St John's Q&A

Saturday, July 07, 2007

"The wofe should respect her husband"

“Perplexed wife” wrote, “My cousin and his wife just had their first child and are now discovering new things about each other as they parent together. This spurred an debate in my home. In a nut shell, my aunt believes it's her daughter-in-law's moral responsibility to sumbit to the will of her son. If they cannot agree over something, his decision should prevail. He is the head of home. She went on to state that the reversal of the order of head of household has led, for a number of reasons I won't go into, to the basic decay of our value systems. I told her her ideas were archaic and no one believed that anymore. She informed me, however, that this is the current teaching of the church. I can't remember hearing any of that taught in recent years. I don't even think I've heard "obey" used in marriage ceremonies anymore. My aunt is a pretty devoted woman in her faith, so I would believe she is correct in her beliefs, but still.... does the church still teach that women should be submissive? I am aware of the passages referencing the subject, but they were written in a time when women weren't exactly first-class citizens. I'd like to think I am thought to be given more than only "influence" with my spouse, at least in the eyes of the church. My reality is what it is, but I'd like to know the teaching.”

One of the main passages comes from Ephesians 5: 21-33. Everyone seems to focus on St Paul’s line, “Wives be subordinate to your husbands”. In this passage, St. Paul compares the relationship between a husband and wife to the relationship between Christ and the Church. The beautiful and intense analogy is often ignored by many because of the word ‘subordinate’. What has always amazed me is that we never seem to hear the end of the passage where St. Paul uses the word ‘respect’: “In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband” (v.33). The main point is that a husband should give his life to his wife as Christ gave his life to the Church; and, the wife should receive his love (as she does in the marital act) as the Church receives Christ’s love, and return it as fully as possible, as the Church does with Christ.

Here is a reply to the above comment from a married couple, “Kelly and Mike Huffman”:

To Perplexed Wife,Hi, this is the first time my husband and I are commenting together. We we were married in our early to mid twenties, we just hit our 20th anniversary. Christ commands husbands to love their wives as they love their own bodies. He also commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. Also God is a God of order. Husband and wife are called to love and serve the Lord above all people/things.On the practical side, if Mike is presenting a decision for our marriage/family, it is always after much prayer/receiving graces from the sacraments. If at first, I "balk," or disagree, I will start to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to continue to guide Mike and to impart knowledge understanding to me. Many times, the Holy Spirit will bring great peace to my soul. Other times the Holy Spirit will lead me to ask questions, initiate more conversation-discussions..........

Sometimes this will lead to a different direction altogether. So we view it as a supernatural, divine, grace filled process. We view marriage as our vocation and know that we can not live it without Christ and His sacraments.Of course we are sinners and we have had 20 years to learn many lessons from the Lord! Marriage is all about sacrificial love. Yet we have found that a Christ centered marriage is a glimpse of heaven on earth.


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