Conservative Anglican dioceses do not allow the ordination of women, but this diocese took a step further with new wording.
Muriel Porter, a Melbourne academic and laywoman who writes on Anglican Church issues, said replacing the word “obey” with “submit” was derogatory. “I’m horrified,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald. ”It is a very dangerous concept, especially in terms of society’s propensity for domestic violence.”
Sydney Archbishop Peter Jensen said the new vows emphasize a husband’s commitment and a wife’s responsibility. “Her ‘submission’ is her voluntary acceptance of living together, her glad recognition that this is what he intends to bring to the marriage and that it is for her good, his good and the good of children born to them.”
Robert Forsyth, a bishop in Sydney, Australia and the chair of the diocese’s liturgical panel that drafted the vows, stated that they based new wording on the New Testament, which he says relates to the Church submitting to Christ.
However, Victoria’s Archbishop John Davis, an expert on the Church’s Constitution, says it could lead to legal issues, especially since they are restricted to one diocese.
“The legal relationship is between the Commonwealth and the Anglican Church of Australia, and not between the Commonwealth and each of the 24 dioceses in the country,” he said.
Primate Phillip Aspinall stated that the changes this diocese made are possibly questionable under Canon Law and they will discuss this change that the diocese made at the next national tribunal.
The Anglican Book of Common Prayer came into existence in 1662 and the Church never used the word “submit” in the marriage vows. The use of the word in the Australian diocese is a first in Anglican history.