The Domestic Church
The writings of St. John Chrysostom reveal that the ethos of the married and monastic vocations are similar in that both offer opportunities for sanctification, we can look to monasticism for guidelines on how to apply personal discipline in the world. St. John Climacus' "The Ladder of Divine Ascent" is considered one of the classics of Orthodox spiritual teaching. Unknown to many however, is that St. John was asked by married couples how they could apply his teachings if they were not monks. He responded,
"Some people living carelessly in the world put a question to me: "How can we who are married and living amid public cares aspire to the monastic life?" I answered: "Do whatever good you may. Speak evil of no one. Rob no one. Tell no lie. Despise no one and carry no hate. Do not separate yourself from the church assemblies. Show compassion to the needy. Do not cause scandal to anyone. Stay away from the bed of another, and be satisfied with what your own wives can provide you. If you do all this you will not be far from the kingdom of heaven."
In the introduction to the book Metropolitan Kallistos pointed out that people do not necessarily ascend the steps in order. The ladder is not to be taken literally; but sets "a standard and model for the whole Church." In our case, we can see the book as a guide to living a Godly life in the domestic churches – the families who live in the world.