The last installment of my book, Don’t Plant Your Seeds Among Thorns: A Catholic’s Guide to Domestic Abuse, covered part one of chapter four. The second half of that chapter, along with chapter five and portions of chapter six, will be published exclusively in the print copy of the book, to be released this autumn from En Route Books & Media.

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Open Bible pencils highlighted text

(John-Mark Smith / pexels.com)

“Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord.”

(Eph 5:22)

It’s time to dive into the most notorious Bible verse in the history of … well, Bible verses. It’s the line women dread and controlling men love to take out of context and interpret according to their own whims and wishes. Yes, you guessed it: the widely-misinterpreted text of Ephesians 5:22. “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord.

What are we to make of that, as we peer through our modern-colored glasses and gasp in alarm? St. Paul was a misogynist, obviously.

But wait. One step at a time. First, it’s crucial not to read this verse in isolation, as is so often done. If we see the big picture, the entire vision as St. Paul intended rather than picking and choosing words as if we’re at a buffet, something miraculous happens: rather than a message of misogynistic condemnation, the verse actually elevates women and speaks of love and mutual self-giving. As historian and biblical scholar Carl. J. Sommer points out, in writing Ephesians St. Paul proved himself to be “a social innovator of great daring.”


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