Husbands Live to Help Wives Live Fully as the Bride of Christ


#1

Hello all,

I invite you to comment on an idea I would like to develop into a book about a different perspective on husbands. The question I want to explore is:

“How would a husband live in marriage in order to free his wife to fully be the Bride of Christ?”

This is based on four reasons why a husband is really the “best man” for his wife - three baptismal vows and the marriage vow. I am developing this theme from the Gospel of John, John 3:29 - the best man stands for the bridegroom and rejoices when he hears the bridegrooms voice.

In other words, a husband recognizes that his wife’s primary relationship is with Jesus, and he lives marriage so that his wife will fully live that relationship. It seems to me, that if a husband treated his wife this way, we would have happier, stronger and more loving marriages and families.

I am writing this book online at www.whenthebridegroomcomes.com and would appreciate your thoughts, suggestions and comments. My first blog post of April 10, 2008 introduces this purpose.

Let me know what you think of this concept of this role of a husband in marriage. Thanks so much for your consideration!


#2

Honestly…? This is a highly idealized, almost saintly version of marriage of which I see few men capable of living out on a day by day basis.

Moreover, I think you misapprehend the model of marriage and its place within the Church. Marriage is intended to be a mutual endeavor, a lifelong struggle, an interdependence. One partner is not the sacrificial handmaid/butler/servant of the other. The two individuals are equal, yet unique aspects of one flesh and their needs, duties and obligations are mutual and reciprocal. Together they approach God and work in unison to secure each other’s spiritual as well as physical and emotional fulfillment. To suggest the husband has some role that requires him to perpetually subordinate his (human) needs and desires for the spiritual salvation of a wife who is in effect wedded to Christ suggests that a wife’s fulfillment of her husband and their sacramental union is somehow inferior. Their calling and union is blessed and holy and fulfilling their duties to each other with the entirety of their being serves and honors God. It is through this basic human union we can see and partially understand the the profound relationship Christ has to His true bride–not any given individual woman–but the collective whole of His faithful, the Holy Church.


#3

“How would a husband live in marriage in order to free his wife to fully be the Bride of Christ?”

CCC1613 On the threshold of his public life Jesus performs his first sign - at his mother’s request - during a wedding feast. The Church attaches great importance to Jesus’ presence at the wedding at Cana. She sees in it the confirmation of the goodness of marriage and the proclamation that thenceforth ***marriage will be an efficacious sign of Christ’s presence. ***

CCC2335 Each of the two sexes is an image of the power and tenderness of God, with equal dignity though in a different way. The union of man and woman in marriage is a way of imitating in the flesh the Creator’s generosity and fecundity: “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and*** they become one flesh.”***

My GoodHusband and I have become one flesh in the Marriage Sacrament, and Christ is present in our union. Our union is our vocation-- our path to holiness, our means of pleasing the Lord. My husband needn’t free me. Instead we rightly fulfill our vocation together.

Our sacramental marriage calls us to total self giving. That is entirely freeing-- freeing from self-interests, freeing from selfish fears and desires, freeing from self-service. Dave, given that your premise is unclear, if not questionable, here’s my answer: the best my husband can do to free me to participate in sacramental total self-giving is to respond with total acceptance of my gift of self.

Of the many women and men on this Catholic forum whose spouses are less aware or less concerned with the presence of Christ in their marriage, those people too are fulfilling their vocations (providing the marriage is, in fact,a valid one.) They are fulfilling their call to holiness by remaining loving and faithful to difficult spouses.


#4

First, What MoniCatholic said.

Second, Michelle Arnold said this a few months ago:

“It is important to remember the purpose of marriage: To provide for each spouse a partner to help him or her on the road to heaven. It is a vocation that forms the partners in sanctity, whether or not their marriage is blessed with children.”

Third, THE HUSBAND AS HEAD OF THE FAMILY

scripturecatholic.com/husband_headship.html

Scripture
The Holy Catholic Church teaches, through Scripture and Tradition, that the husband is the head of his family and has God-given authority over his wife and children. This gift of authority does not give a husband any greater dignity than his wife. Both are equal members of the marital covenant, as is reflected by God creating woman from the side of man (as opposed to his head or feet). Instead, this order of authority reflects the divine order between God, Christ and man. God blessed the marital covenant with this order to maintain peace and harmony in the family, the “domestic church.” Just as Christ is the Head of the Catholic Church (the family of God), so the father is the head of his domestic church (his family).

1 Cor. 11:3 – “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.”

Eph. 5:22-24 – “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of his wife, as Christ is the head of the church, His Body, and is himself its savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands.”

Col. 1:18 – “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”

Titus 2:5 – Wives should be submissive to their husbands, that the word of God may not be discredited.

1 Peter 3:1-2 – “Likewise you wives, be submissive to your husbands, so that some, though they do not obey the word, may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, when they see your reverent and chaste behavior.”

1 Peter 3:5-6 – “So once the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves and were submissive to their husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are now her children if you do right and let nothing terrify you.”

Gen. 2:18; 1 Cor. 11:9; 1 Tim. 2:12-13 – while some people argue that God imposed the submission requirement upon women as a punishment for the original sin, this is not true. God designated the man as the head of his family from the very beginning of creation, even before the original sin. Therefore, man’s authority over the woman was not imposed as a punishment for the original sin, but to reflect the order of creation.

Gen. 3:16 – in fact, God revealed that women would want to usurp their husband’s authority as the result of the original sin. After the original sin, God tells Eve: “Yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” Thus, as a result of the original sin, Eve would desire to rule over Adam, but God ensured that Adam would rule over Eve.

Gen. 4:17 – also shows that the Hebrew word for “desire” refers not to a hunger for affection, but a desire to rule over someone. Here, God tells Cain “sin is couching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Sin wants to rule over Cain, but Cain must rule over sin.

Isaiah 3:12 – the prophet laments about how women were usurping the authority of men, during the height of Israel’s covenant apostasy.

Just as wives must be submissive to their husbands as the head of the family, husbands must love their wives sacrificially, as Christ loves the Church:

Eph. 5:25,28 – just as wives must submit to their husbands, husbands must “love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.” Just as the Church is legally and morally obligated to submit to Christ, wives are obligated to submit to their husbands. This is why Paul makes the comparison between husbands and Christ, wives and the Church.

Eph. 5:33 – “let each one of you love his wife as himself.”

Col… 3:19 – “husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.”

1 Peter 3:7 – “Likewise you husbands, live considerately with your wives, bestowing honor on the woman as the weaker sex, since you are joint heirs of the grace of life, in order that your prayers may not be hindered.”

Because men are spiritual fathers to their families (as both ministerial and royal priests), God revealed through St. Paul that women should be silent in church, and not usurp the roles that God intended for men:

Dave, this sounds like some sort of twisted feminist logic. If a husband and wife are one flesh in harmony, they both will glorify our Lord. As well, “The Bride of Christ” is the description of Religious Orders by Nuns and Sisters, that is their vocation. Just as the Priest vocation is the Church. Each vocation stands on it’s own to honor God, maybe that’s why God does not ask us to try and do both at the same time.


#5

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate your viewpoints. Since I am exploring this question, I don’t have all the answers - I am just looking for them.

To Island Oak

Honestly…? This is a highly idealized, almost saintly version of marriage of which I see few men capable of living out on a day by day basis.

This is what I am wondering. What would help men to live this out on a day by day basis? What is the best hope for men living out their marriage, if not for finding a different way to think or imagine their role in marriage? I think men can choose to think differently and choose to live at a deeper level of union with God and their wives. Culture can influence a man’s thinking and taken without reflection, can condition a man’s thinking.

One partner is not the sacrificial handmaid/butler/servant of the other. The two individuals are equal, yet unique aspects of one flesh and their needs, duties and obligations are mutual and reciprocal. Together they approach God and work in unison to secure each other’s spiritual as well as physical and emotional fulfillment. To suggest the husband has some role that requires him to perpetually subordinate his (human) needs and desires for the spiritual salvation of a wife who is in effect wedded to Christ suggests that a wife’s fulfillment of her husband and their sacramental union is somehow inferior.

Thank you for making this comment. I agree very much that both individuals in a marriage are equal and unique with mutual and reciprocal duties and obligations. Serving each other without love - both of self and the other spouse - can lead to a disordered way of living. It seems to me that treating my wife as the bride of Christ gives me a deeper, more profound respect of her, and the ability to let go of cultural influences.

From what I have learned from published sociologists and marriage counselors (Dr. John Gottman, Gary Chapman, Dr. Scott Haltzman, Robert Mark Alter), men’s mistreatment of their wives is a primary reason for marital disharmony.

The approach I am exploring does not mean subservency of husband to wife or wife to husband, but a deeply profound respect and honoring Christ’s presence in that relationship. I appreciate your comments for that does help me reflect on the meaning at a deeper level. So, thank you again!

To: Monicatholic

My Good Husband and I have become one flesh in the Marriage Sacrament, and Christ is present in our union. Our union is our vocation-- our path to holiness, our means of pleasing the Lord. My husband needn’t free me. Instead we rightly fulfill our vocation together.

Our sacramental marriage calls us to total self giving. That is entirely freeing-- freeing from self-interests, freeing from selfish fears and desires, freeing from self-service. Dave, given that your premise is unclear, if not questionable, here’s my answer: the best my husband can do to free me to participate in sacramental total self-giving is to respond with total acceptance of my gift of self.

Thank you for sharing your comments. I agree with you that marriage is a union lived together with total self-giving. I appreciate your answer about what freedom means to you.

In thinking about my question, "How would a husband live in marriage in order to free his wife to fully be the Bride of Christ?”, you are saying that your husband can respond with total acceptance of your gift of self. What does that mean specifically?


#6

I wonder why you even ask such a question…I mean why do you think a husband has to “free” his wife from anything??? Isn’t she already free to do as she desires? Hasn’t God given both men and women free will?

Your question seems a little insulting to me.


#7

I wonder why you even ask such a question…I mean why do you think a husband has to “free” his wife from anything??? Isn’t she already free to do as she desires? Hasn’t God given both men and women free will?

Your question seems a little insulting to me.

Thank you. I appreciate your comments. This question is not meant to insult anyone. Perhaps an interpretation of “freeing to live …” might be clearer. Yes, all people do have free will, but not all are empowered to live in freedom, even in marriage.

Why is there a divorce rate of nearly 50% in the Church in the United States and in American society? I would contend that freedom is an issue.


#8

I appreciate your reply, Dave.

What do you mean by “all people do have free will but not all are empowered to live in freedom, even in marriage”? Are you saying not all people ‘choose’ to live in freedom? I’m just trying to understand what you are saying…

You mention the divorce rate is so high because freedom is an issue. I’m thinking selfishness may be the bigger issue.


#9

I picked all of the above :smiley:

Yet, I think with love as Christ loves, the rest comes naturally. The Husband and the Wife’s primary relationship is with Jesus and helping each other get there, right? One unity toward heaven? If it is one unity as defined in “Catechism of the Catholic Church” on the sacrament of matrimony 1605, then there isn’t really a non-unity notion there. It is either together as one or not at all. Otherwise that would just be a “friendship”, right?

Maybe I’m wrong in reading and understanding your notion or that of the Catholic Church. I’m new to Catholicism. I’d like to be clarified if I am :slight_smile:


#10

There is some confusion I think on the definition of “freedom”.

Freedom isn’t defined as doing whatever you want.

Cardinal Arinze explains this better than I ever could (I’m just not that knowledgeable anyways on Theology of the Body). He explains it very well in this link: Video: Theology of the Body (Freedom).


#11

I’m not a theologian in any sense of the word, and I’m not as learned as some others on this forum. This is just how I see it, from someone who converted four years ago.

I chose “love” because it is the only one that endures forever. If there is true, sacrificial, heart-felt love in a marriage, things like faith, trust and hope will also be there. Love is what encompasses all of them and makes each one possible.

Again, this is just my viewpoint.
Scout :tiphat:


#12

"How would a husband live in marriage in order to free his wife to fully be the Bride of Christ?”, you are saying that your husband can respond with total acceptance of your gift of self. What does that mean specifically?

I think you need to adjust the terminology, Dave. A better question would surely be “How can a husband help his wife live more in union with Christ?” My husband doesn’t free me to be a bride of Christ. Instead, he accepts my total gift of self, empowering me to more freely give of myself. My husband lives in such a way to make me more free to be his bride.

Together, we are in union with Christ.

But how does he specifically accept my total gift of self? By reciprocating with a total gift of himself. After twenty years of this exchange (the last 7 or 8 being ever so profoundly happy) the mystery has deepened. How is it that we are more of one flesh than ever before, yet have each become more the person God intends us to be? That’s the mystery of the sacrament of marriage.


#13

I agree with MonciaCatholic, esp. the part about chainging your terminology. We who are over 50 might not to buy your book once it’s published, because we might be thinking you ar trying to make wives into nuns, AKA Brides of Christ!:eek: I know the scriptural symbolism, etc., but think about it.

I am a Catholic woman, but I didn’t sign on to be a religious sister when I married my husband!


#14

Dear OutinChgoburgs and Monica Catholic,

Thank you for your straightforward and candid comments. I appreciate your viewpoints. This is exactly what I am trying to learn - what do people think and what do they associate with in terms of language and symbols.

I think that it is very interesting how we Catholics can associate the term “Bride of Christ” with religious sisters or Catholic nuns. The use of marriage symbolic language for describing the intimate relationship between God and humans in Scripture goes back to the Jewish prophets, like Isaiah (8th Century BC), Amos and others - well before any Catholic religious orders were started.

Women’s religious orders adopted the term “Bride of Christ” to indicate a celibate, spiritual, dedicated relationshop to Jesus Christ - solely dedicating their lives to Him.

St. Paul advised husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church; other New Testament Scriptures (such as Revelation) compare the Church as the New Jerusalem coming as a bride from heaven to be one with God. So, we are dealing with a symbol that has more than one shade of meaning of a string of words.

When I mean the “bride of Christ” in terms of marriage, my impression is not one of a celibate, spiritual God-and-me only relationship between a wife and God and the husband is serving bon bons and groveling at his wife’s feet. Not at all.

What has impressed me is men who consider themselves “The” man and get jealous when their wives are interested in growing in their relationship with Christ. Rather than encouraging and allowing their wives to grow in their relationship with God an Jesus, they envy the presence of Christ in a marriage.

The 2007 CARA Report on Marriage indicates that outside of going to Mass, only 25% of married couples pray together a few times a week. Why? If we are to spend an eternity with God as our best friend, doesn’t it make sense to get to know God now?

So what would marriage look like, what would families look like, if men regarded their wives’s first and primary relationship, not with themselves but with God? Would abuse end? Would their be more responsibility? More tenderness?

If men knew that their wives had a precious, personal relationship with Jesus, what would their behavior be like? Wouldn’t they want to guard and protect that relationship? Wouldn’t they want to bear the cross for their wives when struggles, illness and trying times arise? Wouldn’t they want to be happy knowing the their wives were growing deeper in love with God, knowing that love would come back to serve them? Would they be more free to give themselves to their wives and accept the total gift of their wives, as mentioned earlier.

In John 3:29, John the Baptist’s followers question John about his role, now that Jesus was winning more disciples. John responded about his role as the best man - the bridegroom has the bride, the best man rejoices when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. Why can’t that be an image for a husband in marriage? A husband and his wife’s best man - all the while realizing that Jesus is the bridegroom.

I think that this is true when a wife’s body dies. Many men grieve deeply. What if a husband adopts the viewpoint that his wife is now united with Christ (and with him in a spiritual way.) If a husband adopted the viewpoint that he is the best man for his wife, a husband and a best man at the same time, would he rejoice when his wife hears the Bridegroom’s voice calling her to eternity?

And what about the day-to-day living when struggles, challenges and “little” deaths occur? What if a husband adopted the viewpoint that the Paschal Mystery of living-dying-and rising to new life occurred? Would he want to protect that and rejoice at hearing the Bridegroom’s voice speaking to his wife and him?

These are some thoughts to ponder. I do apologize for what may have seemed unclear - I am gaining a better way to articulate the image as these discussions unfold. So thank you for exploring them with me.


#15

So what would marriage look like, what would families look like, if men regarded their wives’s first and primary relationship, not with themselves but with God?

What would marriages look like if husband ***and ***wife regarded their primary relationship as their unitive relationship with God? Marriages would look like my marriage and the Catholic marriages whom my husband and I learned to emulate. Marriages would be holier, happier and much healthier than our current, abysmal state of affairs.

So many Catholic couples still haven’t been introduced to the astonishing model of marriage reiterated in Pope John Paul’s II’s Theology of the Body. Dave, because of the broadness of your scriptural interpretation, you’re introducing a semantic that could lead to misunderstanding and even abuse. If you try, instead, to conform your terminology to that used in TOB, you will have the force of Church teaching behind your dedication to improve the state of Catholic marriage.


closed #16

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