Ephesians 5:24 “Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so also let the wives be to their husbands in all things.”
The Bible is filled with passages that are difficult for me to read, but Ephesians 5:24, and passages similar to it, are some of the hardest for me to accept. I will always read these passages from my feminine perspective.
I wanted to ask the Catholic men here for their masculine perspective. How do you interpret Ephesians 5:24? Did you interpret it differently in the past? Have you ever felt opposed to the Biblical structure of wives being mandated to subject to their husbands in everything? To the married men, what was your transition like from dating to becoming the husband, “head” (Ephesians 5:23) and “dominant” (Genesis 3:16)?
St Paul’s letters are simultaneously both revelation for all time and pastoral letters for the cultures of 1st century communities. This is why we have a current Magisterium to give us teaching instead of trying to pick apart everything for ourselves.
There is no obligation in the Church for wives to obey commands from a spouse in a totalitarian hierarchy. I have no such such expectation in a Catholic woman acting in that way. I like women that are smart, kind, positive, and have a healthy self-esteem. and value their insights.
What spouses are obligated to do is to show complete fidelity & charity to each other, since marriage as a sacrament is designed to be an earthly foretaste of our union with God in Heaven. So, obedience is something that is produced through charity: unless something a husband (or wife) is asking is unreasonable or immoral, there usually isn’t a reason why we shouldn’t be joyful to be cooperative.
There’s no tiptoeing in obeying the word of the Lord. If we can take Jn 6 literally the the bread is his true body, and so too his other teachings.
Frankly I would see Eph 5, which should be read in whole and in context, with trepidation.
Being the head of the family, a Christian husband has tremendous responsibility. Like Christ who loves his Church, he gave his own life in love of Her. Christian husbands are called to love their wives like their own bodies.
Ordinarily the wife does not have any problem in submitting to a loving and God fearing husband. The question really is, should a wife submit to an abusive and unchristian husband?
I think Eph 5 does not say she would if we notice the caveat that says what the husband should be - that he should be like Christ. She should not submit to the husband if he asks her to commit sin, for example.
I think in obeying God’s word, blessing will come on the marriage and the couple. On the other hand, acting against it would stop the blessing that God wants so much to bestow on the couple that He has gifted with His Sacrament.
I cannot respond to 5:24 or 5:23 as neither one stands by itself. You have to look at the entire passage: 21 Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.* 22 Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. 24 As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for hert 26 to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word,(“http://www.usccb.org/bible/ephesians/5#57005026-u”) 27 that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.v 28 So [also] husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, 30 becau, se we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave [his] father and [his] mother
and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
Paul is telling us how to be with each other as husbands and wives, using language and imagery suitable for his time. Notice the words many seem to miss: "Be subordinate to one another’, “we are members of His body”, “the two shall become one flesh”.
Paul is not setting the man as head over the woman, nor is he setting the woman over the man. He is saying that we are each unique, called to different roles within society but within those roles we are to put the other before ourselves, as Christ put Himself before us to die for us. As we became “one flesh” in the Body of Christ we are called to be “one flesh” with each other.
Remember the audience Paul is writing to - a patriarchal society where men ruled and woman had little official power. He is not saying that woman should be unthinking slaves to their husbands but rather that they should accept their place in society at that time and that men should treat them better than they treat themselves.
How do I relate that to 2016 in America? By recognizing that while the society (and the roles) that Paul specifically wrote to in 70 AD has changed, the call to be “one flesh” - to have a marriage that is not 50/50 but 100/100 - to put my wife above all else and her to do the same for me - to strive to get each other to Heaven - these have not changed and this is what the passage calls me to be and to do.
It means that all husbands are called by God to sacrificially serve their wives, not to dominate, but to give sensitive, intelligent leadership that grows out of a loving consultation between them. Otherwise there is not the spirit of love that Christ has for his Church.
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”.
These verses in question also recall what Jesus said:
MATT 20:25 *But Jesus called them to him, and said: You know that the princes of the Gentiles lord it over them: and they that are the greater, exercise power upon them.
26 It shall not be so among you; but whosoever will be the greater among you, let him be your minister:
27 And he that would be first among you, shall be your servant.
I think the word “submit” could be interpreted as “Let him serve you”
But this is hard to put into practice in modern society, because in most families (most families I know at least), the wife is more religious than her husband, and when you try to live by this saying it gets kind of warped.
Jesus was a ‘Women’s Lib’ advocate 2,000 years ago…time after time, He spoke out for the equality of women, to the amazement of His disciples…He treated women with dignity and respect, and He expected others to do the same…He was regarded by many as a prophet [high praise!] because He spoke out for a return to ‘traditional values’ - ‘Trust in God, and be a people of justice’…
As Christians, we are called to emulate Jesus…to treat my wife as anything other than my equal would be unacceptable.
But since you asked how I perceive it. Well, for me, it does not sit well as it is written. But that’s not uncommon for a translation so far removed from us today. So I would take any passage like that with a grain of salt. And as I studied the verses before posting I found that my hesitation to accept verse 22(as I first saw it, and taken out of context) to be justified.
First of all, the section on husbands and wives (verse 21) starts out saying that husbands and wives should be subordinate with each other (the same greek word for subordinate is not used as in vs 22).
Secondly, 1Peter 3:1-6 gives some insight into the verses in Ephesians.
1 Peter 3:1-6 Christian Spouses.
1* Likewise, you wives should be subordinate to your husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives’ conduct
2when they observe your reverent and chaste behavior.a
3Your adornment should not be an external one: braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or dressing in fine clothes,b
4but rather the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God.
5For this is also how the holy women who hoped in God once used to adorn themselves and were subordinate to their husbands;
6thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him “lord.” You are her children when you do what is good and fear no intimidation.
** [3:1–6] The typical marital virtues of women of the ancient world, obedience, reverence, and chastity (1 Pt 3:1–2), are outlined here by the author, who gives them an entirely new motivation: Christian wives are to be virtuous so that they may be instrumental in the conversion of their husbands.* In imitation of holy women in the past (1 Pt 3:5) they are to cultivate the interior life (1 Pt 3:4) instead of excessive concern with their appearance (1 Pt 3:3).
After these things (cultural context, the verse’s context, what’s lost in translation, and similar passages in other books of scripture) I get a much better picture of what St. Paul was getting at.
THIS is EXACTLY correct. I really wish people would quit taking bible passages out of context. The key to understanding this teaching is the very first line above, which everyone conveniently omits: “Be subordinate (or also translated as “submissive”) to one another.” The rest is just “how” to do that.
Exactly, but how is people taking the passage out of context?
Read the passage again.
*21 Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 **Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. **
23 **For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. **
24 **As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. **
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her
26 **to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, **
27 **that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. **
28 So [also] husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
29 For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body.
31 “For this reason a man shall leave [his] father and [his] mother
and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”**
The passage is rather clear so much so that it can be quite repetitive to emphasize its point.
It is clear that husband and wife should be subordinate to one another which is mentioned in verse 21.
If we read on, each has their own roles to be followed.
It said the husband is the ‘head’ and the wife should subordinate to him in 'everything’.
But the husband has to play his role too … and in fact more is said on what the husband should do, like:
*]the husband should love the wife like how Christ loves the Church (by giving His own life).
*]speaks to her in words that sanctify and cleanse her. Wow, that must be some word, holy word, that he must say to her.
]that he must be the exemplary of a Christian husband, like the Church, in splendor. Thus he must be to her wife, so that the wife too, when being treated by such husband, become holy and unblemished.
In other word, the relationship should be loving, submitting and giving in to each other, recognizing each other roles as the Lord intents them, but most of all in fidelity to the word of God, the teaching of Christ, as how the Church is subordinating to Him.
In that premise, the marriage will not and cannot go wrong.
Today how many husbands would take up the role as a Christian husband? How many would step up in faith and be leaders in their household as exemplary Christians and men of faith that the wives could look up to?
Many, what we see in our local parishes, is that it is the wives who are more holy and who take the leadership in practicing the faith in the family.
Word of God is not wrong nor it lie. It is us humans who are frail and unable to live it up in our lives.
Watering down the intent of the word because it is difficult to follow and because it does not square up to the practice of modern day value is just closing our eyes to it real message.
An important factor that perhaps we do not like to hear is for the wife to be submissive to the husband. We fail to see the virtue in this. Dysfunctional marriage, very often is as a result where there is strife and independence, unwilling to submit, argumentative and disobedience, unwilling to give in to authority in the family, giving poor image to the children because the word of God is not followed in the family life.
On top of this very often too, husbands fail to take up the correct husbandly and fatherly roles in the family and so become a house in disorder.
As a male married, I don’t see the problem. As a male I submit myself to God, I submit myself to the Church, I submit myself to my country, I submit myself to my employer.
The nicest well-balanced women I have ever met, draw their strength from their husband. The ones who draw their strength from themselves, tend to be bitter and grumpy, which seems to be a reaction to an insecurity.