Marriage as Leadership and Submission
It’s important to read and think about views other than your own, especially if the disagreements are profound:
Many of our young people want to be ”wives and husbands” rather than simply ”partners” and in their weddings they come as ”bride and groom” rather than simply two individuals. They believe that expressing these differences, including different responsibilities, makes for a better marriage…
The biblical teaching is that the promise made voluntarily by the bride to submit to her husband is matched by the even more onerous obligation which the husband must undertake to act towards his wife as Christ has loved the church. The Bible says that this obligation is ultimately measured by the self-sacrifice of Christ in dying on the cross.
This is not an invitation to bossiness, let alone abuse. A husband who uses the wife’s promise in this way stands condemned for betraying his own sworn obligations. The husband is to take responsibility for his wife and family in a Christ-like way. Her ”submission” is her voluntary acceptance of this pattern of living together, her glad recognition that this is what he intends to bring to the marriage and that it is for her good, his good and the good of children born to them. She is going to accept him as a man who has chosen the self-discipline and commitment of marriage for her sake and for their children. At a time when women rightly complain that they cannot get men to commit, here is a pattern which demands real commitment all the way.
Secular views of marriage are driven by a destructive individualism and libertarianism. This philosophy is inconsistent with the reality of long-term relationships such as marriage and family life.
Referring to ”partners” rather than husband or wife gives no special challenge to the man to demonstrate the masculine qualities which he brings to a marriage.
Men have to accept the limitations imposed by a commitment to marry. Both husband and wife must exercise self-control and the acceptance of boundaries, although in ways which are somewhat distinctive. My greatest interest in the draft service the diocese has prepared is the high standard being proposed for men.
Christian conservatives in the United States often say that marriage must be between a man and a woman, simply as a matter of definition. What they really mean is something much more like the above, I think. To reduce the argument to a sound bite—as they have done—begs the question.
The above is not question-begging, however. It posits that a proper marriage necessarily entails a promise of leadership and submission, with a man and a woman respectively taking those roles. It’s interesting in part because it also relegates the question of children to its proper place: Children are a good thing that might come from a marriage, but the marriage is here said to be complete once there is a promise of leadership and submission, from a man and a woman, regardless of whether children are present.
That’s an empirical claim, and even apart from the Bible, it’s based on centuries of tradition. It’s thus a lot harder to refute. We may find it repugnant as a prescriptive claim for our own society, and I do. But demonstrating why it’s wrong requires more than an elementary course in logic.
Charity toward Christian conservatives would demand that we ignore the sound bite version and engage with the above. Or would it not?