Monday, January 11, 2010

The Dignity of Christian Marriage

Men should not be wimps, neither should they be tyrants. Wives are not chattel, neither are they prostitutes to be used for mere gratification. According to Fr. Angelo:
Ancient cultures, and some of them Christian, though not thoroughly Christianized, have regarded women as virtually the property of their husbands to be disposed of in an arbitrary way. However, the famous passage of St. Paul, invoked by traditionalists to put women in their place does not affirm the wife-as-chattel mentality. In Ephesians 5, St. Paul does indeed mandate the obedience of a wife to her husband, but he also states that husbands and wives are to be subject one to another, in the fear of Christ (22). St. Paul goes on to explain this mutual subjection in terms of a wife’s obedience to her husband and the husband’s sacrificial love for his wife. The next chapter (6) goes on in parallel manner to reaffirm the obligation of children to obey their parents, while at the same time, commanding fathers not to provoke their children to anger (1-4). This makes it pretty clear that an arbitrary or abusive execution of authority within the family finds no mandate in sacred scripture. No man may presume that his wife and children must swallow the consequences of his capricious will without question.

In fact, Ephesians 5 compares marriage to the love of Christ and His Bride, the Church, and the paradigm for husbandly love is Christ on the Cross. The abuse of authority within the family is not going to be solved by feminism. Emasculated men are a plague upon society and the family. But neither is the problem of feminism and effeminacy going to be solved by ignoring abuses of authority or by absolutizing the rights of husbands.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church and John Paul II placed a great emphasis on the dignity of the human person and the obligations of those in authority to respect that dignity and to command according to the demands of the common good. The Church regards as particularly pernicious the abuse of authority, because human authority is never absolute but entrusted to individuals specifically for the care of the persons, created in the image and likeness of God. For this reason John Paul II placed a particular emphasis on the obligation of men toward women, while not at all dispensing from the obligation of obedience of wives to their husbands. One would think that the need to address the problem of the abuse of authority, as well as the unwillingness to exercise it with legitimate forcefulness for the common good, would be obvious in the light of various modern forms of totalitarianism, fascism and fanaticism.



Julygirl said...

When women complained of this reading my husband would remind them of the final part of the reading comparing a husband's care for his wife as Christ loving the Churc......meaning dieing for it.

Anonymous said...

I think many people read the "women obey your husbands" part and forget about the "husbands love your wives" part. It results in women believing the Bible calls for oppression, and men believing they can do whatever they want.

I've always contended that if men loved their wives in the same way that Christ loves His church, then women would have no problem respectng and following them. In fact, I think women adore strong but loving men.

Thank you for this post.

elena maria vidal said...

I agree, Julygirl and Christine. It seems to me that that passage in the Scripture is either totally ignored or totally abused.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post.

Anonymous said...


Also, it's good to remember Jesus' own words regarding marriage when we read St Paul's epistle on the subject. Jesus says: The two shall become one body. So, as men should not abuse their bodies, so they should not abuse their wives. Likewise, as women are subject to the functions and workings of their bodies (hormones!), so they are subject to their husbands. The parts work in tandum for the good of the whole.