Obedience ( Evangelical Counsels Part IV)

Obedience…. The word has in recent years developed a really terrible reputation.  Children do not want to obey their parents.  Couples particularly have asked to have the word stricken from their wedding vows.

Pretty much anything that creates the connotation of the lack of self control , self governance, or individual freedoms are pushed out to the side.

Dictionary.com (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/obey) Has the following to say about the word “obey” :

to comply with or follow the commands, restrictions, wishes, or instructions of: to obey one’s parents.
to comply with or follow (a command, restriction, wish, instruction, etc.).
(of things) to respond conformable in action to: The car obeyed the slightest touch of the steering wheel.
to submit or conform in action to (some guiding principle, impulse, one’s conscience, etc.).


Like many other things in this world, the thing created for the purpose of “good” is taken and used through the sin of Pride, and used in a way that is “evil “or bad.

In the manner of the Evangelical Counsels, the word obedience means many things.   It means that we are obedient to God , to the Holy Church, and to our superiors.    In the case of Priests, Deacons, and religious, it means that you are obedient to your Bishop, the local Ordinary, your Abbot/Mother Superior/Pastor/ Minister General etc.

This obedience is not absolute to the singular exception of God.

Children must obey their parents.  They need to do so because they love their children and want what is best for them in all things.

Now comes the part that the vast majority seem to get wrong.. So please listen carefully.  Apart from each individuals requirement for obedience to God, The Bible says … Wives obey your husbands , and husbands love your wives as you love the Church.  Love your wife as you love your own body.  Present your wife holy and precious and without blame before the Lord.

It is NOT about husbands controlling their wives, or treating them like slaves.  It IS about love.  It is being submissive to each other and to God.

To love your spouse is to be submissive to God, in the service of your spouse.   If you love your spouse, you want to protect them, to care for them, and to show them love.  You care for them as you would your own body and even more so for the love of God and each other.

Obedience is not about control and it is not absolute.   Obedience is there to give us protection, care and in love of the “other”.

When I say that obedience is not absolute, I mean that there is a litmus test of how far obedience goes.  As always God, and one’s own well-formed conscience are the determining key factors.   Obviously, committing murder, or theft, or some other sin would not be something your well-formed conscience would permit, and the person to whom you would normally be obedient to, should not ask as it would be damaging to your immortal souI=l.  In such cases obedience would not be binding.

Obedience is a gift of love, a gift of our free will, given to all we love not only for our own sake, but for the sake of the Kingdom of God.  Indeed , even Christ as obedient even unto death, a gift of love for each one of us.



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