through the conjugal love and commitment, which in the end should become philanthropy for those around them, he saw the opportunity for an ascetic kind of life within marriage, which leads to perfection and opens the gate to the Kingdom of God. He also saw the exercise of the responsibility for the salvation and perfection of the other.
Chrysostom, over time, changed also his view of virginity. He abandoned his original concept of virginity as a physical bodily state and opted for an understanding of virginity as a higher state of existence; virginity is the spiritual purity of the soul, which can be attained both by monks and married people alike.
To the question whether monasticism is superior to marriage, I think that the mature theologian and pastor Chrysostom would have answered like this: “Monasticism and marriage are two different ways of life both leading to the Kingdom of God those who live their lives in the ascesis of love, struggling for the purity of their souls and detachment from the things of the world, desiring and seeking union with the Bridegroom Christ.”
After the above analysis, it becomes clear that St. John Chrysostom was finally able to offer an ascetic theology of marriage, where the married state becomes a field of ascesis for the attainment of the virtues and most especially the perfection of agape (love). This love is built first between the spouses, then extends toward the children and other domestics and finally moves further outwards to embrace and comfort the poor and suffering in the society. Within this ascetic context, eros and sexual attraction are transformed to positive forces for the perfection of the people involved. With this kind of theology of marriage, Chrysostom not only went against the norm of Roman society by claiming that procreation is no longer a necessary goal of marriage, but he also sought to replace the ancient Roman understanding of the household (domus) as the economic and societal unit, by a spiritual, purely Christian one, based on the prototype of the love of Christ for man. Furthermore, Chrysostom set out to convert the Roman domus into a Christian asketerion, and even better into a “small church” (Ecclesian mikran).
 St. Chrysostom emphasizes that God did not create the woman from a different kind of nature so that she may not come to man as “other” (foreign/different).
 The existential experience of life is one of the fundamental reasons for which the Church has had married priests; they come out of the community in which they are immersed in the same life as their parishioners. The married state of life is not considered as an impediment to their personal sanctification or the sanctification of their flock.
 “Concerning One marriage” 2, EPE 30, 55.
 “On Virginity” 15, 2, EPE (Greek Fathers of the Church, in Greek) 29, 496.
 Ibid., 41, EPE 29, 579-580; Also “To Theodore the Monk”, 5, EPE 28, 737-738.
 “To Theodore the Monk”, 5, EPE 28, 741.
 See also “On Virginity”, 44, EPE 29, 591-592, where he claims that it is easier to attain the Kingdom of God through virginity rather than through marriage.
 “On Virginity”, 17, 2, EPE 29, 500.
 “In Praise of Maximus . . .”, 5, EPE 27, 181. See also “Concerning One Marriage”, 3, EPE 30, 63, where he sees the allowance of a second marriage by St. Paul as a condescension to the weakness of man. This weakness, claims Chrysostom is not because of lack of strength, but rather because of the “lack of strength of the human will”.
 “In Praise of Maximus . . .”, 5, EPE 27, 181.
 “On the Avoidance of Fornication”, 2, EPE 27, 98.
 Ibid., 107-109.
 “On Virginity”, 19, 1-2 EPE 29, 504-506; PG 48 547.
 See Peter Brown, The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity, Columbia University Press, New York 1988, 307-308.
 “On the Avoidance of Fornication”, 3, EPE 27, 109; PG 51, 213. Since people did not yet have the hope of the resurrection, God gave comfort to people through children, so that they may leave behind living images of themselves and the human race may continue on.
 Johannes Quasten, Patrology, Vol. III, The Golden Age of Greek Patristic Literature from the Council of Nicea to the Council of Chalcedon. Westminster, Maryland: Newman Press, 1960, 434.
 Homily 21, 5, On Genesis, EPE 2, 621-623; PG 53, 180d. See also Homily 55, 6, On Matthew, EPE 11, 238-240; PG 58, 548-549, and Homily 4, 2, 3 On Isaiah, EPE 8A, 388-390; PG 56, 122-123; also Homily 6, 1, On Isaiah, EPE 8A, 426; PG 56, 136.
 Homily 7, 4, On Hebrews, EPE 24, 393-394; PG 63, 68. This homily was written during the last year of his episcopal ministry in Constantinople in 403 or 404 (see Quasten, Patrology, vol. III, p. 450) and confirms his position introduced during his ministry as a priest in Antioch.
 Homily 7, 4, On Hebrews, EPE 24, 394; PG 63, 68.
 Ibid. Cf. 1Cor 7:29-31.
 Homily 20, 1, On Ephesians, EPE 21.
 Homily 34, 3, On 1Corinthians, EPE 18A, 427. The homilies on 1Cor have to be from his time in Antioch, although we are not certain about their exact date (Quasten, Patrology, vol. III, p. 445). It seems, however, from his position on marriage that they have to be from the second period when he was a priest. Panagiotis Christou in his Patrologia, Vol 4, 285, believes that “These homilies were certainly delivered in Antioch in 395.”
 Homily 20, 1, On Ephesians, EPE 21, 197-199. See also EPE 21, 4, 215. See also Homily 34, 3, on 1Corinthians EPE 18A, 427-429, where St. Chrysostom has equated the “desire” of the man for his wife with agape (love). The desire of the man (which is stronger) serves the purpose of subjugating the man to his wife in order to preserve the equality of the two. Also, the fact that childbearing is not depended only on the one helps preserve the balance between the two genders. See also “Concerning One marriage” 3, EPE 30, 67.
 Homily 20, 1, On Ephesians, EPE 21, 194.
 Homily 12, 4, On Colossians, EPE 22, 345 (The homilies on Colossians were written in the year 399 in Constantinople, Quasten, Patrology, vol. III, 448).
 Homily 12, 4, On Colossians, EPE 22, 343
 Ibid., 345.
 Ibid., 343.
 Ibid., 345.
 Homily 19, 3, On 1Corinthians, EPE 18, 531
 Homily 20, 1, On Ephesians, EPE 21, 195.
 See Chrysostomos Baur, John Chrysostom and his time, transl. by M. Gonzaga, Westminster, Maryland: The Newman Press, 1959; reprint ed., 4 vols. Büchervertriebsanstalt, 1988, volume one, part one, 164.
 Homily 20, 2, On Ephesians, EPE 21, 205. See also Homily 56, 1 On Genesis, EPE 4, 411, where the desire of the one for the other is the power which holds marriage intact.
 Homily 12, 5, On Colossians, EPE 22, 347: Through his presence at the marriage, Christ “will transform the attraction, the weak and cold desire and make it spiritual. This is the meaning of the change of water into wine.” (Ibid., page 349)
 Homily 20, 3, On Ephesians, EPE 21, 205
 Homily 20, 5, On Ephesians, EPE 21, 217.
 Homily 20, 6, On Ephesians, EPE 21, 222, “∆Ekklhsivan mikravn”.