“The wife obeys Christ when she obeys her husband” says Elise Crapuchettes in her book titled “Popes and Feminists: How the Reformation Frees Women from Feminism” (emphasis added). Such a claim of the divine legitimacy of patriarchy may not be so surprising to many readers today in light of evangelicals’ #MeToo moment, where Southern Baptist Seminary President Paige Patterson is being asked to resign for counseling submission to abuse.
The common and normative “submit to your husband no matter what” mentality is prevalent across a wide spectrum of Protestant denominations. I remember one conversation with another couple when I was part of a micro-Reformed Protestant subculture: A wife submits no matter what, even to the level of her husband telling her how to clean the toilet. “Yes, even if he says ‘with a toothbrush.’” When I disagreed with that kind of thinking, I was accused of having imbibed “the feminist philosophy.”
That is one of the most fundamental problems within these circles: they see “the evil of feminism” lurking behind assertions of even basic agency for women. Although this subculture has variegated branches, they all have in common a hierarchical complementarian theology developed by John Piper and Wayne Grudem as a response to egalitarian Protestants.
The kernel of hierarchical complementarity is the claim that the biblically mandated position of man-woman relations in marriage requires the subordination or submission of the woman to the man. Viewed from the Catholic perspective, both hierarchical complementarity and egalitarian theories of the relationship of husband and wife are distortions of their mutual submission to Christ and to one another, their distinctions as man and woman, and their ontological complementarity found in Catholic integral complementarity.
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