“reasonable deference”

A comment I wrote at the previous post.

I think that when one kneels to a priest, one is recognising that he is a conduit of God’s power. For example, His forgiveness in Confession or the priest’s power to give a blessing from God. I did kneel once to kiss the newly-consecrated hands of a priest, along with other members of that Latin Mass congregation. But that was to honour his priestly power from God, not the man.

I suppose one could argue that the father and husband is the “priest” of the family. I certainly feel that. But not perhaps in the formal sacerdotal sense.

I believe a wife should respect her husband, in line with scripture, but she is respecting his headship, not Christ himself, although he represents Christ in a sense. The danger of idolatry lies in her putting her husband in the place of Christ. It is a delicate balance.

My reading of the New Testament is that a wife should at least do two things. 1) Call her husband by a respectful title (“husband” will do – NOT “partner”). 2) Show him reasonable deference in line with societal norms (as my wife said to someone today, “I married him and I took his name”). I believe that reasonable deference can include things like seating her husband at the head of the table, for example.

(I understand that in the old Sarum Rite of marriage, the wife would kiss the right foot of her husband. This is the kind of thing that would no longer be culturally appropriate.)

Kneeling to her husband seems outside normal cultural practices to me. And it is too easily confused with idolatry. Another problem is that it is too easily confused with a sexual act. There is nothing wrong with bedroom behaviour which enhances the natural roles and hierarchy in a marriage; but something that is appropriate in the bedroom is not necessarily appropriate outside it.


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