Friday, March 18, 2011

Ephesians 5 and Feminine Dignity, Part 1

It's been a very long time since I've blogged here! But I've been active in the Catholic/Christian blogosphere in other ways, especially reading and commenting often on Leila's blog and my friend Sarah's blog.

However, fruitful discussions with my friend Mindy have prompted me to post here again!

Tomorrow, March 19, the feast of St. Joseph, Mindy is getting married. The 2nd reading in her wedding Mass is from Ephesians 5:21-33.

Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So (also) husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "For this reason a man shall leave (his) father and (his) mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church. In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband.

I have the honored task of reading this to the gathered assembly. I am so excited; not only is this one of my favorite passages from St. Paul, but especially because the priest has already told Mindy he will be expounding upon this passage with particular care in his homily. I can't wait.

Most of the first half of the passage is enough to raise the ire of any self-identifying feminist and quite a few people who wouldn't classify themselves as feminists. I will address the ones I imagine will the be the most objectionable, thought it'll take several posts because I want to really dissect them.

1)"Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ."

Right off the bat it's important to remember in the context of this passage, St. Paul is addressing both husbands and wives. Both have obligations and both have responsibilities. This is not a passage aimed at "Listen up, you women, as I teach you to be doormats." Subordinate to one another. What does that mean? Subordinate is a word composed of two roots: sub (meaning under, beneath) and ordinate (meaning orderly, ordered). Order is a good thing; the world is chaotic but thrives on organization. After the wedding, probably later this weekend, I will ruminate on on this opening statement a bit more. :-)

St Joseph, terror of demons, pray for us!