Friday, June 10, 2011

Love, Honor & A Four-Letter Word

The word is Obey, dear readers ;) And it's a word that often rubs people the wrong way. At least in this day and age. No one wants to obey...anyone or anything it seems. Not the police, teacher, parent, clergy/nuns, or spouse. God is at the bottom of the obey list.  Rules are made to be broken, right, so why obey them? Don't get me started.
The definition of obey is: to comply with or follow the commands, restrictions, wishes, or instructions of. I like the word "wishes".  It implies emotion, camaraderie, a desire to please. Obedient means: to agree to obey. Notice the word, agree. It doesn't say demand. It doesn't say twist one's arm. Agree is: consent.
On several occasions, broadcasters excitedly announced that the words-love, honor and obey would not be used in the vows at the recent royal wedding. Apparently, Prince Charles and Lady Diana were the first royal couple to omit the word, obey, and substitute cherish. Cherish Diana? Charles never did. His adulterous affair turned the word cherish into a fluff word with cotton candy substance. Don't get me started.
Cherish is a word used by most of us. I cherish my alone-time, old photographs and memories. Cling to & worship are definitions of cherish. I'm surprised feminists and today's free-thinkers like the word cherish any more than the word obey, in the light of these definitions. One example of the word cherish is: Many cherished the book. Gee, that's special. It would be remiss of me not to mention that cherish has some sweet meanings like, to feel affection for. I would reserve this for my pet, not my husband.
Obey is a much misunderstood word, especially when associated with the Sacrament of Matrimony. St. Peter set off an explosion when he commanded wives, “be submissive to your husbands, so that some, though they do not obey the word, may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, when they see your reverent and chaste behavior.”  What person doesn't know that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar? Why should St. Peter's words cause such a stir? Why wouldn't a sweet disposition..a woman going out of her way for her husband not reap amazing benefits and maybe even, change?
A man who is right with God, who is considerate and loving, would never abuse the word, obey.  My husband wouldn't abuse the word, my son wouldn't and my nephews, too. Good men do exist. But, I guess that's not the experience for many women. How sad that women don't realize that the Holy Spirit guides the actions of a good man. How sad that it's not understood that our marriage vows are bonds of trust.
We are asked by Christ to love deeply, to love unselfishly. Obedience is when two people pledge to put the needs of the other ahead of their own. What a shame that we've dropped this word from wedding vows and lost the essence of a gospel-based marriage. One blogger wrote that obedience speaks of a sense of duty. What's wrong with ethical or moral principles governing a person's thoughts and actions, especially between a husband and wife? Don't get me started.
Why isn't the Holy Couple mentioned more often as an ideal portrait of marriage? St. Joseph didn't brow-beat the Blessed Mother. They had a most loving relationship. Mary is the epitome of obedience to both her earthly husband and to God. She is strong, decisive, independent & confident, yet feminine, compassionate, gentle and full of grace, a real woman.
I found this piece by Elizabeth Ficocelli at  a wealth of inspiration and logic: There is no dispute that women are equal in dignity, grace and worth and certainly equally loved by God. In fact, God's plan for women has always been to elevate them to a position of honor and esteem in the home and, for a long time, the role of wife and mother was highly regarded by all. However, the increasing power struggle between wives and husbands in this past century has bred broken relationships, rebellious children, lack of love and divorce. Women have lost their value, becoming subject to man and degraded by society - exactly the opposite of what “women's lib” set out to achieve. The gospel call for the husband to be an authority figure, balancing complete submission to the will of his creator and perfect reverence for his spouse, is not an easy one, and one that comes with much responsibility and accountability.
If I were to renew my wedding vows today, they would, honor, obey & protect. Why?  Sometimes, at night before I fall asleep, my husband holds me close and whispers, "I've got your back". I know in that moment that I am loved, secure and protected. I am flesh of his flesh, bone of his bone.  Obey is an equal opportunity...opportunity.


  1. Another excellent post, Nanette! People look at the word obey in such a negative way these days. I loved the words your husband sometimes whispers to you, "I've got your back". Beautiful!

  2. Aw, Mary..I can always count on you for a kind word..thanks for the comment. You are a faithful "follower" I think Christ will say the same! N