Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish.
In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translation
One can argue that in contemporary society, Paul’s dictum that wives should be subordinate to their husbands is no longer tenable. This objection, however, overlooks the significance of Paul’s words of advice to husbands to love their wives in the way that Christ loved the church. The term “church” here does not signify an ecclesiastical institution presided over by pope and bishops, but rather the community of believers as the Mystical Body of Christ. Just as Christ offers his Body and Blood under the symbols of bread and wine in the Eucharist to his followers, so also husbands “should love their wives as their own bodies,” that is, give themselves wholeheartedly to the service of their spouses and children. As one Catholic layman remarked, a wife will usually have no trouble in allowing her husband to have the last word on important family decisions if she senses that he truly loves her and their children.
—Fr. Joseph Bracken, S.J. is an emeritus professor of theology at Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH.
A Couple’s Prayer
God of everlasting joy,
help us to find a new you in the face of routine,
to share our needs with an open heart,
to acknowledge when we have been wrong,
to forgive when we have been forgiven,
to love as your son Jesus taught us to love. Amen.