Lewis on Headship image

Lewis on Headship

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We're going through C. S. Lewis's The Four Loves on the Mere Fidelity podcast at the moment, so I'm reading it for the first time. Here is a wonderful, challenging and thought-provoking section on headship in marriage:

And as we could easily take the natural mystery [=sex] too seriously, so we might take the Christian mystery [=marriage] not seriously enough. Christian writers (notably Milton) have sometimes spoken of the husband’s headship with a complacency to make the blood run cold. We must go back to our Bibles. The husband is the head of the wife just in so far as he is to her what Christ is to the Church. He is to love her as Christ loved the Church—and gave his life for her (Eph 5:25). This headship, then, is most fully embodied not in the husband we should all wish to be but in him whose marriage is most like a crucifixion; whose wife received most and gives least, is most unworthy of him, is - in her own mere nature - least lovable. For the Church has no beauty but what the Bridegroom gives her, he does not find, but makes her, lovely. The chrism of this terrible coronation is to be seen not in the joys of any man’s marriage but in its sorrows, in the sickness and sufferings of a good wife or the faults of a bad one, in his unwearying (never paraded) care or his inexhaustible forgiveness: forgiveness, not acquiescence. As Christ sees in the flawed, proud, fanatical or lukewarm Church on earth that Bride who will one day be without spot or wrinkle, and labours to produce the latter, so the husband whose headship is Christ-like (and he is allowed no other sort) never despairs. He is a King Cophetua who after twenty years still hopes that the beggar-girl will one day learn to speak the truth and wash behind her ears.

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