Posted by: littletoe | March 31, 2008


Just saying the “S” word is enough to get the hair on the back of any woman’s neck to stand on end, especially if she’s been in evangelical circles where she’s been beaten up with St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (5:22-24).

One of the women on the Catholic Spitfire Grill threw out this challenge to all the new Catholics who were received this Easter:

Why would a modern woman want to submit herself to her husband in today’s climate? Why would a woman wear a veil/mantilla in a Catholic Church? Why would a husband listen to a submissive wife? Why would a family submit to the traditional teachings of the Roman Catholic Church? It took years for me to decide that there may well something in this idea of submission… what do you fresh Catholics
full of new and abundant graces think?

What great questions! They are so good because they really cut to the heart of what it is to walk in Christ’s footsteps, being humble and putting others before ourselves. I also believe that the issue of submission is the point at which people convert to the Catholic Church. I read an article about how people convert and the author identified two major patterns. Either a person is initially convinced of the authority of the Catholic Church, submits immediately and works out any doctrinal issues he may have from the point of view that he is the one who needs to change, not the Catholic Church OR he converts through a process of arguing and studying doctrine by doctrine until he is finally convinced that the Catholic Church is right and he can freely submit to her teachings. Either way the conversion doesn’t happen until the submission happens.

In answer to to the first question, a “modern woman” would not want to submit herself to her husband. In my generation we have been taught that women are simply superior to men and we don’t need them, except as sperm donors when we think we might want to have children. Unfortunately, many men are now living up to the incredibly low bar that has been set for them. It makes me think of this quote from Archbishop Fulton Sheen:

To a great extent the level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood. When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.

But I digress….A modern woman would not want to submit herself to her husband, but a Christian woman would know that submission to her husband would be an act of obedience to Christ. For a modern Christian woman, taking this step of obedience requires a willingness to trust her fate to God. Many of us modern women live the illusion that we are in control of our destinies, completely denying that our fate is in God’s hands whether or not we choose to submit to our husbands. The choice to submit involves a HUGE amount of trust for the modern Christian woman.

Why would a husband listen to a submitted wife? Assuming he is Christian as well, I don’t think he could miss that her obedience causes God to look on her with His favor. I believe that when God favors you like that there is something very attractive in your soul. A Christian husband would respect the wisdom a wife who was so overtly obedient to her Lord and desire her counsel. I think this effect would be multiplied if the husband had the sort of wife to whom submission was difficult. If she managed to overcome her natural tendency to lead and require the submission of others to her, her ability to overcome that tendency would speak volumes to her husband.

Why would a woman wear a veil in a Catholic Church? Ahhh! A topic near and dear to my heart! I own a veil and hardly ever wear it because where I currently attend church many people find it insulting. I wear it on the rare occasions that I am able to go to the Latin Mass. My daughter is the only one who wears a veil at the mass we attend and she has suffered from some very unkind comments. It was simple for her: the Bible says women should cover their heads and it demonstrates our love, devotion and submission to Christ. QED. I believe that if I wore a veil I would be misunderstood and as of today, I’m not willing to risk that. Eventually I will either change my mind or I will change parishes.

Ultimately our willingness to submit in all these areas is a demonstration of our understanding that Jesus is Lord. When we submit we overcome our pride and truly begin to live as his disciples.



  1. Have an article on who wears the trousers on my blog you might find interesting..

  2. Move parishes – we are not that far and yet, there are enough women wearing veils that it is no longer uncommon or unusual for folks to see. We’d love to have you!

  3. Great post..

  4. Great post, love your blog.

  5. Jackie,

    So sorry it’s taken this long to update you on my blogroll. My spam filter was hiding you! You are officially un-spammed and updated. I’ll go check out that article.

  6. Hi Rachel, I found you over here 🙂

    “Why would a modern woman submit??

    A very interesting question and one I ask myself often but I am not a Catholic, although I am a member of the Anglican Communion. I am however submissive to my man. Why? I don’t know this is just how I have always been. It feels right to me, the natural order if you will.

    My submission is to my man alone and no one else. The only caveat being unless he requires it of me. You are right it does take a HUGE amount of trust. Trust is common topic in the community of submissives I belong to. Trust is earned. My lover, my man, my One has earned and continues to earn my trust daily. He always will it is just who he is. I know in my heart, my mind and my soul that he will always put my best interest first. It is at that point, when I knew this completely and unequivocally, that I was able to and chose to yield to him. Not a moment before.

    So yeah, I “get” submission. What I don’t understand is why modern women fail to see that neither sex is better than the other. We are simply different and complimentary to one another. And both manifestations of God. It’s funny because I don’t see feminism as a struggle for the acknowledged superiority of women. I see it as a struggle for the same basic legal and civic rights as our brothers, nothing more, nothing less.

    OK, I’ve written you another novella … sorry 

  7. Hi Isabel! Welcome to my other blog. LOL! I agree with your definition of what feminism should be and in 1976 I would say that’s what it was (sort of. Even then, I think some choices were “more equal than others”. Choosing to be a housewife/mother was a lesser choice, at least where I grew up.) It has changed now and that is why I no longer consider myself a feminist.

    No need to apologize. I like to read and am amazed every time some one takes the time to comment on my blog. Do YOU have a blog??

  8. Hi Rachel.

    Yes I do and it relates to my submission but I am hesitant to share. My gut is that you would have a hard time with where I come from on the subject.

    Then again I suppose I should let you judge for yourself. It’s not very fair of me to jump to conclusions is it? You have my email on your notifications. Drop me a line and I’ll forward you the link.

    And if I don’t “speak” to you before then Happy Thanksgiving!


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