How Practical is it for Women to be Submissive to Their Husbands in Modern Society



That does explain it.

BTW, are you Australian? :grinning: I ask, because our public broadcaster (The ABC) has actually taken on this cause (domestic violence within religion), with a series of highly funded, highly publicised reports. So, the topic is very much up-to-date.

The ABC has also very much emphasised your point, that within Christianity abuse of women is often justified by traditional “headship” theology. That, however, doesn’t disprove the theology.

However, the ABC got caught out big-time when they went from individual stories to statistics. They misread the statistics, and said that dv is more prevalent within Christianity than elsewhere. In fact, the statistics showed exactly the opposite.

Yes, abuse of women exists within Catholicism. Sin exists. People misapply scriptures for their own purposes. Wives abuse husbands. Mothers neglect children. Priests don’t do their job. People undermine their priests, … That’s life.


The “theology” is the source of the abuse.


That’s a good citation from the USCCB.

I’ll let you have the last word with that.


Theology that is Protestant in origin.
Based on a Protestant interpretation of scripture.


I don’t claim sufficient knowledge of all the arguments to answer that.


I’d have thought it’s perfectly ok so long as the woman concurs. If the woman does not concur, they should not marry. If they have already married, they are going to have to find an accommodation.


The two are not mutually exclusive. I have a traditional relationship with my wife. But I also have an equal one. I don’t consider myself to have the final say on all important matters. The phrase “two heads are better than one” comes to mind. What’s the point of having another person who may sometimes have better ideas or wisdom than you, if you aren’t prepared to use that.

My role as head of the family is fulfilled in the manner that Jesus outlined:

‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 26 It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’

I mean, if the man truly is the head of the family then this is what it means. You are the slave of the family. If you’re going to talk about submission then I think you need to take into context the specific things that Jesus said about marriage and leadership.

About marriage he says that the wife and the husband are to be one in mind and body. That doesn’t sound like “wife…do what man says”.

Also when interpreting scripture, the historical context need to be considered. St Paul also talked about slaves obeying masters. Are we to take it that this is an endorsement of slavery from St. Paul?


Those who insist that Catholic wedding vows do not contain a promise of obedience/submission on the wife’s part, and never have, display a short view of history and a narrow view of the Church.

Wedding vows have no theological place in the Byzantine Catholic Crowning, yet they were added to the ceremony as a Latinization, at the insistence of the Polish government more than a century ago. These vows were taken directly from the vows used in the Latin Church in Poland.

Groom: I, N., take you, N., to be my wife, and I promise to love you, to respect you, to be always faithful to you, and never to forsake you until death do us part. So help me God, one in the Holy Trinity, and all the Saints.

Bride: I, N., take you, N., to be my husband, and I promise to love you, to respect you, to give you matrimonial obedience, to be always faithful to you, and never to forsake you until death do us part. So help me God, one in the Holy Trinity, and all the Saints.

The Polish Church no longer uses these vows, but the practice has persisted in the Byzantine Church. These days, they are usually omitted, in favor of our genuine tradition, in which the wedding ceremony itself does not contain vows, but I have seen them used as recently as 5 years ago.


The Government has no business dictating which vows should be used by the Church.

These vows, as far as I know would be invalid for the purposes of a Roman Catholic marriage. Unless there is some special dispensation in place in Poland.

This still doesn’t disprove that for the majority of Church History, the Church didn’t enforce “wifely obedience”. Just because one country did 100 years ago doesn’t prove anything.


I’m not trying to prove that the Church “enforced wifely obedience” (Franlky, I’m not sure how the Church could begin to enforce such a thing within a marriage, any more than it can “enforce chastity” or “enforce mutual self-giving”.) I’m simply pointing out that there have been times and places in the Church where the wedding vows included the wife vowing obedience, contrary to what some have said. I also didn’t say that the Polish government insisted upon these particular vows, The (very Catholic) Polish government would not accept the validity of weddings performed in the Greek-Catholic Churches because they did not contain vows. The Church inserted vows into the ceremony, simply using the vows that were already in use in the Latin Church in Poland at the time. Presumably, the government did not write those vows.

I think it is pretty presumptuous to assume that the vows used 100 years ago would be invalid, simply because they do not conform to the vows used today. There was much less uniformity and centralized control in the Church at one point and assuming the invalidity of a sacrament is a pretty big deal.

Someone made the statement a while back in this thread that the Catholic Church has never used submission/obedience in wedding vows. The whole point of my post was to show that this is not true. I provided evidence that such vows are currently in use. I think maybe you didn’t read the whole post.


Most of the non-college people these days are at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum. People in that position tend to not have very good skills at life planning or commitment and are just sort of bumbling along day to day. Since marriage requires commitment and usually some planning as well, and there is now no social stigma for living together or having children out of wedlock, it doesn’t surprise me that they’re not bothering with marriage.


Yeah, most of us figure these things out before we get engaged. It’s not like somebody is married for 5 or 10 years and the wife all of a sudden wants to change everything, unless perhaps she came over to USA as a mail order bride.


Geez. Can’t they just communicate like mature adults? Playing games never turns out well.


A wise husband would listen to his wife’s expertise. To continue your business analogy the husband is the CEO, his Vice President is indispensable but that doesn’t make him any less the CEO.

If the husband insist on a path over his wife’s objections she has two choices. Talk him out of it or undermined him. The second option just sets you two up for war and destroys trust.

I dislike the business analogy because husband and wives are a unit. They have to watch each other’s back. Once a decision is made (by whatever means) it is their decision. They both need to execute that decision to the best of their abilities. To do otherwise harms the family.

I guess my best way to illustrate this would be to ask you what you would do if your husband ignores your expertise and insists on doing it his way?


I would do what I thought was right regardless of the path my hypothetical husband took. I trust my judgment.


Hahaha. No, we don’t. But I guess the grass is always greener on the other side.

Everything you described about having a small child is very familiar to me.


Um, how?

Husband wants to buy x car, wife wants to buy y.

You would take the money and go buy y, just to get your way?

Good luck ever seeing a dime of his money again


I did read your whole post. Fair enough.

Though I was not saying that the vows were invalid. Only that they would be now, at least according to the standard vow formats in English-Speaking countries.

I think if couples want to interpret submission in this way and it isn’t abusive then fair enough. But I really think that marital arrangement would offer many more opportunities for virtue to the woman than the man. I mean, if a man can wave his hand and declare that things will be done “my way” then that really doesn’t challenge him much does it?


So, you’re saying that I have to give in to his every petty whim or else suffer financial abuse? Great case you’re making for “traditional” marriage there.


Husband and wife both have jobs, husband and wife both make the money to buy their own car, each person buys one car and picks it themself based on what they can afford. Simples.

Marriages are a lot happier when one person isn’t seeing the other as the money machine for the family. It’s also very helpful to have that setup in case one person all of a sudden dies and the survivor still has bills to pay.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit