Sunday, November 5, 2017

Marital Obedience

For years conservatives have been reactive instead of proactive. That is, progressives will come with an idea and conservatives will react to it. Instead of taking initiative, they just appear content to follow liberals around, reacting to the latest outrage. Often enough they over-react which fact liberals then use to make them look ridiculous.

One of the institutions constantly under attack is, as we all know, a traditional family. There is not one aspect of it left unscathed in the modern society. In fact, those who argue that marriage 1.0 is dead, are probably not that far from the truth. Yet, the secular onslaught causes some religious people go into overdrive and start preaching what could only be described as a new and strange doctrine.

Traditional society is by its very nature, hierarchical, while modern society strives to be egalitarian, that's why it has such problems with an idea of wifely obedience. First, they argue, there can't be any obedience between two equals, and second, if one is supposed to be the head, then why always the husband? The idea of divinely ordained is weird to the adherents of secular equality dogma.

Yet, the opponents of it will often go into another extreme and argue that the husband's authority is absolute or very near it, just like it was the case with oriental despots of old. It may sound very spiritual for those who claim to follow the Bible to the letter, yet this interpretation can only be described as an overreaction to marital egalitarianism because it never has been the traditional Western teaching on marriage, because Western ideas on authority in general, tried to restrict absolutism (Magna Carta anyone?).

The marital sermon used by many Reformed churches in my area dates back to the times of Reformation, and yet it claims that the wife is only to obey her husband in "good and honourable things", not in sin and misery. As Christians, we do have a freedom of conscience and the Scriptures teach us that in a conflict situation we are to obey God rather than men.

Here is what Matthew Henry, a prominent theologian, writes on the subject: So it follows, Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ (Ephesians 5:24), with cheerfulness, with fidelity, with humility, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing--in every thing to which their authority justly extends itself, in every thing lawful and consistent with duty to God. (Emphasis mine). 

Matthew Henry is writing about things to which the husband's authority extends, apparently presuming that there are things, to which it doesn't. Granted, there are grey areas in life. If your husband insists on you watching a naughty movie together, it could be better to submit, for the sake of marital peace. Now, what about if he asks you to sell drugs? Prostitute yourself? Murder someone? 

We live in a civil society and the husband isn't the only authority. There are laws of God, but also laws of the state which still view certain antisocial behaviours as crimes and will punish them, often severely. I have an idea that this whole absolute obedience teaching arose in extreme patriarchy circles the adherents of which wish to model Christian family after the OT patriarchs who were tribal and a law unto themselves. They tend to forget that we live in NT times, and while the whole Scripture has been given for our instruction, we are living under the New Covenant.

In all fairness, I should add that extreme wifely obedience is probably the least of our modern problems, unlike radical feminism, which is much more widespread; yet, with all the interest young people express in traditionalism I feel like someone has to provide a voice of moderation in this discussion. As a good wife, it's wise to be somewhat flexible, but betraying your sincere convictions doesn't pay.


  1. One woman I read of recently was asked by her husband to watch a 'naughty' movie with him. She complied, but closed her eyes during the 'naughty' scenes. The rest of the movie was palatable, but she avoided looking at what was only to take place behind closed doors between married people.

  2. Vicki, that's very interesting! I think that in general, it's better not to be too rigid about many things which can't cause real harm. Take clothes, for instance. With extreme immodestly on display daily, the wife won't shock anyone by wearing somewhat shorter skirts if her husband insists. The same goes about school choice etc. Yet, there are certain things which are really evil and cause harm, like drugs, alcohol abuse or things which can harm children. Sometimes you have to draw the line.

  3. I agree with this post. Women are erroneously told to be submissive when they are confusing it with enabling a man to be selfish. Men sometimes use the Bible submission as a vehicle to their own agenda

  4. It's a matter of conscience.I'm not that prudish and would watch a film with naughty scenes with my husband. I wouldn't watch hard core p*rn though, and I would warn him that it would bring his soul into danger. I don't believe the husband has the right to force his wife to go against her conscience. On the other hand, as I have said, we aren't exactly dealing with an epidemic of overtly submissive women, rather, vice versa.

  5. I think that if one chooses her husband wisely, very little problems will arise. It is easy to be submissive when one's hubby is wise and decent etc. :)

    I actually think that the number one problem in western society is that women do not hold high standards for the men they date and marry and allow to father their children. That's why men start behaving badly, because they do not get any particular reward for being gentlemen! I have read in some old books that the women are to hold the standard of the society. If women simple WILL NOT marry (or have sex with) men who are not decent, men become decent very quickly. But if women go with anything, men are not motivated to be the best version of themselves.


    I wouldn't watch p*rn but we do watch mainstream movies etc. and if there happens to be some nudity or sex I make no fuss about it.

  6. Women don't have to choose wisely any more, they have welfare state as their provider. An average man can't compete anyway, unless he is an upper middle or upper class and their women don't usually hang out with losers or divorce on a whim.

  7. Is it too horrible to say that that's why lower classes are lower classes? You cannot expect good life if you make bad decisions.

  8. No, it's not. Have you ever thought about the Bible verse that teaches that the law exists for the lawless, while the wise have the law written on their hearts? That was the reason behind all the strict rules of decorum and the concept of noblesse oblige!