Part 38 Obedience within Marriage?
Some would pretend that Paul did not say this, or that he did not mean it. They cite his opening verse: “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph 5:21) as though it undermines what he teaches about headship. This is unfortunate, since it introduces chaos into the familial society. For, to eliminate proper leadership is to introduce chaos.
For whom is chaos good? For the weak and vulnerable? For those who can be exploited by the powerful? No. Paradoxically, those who rebel against proper authority, as though it did not serve their good, are the most hurt. In our culture, who is the most hurt? Men who have no responsibility? Or women and children?
Theologians have thus introduced chaos at the disservice of women and children. We can even say that the Magisterium has, quite unfortunately, neglected to speak on this matter for whatever reason. The Magisterium has been silent on this matter for about 50 years. This silence has occasioned some to think that the Magisterium has reversed course, as though its established teachings could be jettisoned by silence. Hence, we need to return to the established teaching. We find it notably in two texts.
The great pope of immortal memory, Pope Leo XIII, teaches,
“The mutual duties of husband and wife have been defined, and their several rights accurately established. They are bound, namely, to have such feelings for one another as to cherish always very great mutual love, to be ever faithful to their marriage vow, and to give one another an unfailing and unselfish help. The husband is the chief of the family and the head of the wife. The woman, because she is flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone, must be subject to her husband and obey him; not, indeed, as a servant, but as a companion, so that her obedience shall be wanting in neither honor nor dignity. Since the husband represents Christ, and since the wife represents the Church, let there always be, both in him who commands and in her who obeys, a heaven-born love guiding both in their respective duties,” Arcanum, art. 11.