PONTIFICIO ATENEO DELLA SANTA CROCE FACOLTA DI TEOLOGIA
"WIVES, BE SUBJECT TO YOUR HUSBANDS":
THE AUTHORITY OF THE HUSBAND ACCORDING TO THE MAGISTERIUM
Chapter One: A Few Words on Ephesians
Chapter Two: Magisterial Texts
Catechism of the Council of Trent
St. Pius X
John Paul II
Chapter Three: Theologians
St. John Chrysostom
St. Thomas Aquinas
Bl. Edith Stein
Adrienne von Speyr
Hans Urs von Balthasar
Chapter Four: Analysis
Part One: Summary
Part Two: Commentary
Part Three: Final Comments
Appendix - Ephesians 5:21-33
The words, "Wives, be subject to your husbands," jar many modern ears. Even though this exhortation comes from an inspired text in Sacred Scripture (Ephesians 5:22), many people--including practicing Catholics--are troubled by what appears to be a relic of Marriage customs "rightly" abandoned by contemporary culture. Those who resist any notion of hierarchy or patriarchy in the social order vigorously reject St. Paul's concept of Marriage as an attack on the dignity of women. Even those Christians not hostile to Paul's teaching may believe that given the state of modern society, there is little to be gained by investigating--let alone applying--Paul's prescriptions concerning the relationship of the spouses. However, one Catholic scholar, Stephen Clark, suggests that the controversy or unease over the family order described in Ephesians 5:21-33 is a relatively recent phenomenon. Regarding the question of a "head of the family" he writes, "Few areas in early Christian teaching are as uniform and fewer still were held with the same consistency as long as this one, since the first Christian voices advocating a different approach were raised only in about the nineteenth century." Clark continues, "There are few instances where it is clearer that a change in the approach of Christians is an abandonment of Christian tradition, and not only of tradition, but of every source of authoritative teaching that can lay claim on a Christian."
The purpose of this paper is to examine the teaching of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church regarding the authority of the husband in Marriage, which in this area rests largely on the writings of St. Paul. My main concern, as Gerald Vann, O.P. once wrote, "is not with the facts of married life but with the theology that lies behind them, and I do not know that mistakes about the facts need invalidate the attempt to state theological principles." My study of the husband's authority accepts the following principle from the outset: men and women are equal in dignity, but within Marriage they differ in role or function, and these roles are not interchangeable. The differences between the spouses, i.e. their "complementarity," permit them to form "one flesh" (Genesis 2:24 and Ephesians 5:31). As Pope John Paul II points out, "In the sphere of what is 'human'--of what is humanly personal--'masculinity' and 'femininity' are distinct, yet at the same time they complete and explain each other." Pius XII states that men and women share an equal dignity since they are children of God and redeemed by Christ, and since they receive common earthly ("be fruitful and multiply") and supernatural destinies. Then he adds, "The Creator with His wonderful ways of bringing harmony out of variety has established a common destiny for all mankind, but He has also given the two sexes different and complementary functions, like two roads leading to the same destination."
To misunderstand these things paves the way for confusion and even chaos in family life. To recognize and defend the personal equality of men and women is essential, but as Fr. Vann says, "if by equality you mean an obliteration of the difference between the sexes you will end by destroying the integrity of both." Another Dominican and moral theologian, Servais Pinckaers, suggests that the tendency toward individualism in modern culture, i.e. toward a distorted idea of individual freedom, undermines the harmony of gifts and qualities possessed by husband and wife respectively. "In this view the distinction between the sexes engenders rivalry, as well as the hopeless pursuit of the suppression of all differences, which is equally damaging to both. Only the frank, positive acceptance of these differences as complementary aptitudes will allow the reestablishment of collaboration between man and woman." Still one more Dominican priest and moral theologian, Benedict Ashley, distinguishes personal equality from functional inequality where the latter "requires an order or 'hierarchy' of functions if these functions are to be coordinated in a unified action, yet some are outraged by the very notion of hierarchy."
My hope is that, in the pages that follow, we can uncover the nature and importance of the husband's authority by examining the relevant texts of the Magisterium, as well as the work of recognized theologians and scholars who have written on this topic. The paper comprises four chapters. Chapter One briefly looks at the moral exhortations to husbands and wives found in Ephesians 5, since they are at the heart of the Magisterium's teaching. The focus of this chapter, therefore, falls on verses 21, 22, and 25. No attempt has been made at a comprehensive exegesis of Ephesians 5, since the goal of this thesis is to concentrate on the work of the Magisterium. Therefore, Chapter One considers the text of Ephesians to the extent helpful for understanding what the Magisterium has taught. Chapter Two reviews the magisterial texts themselves beginning with the Catechism of the Council of Trent and ending with the current Catechism of the Catholic Church. The purpose of this chapter is to examine what the Magisterium has actually said during the last 430 years. Therefore, I have frequently quoted the relevant material on authority and submission in Marriage. I have tried to find every papal text--at all levels of teaching--that touches these topics in any significant fashion. Sections within Chapter Two vary in length according to the frequency and extent to which the Pope in question addressed the nature of authority and submission between the spouses. Chapter Two does not include a thorough analysis of the Magisterium's teaching, something which is taken up later in the paper. However, in Chapter Two I have chosen to examine more closely the work of Pope John Paul II than that of the other Popes, since there are some who contend that his teaching in this area stands well-apart from that of his predecessors. The thought of nine theologians composes Chapter Three. They have been selected because their work illuminates and occasionally (in the case of St. Augustine and St. Thomas) provides the foundation for what the Popes and Councils have said. A modest synthesis of the major lines of thinking among the nine concludes Chapter Three. Chapter Four attempts an analysis and synthesis of the Magisterium's teaching on authority and submission. The thoughts of additional selected theologians and writers are included to assist in this effort.
CHAPTER ONE: A FEW WORDS ON EPHESIANS 5:21-33
Much of the Magisterium's teaching on the authority of the husband finds it scriptural foundation in St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians. Therefore, it would seem wise to offer a limited analysis and a few judicious comments on Ephesians 5:21-33 before proceeding with the examination of the magisterial texts. Nevertheless, since the theme of this paper is the authority of the husband according to the Magisterium, the following exegetical section will be restricted.
According to exegete J. Paul Sampley, Ephesians 5:21-33 presents an "exalted picture of marriage" and "is one of the contributing factors in the Christian tradition's high regard for marriage." He concludes this because St. Paul treats Marriage as "a reflection of the paradigm relationship that subsists between Christ and his church." Ephesians 5 is therefore rich in both the dogmatic and moral theology of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. It is the moral aspect of Paul's teaching which is the focus of this paper. In that vein, the three exhortations by St. Paul in Ephesians 5:21-33 are 1. "be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ" (verse 21); 2. "Wives, be subject to your husbands" (verse 22a); and 3. "Husbands, love your wives" (verse 25a). This chapter will examine these exhortations and the way they are illuminated by St. Paul.
An important question that arises immediately is, What is the role of verse 21? Sampley maintains that the injunction "Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ" is not strictly speaking part of the Haustafel, or "household code," found in Ephesians 5:21-6:9. However, he believes that it serves as an introduction to those verses which follow and call for submission on the part of one group to another (wives to husbands, children to parents, slaves to masters) and as a qualification to that submission. If mutual submission out of reverence for Christ is a facet of the Christian life, then the authority of the husband cannot be understood as absolute supremacy. St. Paul takes something present in culture, i.e. the hierarchy within the home (which is actually an expression of the natural order, as Chapters 2 and 3 below will indicate), and he relocates it within a Christian setting. We might say that Paul "sanctifies" or "Christianizes" the natural family order by making the context, or better, the reason for submission "reverence for Christ." "All familial relations," writes Sampley, "are governed by mutual submission in the fear of Christ." Phobos (verse 21b) is the "fear" (also translated as "reverence" or "respect") of Christ appropriate for all Christians, and thus verse 21 serves as a "rubric" by which the Haustafel in Ephesians is to be interpreted. Sampley says that phobos calls for a specific response in light of the initiative taken by Christ on behalf of the world, and that response is "holiness."
Catholic biblical scholar Stephen Miletic grants that many exegetes view verse 21 as an introduction to the Haustafel, but he maintains that it is less clear how mutual subordination can be connected to a passage that only calls for subordination from wives. "Perhaps," Miletic says, "the mutual self-denial and total concern for the other spouse, through subordination (5.22) and through love (5.25), expresses the underlying dynamics of 5.21." Miletic states that while verse 22 is grammatically dependent on verse 21 (due to the ellipsis of the verb hypotasso, "be subject"), it is materially independent because "the articular vocative plural of v.22 introduces a new subject." Miletic concurs with Sampley that the Haustafel formally begins with verse 22.
Catholic scholar Stephen Clark also views verse 21 as the heading for the entire Haustafel. However, he believes that it does not call for the perfectly equal reciprocal subordination of the spouses for four reasons. The first is the structure of Ephesians 5:21-6:9, which Clark outlines in this fashion:
I. Be subject to one another:
A. Wives to husbands;
B. Children to parents;
C. Slaves to masters.
In other words, A, B, and C are the concrete expressions of the subordination called for in verse 21. Clearly in the case of B and C, mutual subordination does not seem to make sense. Secondly, Clark points out that the word "subordination" means by definition that something is placed "above" and something "below." Thirdly, the husband's love or care for his wife (verse 25) does not of necessity imply his subordination to her. Finally, the word allelois ("to one another") in verse 21 does not necessarily imply an understanding of "mutually" or "reciprocally." Instead, it can imply "with a particular order" (cf. James 5:16) so that verse 21a might be interpreted as "let there be subordination among you."
With respect to the word phobos found in verse 21, Clark says that "the fear of Christ is a reason or motivation for subordination," i.e. the proper disposition of man before his redeemer. He continues, "To subordinate oneself out of fear of Christ means that one is subordinate out of reverence and obedience. Christ stands behind the order of subordination in the Christian community. One motive for accepting the authority of another (in this case the husband) is acceptance of the authority of Christ who has delegated that authority."
Paul's exhortation, "Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord," connects the wife's relationship with her husband to her relationship with the Lord, in a sense linking the temporal with the supernatural. Verse 22 continues the Christological perspective begun in verse 21. "The wife's subordination to the husband is ultimately directed to the Lord, as is the case with the church," writes Miletic. Kyrio in verse 22 refers only to Christ; the husband is not the "lord" of his wife. Yet the phrase "as to the Lord" governs the meaning of "wives, be subject to your husbands." Christ establishes the nature of the roles of the spouses and their relationship "because he is concerned for the good order which makes his body functional (Col 2:5)." The husband's authority, which is ordered to the good of the union of the spouses, comes from God. For the wife to be subject to and render phobos to her husband is for her to be subject to and render phobos to Christ himself.
If St. Paul's exhortation to wives is thus part of the divine plan, it cannot simply be regarded as a product of human culture subject to change over time. Otherwise, "the parallels of Christ/husband and Church/wife in Ephesians 5:22ff would be totally arbitrary and inappropriate if the man were not in a special sense an image of God (or Christ), and the woman in a special sense an image of the church (or creation)!" Manfred Hauke, in his substantial study of philosophical anthropology and theology entitled Women in the Priesthood? states, "In contrast to the relationship Christ-Church, husband and wife are fully equal in worth; but if every functional difference between them that entails a relation of headship and subordination were to vanish, marriage would lose its power of symbolic expressiveness: for in God's bond with man, the first 'partner' has priority over the other as an object of devotion."
Within Paul's Christological theology of Marriage, Christ the Bridegroom of the Church is the model for the husband. The union of Christ and the Church as one body with Christ as the head becomes the model for the union of husband and wife as one body with the husband as the head. The head, or kephale, represents leadership, or that which governs. The authority of the husband "is based neither on the intrinsic superiority of the husband nor on any intrinsic inferiority of the wife...The issue in the text is one of defining, or better, redefining, a known human phenomenon (wife/husband relationship) by means of a heavenly relationship (Christ/church)." Clark writes,
The husband and wife are supposed to become one person (one human being, one man) in the same way as the Christian community with Christ is supposed to become one person (a new humanity). The husband is united to his wife as head to body and sums up in his person their life together in such a way that he can represent and govern their life. In the same way, Christ is the husband of the church and its head. There is a close link between unity and subordination in the Christian community and in the family. In both, the unity and subordination (with the head's care) work together to create the new being and to fulfill God's purposes in love.
St. Paul uses the Christ-Church relationship to instruct Christians about the husband-wife relationship. A constituent, according to Miletic, is that "the wife is related to the Lord not just through her action, but now through her perception of her husband as 'head' (v.23a), a perception which is ultimately defined by Christ (v.23b)." As the Church subordinates herself to Christ, so are wives subordinate to their husbands. Miletic reads the role of the wife within a larger, eschatological framework. "Her subordination is not an isolated injunction but rather an intricate part of the fabric of life within the redeemed community. Her subordination, like that of the community, is a sign of knowing God's will and of being filled in the spirit." One final point about this verse: verse 23c ("and is himself its Savior") refers only to Christ: there is no parallel for the husband. The husband saves neither his wife nor himself, and as such, his power is, again, qualified.
The love with which St. Paul instructs husbands to love their wives is agape, which can be defined as "service-love, the love Christ has as he cares for the church, the love he had when he laid down his life on the cross." Inasmuch as Christ's example in love is the model for husbands, it leaves no room for any type of "domination." Although "the patriarchal structure remains intact," says Miletic, "the dynamics within that structure are radically refocused on the wife's well-being." The authority and the love of the husband have their roots in the sacrificial love of Christ.
Miletic believes that husband and wife share the two soteriological roles of Christ. As head, the husband, "at once a witness of God's creative gift to the wife and of Christ's agapic love, represents the role of Christ on the cross." On the other hand, "the wife's subordination is directed to reconciling all things, beginning with Christian married relationships, to God." Both roles require complete self-giving and self-sacrifice.
On the nature of the husband's role, Scripture scholar Jean-Jacques von Allmen writes,
As the Christ-Church union begins only beyond the Cross, it follows that a Christian couple cannot be constituted if the man does not first renounce himself in favour of his wife (v25). The first marriage "victim" is the man. He acquires his wife at the cost of his own self; he becomes her husband by giving himself. On any other basis save this of love and self-giving, marriage would lose its profound meaning and would run the risk of becoming rapine or seduction.
I Corinthians 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") is part of the hermeneutical key for Ephesians 5. While Paul calls for wives to be subject to their husbands, husbands are subordinate to Christ, who is both model and master. According to von Allmen, the hierarchy in Marriage for St. Paul is not a legacy of original sin,
but the expression of the creative will of God (I Cor 11:8-9; I Tim 2:13), and it is not because Eve was seduced first (2 Cor 11:3; I Tim 2:14) that the woman is to be subject, it is because God, in the beginning, drew her from the man as He will draw the church from Jesus Christ. By its inward order too, the Christian couple thus joins again with the first human couple and miraculously reproduces it. To invite the woman to make herself independent of her husband (1 Tim 2:12) or the man to make himself independent of Christ would be to deny or to fight against the creative will of God and His perfection.
God's providential plan for the spouses also provides for their Marriage to be an eschatological sign--along with priestly celibacy and consecrated life--of His kingdom. Part of the "mystery" (Ephesians 5:32) of Christian Marriage is this "prophetic mystery," in which husband and wife "prefigure the second creation, the whole New Adam, which is anticipated in them."
Another aspect of the mystery of the Sacrament and the family order is that through their union, the spouses "are deemed worthy to portray on earth the glory of the inner life of God [which] is a most striking proof of man's uniquely high status among creatures. It is not just the individual person who is an image of God, but the fellowship between man and wife is an image of God, since both together reflect the trinitarian fellowship of love" (cf. Germain Grisez in Chapter Three). Neither of those portrayals in Christian Marriage, either of the Christ-Church union or of the life of the Trinity, would be possible if the authority of the husband were--in its intended exercise--demeaning to the wife.
CHAPTER TWO: MAGISTERIAL TEXTS
The following chapter will review and analyze magisterial teaching regarding the husband's authority, from the Council of Trent through the pontificate of John Paul II. Every effort has been taken to uncover as many pertinent texts as possible from the Magisterium. The sections below vary in length according to the extent that the Pope or Council chose to address this topic.
Catechism of the Council of Trent
The first significant statement by the Magisterium on the relationship between the spouses comes from the Catechism of the Council of Trent, also known as the Roman Catechism or the Catechism of Pius V, who ordered its publication. In the chapter on Holy Matrimony, there is a section entitled "The Duties of Married People." The catechism charges the husband "to treat his wife generously and honorably." It refers to the opinion of some of the Council fathers who held that since Eve was formed from the side of Adam, she was to be his companion. However, "she was not formed from his head, in order to give her to understand that it was not hers to command but to obey her husband" (cf. St. Thomas Aquinas in Chapter Three). The catechism calls for the husband to maintain order in the family, "to correct their morals, and see that they faithfully discharge their duties." On the other hand, the duties of the wife are found in I Peter 3:1-6, which begins "Likewise you wives, be submissive to your husbands." The catechism further exhorts the wife to yield to the husband "in all things not inconsistent with Christian piety, a willing and ready obedience." Much of the importance of the teaching of the Trent catechism lies in the fact that it rests on a scriptural foundation, from the book of Genesis and the First Letter of Peter.
In Quod apostolici muneris (on socialism; December 28, 1878), Pope Leo XIII cites Ephesians 5:23 as the model for the family order. The husband's authority comes from "our heavenly Father and Lord," from whom it takes not only its "origin and force," but also "borrows its nature and character." In other words, the husband's authority as head of the family is not unlimited. Rather, it is ultimately informed by the example of Christ, who sacrificed His life for the good of His Bride, the Church.
The fourth encyclical of Leo XIII's long and fruitful pontificate is his doctrinal encyclical on Marriage, Arcanum divinae sapientiae (February 10, 1880). He repeats that the authority of the husband is tempered by the example of divine authority, and he also offers two distinct motives--taken from Sacred Scripture--for the wife's just submission to her husband. First, woman was created from man, and therefore, after him (Genesis 2:21-23). Second, as in Quod apostolici muneris, Leo refers to the Pauline parallels of Christ-Church, husband-wife (Ephesians 5:23-24) to indicate the proper family order.
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.
Pope Leo also discusses the biblical basis (Ephesians 3:15) of the husband's authority in Diuturnum (on the origin of civil authority; June 29, 1881) when he writes that "the authority of fathers of families preserves a certain impressed image and form of the authority which is in God, 'of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named.'"
In Immortale Dei (the Christian constitution of states; November 1, 1885), Leo reaffirms that the husband's authority must be patterned on the divine model. He continues by quoting St. Augustine from De Moribus Ecclesiae, in which Augustine says that the Catholic Church calls for wives to be "'subject to their husbands in chaste and faithful obedience, not for gratifying their lust, but for bringing forth children, and for having a share in the family concerns.'" The Church sets "'husbands over their wives, not that they may play false to the weaker sex, but according to the requirements of sincere affection.'"
Leo devoted Quamquam pluries (August 15, 1889) to the patronage of St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Pope addresses the paternal authority of Joseph, to whom the child Jesus was subject in Joseph's role as head of the Holy Family. By fulfilling his divinely-appointed role as guardian, administrator, and legal defender of Jesus and Mary, Joseph undertook "the obligation which nature lays upon the head of families." This becomes the first mention in a magisterial text that "grace builds on nature" with respect to the husband's authority. In the case of the Holy Family, God confirmed the function that nature had given St. Joseph as husband and father, and Pope Leo confirms in Quamquam pluries that the husband's authority is grounded in nature.
In Rerum novarum (May 15, 1891), Leo XIII connects the right of private property to the man's role as head of the family. "It is a most sacred law of nature," writes the Pope, that the father provide for the material well-being of his children. Furthermore, because the family is a "society in the strictest sense of the term...it is governed by its own proper authority, namely, by that of the father." The father's authority may never be challenged or assumed by the state because his authority comes from God. Here again, Leo refers to both the natural and supernatural sources of the father or husband's function in the family. In addition, he states that "by nature," the woman finds her role in the work of the home, "work indeed which especially protects modesty in women and accords by nature with the education of children and the well-being of the family." The question of wives working outside the home lies beyond the theme of this paper. However, it is worth noting that Leo chooses to describe the woman's role--and its relationship to the welfare of the family--in terms of nature's design.
St. Pius X
In the allocution Lamento ne piu (October 28, 1907), Pope St. Pius X twice refers to the "supreme authority" given by God to the father so that he might lead his family to the end for which God has destined it.
Casti connubii (December 31, 1930) ranks among the most important doctrinal encyclicals of this century. It served as part of the foundation for Vatican II's treatment of Marriage in Gaudium et spes, 48-52 (five citations) and for Paul VI's encyclical on conjugal love, Humanae vitae (six citations).
At the beginning of the encyclical, Pius XI quotes St. Augustine, who described Marriage as an "order of love," (cf. St. Augustine in Chapter Three) an order which calls for the primacy of the husband and the willing obedience and ready subjection of the wife. Like Leo XIII, Pius XI locates the theology for the husband-wife relationship in Ephesians 5:22-23. The Pope immediately continues:
This subjection, however, does not deny or take away the liberty which fully belongs to the woman both in view of her dignity as a human person, and in view of her most noble office as wife and mother and companion; nor does it bid her obey her husband's every request if not in harmony with right reason or with the dignity due to wife; nor, in fine, does it imply that the wife should be put on a level with those persons who in law are called minors...But it forbids that exaggerated liberty which cares not for the good of the family; it forbids that in this body which is the family, the heart be separated from the head to the great detriment of the whole body and the proximate danger of ruin. For if the man is the head, the woman is the heart, and as he occupies the chief place in ruling, so she may and ought to claim for herself the chief place in love.
In outlining the nature of the subjection of the wife to her husband, Pius XI is speaking at the level of role or function, and not that of personal dignity, at which he implies both spouses are equal. The husband may not command his wife to disobey the divine will (cf. Acts 5:29 - "We must obey God rather than men"). The Pope distinguishes the subjection of the wife from the obedience that children owe to their parents. Yet he seeks to protect wives from the dangers of "exaggerated liberty," which can only bring harm to themselves and to their Marriage.
It is evident that in preparing the encyclical, Pius XI acknowledged that cultural circumstances had changed during the 50 years between the publication of Casti connubii and Arcanum divinae sapientiae. He quotes the entire passage from Leo's encyclical on Marriage cited above (see page 14), and Pius XI goes on to say that this "structure of the family and its fundamental law, established and confirmed by God, must always and everywhere be maintained intact." However, even though the hierarchy within the family is grounded in the natural order and confirmed by Revelation, the "subjection of the wife to husband may vary according to the different condition of persons, place and time. In fact, if the husband neglects his duties, it falls to the wife to take his place in directing the family." These two lines help relieve concern that--prior to Vatican II--the Magisterium tenaciously held to a rigid concept of the husband's authority, without regard for the actual relationship between a man and a woman in a given Marriage or for the culture in which they find themselves.
Within the second half of the encyclical, in a section devoted to vices opposed to Christian Marriage, Pius XI resumes his treatment of the family order. He declares that "false teachers" will try to persuade wives to abandon the "honorable and trusting obedience" that they owe to their husbands, by asserting that it is "unworthy of human dignity." The Pope states that "this is not emancipation but a crime."
This, however, is not the true emancipation of woman, nor that rational and exalted liberty which belongs to the noble office of a Christian woman and wife; it is rather the debasing of the womanly character and the dignity of motherhood, and indeed of the whole family, as a result of which the husband suffers the loss of the wife, the children of their mother, and the home and the whole family of an ever watchful guardian. More than this, this false liberty and unnatural equality with the husband is to the detriment of the woman herself, for if the woman descends from her truly regal throne to which she has been raised within the walls of the home by means of the Gospel, she will soon be reduced to the old state of slavery (if not in appearance, certainly in reality) and become as amongst the pagans the mere instrument of man.
It seems clear that "unnatural equality" in this context refers to role or function within the family and not to the equal personal dignity enjoyed by all human beings. In fact, Pius XI proceeds by affirming that in accordance with both human dignity and Christian matrimony, husband and wife share many of the same rights and obligations. In some matters, however, "there must be a certain inequality and due accommodation, which is demanded by the good of the family and the right ordering and unity and stability of home life." Once again, the pontiff acknowledges the change in the social order affecting the lives of married women. Nevertheless, he asserts that the "essential order of the domestic society [must always] remain intact, founded as it is on something higher than human authority and wisdom, namely on the authority and wisdom of God, and so not changeable by public laws or at the pleasure of private individuals."
Later in his pontificate, amidst a discussion of the "just wage" in Quadragesimo anno (social reconstruction, May 15, 1931), Pius XI upholds the role of the father as provider and the role of the wife as homemaker.
During the 19 years of his reign, Pius XII delivered 79 allocutions to newly-married couples. Collectively, these talks comprise a cogent body of theological and practical teaching on the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Although individually they do not have the doctrinal weight of an encyclical, they remain an important part of Pius XII's papal Magisterium and might be considered comparable to Pope John Paul II's catechesis at the Wednesday general audiences on the theology of the body. In at least three of those talks, Pope Pius XII addressed the authority of the husband.
Quando alcuni (September 10, 1941) deals specifically with this theme. The Pope begins by saying that every well-ordered society must have a leader, whose authority ultimately comes from God. God initially gave that authority to Adam, who was formed first, followed by Eve, who was to be subject to her husband. The implication here is that the authority of the husband existed in the state of original justice, resting in part on the order in which man and woman were created (cf. St. Thomas Aquinas in Chapter Three). The Pope then refers to the post-Fall condition of women in Genesis 3:16 ("...yet your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you") before exhorting Christian wives and mothers never to be "taken off guard by the desire to wield the sceptre in the family. Let your sceptre [be] the sceptre of love."
Pius XII states that through grace, "both spouses are equally and immediately united to Christ," and he cites St. Paul's famous declaration of the equality of all Christians in Galatians 3:26-28 ("for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."). However, in visible societies such as the Church and the family, the pontiff says that Paul indicates in I Corinthians 11:3 that there is to be a hierarchy. The Pope has juxtaposed two passages indispensable for the correct theological understanding of the husband's authority. Men and women are equal in dignity, but that equality does not preclude a difference, and more precisely, a hierarchy in role or function within the family. Pius XII's line of thinking in regard to the equality and complementarity of the spouses is both scriptural and Christological in its foundation. He concludes this section by suggesting that Paul's words to converts at Corinth bear repeating in an age where the "ill wind of a rebirth of paganism" blows. He speculates that changing social conditions have undermined the hierarchy in the family.
In continuity with Leo XIII and Pius XI, Pius XII then quotes from Ephesians 5:22-25, 33 before asking, "What is this doctrine and teaching of Paul if not the teaching and doctrine and teaching of Christ?" Among the most important achievements of Christendom, notes the Pope, was "to reestablish in the family that hierarchy indispensable for unity and happiness, and at the same time, to restore the original and true grandeur of conjugal love." There is, he continues, a "natural hierarchy innate to the unity of marriage," wherein the qualities of the spouses complement each other (he cites I Corinthians 11:11 - "Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman"). God gave the husband charge of the wife, as well as physical strength and "the gifts necessary for the labour by means of which he must provide for all the needs of the family." Revelation, beginning in the book of Genesis, confirms the natural authority of the husband. The Pope returns to the theme that the complementary aspects of husband and wife--as presented in Ephesians 5--do not only not conflict, but also genuinely serve the spouses and their union in Marriage. St. Paul reveals that Christ has shown
in His divine union with the Church "espoused in His precious blood," how the authority of the head and the subjection of the spouse can become, without being the least diminished, transformed by the power of love, of a love which imitates that wherewith He is united to His Church. He has shown how firm command and respectful, docile obedience can and should find forgetfulness of self and a generous, reciprocal giving in active and mutual love.
It is from the example of Christ and the Church that we can discover the models for husband and wife in Marriage. Pius XII then cites a line from St. Augustine's De Civitate Dei (cf. St. Augustine in Chapter Three) regarding the importance of the hierarchy between the spouses. "This is the origin of domestic peace, or the well-ordered concord of those in the family who rule and those who obey." The Pope calls this the "ideal" for the Christian family: domestic peace, which is the fruit of order and affection.
Pius XII then exhorts husbands to fulfill conscientiously the duties entrusted to them as head of the family, without falling prey to doubt, hesitancy, or selfishness. To their wives, they must demonstrate unfailing delicacy, respect, and affection. Referring to the same section of De Civitate Dei, the Pope tells husbands that their commands must be "as gentle as good advice; and from this advice, obedience will draw encouragement and strength." (Pius paraphrases the passage from De Civitate Dei 19.14 appearing below on page 42, footnote 23.) All husbands should look to St. Joseph as their model. "Before him he saw the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, who was better, holier, more sublime than he. A sovereign respect caused him to venerate her as Queen of Angels and Men, the Mother of his God; and yet he remained and acted in his post as head of the Holy Family, nor was he ever found wanting in any of the supreme obligations which this role imposed upon him."
For the wife, submission is not simply a matter of passive acceptance or tolerance of the husband's authority, which the Pope again states is given to the man "according to the dispositions of nature and grace." Pius XII entreats wives that, by their "sincere submission you must love that authority and love it with the same respectful love you bear towards the authority of Our Lord Himself, from Whom all authority flows." The Pope cautions wives to ignore modern influences which will try to turn them against the Christian model of Marriage. "Many voices will suggest rather a proud autonomy; they will repeat that you are in every respect the equal of your husband, and in many respects his superior. Do not react like Eve to these lying, tempting, deceitful voices. Do not be led astray from the path which alone will lead you to true happiness in this life as well as in the life hereafter."
The joy of the Christian is to know and live according to the truth, which will set him free (cf. John 8:31). The greatest independence to which a Christian wife can aspire, says Pius XII, is "the independence of a solidly Christian heart in the face of the importunities of evil." A woman who seeks this independence will reject appeals "contrary to the unexceptionable precepts of the divine law, and to the unchangeable duties of Christians, of wives and of mothers." With these words, Pius XII makes it clear that the authority of the husband is not absolute, and that it is legitimately exercised only when in accordance with divine law. A husband may not compel his wife to violate God's commandments (cf. Acts 5:29). By what means does the wife know that her husband may be asking her to act contrary to God's will? A well-formed conscience will guide her in the right direction. She must, explains Pius XII, "preserve and defend respectfully, calmly, but yet firmly and immovably, all the sacred and inalienable independence of [her] conscience." Clearly, the Pope desires to illuminate and defend the authentic freedom or emancipation of the Christian wife, which will only come from fidelity to nature and to revealed truth. The Pope grants that this will not be in every case easy, but it can always be fruitful: "There come at times in one's life days in which dawns the hour of a heroism or of a victory, whose only witnesses are God's angels--and they, invisible witnesses." The sacrifices willingly made by the wife will be rewarded "by winning over more and more as the days pass, the heart which gave itself to you" (cf. I Corinthians 7:16a - "Wife, how do you know whether you will save your husband?"). The wife's sacrifices strengthen the Marriage bond, thus greatly benefiting the children of the couple. The Pope concludes this discourse by reiterating that any society with a common purpose must have a leader who preserves unity and directs the society to its goal.
Non meravigliatevi (April 8, 1942) also concerns the role of the husband. The regard that a husband shows for his wife contributes significantly to the happiness of the home.
May it never occur, as is sometimes said, that married couples are distinguished from the unmarried by the indifferent, inconsiderate, even downright discourteous and rude behavior of the man towards the woman. No, the behavior of a husband towards his wife must always be characterized by that natural and dignified attention and cordiality which marks a God-fearing, well-adjusted man who understands the inestimable good effect which mutual respect between husbands and wives has on the children.
Pius XII returns to the theme of the husband's duties in the home in Gran fonte (April 15, 1942). He repeats that the man is the head of the woman and "ordinarily excels her in strength and vigor," but these characteristics do "not humiliate her spirit." Furthermore, the husband does not fulfill his responsibility as head simply through his work outside the home, where he also has "an active role to play." As head of the family, the man owes his wife and children a good example "through his help, knowledge and foresight, giving of himself promptly and without reserve." The Pope reminds husbands that St. Paul "did not hesitate to compare the love of husbands for their wives to the love of Christ towards His Church." Since the husband's vocation calls for him to imitate Christ, he must sanctify his wife through example, virtue, suffering well-met, and a life of piety. Pius XII then commends St. Joseph as the model husband and father.
In addition to the allocutions to newlyweds, Pius XII addresses the topic of the husband's authority on at least four other occasions. In La solennita della Pentecoste (50th anniversary of Rerum novarum; June 1, 1941), he reaffirms Leo XIII's identification of the link between private property and the God-given responsibility of the husband and father to provide for the physical, spiritual, and religious welfare of his family. Questa grande vostra adunata (October 21, 1945) concerns the woman's duties in social and political life. Pius XII insists that while men and women are "absolutely equal" in their personal dignity as children of God, they are nevertheless "mutually complementary" in qualities. The Pope elaborates on this point by indicating one reason the husband is suited to leadership within the family: the man's natural inclination and ability to engage himself in activity outside of the family (by implication, for the family's benefit). "But it is clear that if man is by temperament more drawn to deal with external things and public affairs, woman has, generally speaking more perspicacity and a finer touch in knowing and solving delicate problems of domestic and family life which is the foundation of all social life."
Pius XII addressed a pilgrimage of fathers, entitled Un pelerinage de peres (September 18, 1951), in which he says that
if the mother is the heart, the father is the head of the family, and consequently its health and efficiency depend on the vigor, the virtues and the activity of the father...It is clear that your first duty in the sanctuary of the family home is to provide--with due respect and the perfection, humanly possible, of its integrity, of its unity, of the natural hierarchy which unites the members among themselves--for the preservation of the physical, intellectual, moral and religious sanctity of the family. Evidently, this obligation includes that of defending and promoting its sacred duties; in the first place that of fulfilling the obligations due to God, to constitute a Christian society in the full sense of the word; secondly to defend the rights of the family against all attacks or external influences which could attack its purity, faith, and holy stability.
Con vivo gradimento (October 14, 1956) is an address by Pope Pius XII on the dignity of woman. He cites Galatians 3:28, but continues by saying that "this does not mean that Christian law does away with the limitations or proper subjection which arise from the demands of nature, of human and Christian propriety, or from the needs of life together, which cannot last long without some authority, even in its smallest unity, the family." Pius XII states that both nature and Revelation point to the husband's authority. Here the Pope again points out the harmony between two concepts: 1. the equal dignity of the spouses; and 2. their complementary roles or functions within the family of which he says,
That is why men and women have a different physical and psychological structure: different attitudes, characteristics, and inclinations, which are balanced off by the wonderful law of compensation, and which fit together to lend a marvelous harmony to the work of each. So we have an absolute equality in person and fundamental values, but different functions which are complementary and superbly equivalent, and from them arise the various rights and duties of the one and the other.
"Woman and the apostolate" is the theme of an address to the World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations, entitled Poussees par (September 29, 1957). In a discussion about the relationship of the woman to Christ, Pius XII quotes Ephesians 5:22-25. The Pope indicates that St. Paul, in calling for wives to be subject to their husbands, clearly distinguishes between the spouses and so "illustrates the force which links them and maintains the indissolubility of the bond which unites them." The Pope concedes that the modern tendency of states and nations to increasingly regard men and women as equal, both in and outside of the home, is in "some ways" legitimate. "In other ways it is less so particularly when the evolution is inspired by materialistic principles." He reminds women that their apostolate "must firmly maintain the Christian concept of the wife and the part which woman must play in family life. Only this concept inspires mutual esteem, unreserved devotion, complete fidelity and, above all, a love ready to accept any sacrifice and grant forgiveness."
Pope John XXIII addresses the authority of the father in Ad Petri cathedram (truth, unity and peace, June 29, 1959): "Within the family, the father stands in God's place. He must lead and guide the rest by his authority and the example of his good life." To stand in God's place means to rule or lead with God's unconditional love and mercy for His children. If Christ is the model for the husband, then the husband's authority must spring from unselfish love of the kind which led Jesus to sacrifice His life for His disciples.
Woman's work is the theme of Nous sommes particulierement (April 23, 1960), an address by John XXIII to the Federation of Young Catholic Women. He says this about "the similar dignity, [but] complementary function" of the sexes: "The Church deems that a woman, as a person, enjoys a dignity equal to that of a man, but is ordained by God and by nature for different tasks, which perfect and complete the work assigned to man."
Following in a similar vein is Convenuti a Roma (September 6, 1961), an address by Pope John to several Italian women's associations. The Pope states in this allocution that equality of rights between the sexes "does not in any way imply equality of functions...To overlook this difference in the respective functions of men and women or the fact that they necessarily complement each other, would be tantamount to opposing nature."
The Second Vatican Council does not directly address the theme of the husband's authority. However, in addition to its reliance on Casti connubii as noted above, Gaudium et spes (December 7, 1965) also refers to a Pauline teaching on Holy Matrimony when it describes Marriage as "an image and a sharing in the partnership of love between Christ and the Church." This document goes on to highlight the "equal personal dignity" of the spouses. Gravissimum educationis (October 28, 1965), Vatican II's Declaration on Christian Education, says that parents and teachers "in every phase of education should give due consideration to the difference in sex and the special role divine providence assigns each sex in the family and society." Within the revised liturgy that followed in the wake the Council, the preface entitled "Joseph, Husband of Mary" in the Roman Missal refers to St. Joseph as the head of the Holy Family, a position entrusted to him by the Lord. The second reading for the Feast of the Holy Family, the paradigm for all Christian families, is Colossians 3:12-21, which includes these verses (18-19): "Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them." The Divine Office (or "Liturgy of the Hours"), also revised after Vatican II (November 1, 1970), takes as the first reading for the Office of Readings on the Feast of the Holy Family, Ephesians 5:21-6:4.
Apres plus de (January 31, 1976) is an address by Paul VI to the Study Commission on Women on the importance of women in society and the Church, in which the Pope strongly asserts the dignity of women. At the same time, however, he warns that the pursuit of equal rights for women cannot come at the cost of an appreciation for the complementarity of the sexes. These efforts "must not be allowed to degenerate into an egalitarian and impersonal elimination of differences. The egalitarianism blindly sought by our materialistic society has but little care for the specific good of persons; contrary to appearances it is unconcerned with what is suitable or unsuitable to women. There is, thus, a danger of unduly masculinizing women or simply depersonalizing them. In either case, the deepest things in women suffer."
John Paul II
Pope John Paul II has approached the theme of the husband's authority from a different perspective than his predecessors, which will become apparent from an examination of the following texts.
During a homily given in Terni, Italy, early in his pontificate (March 19, 1981), the Pope considers the virtues of St. Joseph, whom he identifies as the head of the Holy Family. Joseph bore excellent witness to the fact that "the family rests on the dignity of human fatherhood--on the responsibility of the man, husband and father, as also on his work." The Pope encourages all fathers to look to Joseph as an example, but he also points out that all earthly fatherhood finds its ultimate source and model in God the Father.
In Familiaris consortio (November 22, 1981), Pope John Paul II reiterates the perennial teaching that the father is responsible for the unity, stability, and spiritual well-being of the family. The Pope addresses the authority of the husband in these terms: "In revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God, a man is called upon to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of the family."
During one of his Wednesday general audiences dedicated to the theology of the body (August 11, 1982), John Paul II establishes that "reverence for Christ" (Ephesians 5:21) or "pietas," is the proper basis for the relationship between husband and wife. In turn, reverence for Christ will cause the spouses to "be subject to one another" (Ephesians 5:21). Of Ephesians 5:22, the Pope says that "the author does not intend to say that the husband is the lord of the wife and that the interpersonal pact proper to marriage is a pact of domination of the husband over the wife. Instead, he expresses a different concept--that the wife can and should find in her relationship with Christ, who is the one Lord of both of the spouses, the motivation of the relationship with her husband which flows from the very essence of marriage and of the family."
Twice more during this talk does the Pope express his concern that Ephesians 5:22 not be understood as license for the husband to dominate the wife. He emphasizes that love (cf. Ephesians 5:25) is the safeguard against domination in Marriage, which itself "is constituted by a reciprocal donation of self" or a "mutual subjection." Reverence for Christ, identified by the Pope as "the fundamental moral principle" in Ephesians 5:21-33, will ensure a just balance between the spouses. He also grants that "our contemporary sensitivity," "our mentality and customs," as well as "the social position of women in regard to men" are much different from the period when the Letter to the Ephesians was written.
The fullest expression of the Holy Father's teaching regarding the role of the husband in Marriage can be found in his apostolic letter Mulieris dignitatem (August 15, 1988). Following the line of thought from the Wednesday general audience discussed in the two proceeding paragraphs, the Pope indicates in Mulieris dignitatem 24 that the hermeneutic intended by the author of Ephesians for verses 22 and 23 is verse 21. John Paul II identifies "mutual subjection" (cf. verse 21) as the Gospel "innovation" to be applied to the relationship between husband and wife. Referring to Ephesians 5:25, he reiterates that "the husband is called the 'head' of his wife as Christ is the head of the Church." If the husband is the "head," then he must follow Christ's example and give himself for his wife, even to the point of sacrificing his own life. The Pope continues by pointing out a difference within the Christ-Church, husband-wife analogy: whereas it is only the Church which submits to Christ, within Marriage the spouses are mutually subject to one another. In John Paul II's view, the mutual subjection of husband and wife "must gradually establish itself in hearts, consciences, behavior and customs." He implies that a full embrace of this innovation of the Gospel is something not yet achieved. He concludes Mulieris dignitatem 24 by emphasizing that "all the reasons in favour of the 'subjection' of woman to man in marriage must be understood in the sense of a 'mutual subjection' of both 'out of reverence for Christ.'"
Although there are some who may argue that John Paul II has set aside the Church's traditional teaching on the authority of the husband, the burden of proof rests on them to demonstrate that this is the case. In fact, the presumption must be quite the opposite. Through the papal Magisterium, a Pope may elect to emphasize or highlight some theological or practical aspect of the Church's teaching that in his prudential judgment needs emphasis during his pontificate. Yet short of clear statements to the contrary, we cannot move to the conclusion that the teaching of one Pope stands in direct opposition to another Pope or other Popes.
Perhaps we can find in John Paul II's own words in Mulieris 25 the reason that he has chosen to approach spousal relationships in the manner he has. The Holy Father states that "we can conclude that as a man, a son of Israel, [Christ] revealed the dignity of the 'daughters of Abraham' (cf. Luke 13:16), the dignity belonging to women from the very 'beginning' on an equal footing with men." That men in particular arrive at a deeper appreciation for the dignity of woman would seem to be one of the Pope's principal motivations for writing and speaking about the nature of spousal love as he does. Furthermore, he encourages men to follow the unselfish and generous example of Christ not only in Marriage, but also "in every situation" involving their relationships with women.
To gain additional perspective on Mulieris dignitatem, we turn to its introduction in 1988 by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Ratzinger suggests that the emphasis found in Mulieris dignitatem 24 on the mutual subjection between husband and wife has it roots in John Paul II's exegesis of Ephesians 5. The cardinal says that along "with the most recent exegetes, the Pope considers verse 21 of the fifth chapter as the title of the entire passage." Ratzinger points out what the text of Mulieris dignitatem 24 indicates: that it is from the concept of reciprocal submission drawn from verse 21 by the Holy Father that John Paul II perceives the "gospel innovation" he outlines in Mulieris dignitatem 24. Such a concept guards against the domination of the wife by the husband. Ratzinger goes on to say this innovation of the Gospel about which the Pope writes, i.e. mutual submission, does not negate the fact that the verses that follow verse 21 in Ephesians 5 designate the man as the head of the wife. The husband's authority is to be understood in light of its Christological reference (cf. Ephesians 5:25): "to be head means, beginning from Christ, to give himself for the woman," states Ratzinger.
In Christifideles laici (December 30, 1988), John Paul II himself identifies Mulieris dignitatem as a "biblical-theological meditation" on the dignity of women. This reference is important for two reasons. First, it strengthens the supposition that the Pope's intention in writing Mulieris dignitatem was to turn the papal Magisterium in this very direction, based upon a reflection on holy Scripture. As a result, it becomes easy to see that a detailed discussion of the specific basis for and exercise of the husband's authority falls beyond the scope of Mulieris dignitatem. (Of course, the dignity of women and the authority of husbands are not only not at odds with each other, but they are also part of the same fabric of Holy Matrimony.) Therefore, we certainly can say that in his treatment of the role of the husband, John Paul II has not chosen the precise path of Leo XIII, Pius XI, Pius XII, and John XXIII in either perspective or language. Yet we can also say that there is no evidence to suggest that he has rejected the teaching of his predecessors either. As Cardinal Ratzinger points out, the current Holy Father adopts a contemporary exegesis of Ephesians 5. However, an understanding of "mutual subjection" as "mutual love and self-sacrifice grounded in the recognition of equal dignity" would certainly fall within a traditional reading of spousal relationships.
Second, John Paul II's classification of Mulieris dignitatem as both a "meditation" and more formally as an apostolic letter places it in a different category of magisterial teaching from either Arcanum divinae sapientiae or Casti connubii, which are both doctrinal encyclicals on Marriage. This is not to de-emphasize the importance of Mulieris dignitatem, especially since it is the work of the current pontiff, but to highlight the continued relevance of Arcanum divinae sapientiae and Casti connubii. John Paul II's concern is "to vindicate the dignity of women against male domination," rather than to address himself specifically to the nature of the husband's authority as Leo XIII and Pius XI do. However, moral theologian Germain Grisez believes that the "unstated implication" by the Holy Father in Mulieris dignitatem "is that while a wife need not submit to her husband's selfish domination, she remains subject to his rightly exercised authority."
From the works of Pope John Paul II cited above, we can ascertain the implicit recognition by the pontiff of the legitimate authority of the husband. Both the fatherhood of St. Joseph and the role of God the Father, which the pontiff addresses in the homily at Terni, imply the exercise of authority or leadership that comes from the position of the head of the Holy Family and the First Person of the Trinity respectively. Familiaris consortio explicitly recognizes the responsibility of the father for the welfare of the family, the very thing to which his authority has been understood traditionally to be ordered. In the cited Wednesday general audience catechesis, John Paul II acknowledges the sensitivity on the part of the modern ear to such things as the exhortation in Ephesians 5:22. Thus, he seeks to locate the words "Wives, be subject to your husbands" in the context of self-sacrificing love on the part of both spouses. He addresses the analogy contained in Ephesians 5:23 by saying that the wife's relationship with Christ will inform her relationship with her husband. This is another component of the "traditional teaching" on Ephesians 5. Finally, John Paul II's rejection of "domination" on the part of the husband leaves ample room for the legitimate exercise of authority.
In Mulieris dignitatem, the Pope emphasizes the very reason that Ephesians designates the husband as the "head of the wife," i.e. so that he might give himself on her behalf. This is the very crux of the husband's authority: it is ordered to sacrifice and service on behalf of his wife and family. It lacks any other purpose.
Worth noting is John Paul II's rejection in Mulieris dignitatem of the "masculinization" of women as contrary to the natural differences between the sexes. The unity of the spouses, he writes in reference to St. Paul's declaration about the unity and equal dignity of all Christians in Galatians 3:28, "does not cancel out diversity." The Pope reprises this theme in Christifideles laici where he states that an understanding of the "anthropological foundation for masculinity and femininity," which includes the recognition of the "diversity yet mutual complementarity" of men and women, will "assure the rightful presence of woman in the Church and society."
One final comment: no one would deny that Pope John Paul II is very much a "man of Vatican II," a Council in which he was intimately involved. His pontificate has carried on the work of the Council, e.g. promulgating the Code of Canon Law and publishing the Catechism of the Catholic Church. As we have seen, Vatican II did not choose to restate the traditional teaching regarding the husband's authority, although the Council did not reject it either. It should hardly come as a surprise that the Holy Father has decided to follow the path marked by the conciliar texts, especially Gaudium et spes. Nevertheless, we should look for the continuity between John Paul II and his predecessors. Cardinal Ratzinger makes a similar point when he stresses the continuity between Trent and Vatican I on the one hand, and Vatican II on the other: one cannot choose the former to the exclusion of the latter, or vice versa.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (October 11, 1992), promulgated 16 years into the pontificate of John Paul II, does not repeat the teaching of the Catechism of the Council of Trent with regard to the authority of the husband. However, the new Catechism does not explicitly reject the message of its predecessor either. Instead, it adopts the direction outlined by Vatican II in stating that man and woman are equal as persons, and complementary as masculine and feminine. In another paragraph, it says, "Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out."
CHAPTER THREE: THEOLOGIANS
The following chapter will survey the writings of nine theologians on the topic of the husband's authority, from the patristic period up to the present day. Of the nine, there are seven men and two women. Five are theologians from this century. The nine include three canonized saints--who are also doctors of the church--and one beatus. Since this paper is expository in nature, all nine have been chosen because their work is in harmony with and illuminates that of the Magisterium. In each case, they have written on the nature of the husband's authority: 1. in the form of a commentary on Ephesians 5 or directly on the teaching of the Magisterium itself; 2. from the standpoint of the Holy Family; and/or 3. from the perspective of man and woman in the natural order.
St. John Chrysostom
In a homily on Ephesians 5:22-33, St. John Chrysostom says that the reason St. Paul unfolds the meaning of his exhortation, "Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord," (verse 22) is for the benefit of family order and harmony. Without the due subordination of the wife to the husband, states Chrysostom, "all is turned upside down and thrown into confusion." He explains that the word "as" in verse 22 does not express an exact equality, but can be understood in two ways, meaning either: a. "'knowing that ye are servants of the Lord'; (which, by the way, is what [St. Paul] says elsewhere, that, even though they do it not for the husband's sake, yet must they primarily for the Lord's sake;)" or b. "'when thou obeyest thy husband, do so as serving the Lord.'"
Chrysostom then explains with what measure husbands must love their wives. In verses 23 and 24, St. Paul establishes the "measure of obedience" for the wife, i.e. that measure with which the Church obeys Christ. In verse 25, he establishes the "measure of love" for the husband, i.e. that measure with which Christ loves the Church.
Yea, even if it shall be needful for thee to give thy life for her, yea, and to be cut into pieces ten thousand times, yea, and to endure and undergo any suffering whatever,--refuse it not. Though thou shouldest undergo all this, yet wilt thou not, no, not even then, have done anything like Christ. For thou indeed art doing it for one to whom thou art already knit; but He for one who turned her back on Him and hated Him.
A husband must adopt Christ's example: though his wife might disdain and scorn him, the husband must respond--in the manner of Christ Himself--with great thoughtfulness, affection, and kindness. "For there is nothing more powerful to sway than these bonds, and especially for husband and wife." The Christian husband guides his wife not "by fear and menaces, but with love and good temper. For what sort of union is that, where the wife trembles at her husband?" Since his wife is his "partner" in life (a free woman and not a slave), the mother of his children, and the "foundation of [his] very joy," the husband should wish to behave only in a virtuous manner toward his wife.
Of verse 26, Chrysostom writes that, unclean though the Church was, Christ took her for His Bride. "He did not abhor her, nor loathe her for her surpassing deformity," nor did He refuse to sacrifice Himself on her behalf. Likewise, a husband may not seek things from his wife "which she is not able to possess." Neither may he turn his back on her "because of her deformity." To reproach the woman for her lack of personal beauty is to reproach God who made her. Instead, Chrysostom admonishes husbands, seek the beauty of her soul. "Let us make her fair in God's sight, not in our own."
Chrysostom continues by suggesting that if husbands are not sufficiently inspired to follow Christ's example of self-sacrifice, St. Paul gives them another, more personal reason in verses 28-31 to love their wives: husband and wife are "one flesh," and no man can hate his own body. Therefore, St. Paul gives two examples to understand the nature of the union of the spouses: first, that of Christ's body; and second, that of a natural body. Chrysostom also cites I Corinthians 11:3 to show that elsewhere in St. Paul's writings, he indicates that husband and wife are no longer two, but one body, with the husband as the head. Christ and the Father are also one body, continues Chrysostom, of which the Father is the Head.
Since the wife is a "second authority," she must "not demand equality, for she is under the head." By "equality," Chrysostom clearly means equality in role or function, since he indicates that St. Paul "places one in subjection, and the other in authority, that there may be peace; for where there is equal authority there can never be peace; neither where a house is democracy, nor where all are rulers; but the ruling power must of necessity be one." Chrysostom implies the equal dignity of the spouses when he reminds the husband not to despise his wife, though she is subject to him. For "if the head despise the body, it will also perish." When the prevailing sentiment in the Marriage is love, "everything else follows." Although the wife may appear to occupy the inferior position in Paul's Marriage discourse, she is in reality "the gainer, because the principal duty, love, is charged upon the husband." Chrysostom instructs the husband that, even if his wife is not obedient, "Never mind, thou art to love, fulfill thine own duty. For though that which is due from others may not follow, we ought of course to do our duty." Let the wife, he says, even though "she be not loved, still reverence notwithstanding, so that nothing may lie at her door."
Chrysostom explains that the "fear" required by St. Paul in verse 33 is that which befits a "free woman," not a slave, and that its boundaries are "the not contradicting, the not rebelling, the not being fond of the preeminence." He repeats that the wife is a second authority, "possessing indeed an authority, and a considerable equality of dignity; but at the same time the husband has somewhat of superiority. In this consists most chiefly the well-being of the house." The husband's authority to govern is ultimately ordered to--after the example of Christ (cf. verse 27)--the holiness of his wife. "For if thou shalt make her 'holy and without blemish,' everything else will follow. Seek the things which are of God, and those which are of man will follow readily enough."
St. Augustine has not left us a systematic treatment of the husband's authority. However, throughout several of his works are statements relevant to the topic. For example, in one sermon St. Augustine refers to the Holy Family, and the Blessed Mother in particular, to make a point about the family order. Although Mary was the Mother of the Savior, she also is the exemplar of humility and modesty. In a reference to Luke 2:48, Augustine writes of the Blessed Virgin, "She didn't put herself before her husband in the order she mentioned them in, and say 'I and your father,' but 'Your father and I' is what she said. She took no notice of the dignity of her womb, but she paid attention to the right order of marriage...'Your father,' she says, 'and I'; because the head of the woman is the man." Even though Joseph was not the natural father of the child Jesus, "he is not deprived of his paternal authority, since he is told to give the child a name." In that same sermon on the Holy Family, Augustine says, "But let us put the man before the woman, according to the order of nature and of God's law."
On more than one occasion, Augustine vigorously reminds husbands that, as head of the family, they must set a virtuous example for their wives. He points out to them the relationship between the words vir and virtus. In particular, he admonishes men to stop committing adultery or fornication. They demand that their wives be chaste, and Augustine insists, they must conduct themselves similarly, especially because of their role as head of the family. "You're the man; show it...Conquer lust...If you're the head, lead, and let her follow." Again, "If the husband is the head, the husband ought to live better and go ahead of his wife in all good deeds, so that she may imitate her husband and follow her head." Elsewhere he says, "Husband, you require your wife to be chaste; give her an example how to be so, not just a lecture. You're the head, notice the way you are going."
Augustine is well aware, however, that it is often the wife who has the greater virtue, who "goes ahead of [her husband] to God." His exhortations regarding the leadership of the husband notwithstanding, he urges wives to prevent their husbands from committing sins of infidelity for the sake of their eternal salvation.
In all other respects be the servants of your husbands, obedient and compliant. Don't let any impertinence be found in you, any pride, any shrewish answering back, any disobedience; be at all respects at their service...If he sells your country cottage to meet his needs--which are also, incidentally, yours, because they cannot be his without also being yours, if there is any of the charity in you that there ought to be in a wife--put up with it patiently. And if he hesitates to do so, make the offer yourself. Treat everything as of no account, for the love of your husband. But require him to be chaste, fight him over chastity. Accept the loss of your country cottage calmly and patiently; but don't be calmly patient while your husband loses his soul.
The reality of the sanctification of husbands by their more virtuous wives (cf. I Corinthians 7:14a - "For the unbelieving husband is consecrated through his wife") was undoubtedly impressed upon Augustine through the example of his long-suffering mother, St. Monica, to whom he pays special tribute in the Confessions.
Nevertheless, the "rightly ordered" household is the one in which the man is the head of his wife. "What can be worse," asks Augustine, "than a house where the woman has the mastery over the man?" St. Paul gives spouses the pattern for their relationship, or the "beauty of order," in Ephesians 5:22-28. In a similar way, the Catholic Church "subjectest women to their husbands in chaste and faithful obedience, not to gratify passion, but for the propagation of offspring, and for domestic society. Thou givest to men authority over their wives, not to mock the weaker sex, but in the laws of unfeigned love." Augustine offers specific advice to husbands on the exercise of their authority, which is ordered to the service of their wife and family. "But in the family of the just man who lives by faith and is as yet a pilgrim journeying on to the celestial city, even those who rule serve those whom they seem to command; for they rule not from a love of power, but from a sense of the duty they owe to others--not because they are proud of authority, but because they love mercy."
Augustine compares the role of the husband and father to that of the bishop when it comes to the spiritual welfare of the family. Each man, and not just bishops and clerics, is a servant of Christ. "For the sake of life eternal" of each family member, the head of the family receives a "kind of episcopal office," which may call for the "noblest service of suffering." In one sermon, Augustine says that to the head of the household belongs the task of "bishoping," i.e. ensuring that none "drift into heresy, not his wife, nor his son, nor his daughter, nor even his slave." In other words, the good of the soul of each family member is entrusted to the husband and father. He expresses his paternal affection for his household by concerning himself with its spiritual well-being.
That Augustine embraced the equal dignity of the spouses can be gleaned from the following excerpts. He addresses the question of "Whether the woman is not also the image of God" in De Trinitate. He answers that women share equally in the fellowship of Christ as do men, with whom "they are fellow-heirs of grace." Likewise are women, in Christ, "renewed after the image of God." In De Civitate Dei, he states that "the sex of woman is not a vice, but nature," and that woman "is a creature of God even as the man is."
Finally, in De Bono Conjugali, St. Augustine writes, concerning the partnership of Marriage, that the spouses "are joined one to another side by side, who walk together, and look together whither they walk."
St. Thomas Aquinas
From St. Thomas Aquinas we have a commentary in three lectures on Ephesians 5:22-33. He begins by examining three relationships found in the home: husband and wife; father and child; servants and masters. With respect to the first, St. Thomas states that wives should be subject to their husbands as indicated by Sirach 25:22 ("There is wrath and impudence and great disgrace when a woman supports her husband"). The qualification "...as to the Lord" in Ephesians 5:22 means that, while the husband properly maintains authority over his wife, it is not the same authority which a master exercises over his slaves, whose service "is profitable to himself; but a husband treats his wife and children in reference to the common good." The husband is not actually a "lord, but is as a lord."
Thomas continues by saying that St. Paul designates the husband as the head, the part of the body where the sense of sight is found (cites Ecclesiastes 2:14), and then by indicating that governance belongs to the head (cites I Corinthians 11:3). Christ is the head of the Church (Ephesians 1:22-23), "not for his own utility," but so that He might be the Church's savior. Wives are to obey their husbands (cites Genesis 3:16), as the Church is subject to Christ "in all things which are not contrary to God" (cites Acts 5:29). A husband who loves his wife, as Paul exhorts in Ephesians 5:25, "will live more chastely and both of them will enjoy a peaceful relationship (cites Colossians 3:19). Aquinas finds three reasons within the Ephesians text for Paul's exhortation:
1. the example of Christ (verse 25b), who sacrificed Himself--the sign of His love--for the sanctification of the Church (cites Ephesians 5:1-2; Galatians 2:20; Isaiah 53:12; Hebrews 13:12; John 17:17);
2. the love of the husband for his own body, of which his wife is now part (verse 28b);
3. the "divine commandment" (verse 31).
In the section on the indissolubility of Marriage in the Summa Contra Gentiles, Thomas writes that among humans, "the female needs the male, not merely for the sake of generation, as in the case of other animals, but also for the sake of government, since the male is both more perfect in reasoning and stronger in his powers." Shortly thereafter, he points out why prohibitions against divorce protect the dignity of the wife. "If a husband were permitted to abandon his wife," writes Aquinas, "the society of husband and wife would not be an association of equals, but, instead, a sort of slavery on the part of the wife."
In a question in the Summa Theologica on "The Production of Woman," St. Thomas distinguishes between two kinds of subjection, as he did in his commentary on the Letter to the Ephesians. One type is slavery, which exists for the advantage of the master and is a fruit of original sin.
There is another kind of subjection, which is called economic or civil, whereby the superior makes use of his subjects for their own benefit and good; and this kind of subjection existed even before sin. For good order would have been wanting in the human family if some were not governed by others wiser than themselves. So by such a kind of subjection woman is naturally subject to man, because in man the discretion of reason predominates. Nor is inequality among men excluded by the state of innocence, as we shall prove.
However, that God formed woman from man's rib indicates that she is to be his companion. Since she does not have authority over man, she was not formed from his head; "nor was it right for her to be subject to man's contempt as his slave, and so she was not made from his feet."
St. Thomas's observations about the power of reason in man (vir) cited in the previous two paragraphs have not been incorporated into the Magisterium's teaching on the husband's authority. Even so, we do not necessarily need to conclude from what Aquinas writes that "men are smarter than women." In fact, St. Thomas may be addressing the different qualities of the male and female minds. There is a school of thought which suggests that men tend to an analytical way of thinking, while women seem to be more intuitive than men. "The combination of the logical genius of man and the intuitive genius of woman is one of God's most beautiful syntheses, and it is the natural gift upon which the parents' authority to teach their children is based."
The article to which Thomas refers above in "The Production of Woman" is entitled "Of the Mastership Belonging to Man in the State of Innocence," and it takes up once again the twofold meaning of "mastership." The evil of slavery follows in the wake of the Fall. However, in the state of original justice one man would have commanded another--that person himself "a free subject"--"by directing him either towards his proper welfare, or to the common good." Since man is a social being, some form of hierarchy or authority is necessary, even in a world without sin, to ensure the common good of society. In addition, the gifts and virtues which one man enjoys are given to him for the benefit of others (Aquinas cites I Peter 4:10 - "As each has received a gift, employ it for another, as good stewards of God's varied grace"; and De Civitate Dei 19.14, see page 42).
Thus does St. Thomas argue for the authority of the husband in Marriage. The wife is a free subject, who voluntarily puts herself under her husband's authority. That authority is directed to the unity of the spouses, i.e. the common good of the Marriage, which necessarily includes the good of the wife. The husband's authority, itself part of the natural order, must be conducted in accordance with right reason, and therefore it has certain moral limits. The husband receives his authority from God, and he may not go beyond that which God has given him. When St. Paul states in Ephesians 5:24 that wives should obey their husbands "in everything," he has in mind those things which fall within the authority proper to the head of the family. The wife retains the use of her conscience, and she should not obey her husband in anything that contradicts God. Like her husband, she enjoys an immediate relationship with God.
The exercise of the husband's authority does not mean that the wife is left without authority. The husband cannot take away his wife's function. The exercise of his authority must be guided by virtue, especially that of "domestic justice," whereby the husband or father must "render to each one his right."
In an article concerning "punishments resulting from the Fall," Aquinas writes, "The subjection of the woman to her husband is to be understood as inflicted in punishment of the woman, not as to his head-ship (since even before sin the man was the head and governor of the woman), but as to her having now to obey her husband's will even against her own." The wife has not lost her freedom after the Fall. She is not her husband's slave, but the degree of her subjection to him is intensified as a result of original sin.
Catholic philosopher and theologian Antonio Rosmini (1797-1855) briefly addresses the husband's authority within the work entitled The Philosophy of Right. In a paragraph in which he examines Marriage as a society, Rosmini states that the spouses bring different qualities to Marriage for the good of the union. In a vein similar to St. Thomas, he also distinguishes between "servitude" and "social office," with the latter being--in philosophical terms--what the husband fulfills. As with any society, the end of Marriage is the common good, which itself is the object of the husband's authority.
The limits of that authority cannot be precisely delineated because of the varying traits of different men and women. "But the aim of producing the greatest good of the family and the mutual love of the spouses can and must determine them," Rosmini writes. "Thus, whenever the husband is per accidens less suitable for government, he must proportionately limit the exercise of his superiority."
Bl. Edith Stein
Blessed Edith Stein indicates that because St. Paul's treatment of the relationship between the spouses in Ephesians 5 is based on the orders of creation and redemption, it has enduring value. Leadership in Marriage falls to the husband because he was created first. At the same time, however, Stein suggests that St. Paul recognizes "another order" in Marriage which he points out in I Corinthians 7:14, 16. The spouses are mediators for each other.
The man's role is to create the conditions whereby all family members are able to fulfill their vocations for the good of their own souls and for the good of the family. In his wisdom, a husband will encourage his wife to develop her God-given gifts and talents, especially those which may "compensate for his defects." The exercise of his authority allows these gifts to flourish. Otherwise, "if the body rebels against the head, the organism will suffer as much as if the head were to allow the body to atrophy." Ideally, "a woman should honor the image of Christ in her husband by free and loving subordination."
Stein describes the complementary nature of the spouses in this way: man's vocations are first, as head of the family and then, to fatherhood (which is integral to headship); woman's vocations are first, as a mother, and then, as a ruler (which is included in motherhood). The husband's authority is directed to maintaining order and harmony within the family and to safeguarding the spiritual well-being of his wife and children. As he endeavors to imitate Christ, the husband should consider his most important duty to lead each family member to do likewise, and "according to his powers, to further all seeds of grace which are stirring in them. The more intimate his own union with the Lord, so much the more will he succeed." The husband should seek and rely upon the counsel of his wife, and in many instances "he would fulfill his duties as leader best if he would yield to her and permit himself to be led by her."
Like many theologians, C.S. Lewis links the authority of the husband with the indissolubility of Christian Marriage. Optimally, husband and wife reach decisions together. Occasionally, however, this may not be possible. If Marriage is to be permanent, one spouse or the other must have the authority to resolve disagreements. Why, then, must it be the husband? Lewis's intuition about human nature is cogent. First, he gently suggests that women themselves do not admire a circumstance in which the wife is the head of the family, since the woman who rules her husband may despise him precisely because he allows her to dominate him. Yet, he adds another reason why the husband must be the head: generally speaking, a man is somehow "more just" in dealing with people outside the family. How can that be? In Lewis's calculus, "a woman is primarily fighting for her own children and husband against the rest of the world. Naturally, almost, in a sense, rightly, their claims override, for her, all other claims. She is the special trustee of their interests. The function of the husband is to see that this natural preference of hers is not given its head. He has the last word in order to protect other people from the intense family patriotism of the wife."
Lewis also takes up the husband-wife relationship in the chapter entitled "Eros" from The Four Loves. To Lewis, the husband's authority must be understood in light of its Christological and sacrificial nature. The husband is the head of his wife only inasmuch as he tries to adopt the Christ-Church paradigm.
This headship, then, is most fully embodied not in the husband we should all wish to be but in him whose marriage is most like a crucifixion; whose wife receives most and gives least, is most unworthy of him, is--in her own mere nature--least lovable. For the Church has no beauty but what the Bridegroom gives her; he does not find but makes her lovely. The chrism of this terrible coronation is to be seen not in the joys of any man's marriage but in its sorrows, in the sickness and sufferings of a good wife or the faults of a bad one, in his unwearying (never paraded) care or his inexhaustible forgiveness: forgiveness, not acquiescence. As Christ sees in the flawed, proud, fanatical, or lukewarm Church on earth that Bride who will one day be without spot or wrinkle, and labours to produce the latter, so the husband whose leadership is Christ-like (and he is allowed no other sort) never despairs.
Through suffering, then, and not by the exercise of "power" does the husband most closely associate himself with the headship of Christ. As the husband welcomes and overcomes difficulties in Marriage, he embraces the example of Christ's self-renunciation. Thus can Lewis say with a wry smile that "the sternest feminist need not grudge my sex the crown offered to it either in the Pagan or in the Christian mystery. For the one is of paper and the other of thorns. The real danger is not that husbands may grasp the latter too eagerly; but that they will allow or compel their wives to usurp it."
Adrienne von Speyr
In her commentary on the Letter to the Ephesians, Adrienne von Speyr examines the meaning of the expression "as to the Lord" found in Ephesians 5:22. The word "as" does not signal two different relationships of obedience for the wife, one to the Lord and the other to her husband. Instead, it applies "to both in a unity of obedience...Her relationship to the Lord is not infringed upon by her married state insofar as marriage appears as a sort of extension to her husband of her obedience vis-?-vis the Lord, a sort of practical, visible application of her relationship to the Lord." In the Christ-Church, husband-wife parallel, the wife "has to follow the judgment of the head," while the husband must closely follow Christ, if he is to lead.
"If the man patterns himself on Christ and receives his instructions from him," writes von Speyr, "he cannot arbitrarily use and misuse the subjection of the woman for his human ends; he must form her with her help in the same way that the Lord uses the subjection of the Church to form her." For her part, the wife's "marital obedience means that she must always perceive the Lord behind her husband," who is in turn guided by the Lord. To the degree that the husband "obeys the law of the Lord, he can and must demand the subjection and compliancy of the woman." A Marriage informed by the Christ-Church relationship of obedience ought to include that Bridegroom and Bride's "undiminished vitality and [so] never be at the end of its possibilities."
Von Speyr continues: "Since the reciprocal love of man and woman stems from the love of the Lord, every marital love must lead back to the Lord and strengthen both the man's and woman's love for the Lord." The husband freely hands himself over for his wife, as Christ unreservedly gave Himself for the Church. The husband's surrender occurs in a temporal moment, i.e. it is accomplished in time, but it must be enduring, as is Christ's. Any weakening or abatement in the husband's love is "unworthy of a Christian." Husbands must help their wives to become holy, but men will achieve this only if they allow the Lord "to take them entirely to himself and, permanently handed over to him, imitate what he does. Not only outwardly, but by having the same attitude toward him as he has toward the Father, and then out of this free obedience to treat their wives just as the Lord treats his Church." Husbands "...have to lead [their wives] purified and sanctified back to the Son."
With reference to Ephesians 5:28, von Speyr says that a man loves his own body not in a selfish sense, but because God bestowed it as a gift for His service. When the woman becomes one flesh with the man in Marriage, she is "drawn into the same love." Thus, "When the man has said to the woman: I bind myself to you, then the possibility of being subject is opened up for the woman." Finally, von Speyr states that the "fear" (or "respect") which St. Paul calls for in Ephesians 5:33 is to be understood as "reverence," the model for which is the reverence that the Church has for Christ.
Hans Urs von Balthasar
Theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar addresses the question of whether Ephesians 5:22 is historically conditioned in this way: Christianity itself rejects the notion of the inferiority of women by asserting the equal dignity of men and women. The archetype for Marriage is the Christ-Church relationship. Therefore, "the decisive norm for the man-woman relationship is thus a theological norm, not a norm patterned on the social customs of the time." The remainder of the text of Ephesians 5:21-33 attests to the fact that we are dealing with a permanent theological norm and not a social custom of a particular time.
Von Balthasar also examines the primacy of the husband from the standpoint of the conjugal act. He connects the authority of the husband with the fact that the man is the initiator in sexual intercourse, while the woman is essentially receptive. According to von Balthasar, "it still remains true that the absolute beginning lies in the progenitor--in the father--while the feminine principle, even as Magna Mater or as Mother Nature, can never be simply conceived as the beginning. In the Christian view of God, the begetting Father stands at the very source and origin of all things." Von Balthasar sees the man's role in procreation as a "distant analogy" to trinitarian and Christological self-giving. "But it is an analogy nonetheless; and this analogy allows us to acknowledge, even today, the truth contained in the statement that the husband is the head of the wife." The model for the husband in self-sacrifice and self-surrender is Christ, who gave Himself unconditionally for the Church.
According to Professor Germain Grisez, the exercise of authority by the husband for the good of the family constitutes "the irreducible core of the Christian teaching" in this area. Grisez reaches this conclusion based largely upon the content of Casti connubii and upon a recognition of both the natural physical and psychological attributes of the male sex. These attributes can be crucial when a decision must be made in an emergency or when husband and wife cannot agree on a course of action. Nevertheless, he emphasizes that "authority is not domination but decision making," which itself is generally the fruit of the joint deliberation of the spouses. Grisez points out that the complementary nature of the spouses is not simply a matter of biology. The God-given qualities of man and woman come together and are expressed in Marriage for the common good of the spouses and their children.
Grisez suggests that the differences between the sexes are significant not only for the reproductive order, but also for "the moral order, for they are part of the capacity of human persons to act for and share in a human good." The common human nature takes form in the person of either man or woman who complement each other (cf. Genesis 1:27), but who are not interchangeable. "By differentiating the sexes, God plainly intends to differentiate the spouses' roles; and because this natural differentiation serves the good of marriage and the family, it should be endorsed willingly, not resisted and limited as much as possible."
Grisez interprets St. Paul's exhortations to spouses in Ephesians 5 in light of the different temptations men and women face in the wake of original sin. "Men are tempted to abuse their wives, and so are admonished to love and care for them; women are tempted to respond to their husband's shortcomings by rebelling against them and acting autonomously, and so are admonished to obey."
Grisez points to an example of a hierarchy which does not compromise equality. Within the Holy Trinity, the Father is the principium (cf. Summa Theologica Ia, q.39, a.8) and the source of unity. The Son and the Holy Spirit, who have unique roles, find their origin in Him. In both the "immanent" and "economic" Trinity, the Son and the Holy Spirit are subordinate to the Father. However, all three Persons of the Trinity are coequal in divinity. "In accord with this model for interpersonal relationships, the New Testament and Christian tradition present marriage as a union of persons, equal in personal dignity and fundamental rights, but with complementary roles and a certain primacy for the husband."
Although the above nine theologians address the nature of authority and submission from different perspectives and in different contexts, they share many of the same fundamental ideas. For example, St. Paul's exhortations to husbands and wives in Ephesians 5 constitute much of the foundation for their respective writings and reflections. Both in Ephesians and in I Corinthians 11:3, Paul outlines the divinely-sanctioned family order that places the husband at the head of his wife. The love and respect that a wife gives to her husband are at the same time rendered to the Lord, whose plan for the spouses is the reason for the wife's submission. If as the head of his wife the husband follows the example of Christ, the head of the Church, then it follows that: 1. what he asks of his wife will be for her good and the good of the Marriage; and 2. he would never ask her to do anything that would displease Christ.
The work of the theologians reviewed in this chapter argues that the relationship of authority and submission between the spouses does not indicate a moral superiority of the man, but rather God's plan for Marriage. In part, this plan can be discovered from the manner in which God created the sexes. Genesis, like the Pauline writings discussed above, is essential for establishing the roles of the spouses. Since man was created first, he is the head of his wife. However, Scripture also attests that husband and wife are equal in dignity though complementary in role or function within the family. They are companions in Marriage. The various gifts and dispositions possessed by husband and wife are joined in Holy Matrimony so that the spouses might become "one flesh." They edify and sanctify each other by their respective examples in love and virtue.
Another theme runs throughout Chapter Two: to ignore the right order in Marriage is to invite chaos into the family. Leadership is necessary for the unity and indissolubility of Marriage. The headship of the husband is not one of tyranny but of service. The husband's model as "head" is Christ, and therefore love, sacrifice, and sometimes suffering are the essence of his leadership. His authority is at the service of his wife and children, and it is ordered toward their well-being in this life and the next. Furthermore, the exercise of the husband's authority does not undermine the wife's dignity. Rather, it creates the proper environment in which she can fulfill her vocation. She enjoys the fruit of her husband's love.
Finally, the following two ideas are common to many of the nine theologians surveyed in this chapter. First, at the level of nature, we can discern the need for a leader in all societies, in order to safeguard unity, peace, and the common good. Furthermore, nature has given the husband certain characteristics and abilities which point to and enhance his ability to guide his wife and children.
Second, at its base, the family order is not simply an expression of culture or an historical period, because it is established in nature and confirmed--and more perfectly illuminated--by Revelation.
CHAPTER FOUR: ANALYSIS
The following chapter will seek to analyze the teaching of the Magisterium with regard to authority and submission in Marriage. Where appropriate, reference also will be made to the theologians studied in the previous chapter to highlight the link between their work and the content of the magisterial teaching. To begin, however, it will be helpful to summarize the various sections of Chapter Two.
PART ONE: SUMMARY
Catechism of the Council of Trent: This text establishes a scriptural basis for the family order from the First Letter of Peter. God has given the husband authority for the good of his wife and family.
Leo XIII: Pope Leo XIII draws from Ephesians 5 to outline the husband's authority, for which the model is Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church. The husband is head of his wife for two reasons: 1. because God created man first and then woman from man's side; and 2. because in Marriage, the husband represents Christ and the wife represents the Church. The husband's authority comes from God and is an image of His authority. Therefore, it must be exercised according to God's example. St. Joseph is the example of human fatherhood for men to emulate. Both nature and Revelation point to the husband's role as head of the family.
St. Pius X: God gives authority to fathers to lead their families in accordance with His divine plan.
Pius XI: Ephesians 5 instructs us about the family order. The authority of the husband does not undermine the dignity of his wife. The wife is not compelled to obey her husband when his requests are not in accord with reason or her dignity. At the same time, however, the Pope warns against "exaggerated liberty" on the part of the wife, which will only result in harm for both herself and her family. The design of the family order is clear from nature and Revelation, and thus it applies to all historical periods and cultures. Since God is the author of the family, changes in the social order must not substantially affect the domestic order. Nevertheless, the concrete or specific expression of the family order in each home will vary, especially because of the characteristics of the spouses themselves. The husband's authority is essential for unity and stability within the family. However, if the husband neglects his duty, the wife must assume leadership of the family.
Pius XII: Every society must have a leader in order to preserve unity, and within the society of Marriage, God gave that role to the husband. Though the spouses are equal in dignity, God has given them different roles or functions. Thus within the family, equality and hierarchy can exist together. Both nature--as expressed in the natural dispositions of men and women--and Revelation indicate that the husband is to be the head of the family. What St. Paul teaches in Ephesians 5 is what Christ intends for married couples. To follow that design is to ensure a happy and fruitful Marriage. The complementary aspects of the spouses allow for harmony and peace in the home. St. Joseph provides a model for husbands, but Christ is the exemplar. When a wife is obedient to the properly exercised authority of her husband, she is thereby obedient to Christ Himself. Therefore, her submission is ennobling. The Pope cautions against false liberty, which some will encourage the wife to pursue. She must be guided by her well-formed conscience such that, in obeying her husband, she does not violate any of God's commands. Through her inevitable sacrifices, she will sanctify herself and her husband. The respect that a husband has for his wife greatly enhances their Marriage.
John XXIII: Nature and Revelation both indicate that husband and wife are equal in dignity, but they complement one another in their respective roles. The husband "stands in God's place," and must set a good example for his family.
Vatican II: Ephesians 5 shows Marriage to be an image of and participation in the union of Christ and the Church. The spouses are equal in personal dignity, yet the differences in the sexes lead to different roles for husband and wife in the family.
Paul VI: The complementary nature of the differences between men and women is not at odds with their equal dignity.
John Paul II: St. Joseph provides a holy example for fathers to imitate, yet all fatherhood ultimately comes from God the Father. Fathers are responsible for family unity and stability. "Reverence for Christ" inspires the spouses to be subject to each other. The wife's relationship with Christ is the motivation for her relationship with her husband. Ephesians 5 does not encourage the husband's domination of the wife. "Mutual subjection" is the innovation of the Gospel with respect to Marriage. Christ is the model in self-sacrificing love for the husband. Men and women are equal in dignity, but anthropologically diverse and thus mutually complementary. The Pope rejects the "masculinization" of women. The current Catechism states that the complementary nature of the spouses serves the good of Marriage.
PART TWO: COMMENTARY
To further understand the content of the teaching of the Magisterium with respect to authority and submission in Marriage, it will be useful to examine individually the various components of that teaching found throughout the texts cited in Chapter Two.
1. The role of nature: That nature disposes the husband for the role as head of the family is an idea put forward in various writings by Leo XIII, Pius XI, and Pius XII, and it is strongly implied by John XXIII (cf. sections on St. Thomas Aquinas, C.S. Lewis, and Germain Grisez). Even if this concept is not explicit in the other Popes and conciliar texts cited above, they all leave room for such an understanding. One can argue that nature equips the man (vir) with several characteristics that point to and assist in his role as head of the family: size and strength, a tendency to be more aggressive and direct than the woman, and what might be considered an innate desire (perhaps even aptitude) to lead and protect the female sex. In addition, a man does not have to contend with the circumstances brought about by pregnancy and the early stages of motherhood, which inevitably restrict action and thus the ability to govern, if only temporarily. If these things are accurately presented (and they are more properly considered under the heading of anthropology rather than theology, hence they fall slightly outside the scope of this paper), they are not subject to change according to either culture or to historical period. In any case, the physical and psychological characteristics of the sexes do not mitigate against the equal dignity of man and woman, but only reinforce the notion of complementarity.
Included as part of the husband's natural disposition to lead the family is the idea that, in the way of nature, the family, like any society, must have a head (cf. sections on St. Thomas, Antonio Rosmini, C.S. Lewis, and Germain Grisez). Pius XII (Quando alcuni) explicitly makes this point. The exercise of authority in Marriage, as in any society, is directed toward the common good. That there was a need for a "head" in Marriage in the state of original justice indicates that authority and submission are both positive in scope and essential if any society--no matter what size--is to reach its goal. "Even in the realm of natural ethics, the position of authority is not to be understood as dominance in a negative, oppressive sense but must be rather seen as implying a relation of care and service toward the subordinated." Within the scope of practical judgment, enlightened and virtuous people acting with right intention can differ about what course of action to adopt to achieve their aim. Therefore, ultimate authority must reside in one person whose responsibility is to organize effort and preserve harmony within the society. This line of thought is implicit in several magisterial texts and explicit in the writings of St. Thomas and Grisez.
2. Complementarity: That the spouses are equal in dignity but complementary in role or function is a theme present in one form or another in every magisterial text reviewed in Chapter Two, just as it was prevalent amongst the theologians noted in Chapter Three. It is the complementary aspects of husband and wife that permit the spouses in their union to form "one flesh." Husband and wife are mutually dependent on--or complement--each other in all aspects of their married life; one is not "more important" than the other. Two authors give us some insight into the notion of complementarity as presented by the Magisterium. First, Manfred Hauke concludes from his research that "women are always dependent, in one way or another, on the leadership of men; but men, without the intuition and assistance of women, are only half human." Within the family order, he continues, "authority and subordination do not represent differences in value at the levels of being, but are related to one another in the context of two sexes, as two poles in tension." Second, according to Jean-Jacques von Allmen, God gives the spouses "the post where [He] expects their free obedience, the situation from which they will be able to form themselves into couples, the spot where their initiatives, their wills will not shatter the harmony of creation."
From a theological perspective, an aspect of the complementarity of the spouses is the vocation of the man to be the image of Christ in Marriage and the corresponding vocation of the woman to be the image of the Church. This theme is prominent in Chapter Two since many of the magisterial texts refer directly to Ephesians 5. It is also conspicuous in the works of those theologians in Chapter Three who explicitly comment on Ephesians, i.e. St. John Chrysostom, St. Thomas, Bl. Edith Stein, and Adrienne von Speyr. The nature of spousal love, as manifest in both the eternal union of Christ and the Church, and the earthly union of husband and wife, calls for a male partner and a female partner. This concept itself is worthy of substantial treatment, but again beyond the scope of this paper. However, in the context of the present topic, what is important is that the husband in fulfilling his spousal vocation must follow as closely as possible--with the help of grace and with the help of his wife--the example of Christ, who is the head of His Bride, the Church. It is equally the case that the wife must adopt the role of the Church, by receiving her husband's love and by being submissive to him. If these two particular roles--of husband and wife respectively--are not welcomed, then a significant aspect of the complementarity of the spouses is lost. Although this final point is not explicit in any of the magisterial texts in Chapter Two, it seems to flow from the very nature of spousal complementarity. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the idea of the complementarity of husband and wife receives greater and more explicit emphasis in the more recent documents than in the earlier ones, beginning in 1945 with Questa grande vostra adunata by Pius XII and continuing through to the new Catechism. This can probably be attributed in part to the desire of the Magisterium to confront the most radical elements of feminism, i.e. those seeking to erase or overcome all differences between the sexes. Finally, Pius XII (Quando alcuni and Con vivo gradimento) affirms that St. Paul's declaration in Galatians 3:28 regarding the equal dignity of all Christians is in perfect harmony with the different roles Paul assigns to the spouses in Ephesians 5. John Paul II makes a similar point in Mulieris dignitatem.
Under the heading of complementarity, we should recall Pius XI's statement in Casti connubii that authority and submission will be given different expression in different Marriages and in different cultures and historical periods. In fact, says the Pope, it may even become necessary for the wife to assume leadership within the family, "if the husband neglects his duties." Antonio Rosmini and Bl. Edith Stein make similar points.
3. Scriptural basis for the husband's authority: Many of the magisterial documents in Chapter Two (and likewise theological texts in Chapter Three) refer in some way to the scriptural basis for the husband's authority, especially to Genesis and Ephesians 5. The relevance of Ephesians 5:21-33, and specifically the three moral exhortations contained therein, to the Magisterium's teaching on this topic was established in Chapter One. Pius XII (Quando alcuni) states that St. Paul reveals how Christ, through His unconditional love for the Church, transforms authority and submission without diminishing them. This transformation, or sanctification, when it informs the love of a married couple, leads to a generous and self-forgetful spirit on the part of husband and wife. Furthermore, obedience given by a wife to her husband is ultimately rendered "to the Lord" (cf. Ephesians 5:22). The Christian wife consents to be subject to her husband not because of his personal merits, either moral or natural. She willingly submits to her husband's authority "as to the Lord" for the good of her Marriage and for the good of her own interior life and life of virtue. Emidio D'Ascoli helps to explain this idea when he writes, "In the end, this kind of submission may be regarded as but one more manifestation of that duty of love and adoration which we offer to Our Lord, and by means of which we praise and glorify Him for the spiritual nobility which He has conferred upon the state of marriage. By freely submitting to the authority of her husband, the woman will mirror in her domestic life the mystical relationship of Christ with his Church." Therefore, a submission rendered "as to the Lord" can never be mindless or unconsidered, nor can it result in anything morally wrong. On the contrary, the wife seeks to follow the example of the Church (cf. Ephesians 5:24), who takes Christ "to herself, and shows Him to the world as bestowing upon herself all that she has of value."
In referring to Ephesians 5, the Magisterium illustrates the sublime nature of the Christian Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, which includes authority and submission modeled on and flowing from the Christ-Church relationship (cf. especially the commentaries on Ephesians by St. John Chrysostom and Adrienne von Speyr). Leo XIII, Pius XI, Pius XII, and John Paul II all examine St. Paul's teaching on Marriage to recall the dignity accorded to both spouses by virtue of their participation in the union of Christ the Bridegroom with His Bride, the Church. Before Christ elevated Marriage to a Sacrament, the position of the wife in some cultures was not in keeping with her dignity. In his vision of Marriage in Ephesians 5, St. Paul exhorts men to see the dignity of their wives and to treat them accordingly. Of the 13 verses constituting Ephesians 5:21-33, all but verse 22 and verse 33b directly emphasize how and why husbands are to love their wives. Furthermore, Paul reveals the marvelous vocation of the spouses to echo faintly, yet unmistakably "the divine harmony that exists between the persons of the Trinity" (cf. Grisez) and to embody the love between Christ and His Mystical Body. "Without any doubt," writes von Allmen, St. Paul "would have protested violently if his doctrine of the couple had been accused of making the woman the slave of a tyrant: he knew too well that the Church finds all her peace in the sole fact of having a Lord, and therein that she finds her freedom too." When the Church became Christ's body, she did not lose her freedom. Rather, she gained life to the full. Similarly, the wife's happiness, freedom, and dignity depend upon her fidelity to her God-given vocation, as outlined in Ephesians by St. Paul and as discussed by the magisterial documents in Chapter Two and theological texts in Chapter Three which refer to St. Paul's writings. By accepting the authority of her husband, she loses nothing because his authority serves their "one flesh," itself a visible sign of God's grace.
St. Paul presents the three moral exhortations mentioned above and examined in Chapter One according to a certain "formula." In each case, Paul exhorts the moral agent to behave in a meritorious manner, i.e. "be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ"; "wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord"; and "husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church." Paul's exhortations create the opportunity for that moral agent in question to gain grace and to grow in holiness. The decision on the part of the wife to be submissive to the proper authority of her husband is intended to be every bit as free as the consent she first gave to marry him. "The subordination of which the Apostle speaks must arise from an act of the will on the part of the woman." Only those acts which engage the powers of intellect and will are human acts, and thus do they then acquire a moral value. Significantly, Paul does not instruct husbands to "subject their wives" (and neither, obviously, does the Magisterium, nor do any of the cited theologians), an action not only without the possibility of merit, but also at odds with the entire Christian dispensation. Leo XIII (Arcanum divinae sapientiae), Pius XI (Casti connubii), and Pius XII (Quando alcuni) all address the nobility and corresponding virtue of the wife's submission to her husband in accordance with Paul's exhortation in Ephesians 5:22.
It is indeed the munus of every Christian to become alter Christus. However, St. Paul exhorts husbands to accept that role in a special way when he writes, "For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church" (Ephesians 5:23), and "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:25). These two verses are prominent in the writings of Leo XIII, Pius XI, Pius XII, and John Paul II found in Chapter Two. The Popes exhort husbands to adopt Christ's example, or more precisely, to become Christ for their wives. If the husband rejects his proper munus, disorder in the family will ensue, and then we can understand why his wife would not wish to be subject to him. "If men no longer look upon themselves as united with Christ, as taking Christ's place in the home, as assuming the specific role of Christ in the symbolic drama that is marriage, then how can they possibly look upon their wives as Brides of Christ, as the Church of Christ. And if they do not see this, what basis is there for a wife's obedience to her husband, for a husband's self-sacrifice and tender dedication to his wife?"
Another aspect of the magisterial teaching's scriptural character is the frequent reference to St. Joseph as the model head of the family, e.g. in Leo XIII, Pius XII, the Roman Missal revised after Vatican II, and John Paul II. St. Joseph sets an example of virtue for husbands, virtue which includes the appropriate exercise of authority within Christian Marriage.
4. Further treatment of the source, essence, and goal of the husband's authority: Leo XIII (Quod apostolici muneris, Rerum novarum), St. Pius X (Lamento ne piu), Pius XI (Casti connubii), Pius XII (Quando alcuni), and John XXIII (Ad Petri cathedram) all explicitly indicate that the husband's authority comes from God. Therefore, the husband receives "the grace of state" if the exercise of his authority follows the example of God the Father and that of His Son, Jesus Christ. The Popes, even as they attest to the source of the husband's authority, also immediately affirm how that authority is to be put into practice. For example, Leo XIII (Quod apostolici muneris) confirms that the husband's authority is not absolute, and that it must be conformed to the pattern established by Christ. He also says (Immortale Dei) that the exercise of authority must be directed to service within the family and never to selfish ends. The husband, like his wife, must be prepared to sacrifice his personal desires for the good of the family at all times, because that good is the telos and scope of his moral authority. Jesus Christ left husbands His life as the model for the exercise of their authority: "the Son of man came not to be served but to serve" (Matthew 20:28; cf. Luke 22:27). Jesus also speaks during His farewell discourse to His disciples of the harmony of love, freedom, service, and friendship (cf. John 15:12-17). For his part, St. Paul encourages Christians to use their freedom not for license, "but through love be servants (literally, "serve ye as slaves") of one another" (Galatians 5:13).
These teachings are part of the foundation of the Christian moral life in general, but they carry many practical implications for husbands and fathers in particular. Like Ephesians 5, these New Testament verses inform the practice of the husband's authority, an authority always to be identified with the person of Christ. "When, in response to the example of Our Lord, the love of a man for his wife becomes the dominant and directive element in his marriage, he will find that all his powers are expended, and with complete generosity, to one end only--that the woman who has entrusted her life to him may be cherished in both soul and body, and may through him find the truest happiness of mind and spirit." The husband will achieve this noble goal only if he recognizes his wife as his equal in personal dignity. The Catechism of the Council of Trent tells men to conduct themselves in a generous and honorable way with their wives. Pius XII (Quando alcuni) encourages husbands to be confident in their position as head of the family. At the same time, however, the Pope reminds them to employ their authority in a gentle manner, so that their wives will be encouraged, not humiliated. Pius XII reprises this theme in Non meravigliatevi where he says that a "God-fearing" man treats his wife with respect. The way a man exercises his authority will express the depth of his love for his bride, just as Christ demonstrated the depth of His love for His Bride, the Church, when He hung upon the Cross. Furthermore, the husband's realization of the divine source of his authority should inspire him to cultivate the virtue of humility and to seek God's help through prayer and the Sacraments.
The husband, as we have seen (e.g. Rerum novarum, Quadragesimo anno, Quando alcuni), is responsible for the temporal aspects of his wife's and children's well-being. To be a husband and father, however, means much more than to simply provide materially for one's family. Pius XII (Un pelerinage de peres) points out the husband's responsibility for his family's spiritual welfare, including the fulfillment of their "sacred duties" toward God. Although this idea is not explicitly developed by the Magisterium, St. Augustine (see page 43) compared the husband's responsibility for the spiritual health of his family to the bishop's responsibility for the souls in his diocese. Scripture scholar Scott Hahn identifies the core of fatherhood itself as sacrificial love, such that a man occupies a certain "priestly office" within his family which is "inseparable from fatherhood." Hahn traces this priestly duty back through the patriarchs of the Old Testament. "To be a father was, ipso facto, to provide priestly service, to sacrifice for one's family in one's work, to pray for one's family, to offer gifts, to make provisions for your family." Hahn maintains that the husband's priestly office follows from the husband's position as the natural head of the family.
If a priestly role existed for a husband or father under the old covenant, then the same thing must be true a fortiori under the new covenant, since the husband is called upon to imitate Christ (cf. Ephesians 5:23-25). Of course, the notion of husband as "priest" does not imply that the wife enjoys no access to God except through her husband, or that he "mediates" God to her in the sense of the ministerial priesthood. On the contrary, Pius XII (Quando alcuni) states that both spouses are directly joined to Christ (cf. Adrienne von Speyr). However, the husband does bear the responsibility, along with his wife, of interceding through prayer and sacrifice for his family and of setting a good Christian example for them. In order to do these things, he must be willing, as C.S. Lewis says, to put on the "crown of thorns" just as Jesus did. In addition, the husband and father must concern himself with the education in the faith of the souls entrusted to his care. "We may call the father 'priest' and by that refer to his role as teacher of doctrine and morality and as leader of that spiritual community which is his family." If the man abandons that responsibility and privilege, "this can be disastrous since it makes the boys of the family susceptible to the argument they will undoubtedly hear later that 'religion is for women.'"
5. The role and dignity of the wife and the nature of her submission: The role and dignity of the Christian wife is a theme addressed by nearly every magisterial document in Chapter Two, as was also the case in the texts recorded in Chapter Three. Leo XIII, Pius XI, and Pius XII exhort the wife to embrace the Church as her model. (The importance of the wife as an image of the Church in Ephesians 5 was discussed in section 3 above.) As a result, Pius XI (Casti connubii), for example, states that the wife's submission does not come at the cost of her liberty or dignity, nor is it equivalent to the obedience children give to their parents. In addition, his concern about "exaggerated" or "false" liberty, which he addresses in two different parts of Casti connubii, is itself a reflection of his desire to protect the woman's dignity, even from what may be her own disordered inclinations. Sadly, many women are not aware of their dignity as Christian wives (e.g. as an image of Christ's Bride, the Church) and some even embark on a course that is self-destructive from the beginning of their Marriage. In his classic book This Tremendous Lover, published the decade after Casti connubii, M. Eugene Boylan writes, "The woman who marries, intending at all costs to retain her own career, or who absolutely refuses to be dependent on her husband, does not know the meaning of Christian marriage or even of true human love. If she is in love with anybody, it is with herself. Marriage means abandoning one's self to enter into a new life, shared with her husband." To the modern ear, Boylan's admonition may seem harsh, but he is sincerely encouraging women--as did Pius XI and Pius XII (Quando alcuni)--to avoid the temptations of this earthly life and to embrace instead the full beauty of the Sacrament of Marriage.
It is a widely-held error that freedom and service, or stated differently, love and obedience, are in conflict (cf. Bl. Edith Stein and Adrienne von Speyr). "It is a common mistake to imagine that love, with all its generosity and spontaneity, is opposed to obedience which we are apt to conceive as a somewhat harsh denial of freedom. Let us remind ourselves that our Lord commands us to love: 'Thou shalt love the Lord Thy God...and thy neighbor as thyself,' and that he insists on obedience as a condition of love: 'If you love me, keep my commandments.'" As some of the magisterial texts in Chapter Two indicate, all authority comes from God the Father, and all obedience is ultimately directed toward Him. Jesus Christ is Himself the exemplar of perfect obedience. Not only was Jesus obedient to God the Father, but He was also obedient to Mary and Joseph (Luke 2:51). Therefore, both the authority of the husband and the submission of the wife have a divine dignity, and both are a potential source of abundant grace.
Let us return briefly to the manner in which Leo XIII, Pius XI, and Pius XII consider the wife as the reflection of the Church, which St. Paul describes in his Letter to the Ephesians. In the context of Ephesians 5, the Church is not humiliated, but rather exalted by her union with Christ. Nevertheless, the Church's submission is the condition for that unity and exaltation. Given the Pauline parallels in Ephesians, the same condition holds true for the wife in Marriage. "Even Paul's notion of subordination can be viewed as an outgrowth of Christian liberty. Subordination in Paul is not a demeaning sign of slavery. It is in reality a cause of glorification because an individual, in giving deference, freely acknowledges the appropriate order of things." Submission and sacrificial love are forms of kenosis (cf. Philippians 2:7) which precede a subsequent elevation to glory. The model again is Jesus Christ. Of course, submission may sometimes be a trial or an "asceticism" for the wife (cf. Genesis 3:16), but it is never without merit. Pius XII affirms this point in Quando alcuni, and he continues by attesting to the fruit of the wife's sacrifices: the spiritual well-being of her husband and the strengthening of the Marriage bond. A wife's obedience to her husband is a sacrifice "in the sense that sacrifice is something to be made holy; something which is offered--often at her own immediate cost--for the infinite gain of her husband and herself united." Her example in love and patience will encourage him to grow in virtue and to resist vice, while her perseverance helps her grow in charity and holiness. Through her service to her husband, she tries "to live out in her own person that ideal life that she would wish to see in him...Thus her husband will come to look upon his wife as a mirror of Christian living."
In this context, we can observe the powerful and essential influence of the wife. A wife is not without her own authority in Marriage, especially when it comes to the salvation of her husband's soul (cf. I Corinthians 7:14,16). She becomes "the secret spiritual guardian of her husband's character." For the good of her husband's soul and for the good of the Marriage, the wife must use her influence (cf. St. Augustine). "A woman who expects and demands nothing of her husband is not the meek wife of the Beatitudes who shall possess the land. She is the weak wife who forfeits all that she ought to possess." Her dignified submission will have a salutary effect on her husband's spiritual life and on their Marriage in general. The alternative is most unfortunate. Boylan states,
The true woman rules by submitting; she humbles her husband by the generosity of her love. She strengthens him by her dependence, she builds up his character by throwing responsibility upon him; she is queen of his heart by her love. Now the woman who leaves her throne to do by masculine crudeness and guile what she cannot do by feminine love and tact, admits her own incompetence, and in the modern phrase, 'lets herself down,' very, very badly. Not only herself, in fact, but also her husband. Not only her husband, but also Christ. For in refusing to be subject to her husband or to be loyal to him, she is also refusing to be subject to Christ or to be loyal to Him. And her plans and achievements of this sort always go wrong in the long run; for she is working against God. The harm done by such a policy is incalculable.
Several magisterial texts urge that women not fall prey to immoderate cultural influences. As noted above, Casti connubii and Quando alcuni face this issue directly. Additionally, while acknowledging legitimate social advance for women in Poussees par, Pius XII warns women of the dangers of materialism. Paul VI takes up this same theme in Apres plus de, in which he also identifies the dangers of "masculinizing" or "depersonalizing" women. John Paul II devotes Mulieris dignitatem to the promotion of the dignity of women, and therein he rejects the "masculinization" of women as contrary to their dignity.
The wife concedes none of her Christian freedom or dignity by submitting to the authority of her husband, nor does she forfeit any of her authority over their children. Pius XI (Casti connubii) and Pius XII (Quando alcuni) state clearly that she is not compelled to obey her husband in anything at odds with right reason and the divine will. In fact, she owes her husband forthright advice, which he should seek, respect, and consider. Her submission is properly understood as "integration into an order" or "occupation of a place that is her own." This is the tone of documents like Casti connubii and Quando alcuni. The purpose of the husband's authority and the wife's submission, i.e. the purpose of the family order, is the ever-stronger union of the spouses. The wife is not humiliated when she humbly accepts her "post" in Marriage. The Church has always been the advocate and protector of woman's dignity, and neither Scripture nor the Magisterium could encourage anything to the contrary.
PART THREE: FINAL COMMENTS
In Mulieris dignitatem, Pope John Paul II writes that "although the Church possesses a 'hierarchical structure' (cites Lumen gentium 18-29), nevertheless this structure is totally ordered to the holiness of Christ's members." In the Church, God gives bishops and priests the vocation to be shepherds. They receive a role which differs from the rest of God's people, but they share the same personal dignity with all Christians. Bishops and priests serve dioceses and parishes in their capacity as the "head" of those communities of the faithful. The Pope himself is the "Servant of the Servants of God," but at the same time he remains the "Supreme Pontiff." John Paul II points out the purpose of all clerical authority: unity and holiness.
Vatican Council II calls the family the "domestic Church," and St. John Chrysostom says, "for indeed the house is a little Church." By way of an imperfect analogy, we can suggest that the "domestic Church" has a "hierarchical structure" similar to that of the institutional Church and for the same purpose. In the family, husband and wife enjoy equal dignity, but they have been given different functions by God for the good of their Marriage and family. Furthermore, the different functions of the spouses are manifested in the different gifts and dispositions they receive from nature and from God, and the preservation of those functions safeguards the dignity and equality of the spouses. Marriage is a communion of love--a communion of souls and bodies--without any confusion of roles. The unique gifts and dispositions of the spouses are ordered to the unity and holiness of the Marriage. This is true of the authority of the husband. God gives husbands authority to rule and lead their wives and children after the example of Christ: by sacrifice and, if necessary, suffering.
In calling for prayers prior to the Sixth Synod of Bishops, our current Holy Father stated that "the families of today must be called back to their original position. They must follow Christ." Pope John Paul II also says that "the pastoral nature of theology does not mean that it should be less doctrinal or that it should be completely stripped of its scientific nature." With that in mind, it seems clear that anything that bears on the holiness and fruitfulness of the union of husband and wife deserves faithful and forthright attention from pastors in the pulpit and in Marriage preparation. "To diminish in no way the saving teaching of Christ constitutes an eminent form of charity for souls," states Paul VI. The teaching of the Magisterium reviewed in Chapter Two indicates that the authority of the husband is a component of the sanctity of Marriage and part of the saving teaching of Christ.
The purpose of this paper has been to examine the nature and importance of the husband's authority in Marriage according to the Magisterium. To that end, we first studied the moral exhortations by St. Paul to husbands and wives found in Ephesians 5, which constitute much of the basis for the teaching of the Magisterium. The second chapter reviewed all of the significant magisterial texts concerning the husband's authority from the catechism that followed the Council of Trent to the catechism that followed Vatican Council II. The third chapter studied the work of nine important theologians whose work illuminates the magisterial teaching. The fourth chapter analyzed the substance of the magisterial documents. From that analysis arose five significant themes running throughout those documents with respect to the husband's authority: the role of nature; the complementarity of the spouses; the scriptural foundation for the husband's authority; further considerations concerning that authority; and the role and dignity of the wife.
Leo XIII (Rerum novarum), Pius XI (Casti connubii), and Pius XII (Quando alcuni) all clearly indicate that the magisterial teaching regarding God's plan for the family order, and specifically for the husband's authority within the family, is not and cannot be subject to revision over time (cf. Bl. Edith Stein, Hans Urs von Balthasar and Germain Grisez). It is something that God has willed for the good of the spouses. Through the use of reason, the hierarchy within the family can be discovered in nature. Revelation confirms that hierarchy. The husband's authority, like all true authority, is ordered toward service. In particular, the husband's authority--as the Magisterium teaches it is to be understood and exercised--serves the unity and indissolubility of Marriage, as well as the material and spiritual well-being of all family members. In both the order of creation and in the order of redemption, men and women are equal in personal dignity, but complementary in role or function.
The teaching of the Magisterium with regard to the husband's authority has been reasonably consistent for over 400 years. What may appear to be differences among various documents during that time are more accurately understood as changes in emphasis. Each epoch in salvation history brings unique challenges, and the Magisterium under the guidance of the Holy Spirit faces those challenges. In recent years, the dignity of women has received special emphasis. Yet there is no evidence to indicate that the Magisterium has abandoned its traditional teaching on the husband's authority, an authority closely united to the protection of the dignity of women.
If modern ears are jarred by St. Paul's call for wives to be subject to their husbands, it may be because they have listened to the message of those modern prophets who claim that service and freedom are incompatible. The Gospel, of course, joins service and freedom in the person and life of Jesus Christ, who came among us "as one who serves." (Luke 22:27). The Gospel also tells us that only the truth will make us free (John 8:32) and that genuine freedom comes from serving Christ by serving others. One reason that both Ephesians 5 and the magisterial texts in Chapter Two may sound discordant to the modern ear is that neither St. Paul nor the Magisterium emphasizes the "rights" of the spouses, but rather their obligations to serve and love each other.
One of the ironies of modern culture is that while things like abortion, contraception and no-fault divorce are believed by many to enhance the freedom of women, they are actually tools by which men enslave women. On the other hand, the divinely-appointed family order, of which the injunction "wives, be subject to your husbands" forms a part, is ignored or otherwise dismissed as the means by which men "put women in their place." "If the notion of the headship of the family is an impoverished one, emptied of meaning for many, that is but a testimonial to the degree of damage already done by the secular atmosphere in which we live."
Catholic scholar Janet Smith points out the beauty of the reciprocal way husband and wife influence each other, in accordance with their respective expression of human nature. "Mothers and children have a kind of primacy since all 'ruling' or work is to be done on their behalf. Fathers work to shape the world so that mothers may do their work well." St. Ambrose encourages the spouses in this manner: "Let a wife show deference, not be a slave to her husband; let her show herself ready to be ruled not coerced. She is not worthy of wedlock who deserves chiding. Let a husband also guide his wife like a steersman, honour her as the partner of his life, share with her as a joint heir of grace."
As we have seen, Ephesians 5 is the basis for much of the Magisterium's teaching on the nature of authority and submission in Marriage. When St. Paul looks at Marriage, he sees a "mystery" (Ephesians 5:32). From the book of Genesis, he quotes the verse that says that husband and wife become "one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). That verse from the Old Testament contains what--in Greek--Paul calls a mysterion, a word rich in meaning, including "God's long-hidden secret." Only now can the mystery be fully understood, St. Paul explains, because we can see that it refers to Christ and the Church. The natural union of bridegroom and bride foreshadows the supernatural union of Christ and the Church. The mystery, however, does not end there. Christ raised Marriage to a Sacrament, giving it a supernatural dimension. So on the one hand, the union of the spouses foretells the union of Christ the Bridegroom with His Bride, the Church. But on the other, the joining of Christ to the Church tells us something about the hidden meaning, the mysterion, of Christian Marriage.
The dignity and the joy of Christian Marriage rest on the fact that Christ allows the spouses to share in and to be a figure of His union with the Church. Just as Christ is the head of His body the Church, so is the husband the head of the "one flesh" he forms with his wife. Just as the Church is the exalted Bride and companion of Christ, so is the wife the beneficiary of the sacrificial love of her husband. Each spouse brings distinctive qualities to the Marriage for the good of their partner. Each depends on the other. Above all, their love imitates the bond which unites Christ and the Church, a bond of mutual love and self-denial.
As head of the family, a husband must love his wife "as Christ loved the Church" (Ephesians 5:25a). Furthermore, following Christ's example, a husband must also willingly and lovingly sacrifice his life for the good of his bride (cf. Ephesians 5:25b). The husband's authority, as the Magisterium repeatedly points out, is ordered to service: specifically, to the holiness and unity of the family. The husband's vocation calls for him to be submissive, as Christ submitted Himself to the Cross out of love for His Bride, the Church.
As the Church is subject to Christ so is a wife subject to her husband, not from a sense of obligation or constraint but out of love for him and the Lord (cf. Ephesians 5:22-24). The obedience of the Church to Christ is the guarantee of the Church's sanctification, and thus it becomes the archetype for the wife in her vocation to holiness. As a reflection of Christ's Bride, the Church, a wife does not have an inferior dignity. She is not a servant, but a companion, assisting her husband to fulfill his own vocation as she fulfills hers. Her devotion to her husband reflects the devotion of the Church to Christ her Redeemer.
A successful and fruitful Christian Marriage takes the Marriage of Christ and Church for its model. Prayer and the Sacraments will give the spouses the grace to understand and to embody more fully the mystery that Our Lord asks husband and wife to reveal.
Catechism of the Council of Trent. Translated by John A. McHugh and Charles J. Callan. New York: Joseph F. Wagner, Inc., 1952.
Quod apostolici muneris (encyclical on socialism, December 28, 1878). In The Papal Encyclicals, 1878-1903. Edited by Claudia Carlen. McGrath Publishing Company, 1981.
Arcanum divinae sapientiae (encyclical on Christian marriage, February 10, 1880). In The Papal Encyclicals, 1878-1903. Edited by Claudia Carlen. McGrath Publishing Company, 1981.
Diuturnum (encyclical on the origin of civil power, June 29, 1881). In The Papal Encyclicals, 1878-1903. Edited by Claudia Carlen. McGrath Publishing Company, 1981.
Immortale Dei (encyclical on the Christian constitution of states, November 1, 1885). In The Papal Encyclicals, 1878-1903. Edited by Claudia Carlen. McGrath Publishing Company, 1981.
Quamquam pluries (encyclical on devotion to St. Joseph, August 15, 1889). In The Papal Encyclicals, 1878-1903. Edited by Claudia Carlen. McGrath Publishing Company, 1981.
Rerum novarum (encyclical on condition of the working class, May 15, 1891). Boston: Daughters of St. Paul, 1942.
St. Pius X
Lamento ne piu (allocution to an Italian association of fathers, October 28, 1907), ASS 40 (1907), 670.
Casti connubii (encyclical on Christian marriage, December 31, 1930). In The Papal Encyclicals, 1903-1939. Edited by Claudia Carlen. McGrath Publishing Company, 1981.
Quadragesimo anno (encyclical on reconstruction of the social order, May 15, 1931). In The Papal Encyclicals, 1903-1939. Edited by Claudia Carlen. McGrath Publishing Company, 1981.
"Authority of Husband over Wife" (Quando alcuni, allocution to newlyweds, September 10, 1941). In Dear Newlyweds. Translated by James F. Murray, Jr. and Bianca M. Murray. New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1961. Also translated as "The Christian Wife" in The Woman in the Modern World. Selected and arranged by the Monks of Solesmes. Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1959.
"The Role of the Husband" (Non meravigliatevi, allocution to newlyweds, April 8, 1942). In Dear Newlyweds. Translated by James F. Murray, Jr. and Bianca M. Murray. New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1961.
"The Husband's Duties in the Home" (Gran fonte, allocution to newlyweds, April 15, 1942). In Dear Newlyweds. Translated by James F. Murray, Jr. and Bianca M. Murray. New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1961.
"The Role of the Wife" (Se la vita, allocution to newlyweds, February 25, 1942). In Dear Newlyweds. Translated by James F. Murray, Jr. and Bianca M. Murray. New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1961.
La solennita della Pentecoste (discourse on the 50th anniversary of Rerum novarum, June 1, 1941), AAS 33 (1941), 224.
"Woman's Duties in Social and Political Life" (Questa grande vostra adunata, allocution to Italian women, October 21, 1945). Catholic Mind, vol. 43, no. 996 (December 1945), 705-716.
"Fathers" (Un pelerinage de peres, allocution to fathers of families, September 18, 1951). In Matrimony. Edited by The Benedictine Monks of Solesmes. Translated by Michael J. Byres. Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1963.
"The Dignity of Woman" (Con vivo gradimento, address to a pilgrimage sponsored by the Federation of Italian Women October 14, 1956). The Pope Speaks, vol. 3, no. 4 (Spring 1957), 367-375.
"Woman and the Apostolate" (Poussees par, address to the World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations, September 29, 1957). Catholic Mind, vol. 55, no. 1137 (May-June 1958), 270-285.
Ad Petri cathedram (encyclical on truth, unity and peace, June 29, 1959). In The Papal Encyclicals, 1958-1981. Edited by Claudia Carlen. McGrath Publishing Company, 1981.
"Woman's Work" (Nous sommes particulierement, address to the Federation of Young Catholic Women, April 23, 1960). The Pope Speaks, vol. 6, no. 4 (1960), 329-332.
"Woman and Society" (Convenuti a Roma, address to several Italian women's associations, September 6, 1961). The Pope Speaks, vol. 7, no. 4 (1961), 344-346.
Flannery, Austin (ed.), Vatican Council II, The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents. Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1988.
"Importance of Women in Society and in the Church" (Apres plus de, address to the Study Commission on women, January 31, 1976). The Pope Speaks, vol. 21 (1976), 162- 166.
Humanae vitae (encyclical on human life, July 25, 1968). Boston: Daughters of St. Paul, 1968.
The Roman Missal. English Translation Prepared by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy. New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1985.
The Divine Office. English Translation Prepared by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy. New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1975.
John Paul II
Familiaris consortio (apostolic exhortation on the Christian family in the modern world, November 22, 1981). In Vatican Council II, More Post Conciliar Documents. Edited by Austin Flannery. Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1982.
Mulieris dignitatem (apostolic letter on the dignity of women, August 15, 1988). Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1988.
Christifideles laici (apostolic exhortation on the vocation of the laity, December 30, 1988). Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1988.
Pastores dabo vobis (apostolic exhortation on priestly formation, March 25, 1992). Boston: St. Books & Media, 1992.
"Pope John Paul calls for prayer for the Sixth Synod of Bishops" (Letter, August 15, 1980). L'Osservatore Romano English edition, vol. 13, no. 33-34 (August 25, 1980), 19.
"Unity of the family and respect for life" (Homily at Terni, Italy, March 19, 1981). L'Osservatore Romano English edition, vol. 14, no. 13 (March 30, 1981), 9-10.
"Reverence for Christ Is the Basis of the Relationship between Spouses" (General Audience of August 11, 1982). The Theology of the Body, Human Love in the Divine Plan. Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 1997.
Catechism of the Catholic Church. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1994.
St. Ambrose. Select Works and Letters. In Vol. X (Second Series), The Nicene and Post- Nicene Fathers. Edited by Philip Schaff. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1969.
Allmen, Jean-Jacques von. Pauline Teaching on Marriage. London: The Faith Press, 1963.
St. Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica. Translated by the Fathers of the English Dominican Province. New York: Benziger Brothers, Inc., 1947.
St. Thomas Aquinas. Summa Contra Gentiles, Book 3: Providence. Translated by Vernon Bourke. Garden City: Hanover House, 1956.
St. Thomas Aquinas. Commentary of Saint Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians. Translation by Matthew Lamb. Albany, NY: Magi Books, Inc., 1966.
Ashley, Benedict. Justice in the Church, Gender and Participation. Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1996.
St. Augustine. The Confessions of St. Augustine. In Vol. 1, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. Edited by Philip Schaff. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1956.
St. Augustine. City of God (De Civitate Dei). In Vol. 2, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. Edited by Philip Schaff. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1956.
St. Augustine. On the Holy Trinity (De Trinitate). In Vol. 3, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. Edited by Philip Schaff. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1956.
St. Augustine. On Continence (De Continentia). In Vol. 3, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. Edited by Philip Schaff. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1956.
St. Augustine. On the Good of Marriage (De Bono Conjugali). In Vol. 3, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. Edited by Philip Schaff. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1956.
St. Augustine. On the Morals of the Catholic Church (De Moribus Ecclesiae Catholicae). In Vol. 4, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. Edited by Philip Schaff. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1956.
St. Augustine. Tractates on the Gospel According to St. John. In Vol. 7, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. Edited by Philip Schaff. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1956.
St. Augustine. Sermons (1-19). Vol. III/1, The Works of St. Augustine. Edited by John Rotelle. Brooklyn: New City Press, 1990.
St. Augustine. Sermons (51-94). Vol. III/3, The Works of St. Augustine. Edited by John Rotelle. Brooklyn: New City Press, 1991.
St. Augustine. Sermons (94A-147A). Vol. III/4, The Works of St. Augustine. Edited by John Rotelle. Brooklyn: New City Press, 1992.
St. Augustine. Sermons (306-340A). Vol. III/9, The Works of St. Augustine. Edited by John Rotelle. Brooklyn: New City Press, 1994.
St. Augustine. Sermons (341-400). Vol. III/10, The Works of St. Augustine. Edited by John Rotelle. Brooklyn: New City Press, 1995.
Balthasar, Hans Urs von. "A Word on Humanae Vitae." In New Elucidations. Translated by Mary Skerry. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986.
Barbeau, Clayton. The Head of the Family. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1961.
Boylan, M. Eugene. This Tremendous Lover. Westminster, MD: The Newman Press. 1948.
Burke, T.W. The Gold Ring. London: Darton, Longman, & Todd, 1962.
St. John Chrysostom. "Homily XX on Ephesians 5:22-33." In Vol. 13, The Nicene and Post- Nicene Fathers. Edited by Philip Schaff. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1956.
Clark, Stephen B. Man and Woman in Christ. Ann Arbor: Servant Books, 1980.
D'Ascoli, Emidio. Family and Marriage. Translated by G.F. Pullen. Chicago: Scepter, 1961.
Ford, Patrick. "Paul the Apostle: Male Chauvinist?" Biblical Theology Bulletin 5 (1975), 302-311.
Grassi, Joseph. "The Letter to the Ephesians." In The Jerome Biblical Commentary. Edited by Raymond Brown, Joseph Fitzmyer, Roland Murphy. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1968.
Grisez, Germain. The Way of the Lord Jesus. Vol. 2, Living a Christian Life. Quincy, IL: Franciscan Press, 1993.
Hahn, Scott. "Priest as Father, Father as Priest." Sacerdos (April-June, 1996), 13-16.
Hauke, Manfred. Women in the Priesthood? Translated by David Kipp. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988.
The Holy Bible. Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1966.
Hope, Wingfield. Outlook on Marriage. New York: Sheed & Ward, 1946.
Knox, Ronald. It is Paul Who Writes. New York: Sheed and Ward, 1944.
LeClercq, Jacques. Marriage and the Family: A Study in Social Philosophy. Translated by Thomas Hanley. New York: Frederick Pustet Co., 1949.
Levi, Virgilio. "Man and Woman -- their roles in the Church." Review of Man and Woman in Christ by Stephen B. Clark. L'Osservatore Romano English edition, vol. 14, no. 4, (January 26, 1981), 18.
Lewis, C.S. The Four Loves. London: Fontana Books, 1963.
Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity. New York: Macmillan, 1952.
May, William E. "Marriage and Complementarity of Male and Female." Anthropotes (June 1992), 41-60.
Miletic, Stephen. One Flesh: Eph 5.22-24, 5.31, Marriage and the New Creation. Rome: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1988.
Neuer, Werner. Man and Woman in Christian Perspective. Translated by Gordon J. Wenham. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1990.
Pinckaers, Servais. The Sources of Christian Ethics. Translated by Mary Noble. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1995.
Ratzinger, Cardinal Joseph. "La donna - custode dell'essere umano." L'Osservatore Romano, vol. 128, no. 234 (October 1, 1988), 1.
Ratzinger, Cardinal Joseph with Vittorio Messori. The Ratzinger Report. Translated by V. Messori and Graham Harrison. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1985.
Rosmini, Antonio. Right in the Family. Vol. 5, The Philosophy of Right. Translated by Denis Cleary and Terence Watson. Durham, Rosmini House, 1995.
Sampley, J. Paul. 'And the Two Shall Become One Flesh': A Study of Traditions in Ephesians 5:21-33. Cambridge: University Press, 1971.
Simon, Yves. A General Theory of Authority. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1962.
Smith, Janet E. "Feminism, Motherhood and the Church." In The Catholic Woman. Edited by Ralph McInerny. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1991.
Speyr, Adrienne von. The Letter to the Ephesians. Translated by Adrian Walker. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996.
Bl. Edith Stein. Essays on Woman. Vol. 2, The Collected Works of Edith Stein. Edited by L. Gelber and Romaeus Leuven. Translated by Freda Mary Oben. Washington, DC: ICS Publications, 1987.
Thomas, John. Looking Toward Marriage. Notre Dame: Fides Publishers, Inc., 1964.
Vann, Gerald. Eve and the Gryphon. London: Blackfriars Publications, 1954.
Willock, Edward. "The Family Has Lost Its Head." Integrity, vol. 1, no. 8 (May 1947), 38- 46.
APPENDIX - EPHESIANS 5: 21-33
v21: Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.
v22: Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord.
v23: For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.
v24: As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands.
v25: Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
v26: that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
v27: that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
v28: Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
v29: For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church,
v30: because we are members of his body.
v31: "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one."
v32: This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church;
v33: however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.