Ephesians 5 on Marriage?


#1

Ephesians 5:21-33

Should I seek to live this scripture passage in my marriage? I am not married so I have the freedom to seek a woman who would agree with me on this subject. But wherever I turn when this subject comes up, I face a lot of resistance and it makes me wonder if I am doing something wrong.

Do you have any advice?


#2

This is not a matter for a few pithy lines, I'm thinking.

I'd advise that you look up the homilies on Ephesians by St. John Chrysostom. There is a paperback of his homilies that I think can still be found, titled "On Marriage and Family Life". Otherwise, you can find them online, as well. He died in 407, but I think you will be astonished with how well-acquainted he is with modern rationalizations. Human nature does not change so much as we suppose.


#3

Understand what it means. Women who resist it most likely don't know what it means either.

"submission" = under the mission

The husband's mission is to love his wife as Christ loved the church.

to love= will the good of the other, which is heaven. Christ died for the church.

His mission to help his wife get to heaven, even if it kills him. A wife is to be "under the mission".


#4

Thanks for the feedback.

I guess what I am still wondering is if this is something that is important, and a good thing when understood properly, why is there so little support for it among Catholics? I think what I am really looking for is a community of support, because sometimes it seems like I am alone fighting the whole world on this topic.


#5

When I first got married, I found those Scripture passages "offensive" and "out-dated." When I began to study Scripture, read the Catechism and earnestly pray, I realized that they were freeing and perfect for modern couples who wanted to live a long and happy married life together and raise a Godly family. My husband and I have been living in submission to God's will to the best of our ability and could not be happier. Look for women who come from families where the parents are happily married and actively living their faith - there are many in our area. I hope and pray my four daughters will be among them when they prepare for marriage. My oldest son has found a wonderful young lady who wants to live her life that way and he is keeping her!

Blessings,
Jennifer


#6

First line "Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ."

This is not about telling each other what to do or one person making all the decisions. I think this is where a few people fall down with this scripture. This is not about who gets to be the boss of who.
*
"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."*

A husband cannot love a wife if he does not respect her, therefore husband and wife should respect each other and love each other. A husband is supposed to love his wife as himself, so first he needs to love himself. Loving yourself (men and women) means you do not do things or make decisions that will hurt you in anyway.

This scripture also calls for trust, husband and wife have to trust each other and themselves in order to be subordinate to each other. Lets face it if I don't really trust you to act in my best interest I am going to question and undermine every decision you make. Also if I don't trust you I am going to try make decisions without you.

When I find the right man and get married, my submission will be me trusting him to come to me before making huge decisions but also for those right this minute decisions that need to be made he will make those decisions with me in mind and it will be best for BOTH of us and our family.

This is just my thoughts on this.


#7

[quote="agapewolf, post:3, topic:230191"]
Understand what it means. Women who resist it most likely don't know what it means either.

"submission" = under the mission

The husband's mission is to love his wife as Christ loved the church.

to love= will the good of the other, which is heaven. Christ died for the church.

His mission to help his wife get to heaven, even if it kills him. A wife is to be "under the mission".

[/quote]

I guess this sums it up in a few words :thumbsup:

The family - the basic unit of society - is the Domestic Church where the husband is the spiritual head. This does not mean he lords it over the wife, it means he must assume headship in leading the family towards Christ, in love. Submission is a natural response of the wife to the husband who loves her with his life in Christlike manner. This does not preclude joint discernment of decisions and actions.


#8

[quote="trinichiqn, post:6, topic:230191"]
This is not about telling each other what to do or one person making all the decisions. I think this is where a few people fall down with this scripture. This is not about who gets to be the boss of who.

[/quote]

Why isn't it? If men are charged with protection and sacrificing themselves for their wives, why is it unthinkable that women are charged to be submissive and obey their husbands?

although I think calling it "bossing someone around" is a crude way of putting it. Why does it have to be that the person who makes most of the decisions is said to be "bossing someone around", and not caring for them?


#9

[quote="oneplustwo, post:1, topic:230191"]
Ephesians 5:21-33

Should I seek to live this scripture passage in my marriage? I am not married so I have the freedom to seek a woman who would agree with me on this subject. But wherever I turn when this subject comes up, I face a lot of resistance and it makes me wonder if I am doing something wrong.

Do you have any advice?

[/quote]

Make sure you TRULY understand that passage before start trying to base a marriage off of it before you have even hit the alter.

Too many people, Catholics and Protestants miss out on the most important part... as Christ loved the Church. If your wife is sacrificing for you to allow you to be head of the household hold that means you are called to even greater sacrifice. Being head doesn't mean always getting your way, Christ as the head was the most humble and giving of all... He gave his life for the Church, was humiliated, beaten, scarred, ridiculed etc... being able to carry all of those burdens for your family is what that verse is really talking about.

It works out to be much more equal as each is called to self sacrifice for the other, is that the marriage you are looking for? Because if so then I think you have a good chance at long term happiness.

Joe


#10

[quote="ChiRho, post:8, topic:230191"]
Why isn't it? If men are charged with protection and sacrificing themselves for their wives, why is it unthinkable that women are charged to be submissive and obey their husbands?

although I think calling it "bossing someone around" is a crude way of putting it. Why does it have to be that the person who makes most of the decisions is said to be "bossing someone around", and not caring for them?

[/quote]

A man is charged to LOVE his wife as Christ loved the Church.
1. This a sacrificial love
2. If you love me you respect me. Respect that I am an adult not a child, and as an adult I should be included in decisions that affect my life.
3. Being submissive does not mean having no opinions or decision making power.
4. Obeying does not mean blindly saying yes to everything my husband says.(Honey, I think we have enough kids, you should get your tubes tied. I don't think so.) I know that is an extreme example.

I will end going back to the first line "Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.". I never talked about "bossing someone around", I talked about what this line does not mean to me, I never even used the term.


#11

[quote="trinichiqn, post:10, topic:230191"]
A man is charged to LOVE his wife as Christ loved the Church.
1. This a sacrificial love
2. If you love me you respect me. Respect that I am an adult not a child, and as an adult I should be included in decisions that affect my life.
3. Being submissive does not mean having no opinions or decision making power.
4. Obeying does not mean blindly saying yes to everything my husband says.(Honey, I think we have enough kids, you should get your tubes tied. I don't think so.) I know that is an extreme example.

I will end going back to the first line "Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.". I never talked about "bossing someone around", I talked about what this line does not mean to me, I never even used the term.

[/quote]

So what are the limits on the man loving his wife?


#12

[quote="ChiRho, post:11, topic:230191"]
So what are the limits on the man loving his wife?

[/quote]

There are no limits on love, I was just pointing out that love should come first and everything else should come out of that.


#13

[quote="trinichiqn, post:12, topic:230191"]
There are no limits on love, I was just pointing out that love should come first and everything else should come out of that.

[/quote]

My point is that I often see lists of "submission is not x, y, and z" and "what this really means is a, b, and c." However, I rarely see any redefinition of what loving as Christ loved the Church is. So, are there any limitations? How do we make sure that men don't get hurt by a misinterpretation of this passage? (of course this is facetious, but asking this question is logically consistent with claims that the role of the woman is frequently misinterpreted)

People are very eager to interpret submission in light of the 20th and 21st century's opinion of what it means (and what it should not mean), but that doesn't seem to happen with the man's role.


#14

[quote="ChiRho, post:13, topic:230191"]
My point is that I often see lists of "submission is not x, y, and z" and "what this really means is a, b, and c." However, I rarely see any redefinition of what loving as Christ loved the Church is. So, are there any limitations? How do we make sure that men don't get hurt by a misinterpretation of this passage? (of course this is facetious, but asking this question is logically consistent with claims that the role of the woman is frequently misinterpreted)

People are very eager to interpret submission in light of the 20th and 21st century's opinion of what it means (and what it should not mean), but that doesn't seem to happen with the man's role.

[/quote]

I don't think it is a facetious question at all. I think there are many men married to abusive or wayward wives who have reflected on this passage in profound seriousness.

For instance, if a man is married to a woman who is abusive, does he have to suffer the abuse without limit? Isn't that what Christ is willing to do? Yet the Church recognizes that a man can separate from his wife, if it becomes clear that his spouse refuses to let him live in peace and safety. Some would argue that Christ is endlessly tolerant of our infidelities, yet the Church recognizes adultery as a reason to sever the common conjugal life even while the marriage endures, just as serious sin can lead to excommunication for the person who is and always will be a Catholic. A man has to give himself up to keep his wife pure, but he can't lock her in the house or accomplish this by force. So no, even this passage cannot be just taken at 21st century face value.

Frankly, I think the reason the passage about men is not dissected so much is that it is more difficult for a wife to use it to unfairly manipulate her husband and abuse her authority within the marriage. That isn't to say it cannot be misused, though, and when it is, then a discussion like this is in order, absolutely.


#15

[quote="ChiRho, post:13, topic:230191"]
My point is that I often see lists of "submission is not x, y, and z" and "what this really means is a, b, and c." However, I rarely see any redefinition of what loving as Christ loved the Church is. So, are there any limitations? How do we make sure that men don't get hurt by a misinterpretation of this passage? (of course this is facetious, but asking this question is logically consistent with claims that the role of the woman is frequently misinterpreted)

People are very eager to interpret submission in light of the 20th and 21st century's opinion of what it means (and what it should not mean), but that doesn't seem to happen with the man's role.

[/quote]

I'm not sure anyone can give you anything but their interpretation.

Christ loved us so much that He died for us. Are you ready to sacrifice yourself for your wife? Put her above yourself? Her happiness, her needs? Put yourself last?

As I said in my first post trust is very important, where feelings and emotions are involved it is difficult not to get hurt 100% of the time but with trust and love it is usually mitigated or worth it. I don't think a wife being submissive to her husband is about allowing or letting him make unilateral decisions without her it is unfair to both parties and resentment can build. That is a sure-fire way to get hurt.


#16

[quote="trinichiqn, post:15, topic:230191"]
I'm not sure anyone can give you anything but their interpretation.

Christ loved us so much that He died for us. Are you ready to sacrifice yourself for your wife? Put her above yourself? Her happiness, her needs? Put yourself last?

As I said in my first post trust is very important, where feelings and emotions are involved it is difficult not to get hurt 100% of the time but with trust and love it is usually mitigated or worth it. I don't think a wife being submissive to her husband is about allowing or letting him make unilateral decisions without her it is unfair to both parties and resentment can build. That is a sure-fire way to get hurt.

[/quote]

St. John treats these issues in his sermons, as well, and in a very straight-forward manner. His arguments are not academic or obscure, but straight-forward and well worth reading. He was given the name Chrysostom (from the Greek chrysostomos: "golden mouthed") and declared a Doctor of the Church for good reason.


#17

[quote="oneplustwo, post:4, topic:230191"]
Thanks for the feedback.

I guess what I am still wondering is if this is something that is important, and a good thing when understood properly, why is there so little support for it among Catholics? I think what I am really looking for is a community of support, because sometimes it seems like I am alone fighting the whole world on this topic.

[/quote]

Welcome to the problem of our culture. I think if the word "cooperative" was used, there would be less objection to the concept. You, obviously, are not "alone" in this. (we're here!) For those "in the know," this certainly IS the way to live. Don't be afraid to be right in the midst of massive ignorance!


#18

[quote="trinichiqn, post:15, topic:230191"]
Christ loved us so much that He died for us. Are you ready to sacrifice yourself for your wife? Put her above yourself? Her happiness, her needs? Put yourself last?

[/quote]

I am unmarried, but speaking into the future, I certainly am willing to do those things.

however, given

[quote="trinichiqn, post:15, topic:230191"]
I don't think a wife being submissive to her husband is about allowing or letting him make unilateral decisions without her it is unfair to both parties and resentment can build. That is a sure-fire way to get hurt.

[/quote]

why don't you think resentment will build when the husband is constantly sacrificing? Why don't you think that is unfair?

nb: I fully accept both roles. I look forward to dying for my wife -- daily in the sense of sacrifice, and perhaps (though unlikely, but sometimes a possibility) in a literal sense. I also expect that my future spouse will uphold her end, and assume her role as a wife, as scripture has made clear.

My problem is that I think you are upholding a double standard, or at least making a bad comparison. You don't see a problem with the man sacrificing for his wife, for "her happiness, her needs" and "putting himself last", but you automatically look at submission to the husband's judgment as a sure-fire route to marital strife (and thus offer a new definition of the role of a wife, which doesn't really involve much sacrifice). Why not equally scrutinize both? My stance is that both roles are beautiful and holy. As EasterJoy rightly states above, both can be misused. I'm not denying that, but let's try to compare like things: the ideal form of a husband and the ideal form of a wife, and their ideal roles, instead of assuming that the role of the wife is so easily perverted and having to constantly redefine what the passage means.


#19

[quote="ChiRho, post:18, topic:230191"]
I am unmarried, but speaking into the future, I certainly am willing to do those things.

however, given

why don't you think resentment will build when the husband is constantly sacrificing? Why don't you think that is unfair?

nb: I fully accept both roles. I look forward to dying for my wife -- daily in the sense of sacrifice, and perhaps (though unlikely, but sometimes a possibility) in a literal sense. I also expect that my future spouse will uphold her end, and assume her role as a wife, as scripture has made clear.

My problem is that I think you are upholding a double standard, or at least making a bad comparison. You don't see a problem with the man sacrificing for his wife, for "her happiness, her needs" and "putting himself last", but you automatically look at submission to the husband's judgment as a sure-fire route to marital strife (and thus offer a new definition of the role of a wife, which doesn't really involve much sacrifice). Why not equally scrutinize both? My stance is that both roles are beautiful and holy. As EasterJoy rightly states above, both can be misused. I'm not denying that, but let's try to compare like things: the ideal form of a husband and the ideal form of a wife, and their ideal roles, instead of assuming that the role of the wife is so easily perverted and having to constantly redefine what the passage means.

[/quote]

I think it is unfair to both husband and wife for the husband to unilaterally make all decision because in dealing with two adults both should have an input in their lives. There has to be communication and sharing.

Originally Posted by trinichiqn
I don't think a wife being submissive to her husband is about allowing or letting him make unilateral decisions without her it is unfair to both parties and resentment can build. That is a sure-fire way to get hurt.

I think that resentment will build up on both sides because (I am a woman but) if I was the husband and my wife's definition of submission means she has no opinion on anything I will get annoyed over time, I married and adult not a child who needs to be led and instructed. As a wife if my husband's understanding of submission means he can make every decision for me I will also get annoyed because once again I an adult not a child and we are supposed to be sharing our life together. When resentment builds there will be hurt feelings.

The husband is not the only one who needs to be sacrificing. Eph 5:21 "Being Subject one to another, in the fear of Christ" Douay-Rheims.


#20

Personally and in just my opinion (I am a husband)...

We just take the principle...in today's times (and to some extent in probably the olden times as well), it is a common enough situation where the husband shirks away from the responsibilities of assuming the spiritual headship of the domestic church. Husbands should take the lead in the prayers at home. Husbands should goad the entire family to Mass on Sundays. Husbands should lead rosaries. They should lead in bringing up their children 'in the instruction of the Lord'...Husbands should strive live the Christian way and be a beacon of example for the family...

When there are pretty complex and momentous decisions to make for the family, the husband makes the decision. That decision should be one arrived at with prayers, discernment, AND earnest discussion and consideration of the wife's side. It is a decision that is self-sacrificial, borne out of love, and discerned in God's will. Just think of the moment (and the narratives before that moment) when St Joseph decided to bring the pregnant Mary miles and miles across the desert, with only a donkey as transport. Mary was silent and obedient all throughout, but that doesn't mean she was not thinking and feeling.

As an aside, in my case, my wife makes many decisions for us on a day-to-day basis. I trust her on many important matters. It doesn't in any way make me less of a head of the domestic church. Sometimes we argue at some point and she wins in the argument. I relented at that point because I realized she was right at the moment. It was right for the family. And there were times I insisted on my point and got it after long discussions. I felt it was right and in the end she conceded it was right too. It is impossible to set a hard and fast rule...so must we pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in every way.


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