why are men Jesus and women "the church"?

I find it very strange that when the church talks about marriage, they use the analogy that the man is like Christ and the woman is “the church.” It seems to put men above women - men are God in the analogy, and women are merely human. Why doesn’t the church say that spouses should love each other like Christ loved the church? Anyone else have a problem with this?

I’ve never understood that either. That such ideas would arise out of an oppressive, patriarchal culture is hardly surprising. What is surprising is that we have not surpassed that. I’m hoping that I just don’t understand it, but to my current understanding it is not merely about recognizing the inherent differences between men and women, but about recognizing those differences and then exalting men above women. And if men are so much better than women, then why is it that men and women can both perform admirably in almost every field of human study and practice?

I would be thrilled to hear explanations that could help me resolve this conundrum.

St. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit and aware of the sacrificial life of Jesus (who gave up his LIFE for “His Bride” the Church in offering Himself on the Cross) spoke of these things - in an inverse way … as Jesus did.

Christianity is NOT ruling over the other. It is placing oneself “below” the other in service (as Jesus emptied Himself of His Divine Rights to become a baby, child, man living in primitive times in a conquered land).

You didn’t say which sex you are … but it doesn’t matter in considering this. A man must be ready to lay down his life for his bride … and for some reason St. Paul “merely” (by comparison if we are to be worldly and critical of his words) instructs the women to “honor their husbands”. To the men it’s " love your wives."

Men ARE not God of course, but members of the Church … and have to ponder over what it MEANS to be part of “The Bride” spiritually. So … the Blessed Mother becomes their role model too.

Women of course look to Jesus as Lord and follow Him clothed in the personality (and sexuality) they are given.

It’s perhaps the mystery of children that becomes most illustrative of what Christianity is.

Who “outranks” whom in the Parent/child relationship? On one hand … the old “rules over” the younger (though as the younger grows, less and less all the time) - on the other hand, it is the older who serves the younger (paying for meals, changing diapers, dressing them when they are helpless).

Just as “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve …” Men are to be loving, generous, caring and nurturing to their wives and children. These same men have of course been reared (“ruled over” if we must say it :smiley: ) by their mothers - though a nicer way to put it is they have been instructed, cared for and launched into adulthood by their mothers.

There is also the value that in Christ “the two become one” and not forever two battling
people, keeping score rather than entrusting themselves to the worthy and deserving other as a cherished partner.

We live in a politicized time … and must be on guard that we have a very savvy spiritual enemy who’d like to lead us into unfruitful thinking … and worse.

The Bible begins and ends with a couple mystery. The intimacy of God’s creation of man, then woman, then child … and a journey toward an otherworldly union between the Lord and his beloved creatures in an intimacy so full of sublime happiness and harmony … it is expressed as a glorious wedding (at the end of Revelation).

The longing bridegroom has waited and suffered for his bride. His bride has made herself ready with an open heart and immaculate apparel.

“Male and female He made them …” is a mystery to us … but if we seek out God’s inspiration over man’s worldly cynicism and complaints regarding all things holy – we will more likely reap the joy of what Our Father has done for us. :slight_smile:

This was written more as a self-exploration than any kind of power play lecture by the way.
I am richer for you having posed the question it seems. Thank you. :aok:

sdeco #1
I find it very strange that when the church talks about marriage, they use the analogy that the man is like Christ and the woman is “the church.” It seems to put men above women - men are God in the analogy, and women are merely human.
VeritasLuxMea #2
I’ve never understood that either. That such ideas would arise out of an oppressive, patriarchal culture is hardly surprising. What is surprising is that we have not surpassed that.

“men are God in the analogy” – how bizarre!

Fancy ridiculing “the church”, that Catholic Church which Christ Himself founded as though She is not the Bride of Christ!

Answer by Fr.Stephen F. Torraco on 05-21-2001 (EWTN):

“The Sacrament of marriage is a living sign of the nuptial love between Christ and his Church. As such, the Sacrament points beyond itself to its fulfillment in the Kingdom of God, wherein the new and heavenly Jerusalem, namely Christ’s spotless Bride, finds her perfection in the communion of saints, men and women, whose total nuptial fulfillment, pointed to and anticipated by the Sacrament of Marriage, is as the Bride of Christ. The communion of saints, overflowing with fulfillment from Christ, overflow to each other as a perfected community of human persons, whose ensouled bodies are the “spiritual bodies” to which St. Paul refers in 1 Corinthians 15. These spiritual bodies call for the fullest reality of nuptial relations, and this means the transformation of what we know as marriage. As St. Paul said, eye has not seen, ear has not heard, the mind has not conceived what God has in store for us.”

The Church has traditionally taught that husbands should love their wives like Christ loves His Church, and that wives should submit to their husbands. The woman came from the side of man. Also, man is her superior – he is the head of the household. God bless you.

Men and women perform admirably in almost every field of human endeavor. They do not perform equally. No female Aristotles and Platos. No female Newtons and Einsteins. No female Mozarts and Beethovens. No female Pattons and MacArthurs. No female … well, I guess you get the picture. Civilizations were created, advanced, and defended mainly by men.

But there would be no civilizations without women. If women had done all the things men have done, and had done them as well, they would be superior to men, because they can have babies too, and men can’t. The power of the female has been over the child. There is no civilization without mothers teaching their children to be civilized. If that is not as great an accomplishment as everything done by the Newtons and Einsteins etc., I’ll eat my oppressive patriarchal hat. :wink:

But Christ is fully human as well!

The Church is not merely a human institution. She is a mystical, supernatural organism. She was divinely founded by Christ. She constitutes the mystical Body of Christ. She is protected from error and from destruction by the Holy Spirit. I cannot think of a more fitting analogy for a bride than the Church. We can continue this analogy by looking at Mary, mother of God and mother of us all. She loves Joseph as the Church loves Christ. She loved God so much that she gave her “fiat” to become the new Ark of the Covenant for Christ’s incarnation. God sanctified Mary as He sanctifies the Church. Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross would be meaningless without a Church to redeem, so how can it possibly be a slight to wives to imitate and reciprocate this love?

Funny, that is what the white supremacists say too. That all the great accomplishments of the world were made by white Europeans. Here you say that the great accomplishments of the world were made by men and that women are only for giving birth. Why is it that women are always solely defined by their childbearing capacity?

What about women who are infertile? Are they worthless?

Read my post again. Many women have made admirable contributions to civilization. The most admirable of all is their willingness to carry and rear babies into adulthood and make good citizens of them. I don’t know of any talent (male or female) more admirable than that. Do you?

Women who are single and infertile should do what infertile and single men do … get a good job and make a contribution to civilization.

We are made in the image and likeness of God and Jesus Christ also has a human nature, so it does not seem to be illogical.

The teaching shown in the Encyclical by Pope Leo XIII, Arcanum:[LEFT]11. Secondly, the mutual duties of husband and wife have been defined, and their several rights accurately established. They are bound, namely, to have such feelings for one another as to cherish always very great mutual love, to be ever faithful to their marriage vow, and to give one another an unfailing and unselfish help. 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.”(18)[/LEFT]

It’s not about power relations, it’s about directionality. Christ communicates new life into us, the Church, through the Sacraments; just as the man communicates new life into his wife through the conjugal act.


Human Persons Created in the Image of God*

The Bible lends no support to the notion of a natural superiority of the masculine over the feminine sex. Their differences notwithstanding, the two sexes enjoy an inherent equality. As Pope John Paul II wrote in Familiaris Consortio: “Above all it is important to underline the equal dignity and responsibility of women with men. This equality is realized in a unique manner in that reciprocal self-giving by each one to the other and by both to the children which is proper to marriage and the family….In creating the human race ‘male and female,’ God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity, endowing them with the inalienable rights and responsibilities proper to the human person” (22). Man and woman are equally created in God’s image. Both are persons, endowed with intelligence and will, capable of orienting their lives through the exercise of freedom.


I wouldn’t call that a talent. Even animals get pregnant and give birth.

Now being a good mother, that is a talent. Admittedly not all women have that talent.

Nor do all men have the talent of being a good father.

But many a good mother has saved her children from a bad father.

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