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Question 164

One more question....in the Greek marriage ceremony the priest says...i yini na fovide don andra .....and everyone encourages the man to tread on the lady's foot How is that interpreted ?

 

Answer to Question 164

 

The reading from the Epistle of St. Paul during the marriage service ends with the words “let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” In Greek the word for reverence is φοβείται in other words it could also be translated as the wife see that she fears her husband.  This is often misunderstood as meaning that the wife should be subordinate to the husband. Very correctly was the Greek word for fear translated into English with the word reverence. When we use the word fear in religious terms we mean reverence. In the Divine Liturgy when the priest calls the faithful to approach for Holy Communion he says: With fear of God, faith and love draw near. Fear of God means reverence of God. When we speak of having fear of God we do not mean that we tremble before the fearful God who will punish us for our sins, but we fear of losing the communication we have with him and of losing the grace we have been granted to be able to feel his love for us.  A wife who reverences her husband shows not only that she loves him but also that she has complete trust in him to be there for her and the family no matter what difficulties they might encounter throughout their married life. A wise woman will encourage her husband to be the head of the household and will not try and take on the position of authority herself. Each has his or her role in marriage, but these roles are not meant to suppress the other into doing the other’s bidding. It should be said that these roles are not exclusive: there are times when it is appropriate for a wife to show strength, or for a husband to be obedient to his wife. The custom of treading on the bride's or groom's foot during this particular time of the wedding service is not encouraged by the Church, in fact we are trying to put a stop to this disruptive and uneducated mentality, which we have inherited from times when people were uneducated and understood only the literal meaning of a word and not the spiritual.  People ignore the whole reading which St. Paul says: that the husband must love and take as much care, concern, thoughtfulness, attention, regard and precautions for his wife as Christ takes for the Church. The husband's attentiveness might even have to extend to death itself. For just as Christ was put to death for His love of the Church, so too the Orthodox Christian husband must yield all things - even his life, if necessary - for his wife.