Be Submissive?

The sometimes controversial reading heard at many Catholic weddings (and sometimes at Mass) from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians is commonly misunderstood.  In the fifth chapter, St. Paul writes a series of statements that tend to (emotionally) upset the readers of the text.  We must stop and digest what we are reading in order to fully understand what Christ is calling us to in relationships.

Women tend to want to delete these passages from Scripture and men want to stop reading after the line that tells their wives, “… be submissive to your husband.”  We can’t delete them and men, you must read on.

The point of this passage in Scripture is to explain to us that, in a marriage relationship, the woman must be submissive to (or “under the mission of”) her husband because he is imitating Christ – who gave His life for love of the Church.  Jesus went through His Passion and death out of love, out of service, out of purpose.  This submission has nothing to do with taking away a woman’s independence, her abilities or her intelligence.  In fact, it enlivens all of her good characteristics!  As men, we must follow Christ’s lead and be His imitators.  This imitation is not merely an imitation of the acts we read about in the Gospels, but also adopting the “mind” of Christ.  As Christ died for the Church, His “bride”, we too must be willing to do whatever it takes for our bride.  This means an uncompromising devotion, respect and incredible love for our wife.

Married women, I understand that the idea in Ephesians 5 can be hard to swallow when your husband isn’t living up to this imitation of Christ.  I recommend (as a man who has been challenged and who has responded to the challenge in a positive and life-changing way) challenging your husband, in a loving, encouraging method, to imitate Christ and to bring your family along with him.  Your marriage can be good and strong.  It will be at its best when your husband is imitating Christ and you are submitting to that lifestyle with him.

Single women, take heed of the words of Ephesians 5.  As you think about who you are going to date, or when you contemplate engagement to your boyfriend, ask yourself two questions.  1. What type of mission do I want my future husband to have? AND 2. Am I willing to submit to that mission?  If your man’s mission doesn’t line up with yours, he’s not right for you.  Don’t let a man take you away from your personal imitation of Christ.

No woman wants to be mistreated.  No woman dreams of a worthless, loser husband.  Hold your standards high, never compromise.  When you find a man who is striving to imitate Christ, follow him!

Part of my motivation with this site is to encourage men to do their part… another motivation is encouraging women to do theirs.  The best way for a man and a woman to fulfill their roles is for each to fulfill their own independently so that collectively, they may build each other up.  I hope that in this section “For Women”, women find helpful insights and resources to creating healthy, wholesome and loving relationships with the men in their lives.

At any time, please leave comments, questions, feedback and suggestions in the comment box below.

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