“Be Submissive?” Spanish Feminists Must Really Hate Today’s Second Scripture Reading

Get Married and Be Submissive.  That’s the advice coming from a best-selling new book by Italian author Costanza Miriano.

And while the book—which was published in Spain with the support of Francisco Javier Martinez, the Catholic Archbishop of the Spanish city of Granada—has hit the top of the Amazon charts, the just-released Spanish-language edition Cásate y se sumisa has provoked Spanish feminists.  Protesters have taken to the streets, ripping copies of the book to shreds, claiming it promotes violence against women.

Spain’s health minister Ana Mato, according to a report in The Telegraph, said: “I think it is inappropriate and disrespectful to women.”  Mato has called for the book to be withdrawn.

Protesters rip copies of “Get Married and Be Submissive”

Activists from the group Anonymous have also weighed in on the book, labeling it “misogynistic and oppressive.”

In particular, opponents of the book cite one passage which reads, “We [women] like humiliation because it is for a greater good.”

  *     *     *     *     *

No matter that the book is based on the teaching of St. Paul, who writes in his Letter to the Colossians, which is the Second Reading in today’s liturgy for the Feast of the Holy Family:

Wives, be subordinate to your husbands, 
as is proper in the Lord.

And no matter that the next line, directed toward husbands, challenges the menfolk to an even greater responsibity, that of loving their wives:

Husbands, love your wives, 
and avoid any bitterness toward them.

Indeed, St. Paul’s directive for a successful and happy marriage is sometimes criticized in today’s egalitarian society.  But only if both partners in marriage commit themselves to the ideal of self-sacrificing love will their union reflect God’s abiding love for each of us.

The strong sales of the book suggest that not all women oppose Miriano’s plan for a successful marriage.  And Granada’s Archbishop Martinez has called the book “very interesting from a Christian point of view.” 

Costanza Miriano

The book’s author Costanza Miriano, a 43-year-old married woman and a devout Catholic, defended her position—explaining that when she speaks of women being submissive in her book, she is not advocating submission in a marriage as something negative.  “I don’t know the coloring the word has in English,” Miriano said in a BBC interview,

“…but I don’t use it in a negative way.  It’s a word taken from the Letter to the Ephesians. It doesn’t mean in any way being like a doormat for the husband.  I use it in the etymological sense of being beneath or underneath, providing the support like a column supports a roof, because we as women we are stronger.”

Miriano went on to reference the encyclical of Pope John Paul II Mulieris Dignitatum on the “feminine genius”:

“We are able to put persons in relation[ship].  John Paul II wrote that the woman has the genius, the talent of the relation[ship] so we are able to be the heart of the family.  Submission is something very, very good for a woman.”

Asked why the Spanish health minister has called for the book to be withdrawn, Miriano speculates that perhaps the health minister has a problem with the use of the word “marry.”  According to the Christian Post’s report of the BBC interview, Miriano said:

“I really don’t know. I thought it was because of the word ‘sumisa [submissive]‘ but I found that there are many books with the word ‘sumisa’ in the title sold in the Spanish shops like ‘Diario de una sumisa‘… so, I think the problem is with the word ‘cásate [marry]‘ because I think that being submitted to a husband is felt like something terrible. I don’t know why,” she said before explaining that she also wrote a book for men with a title that translates to Marry Her and Die for Her.

Why are some women so angry about the book?  Miriano has an idea:

“Maybe we are not free from the need to be recognized. When a woman is completely at peace with herself, is completely fulfilled, she doesn’t need to be recognized and she can take a step back, not in the sense of being a doormat but of being completely able to be the column.”

Asked whether she believes that feminism has damaged marriage, Miriano explained:

“I am a worker. I work as a journalist during the day and I write books during the night. I have four children. I think that women who ask the same rights of the men are lacking in imagination and ambition because we are so different from men.”

*     *     *     *     *

St. Paul’s recipe for successful family life, as delineated in today’s reading from Colossians 3:12-21, is outlined in greater detail in Ephesians 5:22-33:

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands.  

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,  that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.  

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

For information on ways to improve your marriage, visit the U.S. Bishops’ comprehensive and very helpful website, ForYourMarriage.org.

 

  • Fritz Barnett

    Just an opinion, but that picture of Costanza Miriano, looks like Ann Coulter when she’s off her psychotropic medications.

    • KrystalS

      It is always a challenge to let our hearts lead and not our eyes, but I think her greater gift to us is in her message not in her appearance.

    • Sygurd Jonfski

      Judging the book by the cover – how intelligent… I shudder to think about what you may have to say about Einstein or Stephen Hawkins.

  • AnneG

    They left off the last verses at our Mass last night. Cowards! They don’t even understand how to interpret it. No wonder our families are in such trouble. “My people perish for lack of knowledge.”

    • SententiaeDeo

      Are you serious? That is a grave sin on the priest’s part.
      I would not go back to that church again. Find a good, traditional Catholic Mass in you area by consulting the WikkiMissa directory.

      • kathyschiffer

        No, it is not a grave sin. If you check the approved readings which are posted on the USCCB website, you’ll see that there are two options. One eliminates the last few lines, as Anne said above. We may not like the fact that it was omitted, but it is not illicit to do so.

  • Jo Anna

    Absolute best quote was her answer to the question about why women are angry: “Maybe we are not free from the need to be recognized. When a woman
    is completely at peace with herself, is completely fulfilled, she
    doesn’t need to be recognized and she can take a step back, not in the
    sense of being a doormat but of being completely able to be the column.”

    • KrystalS.

      I agree. What a profound message. This statement cuts to the heart and rings truth. It is so true. I have lived this in my own life. When a woman knows that she is loved so deeply by her spouse that he would die for her, why wouldn’t you be able to step back and trust. To let him be the leader of your family? To be the quiet strength in the background? We all have much to learn about humility and sacrificial love……

  • jenny

    As long as 1 in 4 children are fatherless, it is hard to see how mothers can be submissive.
    How many men would get marry if they have ‘ to be submissive to their wife ” ?

    • Logan Rieck

      Men are submissive to their wife, and their family, but in an altogether different sense. Men are called to be the guiding factor, the ultimate figurehead if you will, of how to live and an example of how to live piously and righteously so that the spouse and children should be able to come before God and not be rejected.

      Just look on how the husband is compared to the Lord Jesus. It is a tough duty and each gender plays its role so that we can live and beget a righteous generation for the sanctification of our world and the everlasting salvation for ourselves.

      Ephesians 5:25-30

      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. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.

      • SententiaeDeo

        Does being submissive = serving? Men must serve their wives, not be submissive to them.

        • Logan Rieck

          How else does someone submit to someone else but by serving them? And remember I said in an altogether different sense; as a leader and a foundation builder.

    • SententiaeDeo

      Wasn’t being pussy-whipped part of Adam’s sin? Adam was supposed to protect Eve and tell her not to sin, not be submissive to her.

  • victor

    So far priests could not define the sin of a man who kills his unborn child, by starvation and lack of medical/emotional support.
    If a man does not provide food to his unborn child, then the child dies- and the father is the killer.
    Isn’t the father supposed to provide food?

    • Logan Rieck

      1 Timothy 5:8

      But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

      Yes, the father is supposed to provide.

      • SententiaeDeo

        Another translation: “But if any man have not care of his own, and especially of those of his house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

        “Caring for one’s own” is above all providing for them spiritually; material provisions follow as a result (cf. Matt. 6:24-34). Fathers of families must be spiritual leaders.

        • Logan Rieck

          I agree, but fathers also must be able to give their children life and help continue to live, as part of the Gospel is to spread it to others. The children can hardly do this if they’re dead from starvation.

          It just shows that Scripture can have dual meanings and both be correct. It’s nothing to argue over.

    • SententiaeDeo

      What priests can’t judge this man’s sin? It’s negligence, which is contrary to charity. And, yes, negligence could lead to murder.

  • Scott

    My 3 sons asked the parish priest if we can switch the roles of woman /man at the marriage ceremony:
    For the woman: “… Love your husband….” ;
    For the man : “…Be submissive…”

    • SententiaeDeo

      That’s contrary to God’s law. Part of Eve’s punishment for Adam’s sin is that “thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee.” (Gen. 3:16).

      As St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians, husbands must love their wives. It’s mutual. Husbands must serve their wives.

      • annmarie

        Isn’t that the issue? A warped sense of dominion and of submission plays into results of the fall Christ came to remedy. We need a better theology than is evidently presented in this book.

    • ucfengr

      Somehow I doubt your 3 “sons” asked that…..

  • francis

    The author seems to like rising alone 3,4 children, while her husband just enjoys “loving her”…….

    • Logan Rieck

      Part of loving the wife would be to see that her needs are fulfilled and part of her needs is to rear their children together as they are also the husband’s as well as the wife’s. Does a man cherish his wife if he lets her become overwhelmed and unable to function mentally or physically? No.

      I’m sure what she meant is an equal partnership with the husband as the head and she beneath him being, what she said, “the support column that holds it together.”

    • SententiaeDeo

      What’s wrong with a wife staying home raising her children?

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    I love this post. At Mass yesterday i was thinking the same thing. Uh-oh, this is going to give the feminists ulcers…lol. The totality of St, Paul’s passage is a wonderful understanding for a successful marriage. And he was never married. Sometimes one can see it best from the outside. Anything that stirs the feminists to anxiety is a good thing. :-)

  • ThirstforTruth

    Kathy…do you have any control over the advertisements that appear on your blog?
    One there is so highly offensive ( a woman thrusting her breasts in my face!) that
    I could not finish reading your interesting blog. Please see if you can have this
    removed. God bless!

    • kathyschiffer

      Thanks for letting me know. Patheos is very responsive if we complain about an ad. Any chance you know what company the ad was for? Sometimes they need me to give them a screenshot so that they can find it and have it dropped from the cycle.

    • kathyschiffer

      Great news! Patheos was aware of the problem before I was, and they’ve already taken steps to remove it. Thanks, and please let me know if you find a problem again.

  • TeaPot562

    And when you approach age 80, and your wife, the mother of five, develops back problems, has some surgeries and can no longer walk very far or pick up things, you find yourself shopping, preparing the meals, doing the wash and rubbing her back often.
    It also helps if the two of you have a mutual devotion to Mass (almost every day) and daily Rosaries. We feel that in our fifty-eight years of marriage, through the death of a child and troubles afflicting some of our dozen grand-kids, we have benefited from much (unearned) grace: to keep us together and faithful to each other in the early years, and to cope with problems in more recent times.
    Thank you, Lord for someone so beautiful and virtuous to share my life with.
    TeaPot562

  • donttouchme

    I like the illumination 1 Peter 3 gives. Wives should be submissive, quiet and gentle even if they aren’t getting love like Christ loves the Church:

    3 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your
    beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate
    hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

    7 Husbands,
    in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat
    them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the
    gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.


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