I’ve gotta find my original copy of On the Dignity and Vocation of Women. So after Ruth gave me the copy I set it aside for a while. I got married, moved, started a new ministry and needed to have a more open heart. I needed to be ready to read what the Church’s teaching and accept it. For me about 3 years of marriage made that possible.
One of my biggest problems was this from Ephesians 5. For years what I read was that wives were less than, women are less than men. Yep. Most of us read Ephesians 5 that way. It’s easy to read it that way. And – what I heard from many well-meaning, loving, well-intentioned folks – is just that it seems that St. Paul doesn’t like women. We get stuck at “wives be subordinate”. That’s all we hear.
We don’t go forward, we don’t read beyond that. We stop. I stopped. I felt less than. Like I had a minor role, no decision-making, little or no say. And yet, going back to this after reading John Paul II’s Apostolic letter, something changed. I looked beyond. I read further. And I noticed something very, very important: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her”. Mmmm this is a deep, sacrificial, holy love. This is not a master/servant relationship. This is not “he’s in charge and gets to make the rules and tell her when to jump and how high”
This is love that is deeply respectful, a love that honors, a love that is ready to lay down his life for her. It’s sacrificial. This is a love that beholds the other, loving them for who they, calling them, wooing them to be more of who God wants them to be, whispering support and encouragement, helping the other to see where God is leading.
What I read now, hear now, know deep down within the depth of my being – we give all we have. We also have to accept all of the other person.
Over that first three +/- years of being married something changed. My perception of marriage and male/female relationships changed based on my experience. I was ready to read the Church’s teaching on women. I was blown away. It’s not what I’d heard. It’s not what I’d believed based on what I’d heard.
Memory time: So I’m reading the booklet/letter; my sweetie is driving and I’m saying, “Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness! Did you know this? did you know that?” Why yes, he did. He’d been showing me all along.
I don’t have a plan for going forward with this. I’ll take this journey step by step.