The recent publication by the Sydney Diocese of the Anglican church of its proposed new marriage vows have caused a well justified stir in the Australian community. For those of you unaware, the proposed new prayer book “updates” the wedding vows changing the traditional promise by the wife to “love and obey” her husband, to “love and submit”. The term has apparently been chosen to reflect Christ’s relationship to God which is also one of submission.
It is not so much the actual wording of the vow, but the timing and fact of the change which is the most concerning. The existence of the previous vow with its antiquated “obey” was generally relegated to the realms of a leftover from a historical time with no relevance to the present day. By consciously updating its vows and substituting a term just as offensive to women, the Church leaves no doubt of its position on a woman’s place in the world and can no longer be excused on the basis that these words were developed in times when women were regarded differently. By positioning itself in this way and in these times, the Anglican Church in one foul swoop has succeeded in alienating all women who practice and believe in gender equality.
The terminology used, “submits to” harks back to the day when a male was regarded as a natural authority in the home and in the political arena. Although the Church maintain that they respect a woman’s equality, and that they just see women as naturally “different”, the use of such oppressive language indicates otherwise.
For more on this issue you can read a piece by Patrick Stokes at The Conversation http://theconversation.edu.au/marriage-really-matters-archbishop-then-stop-denigrating-mine-9332