“I’m Glad I’m Not Your Husband”

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A picture of a woman's neck, wrapped up in chains with a padlock dangling from them. The caption reads: "Submission: The husband is the head of the wife and that's the way it is, period." The quote is from Pat Robertson.

. . . the Bible tells me so. Image via Free Thought Nation.

This wasn’t the blog post I intended to write today, but this has left me so incredulous I feel like I have to remark.

I sometimes find myself browsing Mundabor’s Blog, a site that bills itself as “Catholicism without compromise”. I’ll give him credit for not slavishly approving every single thing the pontiff does (depending on who’s in the Chair of Peter), but the direction his dissent travels is shocking in its lack of empathy . . . especially in this post I discovered yesterday, entitled “Catholic Answers Has Lost the Plot”.

He’s referring in particular to this post on the Catholic Answers “Ask An Apologist” forum, in which a woman and her husband differ on whether she should be able to welcome her lesbian sister into their home. Or, as Mundabor phrases it (TW for abusive anti-gay language):

In short, a woman has a perverted sister who “married” (not!) and her husband – one is glad there are true men around still – says to her wife the perverted woman is not to set foot in the house again. Not when he himself is there – obviously – and not when he is not there too – also obviously; then it’s a matter of principle, not of presence.

Mundabor is hopping mad about the advice Catholic Answers’ apologist Michelle Arnold offers up:

I think the issue here is that your husband is acting in an unjustly authoritarian fashion, treating your mutual home as “his alone” by forbidding you, an adult woman, from allowing your sister to visit you in your own home. I’m afraid this problem really has nothing to do with your sister and her “marriage.” It has to do with your husband’s approach to your own marital relationship and your own apparent tentativeness about making clear to him that he is acting inappropriately toward you. I can only recommend that you speak with a marriage counselor, preferably with your husband but on your own if necessary. Please contact the Pastoral Solutions Institute, a Catholic counseling apostolate, for personalized assistance.

Sounds like decent advice to me. You don’t have to agree with everything your sibling embraces or believes to carry on a relationship, which is obviously what this woman is trying to do (though she might get further if she dropped the scare quotes she keeps placing around her sister’s marriage). And a husband hasn’t married a little child he needs to control with strict rules, brooking no dissent; he’s married a grown woman who has a right to her own mind.

A sepia-toned picture of two girls, one wearing a knit cap over her short-cropped hair, the other with longer hair, bangs, and braces.

Sisters don’t have to agree to love each other. (They just need a husband’s permission.) Image via Good N Crazy.

Of course, it’s easy to see why this might be threatening to uber-Catholics like Mundabor: most people come to accept homosexuality when they find themselves carrying on a relationship with a beloved person – say, for instance, a sister – who’s admitted and embraced her sexuality, and they learn through experience that being LGBTQ doesn’t mean you’re a monster or a pervert or a terrible person, nor does it mean your love relationships differ from straight ones in any particular way except for how they play with gender.

But again, for Mundabor, it’s not really about homosexuality, except insofar as he argues that a man has the right to lay down the law when “confronted with the smoke of Satan wanting to enter his home”. (No, really. Those are his exact words!) The truth is, it’s about the basic principle of biblical marriage, that the man is in charge, he’s the “head of the family”, he’s responsible for his family’s spiritual well-being. “What do these people think marriage is, a democracy?” he demands.

I’d love to take statements like that as proof of his ironic intent, but he’s a little bit too earnest elsewhere for me to make that leap.

He’s also deeply offended by the suggestion that this couple needs to seek marital counselling. Apparently, even in a pastoral setting, that’s something Mundabor does not accept, because the counselor would come between the husband and wife. He seems not-too-concerned that there are some cases where somebody ought to come between husband and wife, if only to keep the husband from beating her to a bloody pulp; in fact, he recommends that Michelle Arnold herself should submit to “a very good rapping” before being dismissed from her job for daring to suggest Catholic marital counselling. After all, this is a case of a husband exercising responsible biblical headship by forbidding an adult woman’s relationship with a blood relative!

Somebody in the comments remarked that it would be a miracle if a divorce didn’t result from Catholic Answers’ advice. Yup, blame the advice, not the extremely controlling and invalidating behaviour of a husband who doesn’t want his wife to be a separate person. Haven’t I been there! When your husband wants to govern your decision-making like an authoritarian parent, the advice to seek counselling is not the problem. The problem is that your husband thinks you’re a wayward child.

So I made this remark:

A blog comment by Sara Lin Wilde, which reads: "Of course a divorce is going to result, if her husband thinks she is a possession to be controlled and ordered around instead of a person with thoughts of her own. Setting aside the question of what he’s ordering her to do, women are not lesser beings to be ordered around under the control of men. They are fully responsible adults and are entitled to take responsibility for their own lives. Men who want to control and command their wives without dissent or discussion deserve the divorce papers they get."

Screencap from Mundabor’s Blog by Sara Lin Wilde.

And Mundabor had this to say in response:

A comment in which Mundbaor responds to my remarks by saying, "I am so glad I am not your husband. This post is published merely in order to show what rabid feminism does to people."

Screencap from Mundabor’s Blog by Sara Lin Wilde.

I don’t even know what to say. I’m also glad you’re not my husband . . .

I showed this post to my boyfriend, the Daviraptor. (I know I’ve already referenced him as Dave in this blog before, but after he found out my niece got to be Supersaurus, we decided he also deserved an awesome nickname, hence: Daviraptor.) After I gnawed his arm off in an outbreak of feminist rabies, he mildly observed, “Mundabor sounds like the name of a comic book villian.”

I answered, “Mundabor kind of acts like a comic book villain”.

Let’s just hope he never gets some kind of mind control ray. If you ever see me announcing I’ve decided to give up the blog and dedicate my life to housecleaning, fresh-bread-baking, and perfect obedience, you’ll know it’s happened.

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6 thoughts on ““I’m Glad I’m Not Your Husband”

  1. I am in the process of exiting a marriage with similar circumstances in that my ex used subtle methods to control my behavior and when it deviated from the expected norm he withheld everything from warmth, intimacy and companionship. It took a long time for me to realizye the blinders were on. And even more utime to take them off. The woman in the advice column may well have her moment of revelation, but what happens after that will be limited by the dogma of her chosen faith. Ad for the evil villain, if someone was foolish enough to hitch their wagon to his star, I pray she remains forever blissfully ignorant as to her mistake. He is not a man who would enjoy the company of a confident, assertive woman. To put it plainly, what a douchebag!! :) great post!

  2. what rabid feminism does to people

    You mean that part where feminists look at women as people, not property?

    Heady stuff for the clerical dude I imagine. When one needs a solid example of codified, institutional patriarchy, the church never fails to deliver.

    *sigh*

  3. Lee

    Michelle Arnold, the one whose advice is quoted above, is a Catholic apologist – her job is to explain and defend the Catholic faith and help inquiring Catholics to apply the faith to their lives. She does a far better job on this particular issue than does Mundabor in explaining the actual Catholic position (I can only speak on this issue, since I have never seen any of Mundabor’s other stuff). “Head” does not have to mean “domineering authoritarian.” It’s too bad people have the idea that the Church teaches this. It actually teaches, well, what the Bible says about it: “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her…” In other words, sacrificially, lovingly cherish your wives – not treat them as inferior, mindless slaves who can’t think or make decisions. The Church acknowledges equal dignity for both man and woman. They may have different roles in the household – but the man can be a gentle, humble leader who discusses things with his wife and decides with her input without being an authoritarian dictator.

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