Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Call to Obedience

I remember watching this episode when it first aired and laughing so hard!  On The Cosby Show, Alvin was always spouting these archaic, patriarchal ideals; and Claire Huxtable had certainly set him straight (so I thought).

Yet, as I look back on this now through the eyes of Christ (vs. the eyes of flesh), there is only sadness.  This is the type of insidious perversion which a lot of women have to fight tooth & nail to overcome, just to understand what it is to be a wife or even what it means to serve the Lord (because the two roles are parallels).

What Claire is espousing here is the concept of 50/50.  It signifies that everything must be shared (at least conceptually) to make sure that not one person bears too much responsibility for the relationship. With this mindset, I only contribute to the marriage as much (or as little) as I perceive the other person is.  It is a recipe for divorce.  Why? Because it is based in selfishness (what I am getting, what I am giving, how I see things, me, me, me, etc.).

There is no such thing as a 50/50 marriage.  Such is a fantasy.  Better yet, it is a lie.  People in such arrangements deceive themselves into believing that everything is 50/50.  In reality, every single time, what you really have is one person controlling and manipulating the other to get their way.

What was Alvin's big offense in this video?  Implying that Claire was "serving" Cliff.  Why is that assertion so demeaning?  She responds with such vitriol that you would think she hates the man to whom she is married.

Really take a close look at this.  Claire justifies offering a cup of coffee to her husband because he had brought her a cup earlier that morning (50/50).  So why then was she offering coffee to Alvin, who had done nothing for her?  She was willing and happy to serve a visitor to her home, but offended at the suggestion of serving Cliff.  Do you see the dichotomy and insanity here? She didn't have a problem with serving; she had a problem with serving her husband.

"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Galatians 5:13-14

serve: Greek word douleuō meaning to do service, to be a slave; to obey or submit to; devoted to another to the disregard of one's own interests

We are called in Christ to serve one another as a testament of our love.  Why would our spouses be excluded from this service?  According to the Scriptures, both the husband and wife are to serve each other; albeit in different roles (Ephesians 5:22-33).  The problem comes in because the role of the wife calls for her to be in obedience to her husband.

The 50/50 dynamic is not about maintaining equality and fairness in a marriage.  It comes from a position of fear and mistrust; leaving you unable to show your husband the graciousness & common courtesy which you would naturally extend to strangers.

Yes, I understand that this is a television sitcom, but it mirrors what is going on in most homes; and many try to bring that 50/50 mess into Christian homes.  Mention that wives are to be subject to their husbands, and you often get an immediate and agitated response.  "No, no. Now wait a minute.  There is another part to that. The man has to do his part to."

Yet, the command is not, "If your husband does what you think he needs to do, then you are to be subject to him."  God gives direction to both the man and the woman, but we are each called to fulfill those roles - not based on the performance of the other - but based upon our service to the Lord. Even if your impression of your husband is that he is not living up to his responsibilities in the marriage, you are still called to obey him (of course, not in areas of sin).

"Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives." I Peter 3:1

What Does Obedience Look Like?

So, what does obedience look like?  In short it means doing what you are told.  My mother and I had a conversation yesterday about children following the rules.  She stated, "I don't think they are trying not to follow the rules. It is just that they are very analytical.  They are just trying to understand why you are telling them to do something, because it doesn't make sense to them."

Yet, that is not obedience.  Obedience doesn't require their understanding or even their agreement; it requires their submission.  This is certainly the standard the Father has set for us all as His children.

"And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments." I John 2:3

Some may say, "But, I am not a child; I am a grown woman."  Such may be true, but you are called nonetheless to obey your husband.  You may be fully capable of making your own decisions and arriving at logical conclusions, but you are still called to obey your husband.  Does the nature of what obedience is change because it is between a wife and her husband?

In fact, the call to obedience is not really an issue when you agree with your husband.  In such cases, you are only doing what you already think is best anyway.  It is when you do not agree with your husband that your true heart in this area is shown.  Those are the exact times when you are called to obey (submit your will to his).  Remember, the goal for serving others is to be love...and love is not self-seeking (I Corinthians 13:4). Isn't love supposed to be the foundation of your marriage as well?

God has an objective in marriage: making of two one flesh (Genesis 2:24). You have two minds and two personalities which are supernaturally brought into unity together.  They do not become clones of each other, but are complementary.  In order to maintain this harmony and reflect His authority (based upon selflessness), God determined that the man would be the head of this union (Genesis 2:18).  If there is resistance to obey him, then you should ask the Lord where the roots of fear and mistrust still exist in your soul.  Remember, a house divided against itself will fall.

I remember one of my first realizations that I didn't understand obedience to my husband.  I was reading in the Scriptures how Abraham saw the Lord coming and wanted to make preparations. He went back into his tent and told Sarah to bake bread.

"And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth." Genesis 18:6

You know what Sarah did?  She baked bread.  She didn't ask why.  She didn't ask who it was for. She didn't argue.  She didn't delay.  And guess what?  He didn't even say, "Please." Plus, he told her to do it "quickly".    No attitudes, no talking back; she simply did it.  Obedience.

I knew when I first read it that this would not have been me.  I would have been full of questions...and maybe had a bit of an attitude because he expected me to stop what I was doing and do what he stated.  Funny how we can be offended by our husbands telling us what to do, but somehow convince ourselves that we are quick to obey commands from the Lord.

Am I saying that a woman is not permitted to ever ask questions or engage in discussion with her husband?  No, of course not. I am talking about not having a contentious attitude and understanding what obedience really is (Proverbs 21:19; 27:15).  Obedience doesn't mean you cannot think for yourself.  It does not mean that you are devalued, less equal in the marriage, or that you have no voice.  A wise man will consider the input from his wife - as God even instructed Abraham to do - for she is given as a vessel to bless him (Genesis 21:12; Proverbs 18:22).  A wise woman will know when and how to share it (Isaiah 50:4; Proverbs 15:23).

"The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed." Titus 2:3-5

The word of God states that the older women are to teach the younger wives "to love their husbands". This does not deal with having an emotional feeling towards them, but of being in obedience to one's husband.  Just as Jesus said, if we love Him, we will obey His commands.  

Ultimately, obedience to your husband is not even about your husband.  It is a sign of your trust in the Lord. May we all trust in the Lord enough to do as He commands, in this and every area.

"For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement." I Peter 3:5

Additional Resources:


A Head & A Help


An Honest Woman

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