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
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.