Some years ago I approached a priest about the difference in responsibility between man and woman, whereby men love their wives, and wives submit to their husbands.
I asked why I had not heard this taught for more than 50 years.
He answered, "We don't teach that any more."
So I said, "I know. That is why I am asking."
He said that it is an old Jewish custom, and did not apply these days. So I asked him to refer me to the Church document which cancelled it. He promised to look it up and let me know (I am still waiting, but of course there is no such document). Then I asked if the companion part about men loving their wives had been similarly cancelled. Apparently that is not an old Jewish custom.
God has appointed men and women to separate tasks. A man looks outside the home and earns a living for himself and his family. His wife looks inward and works in the home, cleaning and preparing food (It is a brave man who decides to rearrange the furniture). A man must take care of his wife and children. Provide food and clothing, keep them safe, and ensure that they have shelter. And this task takes all his time.
Can a woman decide to get a job outside the home, if her husband is capable of supporting her and the children, and against his wishes? Of course not. No wife has a 'right' to a career.
How serious is this commandment for wives to submit? Given that this is a direct order, repeated multiple times, a wife who knowingly and willing defies her husband would have difficulty convincing her divine Judge that she has committed only a venial sin. Wives must obey their husbands in all that is not sinful - this obedience is similar to that of a child to its parent.
Logic tells us that a priest who fails to teach this when such teaching is needed shares the responsibility (and the punishment) of a disobedient wife who has not heard this teaching from the pulpit or Catholic media. Similarly teachers in Catholic schools who are appointed to teach the faith and fail to teach the essentials to children.
Here is what the Church requires of us. It was considered so important to the apostles even in the days when we had no feminists that they felt compelled to repeat the warning over and over:
Gen 3:16: To the woman he said, "I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labour you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."
Eph. 5:24: “As the Church is subject to Christ, so also let wives be to their husbands in all things.”
1 Cor. 11:3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
Col. 3:18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the LORD.
Tit 2:3-5 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
1 Pet. 3:1-5 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behaviour of their wives, 2when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 5For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands.
The bottom line is that wives who make a habit of defying their husbands greatly endanger their souls. If their husbands want to share eternal life with their wives, they need to approach their parish priests to accept the responsibility they agreed-to when ordained, and start teaching the Catholic faith. All of it, not just the easy bits.
We urgently need a statement from our bishops confirming the true situation in marriage, where men love their wives and take care of them, and women obey and take care of their husbands and children.