Aug. 29 at 4:39pm
Here are three things we all agree on about marriage:
1) Men and women are different, and importantly so. The sexes are not interchangeable. The "genius" of masculiinity and feminity shape the roles of husband and wife. Wives want their husbands to be men; men want their wives to be women.
2) Authority is not bad. It does not imply metaphysical or moral superiority. (The modernist rejection of all authority is the cause of much misery and moral confusion in the world.)
3) It's never okay to "Lord it over" another person, or to be domineering. Whatever authority a person has should be exercised in a virtuous, Christilke way, viz., in service of others.
Here is what is in dispute: Whether husbands have authority over their wives. Clearly, they did historically. Do they still? I think the answer is no.
To see better what I mean, consider the following examples of true authority:
I have authority over my young children. If I tell them to do something, they ought to obey me, even if they don't understand or agree with my instructions. They ought to obey me even I issue those instructions in an unloving, too-domineering way.
A soldier is responsible to obey his commanding officer, even if he thinks that officer's command is a bad idea, even if he thinks he will be killed doing it. Unless what is being commanded is immoral or illegal, it is his duty to obey.
A religious sister has to obey her superior, even if she thinks her superior is in the wrong. Suppose a nun thinks God wants her to write down her mystical experiences. If her superior (who is maybe motivated by jealousy) tells her to instead undertake kitchen duties, then she must do as her superior tells her. It is through that superior that God's will for her is revealed.
Is it similarly a wife's duty to obey her husabnd? Is God's will for her revealed through his authority over her? Suppose a wife wants to go to join a book club, or volunteer her time to do pro-life work, or spend some hours every day developing her talent for music or art. Does she have to ask her husband's permission? Would it be okay for him to forbid her to do any of these things?
Suppose he even forbids it in a gentle, loving way: "Even if you would enjoy those things, honey, I've decided that they wll take away too much time from your other duties, so, I'm sorry. The answer is no."
What we would think of a man who talks to his wife that way? Would we want to explain to the wife that even though she thinks her husband is wrong, she must obey him? After all, Ephesians 5? Or would we want rather to tell the husband he's got it all wrong. He's his wife's husband, not her boss. It's for him to love her as his life's companion, not to assign her duties.