My dear young friend,
No, I do not advise you to take a stick to her. It would be fruitless or
worse; not being a prince, you would no doubt be put up to the magistrates in
It is rather a surprise that your wife rejects submission. Your description
of her ideal of a “liberated woman” resembles nothing so much as our
description of a whore. I trust that is not the problem?
Perhaps you do not understand the nature of submission. You seem to think it
a disgrace. It is not. Indeed, our Lord Jesus himself is in submission to God
the Father; I can give you no greater example. Each of us is in submission; I am
in submission to my prince, for example. Submission is a matter of right
response to authority.
Mayhap it is not submission but authority you do not understand. Please
distinguish authority from tyranny. Tyranny is power exercised for the benefit
of the tyrant. Authority is power exercised for the benefit of those in
submission to it.
You think not? Consider this: do you pay your magistrates to perform their
task? Of course you do. If the task was for their benefit, would they require
such pay? Now consider: who benefits from the magistrates? It is not the
brigand! No, it is the subject who is in proper submission to that authority.
You pay them to keep the brigand at bay – and they are given authority to do
exactly that. So then, right authority knows its purpose, and from its purpose,
its limits and its duties.
Right submission is the proper obedience to right authority. Thus, should
your wife wish to know her own happiness, she should inquire as to your
authority. To do that, she must know the purpose of that authority.
Know again that such authority is not for your benefit, but hers.
But to what purpose? It is given by example, for Christ is Lord of the
church, his bride. He has the authority to command her in any way; so you have
the same authority over her. But see to what purpose Christ uses that authority
– to present that bride to himself “spotless and radiant.” So then, your
every command must be for her benefit. Even when she dissents from your method,
she will honor your motive.
Indeed, you must treat her with the utmost kindness. For she is your body;
you are one flesh. Therefore a kindness to her is a kindness to yourself,
redoubled. If your every command is to bring her nearer to her perfection, will
you not have her heart as well as her submission?
The matter is not as simple as I have made it. Indeed, I betook myself of
much foolishness before I uncovered this – for I placed my wants above her
needs. This is most unwise. But by God’s grace (and her patience) matters
Do not worry overmuch whether or not she thinks your every step is correct.
Consider only your motives and her benefit. She will soon be graciously pleased
to be in submission to you – and the envy of all other women. For she will be
married to a prince among men, not a petty tyrant. If the nobility of your
person is evident, her obedience will be sure.
Quick with advice,
Isaac the Alchemist