The Differences Between “Classical” and “Traditional” Christian Marriage

Prompted by my post What We Mean By Marriage, several of my readers have asked what the differences were/are between “Classical” and “Traditional” marriage. This post aims to help my readers understand the differences between the two. I should mention, before I go any further, that the terms “Classical” and “Traditional” Christian marriage are my own. They are not drawn from any other source, merely the names I have assigned to the respective notions of marriage as I understand them. So it is doubtful that they will match up with anything you have seen elsewhere in the ‘sphere or on the ‘net.

To begin with I am going to recap the main features of both “versions” of marriage. Keep in mind that these are the religious definitions/understandings of marriage, not the way that the State understood marriage. Lets start with “Classical” Christian marriage:

  • A holy union between a man and a woman which is joined together by God, bound by him and their oaths
  • The purpose of marriage is to serve God, avoid sexual immorality and to raise Godly Children
  • A clear hierarchy in the marriage structure: husband->wife->children
  • Binding for Life- the marriage lasted until one party died, with only rare exceptions
  • Spouses may not deny each other their conjugal rights
  • Contraception was a defilement of the marriage bed
  • Clearly defined roles for husband and wife- both worked, although often in different capacities

Now we move on to “Traditional” Christian marriage:

  • A holy union between a man and a woman which is joined together by God, bound by their oaths to each other
  • The purpose of marriage is to raise Godly children, as well as to civilize men and allow women to achieve their dreams of motherhood
  • Recognition of the marital hierarchy, but often accompanied by exemptions and caveats
  • Binding for Life- marriage is still supposed to be for life, but there are more “outs” available now
  • Spouses are not supposed to deny each other their conjugal rights, but there are exceptions/exemptions
  • Contraception is generally a bad thing, but sometimes may be necessary
  • Clearly defined roles for husband and wife- the husband works and provides, and the wife raises the children and keeps the home.

Before I talk about the differences, lets cover what they have in common. The first bullet point, while worded differently, is essentially the same between them. Both have the understanding that marriage is a holy union between a man and a woman that is joined together by God, and bound by their vows. Both also generally hold to the same idea that marriage is binding for life. Traditional marriage has more “outs” available- as divorce generally wasn’t available at all under Classical marriage. But otherwise they both had the same concept of marriage being for life.

Both have fairly similar views when it comes to denial of conjugal rights and contraception. Traditional marriage tends to be more “forgiving” of contraception, or at least attempts to try and limit the number of children (through whatever means were available). As for conjugal rights, again, they were not supposed to be denied. Perhaps the biggest change is that such matters were considered inappropriate topics of debate/conversation. As such, they were mostly swept under the rug.

This brings us to the differences. There are three areas where they diverge: the purpose of marriage, the nature of the marital hierarchy, and the roles of husband and wife. I will cover them in order.

A.

Here is a restatement of both of their views on the purpose of marriage:

  • Classical Marriage: to serve God, avoid sexual immorality and to raise Godly Children
  • Traditional Marriage: to raise Godly children, as well as to civilize men and allow women to achieve their dreams of motherhood

They both mention raising Godly children, as that component of marriage didn’t really change between the two iterations. So it will be skipped over for now.

As you can see, Traditional marriage doesn’t mention serving God and avoiding sexual immorality. I didn’t include them principally because those two components of classical marriage had dwindled in importance by the time traditional marriage showed up. It isn’t so much that they aren’t present, but rather that they were considered less important than the new components found in traditional marriage. Serving God, which I think under classical marriage was much more overt, is under traditional marriage more of an implied thing. Everyone sort of assumes it, but it doesn’t have the prominence it did before. Also, controlling sexuality and avoiding sexual immorality has receded as well. Sometimes it is mentioned and discussed, but more often than not it is skipped over. This is in part because discussions of sexuality tend to be considered “inappropriate” in many circumstances, and just aren’t talked about. And when sex is talked about, it is almost always in the context of lust and sinfulness, and not so much about how sexuality is a good thing in marriage. Actually, as I think on it, I might want to re-word classical marriage’s wording from “avoid sexual immorality” to something more positive, such as “provide a healthy, ordered and moral outlet for human sexuality.”

This brings us to the new components of traditional marriage, “civilizing men” and “allowing women to achieve their dreams of motherhood.” Both of these components are ones that I believe are “baked in” to the common understanding of what “traditional” marriage is. By that I mean that people just instinctively believe them to be true. They may not be “official” teaching, but they might as well be.

When it comes to men, marriage is perceived to “civilize” them, mostly by forcing them “to be responsible” by starting a family and supporting it. While it is true that marriage imposes a considerable amount of responsibility on men, the notion that it civilizes them is absurd and has no basis in Scripture (or Catholic/Orthodox Tradition). In my view this component acts in many ways to infantilize men (or at least portrays them that way), because it impliedly argues that a man needs a woman in his life in order to keep him in line, i.e., civilized. It is inherently misandristic [by the way, what does it say about the world when WordPress recognizes Melisandra as a word, but not misandry?]. I would in fact argue that this component of traditional marriage is one of the first manifestations of feminism within Christianity [feminism being far older in origin than many suspect, but that is a topic for a later post].

Now to women. It seems to me that in “traditional” marriage there is a belief that women are entitled to marry so that they can have children- basically that marriage allows them to fulfill their “higher calling” as mothers. What concerns me about this perspective is the implication that women are “owed” marriage and “owed” children, when in fact marriage is a calling from God (what we Catholics call a Vocation), and children are a blessing from God (not something we are owed). Again, it seems to have this vibe of “female primacy” within it that looks an awful like the Feminine Imperative at work.

Summed up, and put crudely, traditional marriage contains the implicit understanding that marriage makes men less bad and women more good.

B.

The marital hierarchy in classical and traditional marriage is very similar, at least on paper. Both recognize wifely submission and headship by the husband. One minor difference is that traditional marriage is less likely to recognize that God is the true head of the marriage, such that you get God -> Husband -> Wife -> Children in order of authority (something I should have included in my description of classical marriage).

What I think is the real difference here is the belief that the husband should not be involved in some spheres of influence or authority. This is heavily influenced by the understanding of the roles of husband and wife in traditional marriage, which I will talk about in greater depth in the next section. Under traditional marriage the basic idea is that since women (wives in this specific instance) are better at certain things than men are, they should be given free reign to carry out those activities. In other words, while men are still technically the “head” of the marriage, they have limited to no authority over certainly “wifely duties.” Child-rearing is the most obvious example of this- wives need to be the ones to primarily raise children, especially young ones, because they are so much better at it and husband just need to accept that this isn’t something they can question. There are other fields within the marriage that are treated the same way. Essentially, the authority of the husband is curtailed “for the good of everyone” in certain areas, because the wife is better suited to handle them.

This is a usurpation of the authority of the husband, all dressed up in language that makes it seem like it is beneficial for the marriage. Given this early chink in the armor of submission, it really shouldn’t be a surprise that “mutual submission” worked its way into the mainstream of Christian thought.

C.

Lastly, we come to the roles of husband and wife within marriage. Here is what I wrote before:

  • Classical Marriage: Clearly defined roles for husband and wife- both worked, although often in different capacities
  • Traditional Marriage: Clearly defined roles for husband and wife- the husband works and provides, and the wife raises the children and keeps the home.

The real change between the classical and traditional marriage understanding of the role of the spouses in the household is found in the role of the wife. Under both the role of the husband is essentially the same, as the husband protected the family and worked to provide for it.  On the other hand the perceived role of the wife made a dramatic, although difficult to notice, shift during the transition between the two.

The home was/is the primary locus of the wife’s activity under both classical and traditional marriage. Yet what they did, what they were supposed to do, and what they were expected to do is not the same. The best way that I can explain it is that under classical marriage there were/are “Work at Home Moms”, while under traditional marriage there were/are “Stay at Home Moms.” Under classical Christian marriages wives were expected to be economically productive, just as men were. Proverbs 31 is an excellent example of this, for it lauds a wife who brings profit to her household. Anna, the wife of Tobit in the Book of Tobit, did “women’s work” to provide for her family .They might not be expected to, or capable of, providing for a household like the husband (and in fact couldn’t/can’t for some pretty obvious reasons), but wives/mothers still provided for the family. Of course, they still reared children and maintained the home, but that was all part of their general duties towards the household. However, under traditional Christian marriage the wife is often not seen as being required to economically support the family any longer. She fulfills her duties merely by raising the children and “keeping” the home. I suspect that upper-middle class and upper class attitudes were in large part responsible for this. Because of their relative affluence, wives no longer had to work to support the family, and keeping them at home became a status symbol.

 

Over time this altered the perception of what women were required to do in marriage. My suspicion is that early forms of feminism encouraged this change in perception, as it effectively reduced the burden on women and put more of it on men. It represented another shift in how a Christian marriage was supposed to be.

Again, these distinctions between “classical” and “traditional” Christian marriage are mostly in how people understand marriage, not in how those “versions” look when applied. It is based on perceptions and assumptions of everything that Christian marriage entails. There are many reasons why a wife might not be able to economically support the family in some way, but that is different from her believing that she doesn’t have to support (or bring benefit to) the family if it was viable for her to do so.

That brings this post to its conclusion. I hope that I answered most of the questions about the differences between  “classical” and “traditional” Christian marriage that my readers had. If not, ask away in the comments, and I will try and answer as best as I may.

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28 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Churchianity, Feminism, God, Marriage, Men, The Church, Women

28 responses to “The Differences Between “Classical” and “Traditional” Christian Marriage

  1. femininebutnotfeminist

    Thank you for clearing some things up Donal.

    As for the differing roles of wives, it could probably be summed up like this: understanding of duty/responsibility/pulling your own weight (classical) vs. a feeling of entitlement (traditional).

    I would like to add that when a wife should help provide, that doesn’t mean she has an excuse to abandon her babies at daycare while she climbs the corporate ladder. Rather, she finds ways to bring in quote unquote “extra money” by doing things from home. I know a woman who would babysit others’ kids on occasion when the families needed it, up to 12 families (not all at once) for pay. I think I read somewhere where Elspeth said she sold homemade baked goods for a while (please correct me if I’m wrong Elspeth). There are a million + different ways to earn money from home, many of which won’t require a considerable amount of extra time to do, which is necessary if you have a bunch of little ones taking up much of your time. The trick is finding something you’re good at and finding a way to utilize it.

    Also, if I understand correctly (please correct me if I’m wrong Donal), in traditional marriage women think they have all of the responsibility and power of raising the kids. But in classical marriage, men do much of the teaching (aka, raising) of the kids when they are a little older (say, past the toddler stage), which could free up a little bit of time for a wife to do some of those “odd jobs” to help in providing.

  2. @ FBNF

    understanding of duty/responsibility/pulling your own weight (classical) vs. a feeling of entitlement (traditional).

    For traditional marriage, it isn’t just a sense of entitlement. It also had class elements thrown in, which used a non-working wife as a status symbol. A sign of affluence. LMC and working class women worked in the past when their UMC and UC peers didn’t (part of the reason why classical marriage lasted longer in the lower classes for a while, although once that collapsed they suffered the greater for it than UMC and UC women).

    I would like to add that when a wife should help provide, that doesn’t mean she has an excuse to abandon her babies at daycare while she climbs the corporate ladder. Rather, she finds ways to bring in quote unquote “extra money” by doing things from home.

    It is a combination of two things, as I see it: 1) finding ways to raise more money through services and goods, and 2) finding ways to cut costs. If raising a vegetable garden saves the family $1000 a year in groceries, then that is like increasing the family income by a like amount (without factoring in taxes). There is a lot to explore in that area, but it is probably outside the general coverage of my blog. At least for now.

    Re: teaching- it was a joint affair, or at least, husbands were at least somewhat involved. Usually daughters were mostly raised by mothers and sons mostly by fathers. The big thing though was attitude- the notion that “this is a woman thing, not a man thing.” That seed of rebellion germinated over time and grew to what we have now.

  3. Have you read Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical letter Arcanum? If you haven’t, I think you should. It undertakes a similar project as yours, to give a history of marriage.

    Good point, I think, about the civilizing hypothesis as an early manifestation of feminism. Do you have any respected writers who have made the same point? It strikes me as that kind of idea that would have had opponents.

    “while men are still technically the ‘head’ of the marriage, they have limited to no authority over certainly ‘wifely duties.'” This sounds plausible, but do you have some evidence of this as a common view?

    Also, when do you take historically to be the time of transition between the classical and traditional positions?

    You make a separation at the end between how people understand marriage and how they apply those understandings. Those two seem to me to be deeply connected, and even to explain much of the degeneration beginning with ‘traditional’ marriage – by working out the implications of faulty principles. Would it be accurate to say that a marriage is concretely ‘traditional’ rather than ‘classical’ if the wife understands all her authority in the family to be delegated from the husband, even if the roles are the industrial-age standard? Yet couldn’t a marriage could be defective in the classical sense if the roles were *very* different? Is there more we can say about which roles are essentially feminine/masculine?

  4. mdavid

    FBNF, Rather, she finds ways to bring in quote unquote “extra money” by doing things from home.

    I think it far more important for a spouse to save money by doing work at home rather than bringing in extra income. Home work = real savings. Cutting hair, educating & caring for children, cooking from scratch, cleaning, shopping, paying bills, doing taxes, tailoring & repairing clothing, laundry, and fixing things (computers, painting, sticking doors, etc.). All this is probably worth more at least $15k per year, tax free. That’s real money. And quality of life? Can’t put a price on that. A wife is a serious economic asset for me.

    But this goes for breadwinners too. Even when working a full time job one can still fix cars, do plumbing and major home repair work like drywall or roofing, do finances, hunt and fish (not for sport but to bring in real food), and so on. I would estimate non-paid, tax-free labor by a man is worth even more than a SAHM. Everyone benefits economically from a properly focused marriage.

    I think the changing of the marriage roles from trad to classic to modern has much more to do with economics, public school, and Jane Austen style thinking than religion. The family that slaves together, stays together :-).

  5. Neguy

    A couple quick points since I’m pressed for time.

    1. Contemporary Protestants tend to emphasize Paul’s teaching from Ephesians that the marriage is a type of the relationship of Christ and the Church. Thus the purpose of marriage is to be a light and witness to that. It’s about modeling Christ and the Church in the world.

    2. I don’t fully understand the Catholic sacramental view of marriage, but clearly marriage is, like the cultural mandate, a universal gift to mankind, not a specifically Christian institution as such. I think something in your writings on the topic miss this broader context.

  6. Elspeth

    Excellent post, Donal. There was one thing I thought should be expanded on.

    Both FBNF and mdavid touched on what I was thinking. The current economic model really doesn’t make it as easy for a woman to earn money from home as it did during the era when the classical model was the norm. This especially true if the couple has a lot of children and are home educating.

    Just as Christian men make a point of hammering home that Christian women need to get up to speed with the current MMP, in the same way Christian men need to understand that they need to get up to speed with the new economic reality.

    Unless you choose a homesteading/agrarian lifestyle, you’re probably not going to have a woman who can with any degree of competency give birth every other year for 10-12 years, keep house, homeschool, and run a business without a fair amount of outside help. Which you’ll have to pay for until you have children old enough to contribute labor.

    Yes, I did run a home business that earned a fair amount of money for what it was, and I hope to do so again. But what happened is that I got to be so busy that there were things my husband prioritized more that were going undone. Then we got pregnant with #4 and we pulled my plug. I had to move from making money to being much, much better at saving money.

    Of course, my husband has always declared that he would rather we be content with our daily bread than have our family in turmoil for a few extra dollars. Thankfully, we haven’t often had to make that daunting choice.

  7. @ Nicholas

    No, I haven’t read it. Will add it to the list of things I mean to read.

    Good point, I think, about the civilizing hypothesis as an early manifestation of feminism. Do you have any respected writers who have made the same point? It strikes me as that kind of idea that would have had opponents.

    Off the top of my head, no. Part of the problem is that this was such a subtle change most would have missed it at the time. Only looking back at the vast changes to marriage make it so we can tell what happened.

    I will try and find out if there were some. Also, I will look for evidence about men being discouraged or disallowed from meddling with “women’s business.”

    Also, when do you take historically to be the time of transition between the classical and traditional positions?

    I can’t give a precise time. It was a gradual shift, with different changes occurring at different times. You can see the first traces of it in the upper classes in Europe, as for the era, I would say post-Reformation/Renaissance.

    Would it be accurate to say that a marriage is concretely ‘traditional’ rather than ‘classical’ if the wife understands all her authority in the family to be delegated from the husband, even if the roles are the industrial-age standard?

    No, I think that would be classical. Traditional marriage was influenced by human tradition (hence my name for it) that was shaped by culture. What separates that component of marriage is not so much what the wife does, but why she does it.

    Yet couldn’t a marriage could be defective in the classical sense if the roles were *very* different?

    Possibly. Would have to be a case specific analysis though.

    Is there more we can say about which roles are essentially feminine/masculine?

    Yes there is, but I want to familiarize myself with some older works first before commenting on it more. Assuming time perhaps, of course.

  8. @ mdavid

    I think the changing of the marriage roles from trad to classic to modern has much more to do with economics, public school, and Jane Austen style thinking than religion. The family that slaves together, stays together :-).

    That is the thing- culture and the environment shaped human tradition, which then carried over to society’s religious understanding of marriage. Essentially, the shift in marriage from classical -> traditional -> conservative -> progressive is all about increasingly greater cultural/social influences on the religious understanding of marriage.

  9. @ Neguy

    1. Thanks for providing that perspective.

    2. I didn’t miss it, I chose not to address it. My focus with this post is on how Christians understood marriage, and in the previous post also how the state viewed it in the West.

  10. @ Elspeth

    I agree that times have changed, and that earning money from the home isn’t as easy as it used to be. mdavid is right that saving money is the right path to take. However, I felt that was going beyond the domain of this post, and would be better treated by a separate one.

  11. Elspeth

    However, I felt that was going beyond the domain of this post, and would be better treated by a separate one.

    I understand. Apologize for the derail.

    I was actually going to remain silent but since a couple of other commenters had already opened the door a crack, of course I just kicked it on in, LOL.

  12. No apologies necessary Elspeth. It was a good point to make that I had started to address, but cut out because I thought it would detract from the overall point of the post.

    Sounds like there is some demand for a separate post, so I might start on one. Although this topic seems to be one that would really favor a community approach, with everyone submitting their ideas on how to be a “Work At Home Mother” in the present environment.

  13. Elspeth

    Perhaps I will address it on my blog briefly.

  14. femininebutnotfeminist

    @ donal and mdavid,

    Good point about saving money being important. I considered mentioning it myself but changed my mind because I wasn’t sure it was *technically* a form of provision. I agree that it would be awesome to have a separate post on that where people could throw their ideas out there.

    @ mdavid,

    Didn’t you link to a book on a thread somewhere that shows how to live the lifestyle you speak of? I don’t remember which thread it was on… what was it called again? (If it wasn’t you I appologize for the mix-up…)

    @ donal and/or all,

    I don’t take credit for this idea, it was given to me by someone else and I figured I would throw it out there…. the idea is that a woman continues to work for the first year or so of the marriage until the first baby is born, putting all of her take home pay (apart from tithing money of course) into a 401k/retirement account. This would of course grow exponentially to a pretty good amount of money by the time you reach retirement age. Since doing this only until baby #1 is born wouldn’t interfere with Motherly duties, could it still fall under the “classical” model?

  15. Donal: yes, I inverted the two adjectives by mistake. What older works do you mean to study?

    Also, I think the development of age of consent laws make a good indicator for these different attitudes towards marriage, though I know very little about them myself. Just that they began originally at ages of 10-12, were increased at first due to arguments about physiological maturity, and then much more (crucially, I think) due to arguments about psychological maturity, in the early 20th century. This is already an obvious precursor to the modern idea of marriage as the climax of many years of immaturity and then ‘self-determination,’ which I’d link with the “civilizing men” and “achieving dreams” purposes of ‘traditional’ marriage.

  16. I decided to do an overview of the relevant sections of Arcanum, the 1880 encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on Christian marriage. (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/leo_xiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_10021880_arcanum_en.html)

    In 5-10 we have the early history of marriage. He begins with man in the garden and the holy, good state of marriage as it was first created, with its marks of unity and perpetuity. Then, he details its later corruption among the Jews, with the introduction of polygamy and divorce, and among the Gentiles, with even greater defects. Christ reestablishes marriage in holiness and makes it a likeness of His union with the Church, connecting it with heavenly things. Before, he says, its purpose was the propagation of the race; now, it is also so that “a people might be born and brought up for the worship and religion of the true God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” (I admit that when he calls unjust some of the powers of the paterfamilias in 7, it gives me pause. But I don’t think it’s for any good reason.)

    In 11, he discusses the roles in Christian marriage. This part has a very neat presentation of wifely subjection, relatively intelligible to the modern ear – I enjoy surprising progressive Catholic friends with it. I do not know if much should be made of the reference to “feelings” (in Latin, affecti, meaning affections, fondnesses, compassions) – to speak of a duty to feelings seems at best just a sentimental flourish. 12 gives the duties of and to children. 13 and 14 resume history, discussing the suppression of attacks on marriage in the early Church.

    15 is interesting. We see freedom of not only men, but women, asserted over their fathers in marrying. I do not know much about this – do you or anyone else know what the Church has taught about the notion that a daughter is under her father’s near-total authority until she is married? And whether her freedom to marry is totally unrestricted, even in youth?

    There’s also the impediments of consanguinity and affinity mentioned, with the purpose given: “spreading more widely the supernatural love of husbands and wives.”

    In 16, a great charge against disparagers of marriage: “very many, imbued with the maxims of a false philosophy and corrupted in morals, judge nothing so unbearable as submission and obedience; and strive with all their might to bring about that not only individual men, but families, also – indeed, human society itself – may in haughty pride despise the sovereignty of God.” 17-24 defend the Church’s authority over marriage against usurpation by the state. 29-32 decry divorce, notably predicting: “divorce once being tolerated, there will be no restraint powerful enough to keep it within the bounds marked out or presurmised. Great indeed is the force of example, and even greater still the might of passion. With such incitements it must needs follow that the eagerness for divorce, daily spreading by devious ways, will seize upon the minds of many like a virulent contagious disease, or like a flood of water bursting through every barrier.” It reminds me of Humanae vitae. The remainder of the letter continues to assert the dignity and powers of the Church over marriage, some of which is relevant to the discussion of marriage’s modern decline.

  17. I see on re-reading my overview I have focused more on the topics that seemed interesting to me, and hardly at all on any close connection with this post. Mea culpa. 🙂

  18. This idea of civilizing men originated in the 12th century with the invention of chivalric love:
    http://gynocentrism.com/2013/07/14/the-birth-of-chivalric-love/

  19. mdavid

    FBNF, @mdavid, Didn’t you link to a book on a thread somewhere that shows how to live the lifestyle you speak of?

    Sorry I don’t remember. Here’s a few books that did help me in that regard:

    Your Money or Your Life

    Happy Are You Poor

    Every age has it’s moral failings. Americans are wont to focus on lust while heroically ignoring the deadly sins of gluttony and greed. But even a casual glance at TV tells the truth about our focus. And our waistlines don’t just speak, they shriek..

  20. @ FBNF

    Provisioning is perhaps the wrong word to use, as it suggests only creation, and not conservation. Profit or benefit are perhaps better words, as they get to the bottom line.

    As for the idea you have mentioned, I have heard it before- the wife working until the first bundle of joy arrives, with the money either being put into a long term savings account or used to prepare for the child. As far as I am concerned, so long as the wife can still keep up with her duties around the home there is nothing about that proposal that is inconsistent with the “classical” model of marriage.

  21. @ Nicholas

    I’m not sure what I will study yet. Still deciding. And figuring out what I have the time for.

    And yes, age of consent changes are part and parcel of that shift in attitudes. The physical maturity arguments for delay are/were quite sound (women really shouldn’t have children until around 17 or so, when they have stopped growing). But the psych crap is just that. Proper educating and raising of children is more than sufficient to get youth ready for marriage by their late teens.

    We see freedom of not only men, but women, asserted over their fathers in marrying. I do not know much about this – do you or anyone else know what the Church has taught about the notion that a daughter is under her father’s near-total authority until she is married? And whether her freedom to marry is totally unrestricted, even in youth?

    I know that that freedom to marry was something the Church supported since the Dark Ages at least. I remember at least one Pope who later became a saint who supported a young noblewoman (maybe even a princess) who married over her father’s objection.

    I am not fully versed on it, so I don’t recall how much authority the Church supported a father exercising over children, especially daughters. Since Christian salvation is personal and individual, I suspect that it isn’t as much power as would have been exercised by Jewish patriarchs.

  22. @ Infowarrior

    Yes, that movement played a large role in it. It was in many respects part of the first wave of feminism in the West.

  23. “Since Christian salvation is personal and individual, I suspect that it isn’t as much power as would have been exercised by Jewish patriarchs.”

    While you may be right, this still strikes me as a Protestant way of reading the Old and New Testaments – that before, when ‘hearts were hard,’ we needed strong human authorities and very strict legal penalties, but now, human nature having come into its own, neither God nor men need to be harsh with anyone.

    I recently read an account that seems to me to illustrate what I take to be a more Catholic sort of reasoning. “…[Paolo Sarpi] reports the argument amongst the [Tridentine] Council fathers that since circumcised Jews were rightly coerced into fidelity to the Old Law, how much more appropriate, given the greater efficacy and dignity of the New law, that baptized Christians be coerced into fidelity to the New Law.”

    The fundamental difference, I think, is on the one hand, seeing Law as a (sometimes necessary) evil, and on the other hand, seeing it as intrinsically good, not only essentially human but also divine.

  24. femininebutnotfeminist

    @ Donal,

    You’re right, “benefit” or “profit” make better sense here than “providing”, if/since good stewardship of what the husband provides (plus anything she can reasonably provide, though it won’t even come close to the amount he does) is primarily what a wife/mother should be doing.

    As for that idea interfering with her duties at home, I figure it shouldn’t be a problem for most women, as long as they don’t have an unnecessarily large home that requires a ton of extra cleaning time (something people… *caugh* spoiled women *caugh*… don’t think about when they think they want big fancy houses that are much bigger than they actually need). Or always works the opposite of her husband’s schedule so they don’t see much of each other. But agreed ~ if her primary duties can’t be done then a woman doing that idea should cut back on hours worked or quit if her husband says to. And definitely quit once bundle of joy #1 arrives.

    @ mdavid,

    I’m pretty sure one of those was the one you linked to before… the picture on the front looks familiar. Looks like an interesting read to me. Thanks!

  25. stylite

    Nicholas Escalona, thanks for that link. I’m going to read that when I have time.

  26. Nicholas, I don’t think it is all, or even mostly, about “hard hearts.” I think a lot of it is owing to the fact that the Church doesn’t like the idea of people hindering the ability of someone else to pursue their Vocation.

    It really is a good question- how much control parents should have over their children, especially when they get older.

    @ FBNF

    Early on in most marriages I suspect that housekeeping duties will be minimal. Modern technology plus only two people to take care of? Should be manageable, especially if their living space is reasonable in size. Although a larger one would suggest a larger income by the husband, and thereby affording greater leniency when it comes to the wife working.

  27. I agree, it is a good question. Left to my own thoughts, I would say that if the father’s government over his daughter is just, this is no hindrance to the daughter’s vocation. In fact, until she is married, her vocation is obedience to her father.

  28. Pingback: What’s Cooking Around the Homefront: Birthday Edition | Loving in the Ruins

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