The Catholic Church four years ago adopted a statement on marriage that read, in part, "mutual submission -- not dominance by either partner -- is the key to genuine joy." But the Baptists were unambiguous in their disdain for shared household authority, overwhelmingly rejecting a "mutual submission" amendment. So while culture wars rage outside, the Southern Baptist male can take comfort in the knowledge that his home, by church decree, is once again his castle.
"Submitting graciously" to their husbands' leadership may not be conventional wisdom on marriage among American women, but it's a trend on the rise, says TIME correspondent Richard Ostling. The Southern Baptist Convention yesterday codified male leadership of the household in its declaration on the family, and a consensus among the nation's largest Protestant denomination can't be viewed simply as the triumph of conservative elements: "The convention is a very important, often underestimated force in American life," says Ostling. "This statement and the mood it expresses in response to the moral confusion of the wider culture are going to have significant influence."