Wives Should Be Submissive to Their Husbands
Father Shannon M. Collins, CPM
30th Week in Ordinary Time — Tuesday, Yr. II
"Wives should be submissive to their husbands as if to the Lord because the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is Head of the body the Church, as well as its Savior. As the Church submits to Christ, so wives should submit to their husbands in everything" (Ephesians).
1. In ancient Israel, a Jewish king named Ahab married a pagan Queen named Jezebel. Their union is a perfect example of how original sin infects and perverts even the institution of marriage. In the First Book of Kings, King Ahab desires a piece of land near his palace owned by a man named Naboth. This good man refuses to sell the land since it was his ancestral property — land that was part of his family heritage. King Ahab went away sad and filled with self-pity. Queen Jezebel notices the condition of her husband and finds out about Naboth refusing to sell his vineyard. Jezebel cries out, A fine ruler over Israel you are indeed... get up and eat...I will obtain the vineyard of Naboth for you. The Bible then tells us that she wrote letters using the King's seal. Jezebel, it seems, took the scepter of power, usurped authority and falsely condemned Naboth. She then announced to Ahab, Go on, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth... which he refused to sell you, because Naboth is not alive, but dead. Throughout her reign as Queen, Jezebel was anything but subject to her husband. And as for King Ahab, his unwillingness to practice his God-given authority — his shrinking from responsibility and giving the scepter into the hands of his wife — brought weakness and corruption to the family of Israel.
2. Since the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, a Jezebel spirit roams about the world seeking to convince women to usurp authority within the family — take the scepter from the man — while an Ahab-like spirit infects countless men causing them to flee from responsibility — shrink from exercising their God-given authority. The Revelation of God is very clear. Granted that men and women are equal in their human dignity, God has brought order to this equality: the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is Head of the body the Church. Remember that Adam was created first and then came Eve — First the head of the family was created and then the helpmate — created from Adam's side making Eve the heart of the human family. But then came sin and with sin infection within the divine institution of marriage.
3. In his First Letter to Timothy, St. Paul writes: It was not Adam who was deceived but the woman. It was she who was led astray and fell into sin. The devil did not seek to seduce Adam directly, but only indirectly through Eve. Adam was the head, but the serpent sought to chop off the head by means of the heart. I am convinced that Adam would have coldly dismissed the serpent — Get behind me Satan. As the head, he was focused on the goal of eternal life for him and the human family. Any obstacle that presented itself would have to be confronted and removed. But Eve talked to the devil — that was her first mistake. The heart should have turned to the head and asked direction. The head sees, the heart executes, carries through. But having been seduced, she took the forbidden fruit, ate it, and then offered it to her husband. Now it was Adam's turn. Here the father of the family, the husband failed to exercise his God given authority — Put the fruit down, Eve, he should have said. Adam could then have interceded for his wife — he could have acted as the mediator to bring down forgiveness. But no — he shrunk from his responsibilities — he hesitated — he flees his duty — he hems and haws — he procrastinates — he fails to lead. Though lacking eyesight, the heart can be very strong —although not meant to lead, the will can be quite powerful, even demanding. Eve took up an authority not rightfully hers — she guided Adam and Adam ate.
4. The key to restoring marriage — the key to defeat the Jezebel spirit and the weakness of Ahab is found in Ephesians: Wives should be submissive to their husbands as if to the Lord because the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is Head of the body the Church, as well as its Savior. As the Church submits to Christ, so wives should submit to their husbands in everything. The head should lead and guide — the head is visionary — it's where the eyes are. The heart, on the other hand, should execute, carry through — it's where the will is. Consider, for example, the marriage of St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Now Mary was immeasurably above Joseph — filled with grace. Her mind and heart were most pure. But Mary was not the head of the Holy Family. Her husband was. She would never, like Jezebel or like Eve, seek to usurp the scepter, assume the headship. And believe me, Joseph was not slow to exercise his God-given authority. When he received that dream — Take the child and his mother and flee into Egypt — Joseph lovingly and calmly led — Mary we're leaving Bethlehem now. And Mary did not fail to execute. The Jezebel spirit would have sought to usurp the headship — Come now Joseph, what sort of crazy dreams are you having now. We finally have some money, the gold of kings — we're out of that cave and finally into an apartment — you have a good job — the Child is the Son of David. He's meant to be in Bethlehem, the City of David. No, Mary immediately executes — she carries through — because she knows that Almighty God works through the head of the family. Mary lives and breathes that statement she made to the servants at Cana — DO WHATEVER HE TELLS YOU.
5. The Jezebel spirit and the weakness of Ahab is not just present in some marriages, but it is also present in some dioceses in the Church. You know, Fr. Corapi gave a retreat to our community a few years ago and I remember he once stated: There are Jezebels in the Church and Ahabs with miters on their heads empower them. Bishop Ahab, Fr. Ahab fail to exercise their God-given authority — churchmen hesitate — fleeing responsibility and duty and the family of the Church suffers. The key, again, to the restoration is for the head to be the head and for the heart to be the heart. There is nothing more wonderful to see than when a man leads, guides, and confidently directs. The woman is proud of her husband — that's my man. And there is nothing like a woman who fully executes the directives of the man. The greatest disciples — the best followers in history have always been women. Mary was the greatest follower of Jesus and St. Clare was the greatest disciple of St. Francis of Assisi. When a man willingly takes the lead and the woman willingly embraces his direction with her whole heart, the spirit of Ahab and Jezebel are exorcised for good.