The First Reading is controversial today because Paul tells wives to be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. People have used this to show the Church is anti-woman and oppresses woman. But is the Church anti-woman? Does the Church oppress women? We need to look at this passage carefully.
Paul begins with be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. Paul calls the Ephesians to submit to one another. But practically speaking, this is impossible because if everyone submits to one another, there will be chaos and nothing gets done. Paul then shows what submission is. Before continuing, let us talk about what submission is. Does submission mean inferior to someone? No. Do you need proof? Jesus and the Father are co-equal, yet, Jesus submits to the Father. Why does he do that? Out of love of the Father and if Jesus does not submit to the Father, where Jesus does what he wants and the Father does what he wants, there will chaos. Submission or obedience is needed to have order, because God is a God of order.
So when Paul tells wives to submit to their husbands, he is telling them to submit to their husbands not as someone inferior, but as someone who loves and respects their husbands. Paul also includes a criteria: as to the Lord. She is to submit to her husband as she will to the Lord. This does not mean she is to be his doormat. The Lord will not want anything bad for anyone. So if the husband abuses his wife or harms her or her children, she has the right to run for safety and seek help. Do not stay in a relationship where you are physically abused because it will get worse.
In return, St Paul tells the husbands: love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy. This is the expectation from the husband. The husband is not to lord it over his wife. Instead, the husband is expected to love their wife as Christ loved the church. How does Jesus love his church? By giving himself for her so she can be holy. This is what is expected from the husband: to be willing to give his life, to protect, provide and promote his wife. I use the word promote to mean, build her up, heal her, for the purpose of making her holy. The desire of the husband is the holiness of his wife so he will not abuse her or use her.
There will be times when both the husband and wife do not agree on something. That is normal in a marriage. In these cases, the husband must see to it, that the decision will lead to the holiness of his wife and children.
Both are responsible for building their family together with the husband leading the family. Society has emasculated men which is why we see many single mothers, men who are not willing to sacrifice for their wife and children. Man must take charge of the family, because it is a man’s role to protect the family. It is the man’s role to provide for the family. It is his role to build up his wife so she can be holy. This has nothing to do with being anti-woman. It has everything to do with God’s will. He gave men that role in the family and men should take on that role. Women, allow your men to protect you, provide for you and promote you to lead you to holiness. You are to be protected, not because you are weak, but because you are precious.
If you are a man, pray this: Lord, make me the man after your heart. Teach me to love you. Teach me to respect women. Teach me to be a man, strong, courageous and ready to do what is right. Make me the man you want me to be.
If you are a woman, pray this: Lord, give us men who will love you. Give us men who will lead us to holiness and fight against sin. Give us holy men who will give their lives for you.