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Adam and Eve

wife submits in New Zealand

Adam and Eve
“Now hold it right there, Eve! I wear the pants in this family!”
I have blogged on Sydney Anglicans having the wife submit to the husband, and the fascinating debate whether these couples are now legally married, or in fact now living in sin. It is no secret that Sydney Anglicanism franchises into and influences New Zealand. But it is only recently that it has been reported to me that the wife-submitting vow has been used on this side of the ditch*.

Yes, there is some lack of clarity about some (a lot of) liturgical issues in this province. But I contend that which vows can be used in marriage is 100% clear here. There are only six different options for wording of the vows in our marriage rites. And “submit” does not occur in any of them.

Let me be crystal clear. In New Zealand, a couple who use “submit” in their vows are legally married. A couple who use “submit” in their vows are validly married. Christians who use “submit” in their vows are sacramentally married.

The priest presbyter ordained Anglican minister who presides at a wedding has himself [yes: surprise! it will be a “he”] taken vows verbally and signing (note the parallel to the marriage rite!) that he will only use one of the marriage rites authorised by the church to which he has submitted himself.

What example is this priest presbyter ordained Anglican minister setting, about keeping vows, to the couple he is marrying?! [And to others]

ps. This year New Zealand celebrates 120 years since being the first country to give women the vote.

image source

*For nonAntipodeans, the “ditch” separates Aotearoa New Zealand from Australia. Some people call the ditch, the Tasman Sea.

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10 thoughts on “wife submits in New Zealand”

  1. Gary L Lake Dillensnyder

    Bosco, it seems to me that this is a major problem and issue. What I know about Anglicanism is from the outside but what has been shared with me has come from very sound and grounded folk who are Anglican to the core (as I would regard you). They say that the genius and wonderful blessing that unites those in the Anglican communion is the BCP. Yes, I know there are different versions in different geographical locations (I myself having a copy of each in current useage and several from prior useage). When liturgy is so defined and maintained as the common thread of the tapestry, how can one possibly excuse or reason those official texts not being used and something other substituted? I mean, even in the United Methodist Church (though 90% of our clergy have never learned or are aware of this reality) the most primary cause of bringing charge against an ordained elder is her/his non use of the official liturgies approved by the General Conference of the Church. If Methodists are that serious about following not only the text, but the rubrics as well, how can Anglicans diverge from their official liturgies and rites? Wow! It makes me wonder if the right wing fundamentalist edge finds need to flex their muscles in light of the church (all denominations being regarded here) and homosexuality issues by having women submit to men, not to mention the issue within Anglicanism in reference to female bishops. It is sad when there is any cause or reason that would have us put aside something so central and at the core of our community life. And, what good will come of it…I think it shall be none.
    Gary L Lake Dillensnyder

  2. What a strange thing to do?

    My spouse would not have had any truck with such a vow and if I had suggested it, would probably have not married me.

    I teased her about the marriage rite from the 1662 BCP with ‘love honour and obey’ and she gave that the thumbs down as well.

    I’m unsure whether such a promise would be legal in an Anglican marriage in the UK, but given the wide form of words that can be used for civil marriages it might be legal in a Registrars marriage service.

  3. Surely the male leadership came about as part of the ‘fall’ (if you take Genesis literally) and would therefore be re-addressed at our redemption in Christ who treated men and women equally!

  4. It’s another example of taking a quote out of context I think, losing the metaphor by not putting the whole of it together:

    “…Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
    Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands, as unto the Lord.
    For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
    Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so are wives to their own husbands in every thing.
    Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
    So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loves himself.
    For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord the church: for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
    For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
    This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
    Morover let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself, and the wife show reverence to her husband.”*

    Taken in the context of patriarchy it is seen as women submitting to men, but the man is submitting -sacrificing himself- equally to the woman as Christ did to the Church.

    *Incidentally this letter commonly called Ephesians is itself often taken out of context, over-translated ( eg. making it specifically to the people of Ephesus and attributing it to Saint Paul ) It is when recognising these layers of context as against the various church interpretations or common knowledge of ( or about ) a scripture it most should not be read literally, especially when that gives it a meaning which seems un-Christlike or goes against the teachings of Christ!

  5. Ernie, use of the word “submit” would not be legal in a Church of England marriage. The 1662 BCP, which remains a legal option though rarely taken up, includes the word “obey” in the bride’s vows, and this remains an option in later rites. The 1980 Alternative Service Book had versions with and without “obey” printed alongside each other in the text. Common Worship (2000) has the “obey” version tucked away in the supplementary material but is perfectly legal and valid.

    As officiating minister I have to sign the registers and certificate to say that the couple have been married according to the rites of the Church of England. I can therefore only offer the forms of 1662 and Common Worship. Nothing else satisfies the requirement.

  6. P.S. I usually point out to people who ask about the “obey” version of the vows that if they do that, then the groom also must vow to “worship” his wife.

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