It saddens me that the bulk of society today has such a distorted understanding of obedience. When we speak of a teenager's obedience to her parents, society tells us we are expecting too much--that demanding obedience of our own children will only repress them. When a woman is obedient to the godly authority of her husband, she is called a doormat; she is pitied and mocked. When a man is obedient unto the Lord, shunning sexual sin--even refusing to look at a sexily dressed woman on the street, he is laughed at by other men; they ask him if he is gay or say that he has been "whipped" by his wife.
This is a deep sadness.
For when a child or young adult obeys his or her parents, they are learning respect; they are acting with honor; likely, they are saving themselves from a lot of embarrassing mistakes and heartache. When a wife submits to the authority of a godly husband, she is honoring him; she is nurturing harmony in her home and marriage; she is showing what it means to love sacrificially. When a man is obedient to the Lord, he is walking a righteous path; he should be commended, not ridiculed.
Of course, by its very nature, obedience is not servitude. Servitude implies that there is no choice but obeisance. But, true obedience, godly obedience, is a choice, and therefore cannot be forced. It is a will freely submitted out of reverence to God either to God Himself or to those He has placed as figures of authority in our lives. Of course, obedience can be chosen out of a sense of duty, and sometimes this is right and good. Sometimes it's the best we can give. The most noble kind of obedience, however, stems from love (John 14:15). Love of God, love of others. Through a right understanding of obedience, we find not servitude, but freedom.
This is peace. This is joy. This is grace.
“True freedom is within the law, not outside it. I am free to draw a triangle, if I give it three sides, but not, in a stroke of broad-mindedness, fifty-seven sides. I am free to fly on condition that I obey the law of aeronautics. In the spiritual realm, I am also most free when I obey the law of God.”
– Archbishop Fulton Sheen, The World’s First Love