I was chatting with a few strong Protestant women and they began to talk about women submitting to their husbands (“He only wants me to wear dresses.”) Yikes! I know about Paul’s Bible verse but haven’t really had this aspect of the gospel beaten into me as a Catholic. Have I missed something?
What does the Catechism say about this verse re:wives submitting to their husbands?


There have been a few recent threads covering this issue (and ultimately leading to arguments).

The short answer is that wives are required to submit to their husbands and that their husbands are required to imitate Christ.

** In other words,wives are required to submit to their husband’s because their husbands are acting like Christ, therefore it is in the best interest of the family to follow the husband’s lead. It does not apply to controlling behavior/poor decision making/bullying/abuse/etc because that is not how Christ treats His Church.**

Husbands are called to die to themselves for their wives and to be extremely forgiving/turn the other cheek etc.



As the Church is the Bride of Christ, and Christ gives himself to the Church, and the Church submits to Christ, so must husbands and wives. If husbands and wives love each other freely, willingly, and fruitfully, mutual respect will abound in the the marriage. This is why so often times we hear in the Church how marriage models the unity that Christ and Church have for each other. That doesn’t mean that wives will submit to their husbands blindly, without reason or truth. Gosh, looks how many times in Church history the people in the Church were confused about what the truth is. But if person in the marriage approaches problems with the goal of finding truth, not just as it applies to each person in the marriage, but as a couple - together, wholly - they are then able to find the truth, have that understanding between each other, and as a result, grow closer together as a couple, and as a family.

These poor women do not have the same reference of the Church as Catholics do - inevitably, their interpretation of Eph 5:21-30 is not taken as a whole.

Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, 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. So (also) husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.

The sacramental union of marriage, like the union of Christ and His Church, sanctifies each person in the marriage with love and truth. Submission, in a way, is mutual for both husband and wife.


Could someone direct me to some authority for the Catholic perspective on this section of Ephesians? I don’t see this issue discussed in the CCC. Is there an authoritative source like an encyclical or something where I can learn more about this subject?

closed #5

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