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Thursday, February 17, 2005 AD
Submission Should Precede Explanation
In his latest post at Dry Creek Chronicles, The persuasive power of the truth, Rick talks about not using reasoning to motivate his children to obey. I think there's something applicable there for all of us as we consider how God deals with us as His children. I think too often we seek to understand God's will before we seek to obey it. I think we do the same with any authority in our lives.

I think if someone really does want to be obedient, though, reason can help. The trick is for the submissive attitude to precede the explanation.

I've never had much serious authority in my life. No one's ever expected much from me. Even now, I pretty much get my own way and do what I want at work. When I imagine what marriage would be like, I like to think that I'm going to be nice and sweet and submissive, but in my more honest moments, I wonder if it's more likely that I'd be bristly and resistant and argumentative. So the mental picture I sometimes draw is of saying "Yes, of course" to my husband and then asking "Why?" if I don't get it. I think the explanation might help then. It might allow for a more thorough obedience. It might get at underlying motivations rather than mere external conformity. It might allow for more cheerful and less fearful submission as it paints a context for the particular directive.

What explanation can't do, and I think this is what Rick is saying, is create a willingness to obey. It can't produce a heartfelt attitude of submission to the person in authority, even if it does convince of a pragmatic need to accede to a particular command. To take that back to the Ultimate Authority, you can give me a thousand and one reasons why obeying God would be the best course of action, but if I don't love Him with a heart sincerely desirous of pleasing Him, ain't nothin' gonna make me obey.

And I ain't gonna love Him if I don't sincerely believe that He loves me. So the more I grasp grace, the more I'll grasp obedience (Titus 2:11-14). Going back in the other direction, human leaders -- parents, husbands, elders -- will get more obedience from those under their authority -- children, wives, parishoners -- as they create an atmosphere of trust and security and love. I don't for a second mean that discipline isn't included in that atmosphere -- it is an integral part (Hebrews 2:6). But it's not to be self-centered, self-pleasing discipline. Rather it is to be truly motivated by seeking the good of the other.

Speaking of discipline, this post lacks it. It's just a rambling free-write. Please pardon my publication of these half-formed thoughts! Further irony is that I get the reasoning behind the need to obey proper authorities way more than I do the actual practice, so maybe I shouldn't shoot off my mouth at all on this topic.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 2/17/2005 06:08:00 PM • Permalink

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