Saturday, March 9, 2024

Wives Submit To Your Husbands?

In this blog post, I will explain what the Bible says about wives submitting to their husbands, and why this is an important principle for Christian marriages. I will also provide some references for further study.

The main passage that teaches this doctrine is Ephesians 5:22-33, where the apostle Paul writes:

"Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." (NIV)

This passage shows that God has designed marriage to reflect the relationship between Christ and the church. Christ is the head of the church, and he loves, leads, protects, and sanctifies his bride. The church is called to submit to Christ, and to follow, honor, trust, and serve him. Similarly, husbands are called to be the head of their wives, and to love them sacrificially, tenderly, faithfully, and selflessly. Wives are called to submit to their husbands, and to respect, support, help, and obey them.

Submission does not mean inferiority or oppression. It means recognizing God's authority and order in marriage. It means willingly placing oneself under the leadership and care of one's husband. It means honoring him as the head of the home and following his decisions. It means cooperating with him in fulfilling God's purposes for the family.

Submission does not mean blind obedience or passivity. It means using one's gifts, talents, wisdom, and creativity to contribute to the well-being of the marriage. It means expressing one's opinions, preferences, needs, and feelings in a respectful and loving way. It means being a partner in ministry and mission with one's husband.

Submission does not mean agreeing with everything or never confronting sin. It means being loyal and faithful to one's husband. It means speaking the truth in love and seeking reconciliation when there is conflict. It means praying for one's husband and encouraging him in his walk with God.

Submission does not mean neglecting one's own identity or calling. It means finding one's worth and value in God's love and grace. It means fulfilling one's role as a wife with joy and excellence. It means pursuing God's will for one's life in harmony with one's husband.

Submission is not a burden or a curse. It is a blessing and a privilege. It is a way of honoring God and glorifying him in marriage. It is a way of imitating Christ and his humility. It is a way of experiencing peace and harmony in marriage. It is a way of showing love and respect to one's husband.

Some other passages that teach about wives submitting to their husbands are:

- Colossians 3:18: Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

- 1 Peter 3:1-6: Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

- Titus 2:3-5: Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

The verses seem to say that women are to be slaves to men or their husbands, however we have to read them in context. We began this post with verse 22 of Ephesians 5, but if you read verse 21 it shows the context of Paul's statement. Ephesians 5:21 says "Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ." So the idea of being "subjective" or "submissive" to the husband is in relation to the Church and Christ. It does not mean that the wife has to be some sheep or slave saying "yes master" to her husband.  Women and men are equal.

In Genesis 2:18-24 we read the account of the creation of Eve. God says that man should not be alone. He says it is "not good." So men need to be with someone. Who is this someone? Woman!  Note that God says this new creation will be a "helper" for man. He did not say this new creation would be man's slave or pet.  God then uses man or Adam to create the new human, woman or Eve. What does God do? God removes a rib from man and fashions woman from him. Where are the ribs in the human anatomy? They surroud the vital organs in the chest wrapping around from the front of the chest to the side equally and symmetrically like a cage.  

This imagery of the rib symbolizes that man and woman stand side-by-side. They are equals. Verse 24 tells us that man leaves his parents to find woman and the two shall become ONE flesh.  Jesus echos this in Mark 10:8.  Becoming ONE flesh means equality. Man and woman become one item, one substance. The man is not above or below the woman and the woman is not above or below the man. They are equals.  However, they have distinct roles. 

Pope Pius XI taught in 1930 (Casti connubii, 10  cf. The Navarre Bible — Captivity Epistles): “The submission of the wife neither ignores nor suppresses the liberty to which her dignity as a human person and her noble functions as wife, mother, and companion give her the full right. It does not oblige her to yield indiscriminately to all the desires of her husband; and his desires may be unreasonable or incompatible with her wifely dignity. It does not mean that she is on a level with persons who in law are called minors.  And minors are ordinarily denied the unrestricted exercise of their rights because of their immature judgment and not having enough experience." 

St. John Chrysostom had this to say: “Have you seen the measure of obedience?  Hear also the measure of love.  Would you have your wife obey you as the Church obeys Christ?  Then you care for your wife as Christ cares for the Church.  And if it is necessary that you should give your life for her or be cut to pieces a thousand times or endure anything whatever, do not refuse it.  He brought the Church to His feet by His great care, not by threats nor fear nor any such thing; so that’s how you must conduct yourself toward your wife!”  (https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/230120.htm)

Pope Leo XIII wrote in his encyclical Christian Marriage: “The man is the ruler of the family, and the head of the woman; but because she is flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone, let her be subject and obedient to the man, not as a servant but as a companion, so that nothing be lacking of honor or of dignity in the obedience which she pays.”
In his encyclical Familiaris Consortio, John Paul II wrote: “In revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God, a man is called upon to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of the family: he will perform this ask by exercising generous responsibility for the life conceived under the heart of the mother” (FC 25)

I hope this blog post has helped you understand what the Bible says about wives submitting to their husbands, and why this is an important principle for Christian marriages. No man is above his wife. No man superior to any woman and vice versa. Men and women are equal and have instrinsic value regardless of where they were born, how much that have, how much they earn, their level of education or skill, their physicality and so on.  Men must treat women and especially their wives like Christ treats the Church, His bride. Christ does not lord over the Church like a dictator. He does not abuse the Church. He gave His life for her and protects her. He loves her and does everything for her to remain in Him. No man should abuse his wife or any woman. No woman should abuse her husband or any man. They must treat each other with respect, dignity and understanding. 

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share them below on Disqus. Be sure to follow the rules for posting.  Thank you for reading and God bless you!



References:

https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/wives-do-what

https://www.catholic.com/magazine/online-edition/authority-in-the-family

https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/wives-be-submissive-to-your-husbands-5026

https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/230120.htm

https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/wives-be-subject-to-your-husbands

https://pintswithaquinas.com/what-it-means-for-wives-to-submit-to-their-husbands/

https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=1409


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