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To Be A Gift

January 10, AD 2012 5 Comments

This past weekend I had a lot to be both grateful for and to reflect on. Usually I use my Saturdays to sit back, relax, and to finish preparing for youth group, Confirmation classes and other activities in the life of the youth minister. However, this weekend was different for two reasons. First, my husband and I celebrated our first anniversary on Saturday, and Saturday morning was spent at a lecture being sponsored by the Directors of Religious Education of our deanery (which also includes me). My husband was such a sport about all this and agreed to join me for this lecture, even though he didn’t have to.

Awww... Weren't we cute?

Our theme for the morning was “Realizing Your Giftedness.” We started by discussing the best gifts we had ever received and why they were amazing . Some of the reasons for that amazingness included: who gave it to you, what point in your life was it given, what is the story behind the gift, is it a usable gift, is it cherished, and lastly, what sacrifice was given with the gift?

The last question stuck with me throughout the whole day, what sacrifice was given?

As we continued to talk about different kinds of gifts, we talked about items, experiences and people. When we finally got to the people section, our priest brought up one of my favorite passages in the New Testament, Ephesians 5:22. “Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.” He mentioned that women do not like that passage, and he left it at that. I looked at my husband and the two of us tried our hardest to not burst out laughing. This scripture passage was the New Testament reading  for our nuptial mass exactly a year prior, and I chose it.

Although it was amusing to watch the jaws of our family drop as this reading was being proclaimed, it was something that my husband and I wanted to share and emulate in our lives. This is something that we think is important.

At our lecture, I was saddened because that small portion of Ephesians was all the priest left us with, he did not tell the whole story.

For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.

Ephesians 5: 23-24

Many of my friends who talk to me about this passage always get hung up on the word ‘subordinate.’ Yes, subordinate means, to be submissive or be under the authority of something or someone. I look back at the Church and how I am asked to be subordinate.

I am asked to look at issues that are hard and come to terms with them through education and personal convictions. I am asked to look at 2000 + years of tradition and scholarly learning and form my own opinions. I am asked to keep learning and be empowered, and my husband asks the same of me.

As this passage continues, St. Paul addresses husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that 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. So [also] husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

 Ephesians 5 : 25-28

“[…] even as Christ loved the church[…]” Christ loves us so completely that he laid his life down as sacrifice for us. In that same way my husband is asked to lay down his life for me. He does not get to leave me home alone and go out to play golf every moment he has free, but to care for me and guide me through life as an example to me and those that are around us. Husbands are asked to sacrifice themselves for their wives and families.

I call that a pretty powerful gift indeed.

[author][author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Amanda Castro is a Youth Minister and Director of Religious Education at a small rural Iowa parish. Some of her students have begun a crusade to try and stump their youth minister, even so far as asking the local Bishop for help. If they could have remembered the Latin they would have succeeded too! Aside from being happily newly married to her best friend, her passions include (but are not limited too) her 9 nieces and nephews, the Mass, Adoration, and photography. You can find her new blog at Defined by Faith.[/author_info] [/author]

About the Author:

Amanda is a wife, youth minister, and artistic nut. She holds a BA in Mathematics but has over 10 years experience in Catechesis and Youth Ministry. Self referred as a "Jack of all trades, but a master of none" she writes about her life experience at Defined by Faith.
  • That passage from Ephesians is also what my wife and I had as our NT reading at our nuptial Mass. I have “Ephesians 5:25” engraved on the inside of my wedding ring as a reminder of this.

    Happy anniversary!

  • Great post Amanda! So glad to see you writing here!

    Happy Anniversary to you two! Prayers for many more.

  • Great post! I think that verse is one that cannot simply be taken at face value, or alone and outside of its proper context. Just like a husband comes with a wife, this verse cannot be read without the ones surrounding it, as you showed. Great analysis!

  • SWP

    My wife and I also liked that reading, because it reinforces something my Godfather, a Deacon, preaches at every nuptial, “Husbands must cherish their wives and treat her like Queen, and wives must respect their husbands and treat him like King.” Cherish & Respect. What men need and what women need.

    Many feminists have snubbed their nose at this reading because they don’t respect men. And many men have stopped reading after the first part, not realizing how much is being expected of them in exchange for a woman’s subordination. Both errors are corrected by the Nuptial Gift of Self.

    My wife and I will be teaching a marriage prep class at the end of the month, and this gets the engines revved. Thanks!

  • Amanda Castro

    @SWP What you said about men and feminists is exactly what I’ve seen about this verse. It’s a difficult task to see exactly what parts mean without the full context as Alicia said.