Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Why the man should take the lead in a relationship and in marriage

Why the man should take the lead in a relationship and in marriage. Picture credit: Russian church ceremony in Toronto, Canada from http://www.dmitrimarkine.com. CC BY-SA 3.0. (Wikipedia)

I. QUESTION

Question for our married members: I remember being asked in one of my previous talks why the man should take the lead in a relationship, particularly in marriage. I gave him the biblical explanation (Ephesians 5:23), but I was hoping that I had also given him some practical reasons. Why does the husband have to be the leader and the wife has to submit to her husband and not the other way around, especially in view of our modern times? Thank you in advance for your replies.

I. RESPONSE

I am not yet married, so I may not be in the best position to answer this from the practical point of view. But let me propose possible answers from theological and biological perspectives.

A. Theological Perspective

1. Adam and Eve

First, God made Eve to serve as the companion for the Adam and not the other way around:
The LORD God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him.* k 19 ...21So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.l 22The LORD God then built the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman. (Gen 2:18-22)
Thus, the woman's role is to serve as the companion and helper of the man, and not as his leader. 

Second, God made Adam the primary caretaker of the Garden of Even:
Then the LORD God formed the man* out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.d...The LORD God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it.h
Since the Garden of Eden is the home and source of food of Adam and Eve, therefore it is man's primary task to build a shelter and find food for his wife and his family. It is then the woman's task to take care of the shelter (e.g. clean and furnish it) and prepare the food for his husband and family.

Third, God gave the law of the Garden to Adam:
16The LORD God gave the man this order: You are free to eat from any of the trees of the gardeni 17except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; when you eat from it you shall die. (Gen 2:15-17)
If Eve committed a sin by eating the forbidden fruit, then Adam can rebuke her and could have prevented the transmission of Original Sin to us their descendants. Similarly, it is man's role to to lead in the relationship, particularly in marriage, by knowing what God commands and communicating them to the his wife and household.

Fourth, after Adam and Eve committed sin, God punished the woman:
To the woman he said: I will intensify your toil in childbearing; in pain* you shall bring forth children. Yet your urge shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you. (Gen 3:16)
Notice that sin has made the relationship between the husband and wife as a hierarchy: the husband rules over the wife. This is not anymore just that of a companion and helper.

2. God and Israel

The relationship  between God and Israel is a marriage akin to that of a man and a woman, with God represented by man and Israel by a woman. It is for this reason that infidelity of Israel to God's commands by going after other gods is considered by the prophets as prostitution to pagan idols.  This point was illustrated by the story of Hosea:
When the LORD began to speak with Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea: Go, get for yourself a woman of prostitution* and children of prostitution, for the land prostitutes itself,a turning away from the LORD.  (Hos 1:2)
Accuse your mother, accuse! for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband.* Let her remove her prostitution from her face. her adultery from between her breasts, 5Or I will strip her naked,* leaving her as on the day of her birth; I will make her like the wilderness, make her like an arid land, and let her die of thirst. I will have no pity on her children, for they are children of prostitution. (Hos 2:4-6)
But God will not totally forsake Israel, despite her infidelity, because God loves Israel like a faithful husband:
Therefore,* I will allure her now; I will lead her into the wildernessh and speak persuasively to her 17Then I will give her the vineyards she had, and the valley of Achor* as a door of hope.i There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as on the day when she came up from the land of Egypt. 18On that day—oracle of the LORD—You shall call me “My husband,” and you shall never again call me “My baal.”* (Hos 2:16-18)
Notice that it was God who chose Israel to be his favored nation and made a covenant with her. It was also God who led the Israelites out of Egypt into he land flowing with milk and honey through a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of cloud by night, feeding them along the way with manna and quails and sending them water from a rock. Since God described himself as the husband of Israel, then a husband must be to his wife as God is to Israel: the one who takes the initiative to marry her, lead her to their home, and provide food and drink to her and their sons and daughters.

3. Christ and the Church

As mentioned in the question, here is an excerpt of Paul's letter to the Ephesians:
Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.* 22Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.r 23For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body.s 24As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. 25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for hert 26to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word,u 27that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (Eph 5:21-27)
 Notice that St. Paul uses the analogy: Christ is to Church as Husband is to Wife. If Christ is the head of the Church, then the husband must be the head of his wife.

Actually, the relationship between Christ and the Church is related to Adam and Eve, since Christ is the New Adam and the Church is the New Eve, the Bride of Christ:
766 The Church is born primarily of Christ's total self-giving for our salvation, anticipated in the institution of the Eucharist and fulfilled on the cross. "The origin and growth of the Church are symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of the crucified Jesus."171 "For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth the 'wondrous sacrament of the whole Church.'"172 As Eve was formed from the sleeping Adam's side, so the Church was born from the pierced heart of Christ hanging dead on the cross.173 (Catechism of the Catholic Church)
In marriage, the husband and wife becomes one body. As Christ said:
“Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ 5c and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” (Mt 19:4-6)
 Since God decreed that the husband rules over his wife (c.f. (Gen 3:16), and the head rules over the body, therefore the husband is the head of this one body united by marriage.

B. Biological Perspective

1. Sperm and Egg 

During intercourse a man releases sperms which seeks to find a woman's egg.  The egg just sits there waiting for the first sperm to fertilize her. In a similar way, it is a man's task to court the woman and fight for her love amidst all other suitors. The man pursues; the woman awaits. The man gives; the woman receives. Therefore, the man must lead in the relationship.

In a similar way, Aquinas also said:
Now it is evident that in the opinion of philosophers, the active principle of generation is from the father, while the mother provides the matter. Therefore original sin, is contracted, not from the mother, but from the father: so that, accordingly, if Eve, and not Adam, had sinned, their children would not contract original sin: whereas, if Adam, and not Eve, had sinned, they would contract it.  (Summa Theologica)
2. Male and Female Brains

On the average, male and female brains are different:
On average, males excel relative to females at certain spatial tasks. Specifically, males have an advantage in tests that require the mental rotation or manipulation of an object.[39] They tend to outperform females in mathematical reasoning and navigation. In a computer simulation of a maze task, males completed the task faster and with fewer errors than their female counterparts. Additionally, males have displayed higher accuracy in tests of targeted motor skills, such as guiding projectiles.[38] Males are also faster on reaction time and finger tapping tests.[40]

On average, females excel relative to males on tests that measure recollection. They have an advantage on processing speed involving letters,digits and rapid naming tasks.[40] Females tend to have better object location memory and verbal memory.[41] They also perform better at verbal learning.[42] Females have better performance at matching items and precision tasks, such as placing pegs into designated holes. In maze and path completion tasks, males learn the goal route in fewer trials than females, but females remember more of the landmarks presented. This shows that females use landmarks in everyday situations to orient themselves more than males. Females are better at remembering whether objects had switched places or not.[38] (Wikipedia: Neuroscience of Sex Differences)
In a strange country, the man must lead the way because of his innate skills in spatial navigation and geometrical analysis.  A man, for example, surveys the field and finds the shortest path between two points or the path with least danger. Once the field has been surveyed and its boundaries marked, it is the woman's role to remember the markers and determine if things were not the same way as before, e.g. the grass has grown, the river has run dry, or the last leaf of Autumn has fallen to the ground.

In dangerous situations, such as when faced with lions and wolves, a man must lead the way. His fast reaction time and accurate targeted motor skills can keep wild animals at bay with a spear, an arrow, a stick, or a stone. When the danger is over, the woman can describe what happened in all its gory details, e.g. where the lion was, where his husband was, how the lion roared, how she and her children cowered in terror, how his husband threw a spear at a distance of 20 paces, how the spear hit the lion's neck, etc. In contrast, all that the man can say is that "I killed the lion with a spear."

3. Male and Female Bodies

The male and female bodies are different. Male bodies are adapted for work (i.e. strong bones and muscles), while female bodies are adapted for pregnancy and child-rearing. During pregnancy, a woman is burdened with the weight of the child growing in her womb. Her chief concern is to take care of her unborn child. Because of this, the man must lead by taking care of the woman. He must build a house to protect her from sun, wind, and rain. He must till the field or hunt for food. He must fence the boundaries of his land against wild beasts and other aggressors.


If the husband and his pregnant wife have to travel, as what happened to Joseph and Mary when they fled to Egypt, the husband must make sure that his wife is comfortable, so he makes her ride a donkey or a car. He must plan his route and makes sure that he can find food along the way or has has enough money until the journey's end. In this way, the woman would not be stressed by worrying about too many things, so that she can focus only on one thing: taking care of the baby in her womb.

C. SUMMARY

We have argued that the man must lead by theological and biological reasons.

For the theological reasons, we showed three things: (1) God has made Adam a ruler over his wife Eve. (2) The prophets has likened the covenant between God and Israel to a marriage covenant of a husband and wife, respectively. (3) St. Paul has likened the relationship between Christ and his Church (i.e. the Church is the Body of Christ and Christ is the head of the Church) to that of a husband and wife. Since it is God's initiative to choose Israel as his nation and it is Christ's initiative to build his Church founded on Peter, then the man must take the initiative and lead in the relationship, particularly in marriage.

For the biological reasons, we also showed three things: (1) The male sperm finds the female's egg who simply awaits for the first sperm to fertilize it. (2) The male brain is adapted to lead the female in a strange country and defend her against wild beats, while the female brain is adapted to the retelling of the events in their journey to their children. And (3) the male physiology makes her ideal caretaker of the vulnerable child-bearing female not only in sheltering and providing for her in a stable house, but also in guiding her during their travel.
 
Man Leads...: woman follows, Everyone wins.
Man Leads...: woman follows, Everyone wins.
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