One of the most common questions I am confronted with concerns the concept of the Church's teaching that the husband is head of his wife and the father is head of his family.

Firstly one must distinguish this headship from man's domination of woman that is the result of the fall (Gen. 3-granted this interpretation, which is not Roman Catholic, is skewed). Also, it must be emphasized that the perfection of a love for man's wife is in the sacrifice of himself for her, even as Christ offered himself for the Church (Eph. 5). Nevertheless, Christ does have authority over the Chruch, and the traditional understanding of this doctrine has been that a husband has authority over his wife: his headship does not consist solely in sacrificing himself. But what does this authority mean in practice, if it is not to become domination? Can he command her to do things, which she is then bound in conscience to do? What are the limits of this authority?

The headship of husband over wife is to be understood primarily in connection with the Mystery of the Church, the mystery in which Christ is the Groom of His Bride and the Head of His Body, the Church. This headship is not to be understood in terms of domination, which is an aberration from what God originally intended, namely, as Pope John Paul II has explained in his theology of the body, a communion of persons. Thus, this headship is not to be understood in political terms, but rather in exclusively marital terms, that is, in the context of the very love of husband and wife for each other, which is the sacrament of the Love between Christ and his Church. It is really only in the context of marriage that this headship can be truly understood. To attempt to reduce it to something else or to understand it in political terms is already to misunderstand it.

There is a modern revivalist movement sweeping acroos the USA. The key idea being taught/preached/practiced is that of a wife's total submission to her spouse. If her husband says jump off a bridge, these women will do it. This is no joke, I believe it was 20/20 where I caught this and one woman interviewed said she would do just that!

Although not a Roman Catholic movement, it is important for me to point out the extreme nature of literal interpretation and why it should be never be done or if so with absolute caution. Biblical exegetes, and theologians go to univeristy for at least 8 years, often more, and are well trained in the language of the Bible. To pick it up one day, read it and take from it as one will is often detrimental as is witnessed with this movement.

The faulty interpretation of this idea will only send humanity back into the dark ages.

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