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Church report raps male 'headship' concept

Oct. 3, 2006 at 8:35 AM

LONDON, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- A Church of England report says theological ideas on male "headship" in marriage vows can be wrongly interpreted to support submission by wives.

The report questions traditional marriage vows in which the man only promises "to love and cherish" his wife while the wife must promise not only to love and cherish but also to "obey" her husband. The report has been backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, reports the Daily Telegraph.

The document says the church has failed at "many points" to prevent abuse. It said the clergy officiating marriages should stress that men and women are of equal worth, and that the use of the word "obey" could be seen as an outdated view of the status of women.

It warned that using masculine imagery to characterize God could help validate "overbearing and ultimately violent patterns of behavior," the newspaper reported.

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