I originally posted this on the Catholic Apologetics Moral Theology section, but I thought perhaps it would fit better here.
What I want to know is, what are your (Catholicly sound) opinions on how we are to practice obedience in our own lives. I have a few specific examples I’ve been wrestling with myself and would be interested in getting some opinions on.
To begin with my mother in law, has always been a big proponent of obedience to one’s parents, even to what some like my wife and I would call tyranny. (E.g. picking Ellen (my wife) up from college (before we met and were married) under false pretenses and essentially kidnapping her by driving straight home (3 hours) because her and her husband did not want her dating a boy at school. (that boy was not me) . Although she did on the day of our wedding go to the priest whose parish we were having our reception in, voiced her opinion on how deeply against our marriage she was at that particular time (i.e. we need to wait longer). While Ellen and I have put this all behind us, I do wonder how much obedience we do, and Ellen owes to her.
In spite of these instances and others, her argument for it is very coherent and seems doctrinally sound, but there’s something about it that I just don’t like and perhaps that’s nothing more than the pride in me which doesn’t want to have to submit to other people’s stupid decisions.
Here’s the argument: As a Catholic we should always submit our will to someone else, in doing so we ensure that our will conforms with God’s. An example would be: a child submits to his mothers will, God commands children to obey their parents, thus the child is performing God’s will. For the most part I think this base argument is absolutely correct, but then we move into the grey area. She believes the mantra of Satan is “I will not serve” and it makes sense, but it also implies that rebellion against any legitimate authority is making ones will identical with Satan’s, an implication I’m not sure I’m ready to accept. So here’s the nitty gritty, I have a number of problems with these implications.
First, she believes that even after marriage, one should continue to submit their will to their parent’s. I tend to disagree, although I understand perhaps the importance of having someone over you, which can guide you. Still the question remains do we owe our parents obedience even after we’re married? Now don’t go quoting me about how the man leaves his parents and cleaves to his wife, I understand that part, but even after we have cleaved, we still owe obedience to authority, and our parents are older and (apparently) wiser.
I should also say that her other argument is that we can do no evil if we are acting in obedience as long as it does not go against our conscience or require us to commit a sin. It makes sense, yet I hate to concede the idea that I should perform an action which to my knowledge is stupid/wasteful or whatever in order to be obedient, but then perhaps that is what saints are made of right?
Finally I wanted to know what you all thought of a wife’s obedience to her husband should be in practice, obviously if her husband asks her to do something in obedience she would be required to do so, but how much farther should that extend? Would it only be in circumstances where the husband specifically asks her in obedience to perform a task? For example would it be unreasonable for the husband to demand that the wife not worry about finances and leave it up to him? (perhaps you can guess what we argue about)
For me the biggest argument against this particular obedience is the gift of reason and logic that God has given us, and that parents should be preparing their children to be independent and make good decisions on their own. I understand the humility required to submit your will to another persons, but should we live our lives in constant submission to others, or is a life in submission to the Church enough?
Finally, I also understand the importance of obedience and I know that the Church would be far more glorious if priests, lay people, religious orders, and just about everybody had been obedient to begin with, the protestant movement is a shining example of the fruits of disobedience. So what do you think?
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