Angus MacLeay, rector of St Nicholas Church in Sevenoaks, Kent, made the comments, which some parishioners thought were more in keeping with a sermon from the dark ages than the modern Church of England, in a leaflet entitled “The Role of Women in the Local Church”.
In it, he said women should “not speak” if asked a question that could be answered by their husbands and should “submit to their husbands in everything”.
Using Bible references to justify his comments, he wrote: “Wives are to submit to their husbands in everything in recognition of the fact that husbands are head of the family as Christ is head of the church.
“This is the way God has ordered their relationships with each other.”
From a book of stories based on traditions of some other country 2000 years previously, but hey, why quibble with those details when you can order women to be quiet and have God on your side?
MacLeay’s words were too difficult to swallow for the dozens of women who cancelled direct debit subscriptions to the Anglican church and vowed not to return.
On Sunday, the curate at St Nicholas delivered a sermon entitled “Marriage and Women” which also urged women to submit to their husbands.
Reverend Mark Oden blamed the “modern woman” for high divorce rates and told the congregation: “We know marriage is not working. We only need to look at figures … Wives, submit to your own husbands.”
Despite the anger and offence caused, Oden stood by his comments. “I did not set out to unnecessarily offend people, but I stand by what God has said in his word, the Bible,” he said.
I think the “modern woman” should be offended by this and I think the “modern man” should also be concerned. This is misogyny masquerading as a message from God, and perpetuates the stereotype that there can only be two kinds of women – sluts or saints.
The image of Eve is still a powerful reminder of innocent times when women and men roamed a mythic garden in search of knowledge. But society’s all time scapegoat has become the model, and excuse, for woman-as-temptress, seductress or marriage-breaker.
In western Christian thought, Eve was summarily replaced by Mary, the virgin most pure, who would not have eaten the apple if she had been starving to death. Over the centuries, she came to stand for willful Eve’s “other” side: woman as obedient, docile, submissive, modest, quiet.
The very role this vicar and his ilk want all married women to play. Never mind that all women are different and everyone has their own personality with strengths and weaknesses. Never mind that marriage really is optional in this day and age. Never mind that the bible also allows for wife beatings and other crap related to keeping women powerless and punished.
Hearing it from a vicar is bad enough, but there are even women who promote this. From a Religious Dispatches article:
Debi Pearl, half of a husband-and-wife fundamentalist child-training ministry as well as author of the bestselling submission manual, Created to Be His Help Meet, writes that submission is so essential to God’s plan that it must be followed even to the point of allowing abuse. “When God puts you in subjection to a man whom he knows is going to cause you to suffer,” she writes, “it is with the understanding that you are obeying God by enduring the wrongful suffering.”
How can anyone still think like this and encourage others to do the same?