In what may be the most oft-quoted sentence in the Proclamation on the Family, we are told that “by divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.” How do we parse this compound sentence? Are “presiding” and “providing” two separate activities–the two primary duties of fatherhood? Or is providing an obligation that comes with the increased responsibility of presiding, and from which it cannot fundamentally be separated? Do the two activities consitute a virtual collocation of sorts?
In the order stated here, one could reasonably conclude that “providing” is a logical extension of “presiding;” in practice, however, “providing” gives the provider enormous potential power in the relationship, as they have access to the capital upon which everyone’s substistence rests, and this might quite naturally result in their “presiding.” So the arrow of causation might well point in the opposite direction. If money and power are implicitly being linked by this statement, it is hardly an illogical connection.
Should these two activities be understood in terms of each other or entirely separately?
More specifically, in practical terms, can you embrace one element and reject the other? Can one person continue to preside if their spouse commands as much or more income as they? And what about the converse–is it possible to have a truly egalitarian relationship when only one person earns income? On what principles is such a relationship based, and what (if any) checks should be in place?
- 20 March 2008