Should a wife accept her husband’s surname? – The Waltonian

From: Katherine Thomas

I understand why women might not want to take their husband’s last name. I mean, what if the poor guy had a name like “Barth”? Would you be Mrs. Barth? (My apologies and condolences to Barths reading this.)

Barth aside, there could be other reasons why she avoids this rule. Perhaps she considers taking his name as a kind of mark of belonging to her, and wishes to “break the patriarchy” as young upstarts say today. Or, less controversially, she simply loves her original surname: perhaps it has ethnic pride or historical significance.

On the other hand, what is the benefit of taking your husband’s name? Support me; I would like to explore a few points of view to defend this tradition. First we will hear from GK Chesterton, then God.

“Of the two sexes, the woman occupies the most powerful position,” writes GK Chesterton. “For the average woman is the head of something she can do what she wants…women represent the despot [element in life].” A leader is, by title, associated with the domain he leads. “King Charles of Spain” or “Amelia Mignonette Thermopolis Renaldi, Princess of Genoa” could serve as examples here. If one takes the view of GK Chesterton (radically feminist) that the wife is a despot over her family life, it follows that she, like any ruler, would want her domain in her title. “Mrs. Smith” tells you that she governs Mr. Smith, his offspring Smith, and the property he purchased with a check signed “Smith.”

Excuse my satire in that last paragraph – unless you actually believe that reasoning. If you do, rock on, I guess. Moving to a more serious state of mind, one could skim through the Word. I heard it was a Christian university. How might a Christian wife benefit from taking her husband’s last name? How might nominal adoption impact his growth in Christ?

When Christ married the Church, clothed anew in a bloodstained purple robe and a crown of thorns, he gave men and women a glimpse of what true marriage looks like: Bridegroom (Matthew 9:15) dies for the bride. (Ephesians 5:25). What does the Church in turn do for her Spouse? She takes His name as her own: “Christian” (lit. “Little Christ”). We are the Body of Christ: the Christian Church (1 Cor 12:27). The Body of Christ and ours are united, and we become one – under His name. Mrs. Dust becomes Mrs. Christ, essentially. I laugh too; it looks weird.

So I would say it might actually be helpful for the wife to remember her marriage to Christ by taking her husband’s last name. This reminds her that her husband represents Christ in their marriage (Ephesians 5:24). She took the name of Christ at her baptism when she became a “Christian”; she could also take the name of the image of Christ (e.g. Mr. Smith) when she marries him.

If you’re still reading, I salute your perseverance through this rather confusing thought process. Of course, I’m not set in stone either way, and I’m not saying that taking the husband’s name is “the Christian way to go.” It sounds like it might be a good reminder that marriage to a husband should be like marriage to Christ – but it might not be helpful for someone else, and that’s totally fine. Let me know your thoughts on this controversial tradition. Should modernity kill it? I take my leave as still unchanged – Miss Thomas.

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