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100 years ago >

Matrimonial ‘indignities’

April 11th, 1913.

WE HAVE received a foolish manifesto from a society calling itself the Spiritual Militancy League for the Women's Charter of Rights and Liberties. The document in question enumerates fifteen "moral indignities" contained in the Church Service of Holy Matrimony, and calls upon the Government to introduce a Bill "which shall secure the removal from the marriage rite of the State Church of all the aforementioned humiliations to women". Among the "indignities" are the use of the word "obey" in the case of the bride; the giving away of the bride; the ring; and the phrase, "I pronounce that they be man and wife together." It would almost satisfy these militants, however, if everything that is required of the woman were also required of the man. Thus, nearly all would be well if he were compelled to promise obedience, instead of the worship he now promises; if he and the bride exchanged rings; if he were called husband instead of man; if a new marriage-psalm announced what the husband "shall be as upon the walls" of the bride's house. But St Paul's teaching about marriage must be removed by Act of Parliament from the Prayer Book. Its inclusion is the "crowning indignity". It surprises us that these "spiritual militants" do not protest also against the abandonment by the wife of her maiden name, and advocate the establishment of the matriarchal family system. But, perhaps, they prefer doing one thing at a time. When Parliament has reformed the Prayer Book, the next step will be to put the husband and father into the lower place in the family, if, indeed, it will not be to abolish marriage altogether, which, we believe, is the ultimate aim of the people who are waging this war of the sexes.


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