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Comments (13)

Katie van Schaijik

#1, Jan 8, 2014 8:38am

Sam, I'm sorry to have been so slow to respond.  We've been in transition from Austria to Holland.  But now we're settled for the next several months, so should be able to get more on top of things here at the site.

First, thanks for this interesting analysis!

I agree with you that the pater familias model is a historical inheritance involving a lot of genuine cultural goods.  The mater familias model seems artificial and unworkable in comparison.

I think it's important (since we're all about personalist philosophy!) to emphasize that "shared subordination" or "mutual submission" is not only given in the Bible and endorsed by, but "given" in philosophical reflection on the nature and dignity of women and marriage.

In other words, I don't think it would be right to suggest that a pater familias model that subordinates the wife to the husband is one valid option among others.

Rather, like slavery and serfdom, we have grown to recognize it as inconsistent with the full dignity of persons.

Samwise

#2, Jan 9, 2014 12:14pm

I think it's important (since we're all about personalist philosophy!) to emphasize that "shared subordination" or "mutual submission" is not only given in the Bible and endorsed by

 

Katie, If I understand the above sentence right: "given in the Bible and endorsed by"...the Bible? or Church?  I have to disagree that it is a given in the Bible and it has only endorsed by those Popes since John XXIII-.

Philosophically, yes, you're right and I agree with you that 'shared subordination' is a superior model to all others.  I don't think, however, that this can be argued from the text of the Bible alone--that is why I have included Roman history to give evidence of corruption

Certainly, the 'shared subordination' model is endorsed by the Church.  I believe that I have fairly reported on this fact in the write up, while at the same time admitting that it is not the most popular one. e.g. "he [Paul] also presented a higher way of charity in 'shared subordination' that more readily corresponds with the equal dignity of the baptized husband and wife before God" 

Any 'higher way of charity' is not going to be the most popular.

Katie van Schaijik

#3, Jan 9, 2014 12:30pm

I meant Church, yes.  

Since the Tradition is not static, but constantly developing, the fact that all the Popes since John XXIII have endorsed it means that the Church endorses it.

John Paul II finds "mutual submission" in the Bible, using primarily Ephesians 5 and Genesis 1-3.  

Here's an article by Catholic theologian and fellow FUS alum, John Grabowski, making the cae.

I don't get what you mean by "evidence of corruption."  Nor do I get how the historical evidence is relevant to the philosophical, theological and moral case.

Again, my contention isn't that "mutual submission" is the best among several options, but that it is the only fully adequate understanding.  In other words, it's the true understanding of Christian marriage.  All other models fall short of the calling we have in Christ.

Samwise

#4, Jan 9, 2014 2:20pm

Couple things, Katie--very applicable article by Grabowski--thanks!

1) I agree entirely with Grabowski and Markus Barth, but I wonder if you agree with them on quotes like this (which I have argued before): "This headship is to be exercised by taking the initiative and leading the wife into sacrificial self-giving, just as Christ did, even to the point of truly dying for her. In response to this, the wife is invited to freely choose, as a person equal in dignity and respect, to place herself at her husband’s disposal. With the church as her model, the wife is invited to respond as Christ’s bride does: with joyful gratitude for all that has been done for her."  Implying, of course, that the husband "places himself at her disposal/subordinates himself" as well

2) by "corruption", I'm referring to original sin's influence on marriage--which historically is very evident in "Greco/Roman/Judaic" culture: namely patriarchal domination vs. what I differentiate in St. Paul's higher way of charity=which is exclusive to the New Covenant.  Granted, I do say that the Church "accepted and singularly favored" paterfamilias until VCII--which is wrong according to Barth, Grabowski and as I see now, Leo XIII.  I will change that

Samwise

#5, Jan 9, 2014 2:33pm

final quotes from Grabowski:

"What should become clear, then, is that the church’s attitude of submission is a response to Christ’s prior initiative (laying down his life)...Modeled on the church, the wife’s attitude and disposition is also to be a response...If the wife is making a response, then, there necessarily must be an initiator, someone to whom she is responding...the true weight of the passage deals with the husband who is that initiator." --John Grabowski

Katie van Schaijik

#6, Jan 9, 2014 2:43pm

I don't agree with the term "headship" applied in marriage, or with the idea that the husband is the "leader" of his wife, or the "initiator," in the relationship, understood in prescriptive terms.  That is to say, I think in normal relations between husband and wife, the man typically leads and initates more often, because that's part of the gift of masculinity.  But I definitely would dispute the idea that there is an "ought" involved in his leading.  

Not infrequently, in concrete cases, the wife initiates and the husband ought to follow her lead—because she's way ahead of him and he realizes it.

Katie van Schaijik

#7, Jan 9, 2014 2:46pm

Similarly, we could say that it "belongs" to the intellect to "lead" the emotions.  But there are not infrequent cases when the best thing a "head" can do is "submit" to the intuition of the heart, which is deeper and more sensitive.

"The heart has reasons that the reason does not know."

Samwise

#8, Jan 9, 2014 2:47pm

Lastly, here are my changes:

While he recognized the paterfamilias model as acceptable to the unredeemed people of the Old Covenant, he presented a higher way of charity in “shared subordination” that more readily corresponds with the equal dignity of the baptized husband and wife before God.  Much less documentation and history exists on the harmonious and successful living out of marriage and family in this light, but the writings of every pope since John XXIII point in the right direction.  Prior popes share the same view as St. Paul, but their language can easily be misinterpreted to represent a more domineering excuse for husbands in marriage.

Leo XIII's Arcanum? is this why he's not canonized?:

The husband is the chief of the family and the head of the wife. be subject to her husband and obey him; not, indeed, as a servant, but as a companion, so that her obedience shall be wanting in neither honor nor dignity. Since the husband represents Christ, and since the wife represents the Church, let there always be, both in him who commands and in her who obeys, a heaven-born love guiding both in their respective duties.

Samwise

#9, Jan 9, 2014 3:05pm

Grabowski is very clear about his understanding of headship:

Christ is not depicted as a supreme example of male superiority over woman. Rather, the ‘husband’s’ function as ‘head’ is modeled after (and limited by) the measure of Christ’s headship. Thus, not an absolute, but only a very qualified role as ‘head’ is attributed to man.”

Because the headship (κεφαλή) of the husband is specified by his love (άγάπη), a love that must be willing to hand itself over (παρέδωκεν) for the beloved, I am treating these three words together in this section.

Samwise

#10, Jan 9, 2014 4:07pm

I don't agree with the term "headship" applied in marriage, or with the idea that the husband is the "leader" of his wife, or the "initiator," in the relationship, understood in prescriptive terms.  That is to say, I think in normal relations between husband and wife, the man typically leads and initates more often, because that's part of the gift of masculinity.  

 I partially agree, and I think Grabowski does too.  Your use of the word "prescriptive" is key, the equivalent term Grabowski uses is 'absolute' vs. 'qualified', that is to say IMO, the moment the husband abuses headship as a right, etc.  IT IS TAKEN AWAY FROM HIM.  But, so long as he serves his wife like Christ does the Church, he is 'qualified'

Katie van Schaijik

#11, Jan 10, 2014 5:22am

Samwise, Jan. 9 at 3:47pm

Prior popes share the same view as St. Paul

I don't know that we can say this.

We don't think Popes are infallible in all their opinions.  Nor do we think their opinions have to be prefect in order for them to be deemed saints.

Further, Catholic teaching definitely develops over time, and Catholics' understanding with it.

Edith Stein even remarks on what seems to her a clear development in Paul's own understanding between his earlier and later letters.  She says early in his ministry, when he speaks about women, he sounds like a Jew. Later, his understanding has deepened.

To me, it's clear that until fairly recently, practically all Catholics took it for granted that a husband is over his wife.  We thought that that was Christian teaching.  We've learned to see it differently now.

Our understanding of the implications of our Faith, for women, and for marriage, has grown dramatically in recent decades.  Thanks be to God.

Katie van Schaijik

#12, Jan 10, 2014 5:30am

My own understanding has definitely developed over time, both through the experience of marriage and through formal study of especially John Paul II.

I used to take it for granted that feminism basically boiled down to rebellion against God's design. I learned from JP II to see it as "substantially positive."  

I used to think that wives should definitely put themselves under their husbands' authority. I now think that false. I used to think that if a husband is domineering, the wife should still do her part by being submissive.  I now see that she has a duty, in love, to stand up for herself and resist his domineering tendency.

And so on.

Katie van Schaijik

#13, Jan 10, 2014 5:34am

And this is true not only between husband and wife, but between men and women generally. I have learned to think that it's very important for women to resist their own tendency to be too weak and servile vis. a vis. men.  We have to resist male condescenion.  

For women to become fully mature as persons typically involves a learning to stand up for themselves, just as for men, becoming fully mature as person means learning to put their strength in service of others.

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