I swear you folks confuse me. Some Catholics, especially the more traditional ones, say that the husband is the head of the household. Looking at the responses on the Family Life forum, one would think that concept is alien to Catholicism.
Should the husband be the head of the house? Should he love his wife as Christ loved the Church and should his wife lovingly submit to him?
I did a quick search on CAF and found a post that I cut and pasted which has quotes stating that at least at some point in Catholicism, men were considered the head of the household…
The Catholic Church has always understood Scripture (including Ephesians 5, 1 Peter 3, and 1 Cor. 11) to say, clearly and unambiguously, that the husband should be the head of the family. Here are some examples of this teaching, from the Church Fathers and papal documents.
Nor can it be doubted, that it is more consonant with the order of nature that men should bear rule over women, than women over men. It is with this principle in view that the apostle says, “The head of the woman is the man;” and, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands.” So also the Apostle Peter writes: “Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.”
St. Augustine, On Marriage and Concupiscence
The husband is the chief of the family and the head of the wife. The woman, because she is flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone, must be subject to her husband and obey him; not, indeed, as a servant, but as a companion, so that her obedience shall be wanting in neither honor nor dignity. Since the husband represents Christ, and since the wife represents the Church, let there always be, both in him who commands and in her who obeys, a heaven-born love guiding both in their respective duties. For “the husband is the head of the wife; as Christ is the head of the Church. . . Therefore, as the Church is subject to Christ, so also let wives be to their husbands in all things.”
Pope Leo XIII, Arcanum
Domestic society being confirmed, therefore, by this bond of love, there should flourish in it that “order of love,” as St. Augustine calls it. This order includes both the primacy of the husband with regard to the wife and children, the ready subjection of the wife and her willing obedience, which the Apostle commends in these words: “Let women be subject to their husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife, and Christ is the head of the Church.”
Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii
In this context, the modern emphasis on “mutual submission” seems to mean something like this:
- The husband submits by leading the family with sacrificial love. He’s called to serve his wife unselfishly, putting his own desires last. This is a tall order…quite the opposite of “bossing her around for his own benefit.” (As C.S. Lewis puts it, the husband’s crown is a crown of thorns.)
- The wife submits by obeying her husband. This is relatively straightforward, but it’s not easy. Especially for the poor woman who’s saddled with a husband as imperfect as she is.
Of course, neither spouse can demand that the other fulfill his or her God-given role. It has to be a free gift. Each spouse can only do his or her own part…and pray. (Judging by the posts in this thread, there are at least as many wives praying for their husbands to lead, as there are husbands praying for their wives to obey. )
Some say that the man is the spiritual head. Well, what does that mean?
Do you believe ideally the husband should be the head of the house?