Head And Heart: A Practical Guide to Husband-Wife Complementarity

Emmaus Road has just published the debut title of Katie Warner: Head And Heart: Becoming Spiritual Leaders for Your Family, and I am happy to say that I can recommend the book wholeheartedly!

Husbands and wives are complementary, right? And equal in dignity.

But they’re not the same.

So how can a husband and wife lead their family in the way that God intended them to? That’s the central question that Warner answers in this practical book.

The title itself reveals the fundamental analogy: the husband is the head of the family, and the wife is the heart. Just as a person cannot survive without a head and a heart, a family cannot function to its ideal without the husband and wife fulfilling their custom-made roles within a family.

headWarner approaches the question of how this plays out in real life by examining family life from many different angles and then interviewing faithful Catholic couples to understand how they have lived out those different facets of familial life together.

Warner augments these anecdotal insights with Scripture passages and magisterial writings from the Catechism, popes, and other authoritative sources.

I found the chapter on the need for a family mission statement to be the most powerful. We spend so much time in business coming up with our mission statement and then working to communicate that mission relentlessly to our employees, customers, and shareholders.

Yet, I had not made it a priority to come up with a mission for my own family. I read the great missions that the families she interviewed came up with, and then we made our own Rose family mission. It is a simple but important idea, and one that I wouldn’t have thought much of until reading this book.

Warner’s written an eminently practical book to help Catholic husbands and wives live out their vocations in their family life. 

 

Same-Sex Proponents Have Found Their Fulcrum…

…and are now just waiting for the lever to be long enough.

Archimedes said:

Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.

The same-sex “marriage” proponents have their fulcrum in the Supreme Court decision. Now all that they require is a lever long enough to dislodge Christianity from Western civilization.

The Lever Lengthens

They are winning the culture war one person at a time, and with each person their lever lengthens. It will not be long before they win substantial victories over Christians in every area of society.

They will modify school curricula to require the teaching of books and materials that assert same-sex “marriages” and households are equivalent to traditional ones. If you are a teacher and refuse to go along, you will be fired and branded as a hateful bigot who will then find it difficult to get another teaching job.

teach1If you have your children in public schools, they will force your child to listen to same-sex propaganda. And before long they will push to force any school, including Catholic ones, who receive state funding or tax exemption, to teach such things.

They will require churches to marry them, and if those churches refuse they will sue the churches. Even if churches get “out of the civil marriage business,” this will happen. Churches will lose tax exempt status and lose countless millions of dollars to lawsuits until they cave or go bankrupt.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. One day I have little doubt that people who write blog posts like this one or who speak about traditional marriage will be ostracized and be at risk for being sued as bigots.

Have We Lost the Cultural War?

We are losing it.

We are being routed, in ways that a 5-4 SCOTUS decision doesn’t properly reflect.

The squashy middle has been won over. They were ripe for the picking, given the degraded state of our society and the lack of education in objective philosophical and moral truths that all of us in the past six decades or so have grown up in.

I have discussions with my coworkers almost everyday about these topics. They don’t understand why two people shouldn’t be able to do whatever they want, with whomever they want, as long as “they don’t hurt anybody.”

I’ve tried explaining fundamentals of natural law, teleology, and ontology, but this is gibberish to them. No comprende/it’s a riddle.

My friends counter that traditional couples divorce at a high rate, some abuse children, and many are generally awful. (All those things are true, I grant them, but those are all bad things that no one thinks people should be doing.)

nat1I point out that children need a mother and father, and even those who agree counter that different people could fulfill the mother and father role.

I point out that children in traditional families objectively have better lives than those from same-sex households, but they say that is not true. I point to Mark Regnerus’s study as solid evidence of my position, but they do not care.

Most of my friends who support same-sex “marriage” are not the extremists who want to use it to demolish Christianity and hurt Christians. But the extremists will happily use them to do so, by winning the court of public opinion, academia, the courts, legislatures, and social media.

My same-sex “marriage” supporting friends have even started to be appalled by the ways that traditional marriage supporters are being attacked. They see that it is being used as a baseball bat to bludgeon religious people.

Get On the Bandwagon

I listen to a popular entrepreneurial business podcast. Last Friday’s episode had all the hosts rejoicing over the SCOTUS decision with lines like:

“Finally the courts decided what we’ve all known for 15 years.”

(Though apparently Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton didn’t know it back then, in spite of them being champions of enlightened liberalism.)

“We are for equality. Why shouldn’t all people be equal?”

love1These inane quips, along with the #lovewins hashtag, reheated and repurposed from Rob Bell’s universalist movement some years back, seem to them as obvious and impenetrable slogans that auto-counter any argument.

The software development twitter sphere was abuzz with glowing tweets about love winning and how awesome everything was. No peep of protest from anyone, myself included. Because the instant you try to say something against it, you will be demolished, protested against, and likely banned as a hater from twitter entirely.

“Love” as they define it, doesn’t win. But ostracizing people socially does win.

The point is simple: you will get on the bandwagon or you will be crushed.

What of Our Churches?

Our churches have been largely silent. A fortnight for freedom here, a mildly worded message there.

We were and are largely silent about no-fault divorce, contraception, cohabitation, pornography, and all the other ills that have undermined families and the very understanding of what a family is that has allowed this debacle to take place.

pas1Our time of reckoning is coming, and we deserve what we get.

I have been blessed to be at many good parishes over the past fifteen years, with pastors who spoke out against all these things, but those priests and parishes have been all too rare in the decades leading up to now.

I don’t advocate giving up, of course. We can and must continue to fight and to encourage our priests and bishops to stand for truth with courage. But our failures must be admitted, too. We as Catholics have not lived as faithfully as we should have.

We Were Made For This Time

Far from being despondent, we should be renewed with conviction.

satWe were made for this time. God has given you life here and now. Nothing is ever hopeless with Christ.

Pray like a saint. Evangelize like a saint. Live like a saint. Speak like a saint. Become a saint.

The Lord knows how far I fall short of this, but I believe with His grace I can become who He has created me to be.

Is Leaving An Option?

Some friends have felt the desire to leave the United States and go elsewhere. Is that an option?

I think it is. Parents must consider not just what they can endure themselves, but what kind of society they will rear their children in, and what future their children will have.

es1Sadly, many countries are even worse than the United States morally speaking, so a tough question is where could you actually go that wouldn’t be out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Malta? Monaco? Luxembourg? Philippines? Thailand?

Obviously it is a huge decision to leave your own country, something that would take the most serious discernment. And I think that overall most people would not be called to it, but I also think it is a possibility families should consider.

Our country is in a steep decline. The consequences of the SCOTUS decision and the subsequent actions that will shortly follow are dire and will affect children, families, and our country and world for the next century and beyond.

In the end, true Love wins, which means God wins; truth wins. We are facing a new time, when being a Christian will not be acceptable. But this is a time that other Christians have faced before us, even to the point of giving their lives for Christ. Our martyrdom will be slower, white instead of red most likely, but still painful and difficult.

May God give us the strength to persevere.

Practical Actions To Take

What can you do now?

Arm yourself with a good book by Ryan Anderson like Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom.

Also I just heard about this easy way to consecrate (or reconsecrate) yourself and family to Christ through our Blessed Mother via St. Louis de Montfort’s 33-day prayers and readings.

Pray, be converted, evangelize, love others and speak the truth in love.

Shine, Complementarian Wife, Shine!

My oppressed, non-liberated wife

For a long time I read Rachel Held Evans’ blog. She’s a liberal Protestant who grew up as a traditional Evangelical Protestant.

But as time wore on, her posts centered more and more on a certain understanding of egalitarianism in husband-wife relationships, where the husband and the wife are “equal” (in, it seems, every way). Her goal was to combat a certain kind of complementarianism that many Evangelical Protestants believe in, where men and women have different roles in the life of the family.

This all is reaching its climax with the publication of her book (purportedly) on a year of living “biblical womanhood.” It’s the whole “live something out for a year” gimmick that has been making the rounds in the past several years. I admit that I’m not a fan of it, though I get Rachel’s point in doing it, which is once again to combat a certain kind of interpretive lens that Evangelical Protestants use to understand the Bible.

Her husband, Dan, has come out (bravely?) in showing how he is man enough to support Rachel’s endeavors, so that her voice will not be silenced but will be heard by the widest possible audience.

Through it all one gets the idea that there are two camps: “egalitarians” whose husbands are enlightened, modern men, with liberated women for wives and “complementarians” whose wives are barefoot and pregnant year-round, slaving away in the kitchen, baby on one hip, while pops is sitting on the couch drinking beers and watching the football game, occasionally demanding more pork rinds in between belches.

And I just have to say, this is total bunk.

Complementarianism, properly understood, does mean that husbands and wives are made differently. They are not the same. Their gifts are not the same; their bodies are not the same. The husband is head of the wife. The wife submits to the husband. Yet they are equal in dignity.

Should the husband serve his wife? Absolutely, and on this Dan Evans and I can agree. Should the husband want to see his wife “succeed,” as according to God’s will? Absolutely. And just to prove that plenty of complementarian men do this, observe the following three cases:

The Heldts from Just Showing Up

Brianna is a star blogger, with a blog many times more popular than mine. She’s a great mom, and they’ve adopted several children, yet she goes to conferences, and she writes, and she’s on the radio. And through all of it her husband–a friend of mine–supports her and goes to work each day as an engineer to provide for them.

The Fulwilers from Conversion Diary

Last I checked Jen’s blog was something like 30 times more popular than mine. It’s probably even greater than that now. Jen is a Catholic super-star, with one of the most (if not the most) popular Catholic blogs on the planet. She’s on the radio; she’s giving talks around the country; she’s writing a book; she’s syndicated everywhere except the National Catholic Reporter, she’s on the cover of magazines climbing ladders; and now she even has a TV show.

And her husband sits quietly behind the scenes and supports everything she does.

Katie from It’s Fun to be a Girl

A.k.a. my wife. At this very moment she is making blog posts, planning a national conference for women, writing a book, and preparing to present her signature It’s Fun to be a Girl program to parishes in our diocese.

And ours is a complementarian marriage. (I feel like I should start a video ad campaign like the Mormons do, showing all these cool couples then they look at the camera and say “And I’m a complementarian.”) I am the head; she is the heart. She submits to me. And I serve her in love, as Christ loved the Church.

Granted, I have a blog of my own and have some moderate following, but I can easily see Katie surpassing it and then some in the next few years. I dunno, maybe she’ll become the Catholic Beth Moore (whose husband, incidentally, must be a complementarian yet also seems to have no problem supporting her astronomic success). And I would be happy about that–thrilled!

Because, yes, I want my wife’s voice to be heard, because she is proclaiming the full truth of who women are, something, I am sad to say, that Rachel Held Evans falls short of. And yet Katie cooks meals, and does laundry, and stays home with our children, and all the other things that liberated women see as evils of “patriarchy.” I don’t force her to do these things, she does them on her own accord. And I help when I can, when she needs it, because it’s a big job to take care of the children and make the house a home.

We are one flesh, becoming more and more one heart and one soul.

Protestants, lacking sacred Tradition and the Magisterium, seem to get pulled to two extremes on the question of husband-wife relationship: the “egalitarian” view that tries to explain away or ignore the real differences between men and women, as well as the numerous biblical texts, and the “complementarian” view that husbands rule over their wives like club-wielding neanderthals in a rigid patriarchy. Both extremes have elements of truth but are mixed heavily with error.

And so it is in the Catholic Church that the full dignity and beauty of woman are preserved and upheld, and the full dignity of man is properly understood.

Rachel is right when she shows in her book that “everyone picks and chooses” from the Bible. She does it, and so do her opponents. But what Rachel doesn’t realize is that her picking and choosing is as arbitrary as theirs is, for both are missing the Tradition of the Church and the rightful teaching authority that is guided by the Holy Spirit. The solution, simple but hard, is for them all to leave Protestantism and enter full communion with the Catholic Church.

So I say: shine, complementarian wife, shine! Your husband will support you.