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Fr. Ripperger on the roles of men and women within marriage


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fides' Jack

Fr. Ripperger gives the Thomistic view on the societal, complementary roles of men and women within marriage:

Generally speaking, it is not OK for men to take traditionally female roles, or for women to take traditionally male roles.  Of course there are circumstances that necessitate it.  

According to Fr. Ripperger, if a married mother keeps a job outside of the home, when the circumstances are not grave enough to make it a matter of absolute necessity, she is committing grave matter (the first requirement for mortal sin), and the husband, by allowing it, also commits grave matter.  The reason is because the children have a natural right to have a parent watching over them.  Ultimately the father commits the worse sin because it is primarily his responsibility to ensure that the appropriate moral decisions are made in the family.

But all of this going on right now, at least in this country, is just another sign that we are morally backwards.

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11 hours ago, fides' Jack said:

Fr. Ripperger gives the Thomistic view on the societal, complementary roles of men and women within marriage:

Generally speaking, it is not OK for men to take traditionally female roles, or for women to take traditionally male roles.  Of course there are circumstances that necessitate it.  

According to Fr. Ripperger, if a married mother keeps a job outside of the home, when the circumstances are not grave enough to make it a matter of absolute necessity, she is committing grave matter (the first requirement for mortal sin), and the husband, by allowing it, also commits grave matter.  The reason is because the children have a natural right to have a parent watching over them.  Ultimately the father commits the worse sin because it is primarily his responsibility to ensure that the appropriate moral decisions are made in the family.

But all of this going on right now, at least in this country, is just another sign that we are morally backwards.

whenever I hear these arguments I cannot think about how, outside of a very small historical context and out of a very small minority of people who could afford it, a single-parent "earner" or "provider" is just not possible. Not even close to possible for most people, throughout most of history.

Also, what if a woman could make a more comfortable living than her husband? Is it better for him to work two or three job and almost never see his kids? If fatherhood is so important, and I believe it is, isn't having the father spend time with his children equally, if not more, important than mom spending time with them? You think kids do well when dad is always at work and never home?

I believe your "grave matter" statement is unwarranted.

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I like Fr RIpperger in a lot of ways, but I would definitely disagree with absolutizing gender roles in that way.  the complementary roles of a man and a woman in a relationship could be elaborated in various ways--it is indeed a priority to ensure that the mother-child relationship is exhaulted and protected in the best way possible.  but when it comes to how this divides between inside and outside the house labor, I don't think that's so static or clear cut.

it is certainly one beautiful articulation of complementary gender roles when a family is able to have a stay at home mother and a man whose labor keeps mother and children protected.  but it is not the only way, nor has it been the primary mode of family life for most Christians at most times--but in former times the man's labor for most people was also somewhat 'at home' as it were, so both were doing some sort of 'at-home' labor, just in roles that complemented each other.

anyway, like I said, I think there are principles relating to gender, but taking too rigid a view is like a Catholic who insists that based upon the Church's principles we all ought to support monarchies.  complementarity, the primacy of the child, and ensuring there is a safe and protected position for the special mother-child relationship would be some principles to start with; for many people the integration of meaningful careers for both spouses can be incorporated into those principles.  no system is perfect, and those principles can be strained even in the 'traditional' gender roles, too.

anyway, that's a whole rabbit hole of a conversation.  I think we should agree on an umbrella idea that there should be complementary gender roles even if we may have some different articulations of the details.

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8 hours ago, Ice_nine said:

whenever I hear these arguments I cannot think about how, outside of a very small historical context and out of a very small minority of people who could afford it, a single-parent "earner" or "provider" is just not possible. Not even close to possible for most people, throughout most of history.

Also, what if a woman could make a more comfortable living than her husband? Is it better for him to work two or three job and almost never see his kids? If fatherhood is so important, and I believe it is, isn't having the father spend time with his children equally, if not more, important than mom spending time with them? You think kids do well when dad is always at work and never home?

I believe your "grave matter" statement is unwarranted.

The movie Blue Valentine kind of explores that. The main guy in the movie only works sporadically and doesn't bring home much income, but for the most part he is totally dedicated to spending time with his daughter, being a good father and a good husband (he does have a booze issue though). The wife eventually gets frustrated with his lack of career ambitions and coldly divorces him.

What you are saying could make sense in theory. Most women are capable of being the provider, but I think the vast majority of women aren't "wired" to be the provider. You'll see a male doctor or a lawyer marry the cashier at Walmart all time. You'll almost never see a female doctor or lawyer marry the cashier at Walmart and take care of him. She will always look for someone who is at least on her own level, preferably doing better. In some rare circumstances you will see couples where the woman is the primary breadwinner and the couple manages to make it work, but most of the time if the woman is the provider, she is eventually going to lose respect for the man and start to look at him as a deadbeat or a leech. Or she will nag him to death about improving his income or career prospects.

Now it shouldn't be that way, but that's the way that goes most of the time.

10 minutes ago, CuriositasEtFidem said:

When I started this thread it was with the objective of educating fellow Catholics on trans/qwerty stuff and the general qwerty experience, not so much with hard theology and doctrine, though the discussions on those have been very interesting to read. So, to start anew, anyone have any questions on the things I mentioned? (i.e., what the transition process is like, what gender dysphoria feels like, how I cope with it, deadnaming/misgendering, what changes come with taking testosterone, etc.)

Your thread has been hijacked. Think of it as a Phatmass rite of passage.

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21 hours ago, fides' Jack said:

Fr. Ripperger gives the Thomistic view on the societal, complementary roles of men and women within marriage:

Generally speaking, it is not OK for men to take traditionally female roles, or for women to take traditionally male roles.  Of course there are circumstances that necessitate it.  

According to Fr. Ripperger, if a married mother keeps a job outside of the home, when the circumstances are not grave enough to make it a matter of absolute necessity, she is committing grave matter (the first requirement for mortal sin), and the husband, by allowing it, also commits grave matter.  The reason is because the children have a natural right to have a parent watching over them.  Ultimately the father commits the worse sin because it is primarily his responsibility to ensure that the appropriate moral decisions are made in the family.

But all of this going on right now, at least in this country, is just another sign that we are morally backwards.

Good video. I think it's spot-on. I don't know about your wife working being a grave sin though. Did he say that?

Edited by Peace
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fides' Jack
Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Ice_nine said:

I believe your "grave matter" statement is unwarranted.

It's not my statement.  It's his.  If it isn't in the video I posted, it's in one of his others on parenthood or marriage.  There are several.

13 hours ago, Aloysius said:

but I would definitely disagree with absolutizing gender roles in that way.

He's not absolutizing.  He's generalizing.  And that's OK.

My general feeling is that he's many, many times more qualified than anyone here to speak about it.  And yes, that's an appeal to authority on my part, but in moral matters appeals to authority matter.

13 hours ago, Aloysius said:

I think we should agree on an umbrella idea that there should be complementary gender roles even if we may have some different articulations of the details.

We agree on this matter.  

Edited by fides' Jack
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fides' Jack
3 hours ago, Peace said:

Good video. I think it's spot-on. I don't know about your wife working being a grave sin though. Did he say that?

He has said it multiple times.  That didn't come from me.

Of course, it's not always a mortal sin, and he always provides that caveat.

Certainly, these days it is very common for the "man" to leave his family and there are probably millions of single mothers out there.  Clearly this doesn't apply to them.

He's a very knowledgeable priest, and very well-grounded.  Those who know of him either love him or hate him.  (They would say, "I don't HATE him, I just strongly disagree with him")  Well, people who actually have faith will find out within a few years just how right he is.

 

I would only add this to my other statements here: I reject the idea that throughout history women have had to work outside the home.  They have ALWAYS been homemakers.

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haha I can't resist the rabbit hole (with apologies for feeding the thread hijack): working 'outside the home' as we understand it in modern industrial / post-industrial society is quite a different thing than it was in the past, that was my point.  generally speaking women were only protected from having to do some kind of labor to assist the family's subsistence among upper-middle and upper classes; but in more agricultural times those complementary labor roles were both pretty embedded within the homestead even for the lower classes, men and women alike were able to labor for their subsitsence in a way that kept them close to the home.

the principle that the special mother-child relationship should be protected from the labor of subsistence is a valid one, and indeed much of the labor that mothers are stuck doing in our present day economy definitely violates that; and I'm sure a good deal of 'fulfilling' careers violate that too.  but if a woman could have a fulfilling and meaningful job which did not interfere with her full time motherly relationship with her child, that would also fulfill that principle.  and of course out of necessity if a mother has to take a non-meaningful job or a job that interferes with the mother-child relationship, that's a tragedy, though sometimes an ugly necessity.  the extent to which any of these jobs places one inside or outside the home for any certain number of hours per week is a matter of details that would need to be judged against those principles, but it is not a principle that the mother should never do any work that happens 'outside the home', not necessarily, IMHO.

@Ash Wednesday et al, I'd support a thread split that included Fides's Fr. Ripperger video as the first post, with Peace's reply to that, then Fides's last two posts and then this one.  you don't have to but it'd probably be beneficial haha, then the two distinct conversations could have their space to breathe :)

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fides' Jack
Posted (edited)
24 minutes ago, Aloysius said:

but in more agricultural times those complementary labor roles were both pretty embedded within the homestead even for the lower classes, men and women alike were able to labor for their subsitsence in a way that kept them close to the home.

Yes, I agree, but this explanation favors my first post on the matter, rather than refutes it.

24 minutes ago, Aloysius said:

but if a woman could have a fulfilling and meaningful job which did not interfere with her full time motherly relationship with her child, that would also fulfill that principle.

Agreed.  Fr. Ripperger never said that the woman shouldn't work, as far as I know.  

24 minutes ago, Aloysius said:

and of course out of necessity if a mother has to take a non-meaningful job or a job that interferes with the mother-child relationship, that's a tragedy, though sometimes an ugly necessity. 

Agreed.  And already stated a couple times.

24 minutes ago, Aloysius said:

the extent to which any of these jobs places one inside or outside the home for any certain number of hours per week is a matter of details that would need to be judged against those principles, but it is not a principle that the mother should never do any work that happens 'outside the home', not necessarily, IMHO.

Again agreed.  And already stated multiple times.

 

So, I think this sideline is done?  It sounds like we're in agreement on everything, and you agree that, generally speaking, mothers ought not look for careers or jobs outside the home.

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1 hour ago, fides' Jack said:

He has said it multiple times.  That didn't come from me.

Of course, it's not always a mortal sin, and he always provides that caveat.

Certainly, these days it is very common for the "man" to leave his family and there are probably millions of single mothers out there.  Clearly this doesn't apply to them.

He's a very knowledgeable priest, and very well-grounded.  Those who know of him either love him or hate him.  (They would say, "I don't HATE him, I just strongly disagree with him")  Well, people who actually have faith will find out within a few years just how right he is.

 

I would only add this to my other statements here: I reject the idea that throughout history women have had to work outside the home.  They have ALWAYS been homemakers.

Specifically where did he say it though? In that video? At what timestamp? I didn't hear him say that.

What specifically is the sin? It ain't like you can open up the Baltimore Catechism and see a paragraph that says "It is a sin for a wife to work". Sorry but I'm gonna have to say you are blowing smoke here unless you have some documented proof from a valid magisterial source on that one.

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thanks for the split, @Ash Wednesday!

@fides' Jack: there are a few things we agree on, but ultimately I think we still disagree because I still come down on saying that it's entirely possible for there to be a job/career 'outside the home' that is fulfilling and meaningful and gives a mother the ability to actually fulfill her role as a mother as well.  a 60 hour workweek working nights and weekends and all hours, yeah that's probably incompatible with an ideal of motherhood (again we're talking about ideals so if something like that is a necessity for someone I'm not saying it's wrong to do it, we're talking about what would be ideal if one had all choices possible to them), but some job that was a 20-30 or even up to 40 hour workweek, was meaningful and fulfilling and flexible and offered good maternity leave, well I do think a family could meaningfully carve out complementarity between a mother and father and make that work.  so long as the mother-child relationship is protected, cherished, and prioritized.  again, the view of complementarity does insist that whatever the particulars, the father-child relationship cannot be a substitute for a mother-child relationship, so we do need to emphasize that, there is something unique about the mother-child relationship that needs to be prioritized as at the very heart of the family; but that uniqueness I wouldn't define based on "labor inside the home" vs "labor outside the home".

As I mentioned in passing earlier in the other thread, I wonder what the ubiquity of zoom / work from home might do to the kinds of dynamics of family and gender complementarity that people are able to balance now.  maybe it will turn into a good thing.

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___________

one interesting thought I had and would be interested to see how much push-back I would get for saying: I think there is nothing inherently feminine about who cooks the meals, or who cleans for that matter--those are just particular things we've associated from particular historical moments in our own culture (I'm not denigrating any family that still keeps to those norms, just pointing out they're not inherent characteristics of sex and gender).  if a family had a mother who worked a fulfilling job, and the father was the one who cooked most of the meals and did most of the cleaning so that when the mother was home she was more free to spend more meaningful time with her children as the father cooked/cleaned, that could be an entirely complementary marriage that didn't sacrifice complementarity in the genders.  of course it would be ideal that the father had an extrinsically focused task that was part of his kind of masculine contribution to the household as well, I don't think a father being entirely a house-husband would be ideal necessarily.

we're in an individualistic culture so it's down to each individual family to kind of navigate these balances, unfortunately, but I don't think those balances need to reproduce upper middle class 1950's america, it's about finding the right balance between the principles of complementary genders and the most fulfilling way all the members of the family can engage with the world.  IMO a stay at home housewife is not the only way to achieve that kind of balance.

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Machine_Washable
7 hours ago, Peace said:

The movie Blue Valentine kind of explores that. The main guy in the movie only works sporadically and doesn't bring home much income, but for the most part he is totally dedicated to spending time with his daughter, being a good father and a good husband (he does have a booze issue though). The wife eventually gets frustrated with his lack of career ambitions and coldly divorces him.

What you are saying could make sense in theory. Most women are capable of being the provider, but I think the vast majority of women aren't "wired" to be the provider. You'll see a male doctor or a lawyer marry the cashier at Walmart all time. You'll almost never see a female doctor or lawyer marry the cashier at Walmart and take care of him. She will always look for someone who is at least on her own level, preferably doing better. In some rare circumstances you will see couples where the woman is the primary breadwinner and the couple manages to make it work, but most of the time if the woman is the provider, she is eventually going to lose respect for the man and start to look at him as a deadbeat or a leech. Or she will nag him to death about improving his income or career prospects.

Now it shouldn't be that way, but that's the way that goes most of the time.

Your thread has been hijacked. Think of it as a Phatmass rite of passage.

No way. She does get tired of him being a bum. But it was really his constant drama and manipulative behavior. Look at what he did at her office. It is true that no woman wants to be with a bum. And no man should want to live off his wife. If my wife wanted to work because it represents a passion for her that is fine. But if she had to because I couldn’t provide for her then I’d want the earth to swallow me up. 
 

 

Edited by Machine_Washable
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1 hour ago, Machine_Washable said:

No way. She does get tired of him being a bum. But it was really his constant drama and manipulative behavior. Look at what he did at her office. It is true that no woman wants to be with a bum. And no man should want to live off his wife. If my wife wanted to work because it represents a passion for her that is fine. But if she had to because I couldn’t provide for her then I’d want the earth to swallow me up.

He punched the doctor at the office because he was making passes at his wife. He had known about that from some earlier point in the movie. That was justified IMO because the doctor knew she was married.

As for the drama and manipulation, I call that even. She was clearly contemplating affections from other men. She was also cold as hell to him throughout the whole second half of the movie. No romantic affection at all, just nagging about his career choices and lack of professional ambition.

And give the guy some credit. This girl gets knocked up by a football player having sex in a public place, and when she decides not to have the abortion, Gosling steps in, marries her and agrees to raise a child that he knows probably isn't even his. He took her when she was at her lowest point, but then years later she feels like she is too good for him and dumps him.

Janet Jackson wrote a song about this:

 

Edited by Peace
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Nihil Obstat
1 hour ago, Aloysius said:

___________

one interesting thought I had and would be interested to see how much push-back I would get for saying: I think there is nothing inherently feminine about who cooks the meals, or who cleans for that matter--those are just particular things we've associated from particular historical moments in our own culture (I'm not denigrating any family that still keeps to those norms, just pointing out they're not inherent characteristics of sex and gender).  if a family had a mother who worked a fulfilling job, and the father was the one who cooked most of the meals and did most of the cleaning so that when the mother was home she was more free to spend more meaningful time with her children as the father cooked/cleaned, that could be an entirely complementary marriage that didn't sacrifice complementarity in the genders.  of course it would be ideal that the father had an extrinsically focused task that was part of his kind of masculine contribution to the household as well, I don't think a father being entirely a house-husband would be ideal necessarily.

we're in an individualistic culture so it's down to each individual family to kind of navigate these balances, unfortunately, but I don't think those balances need to reproduce upper middle class 1950's america, it's about finding the right balance between the principles of complementary genders and the most fulfilling way all the members of the family can engage with the world.  IMO a stay at home housewife is not the only way to achieve that kind of balance.

In my family, I am happy to do quite a lot of the cooking. I am a decent cook, I enjoy doing it, and at the end of the day I am happy if my wife can spend more of her day engaged in quality time with our daughter, rather than chores. Plus if I do more cooking she asks me to clean less often. :)

She does all the baking though, and tracks the monthly expenditures, both of which I do not enjoy doing.

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