"And Husbands, Submit to Your Wives"

Anthony Zimmerman
Letter to Homiletic and Pastoral Review
May 2000
Reproduced with Permission

Editor:The title "Wives, Obey Your Husbands" by Father Rengers (December 1999) is only half there. It needs to be completed with: "And Husbands Obey Your Wives."

Pope John Paul II, who knows Scripture and Tradition as well as any, teaches that, "in marriage there is a mutual 'subjection of the spouses, out of reverence for Christ,' not just that of the wife to the husband" (Mulieris Dignitatem, 24). This awareness, he continued, must gradually establish itself in hearts, consciences, behavior and customs. HPR should promote the awareness of mutual subjection.

The Pope explained, "All the reasons in favor of the 'subjection' of woman to man in marriage must be understood in the sense of 'mutual subjection' of both out of reverence for Christ." Mutuality under Christ's blessing makes marriages flourish.

The dynamics of mutual subjection, cooperation, service, and love of husband and wife yoked to each other as a couple, do not operate in a grid pattern like computer software. Characters differ, circumstances differ, cultures differ. Yet mutual submission works universally.

Marital union is comparable to conception: male and female gametes become one zygote, the first cell of the new baby. When a spermatocyte docks with an oocyte, God creates the soul and a baby springs to life. Neither of the gametes remains intact in the fused single cell. Neither dominates, neither recedes, as they meld into one.

Both gametes yield and both contribute. At syngamy the paired genes snap into bi-polar positions of dominance and recessiveness.

Differential genomic imprinting on male and female genes imposes essential new information upon what is already in place prior to syngamy. The complementarity of the male and female imprinting is essential for the embryo to achieve normal development as it activates the given genes in multi-linear sequences.

Genetic dynamics electrify genomes into concerted action. Couple dynamics build functioning families by give-and-take. Part is instinct, part is voluntary marriage building.

In a recent survey made in Japan, wives were asked what they wish for most when a child suddenly becomes ill. Is it a doctor, is it medicine, is it a local hospital? Most wives responded: "I wish my husband would come home." His presence would calm her anxiety, their mutual council would decide on what is best.

The stability of a family is established normally upon mutual submission of husband and wife to each other, not ideally upon a husband who is a loose cannon in the house.