“For as by the disobedience of one man, many were made sinners: so also by the obedience of one, many shall be made just.” (Romans 5:19)
Contained in traditional marriage vows is the phrase: “To love, honor and obey.” Most are comfortable with the words love and honor; although there are many who know not their true meaning. But the word obey sends disconcerting shivers up most spines. To submit or conform in action, can be used to define the term obey. For many in the modern world, who live by the lyrics of the songs, “I’ve Got To Be Me” and “My Way,” every effort is made to avoid the utterance and practice of obedience. In the age of the self, obedience is regarded as an affront to the independent man and woman. The deterrent to obedience is that it requires self-denial; a loss of self. There exist, however, objective guiding principles that compel obedience; which, in turn, fosters the goodness in life.
Those who abhor the notion of obedience fail to realize that it is an integral part of their lives. For we are inescapably dependent upon much. We exercise obedience in our work, our relationships and even in the games we play.
The game of golf can neither be played nor enjoyed if one is disobedient to the mechanics of the swing and rules of the game. Suppose that I chose not to obey the proper use of the golf club by inverting it. By gripping the head of the club and then attempting to hit the ball with the grip one finds that the execution of the shot would be far from what would be considered successful. My disobedience here would make for a bad outcome. Further, in disobeying the rule that states “to play the ball where it lies,” I decide to place my ball in a more advantageous position. This disregard for the rule would be unfair to my opponent, be contrary to the right playing of the game, and compromise integrity. The integrity for which the game of golf is so highly respected. Through my disobedience, by perverting the rule and use of the club, I have made a travesty of the game. And in so doing, have undermined the inherent goodness that is found in the sound fundamentals and rules of golf.
The complete definition of obey is as follows: is to submit or conform in action to some guiding principle, impulse, or one’s conscience. We must admit that there is occasion for us to practice obedience; especially in regard to those things we deem important. Even in bad habits; do we not obey the impulse to do that which brings us temporary relief from unresolved troubles? We may obey the call of alcoholic beverages or the lure of popular opinion, as example, if it satisfies our need. Sadly, too often, we do not consider the long-term harm that this misguided obedience can inflict upon us. Do we regularly disobey any such summoning? In general, the answer appears to be no, because it requires denying the self. Even though, in the end, it would be for the good of self to disobey on such occasions. Disobedience to subjective truth and obedience to objective truth then demands much, for it is an act of the will; requiring sacrifice and commitment.
Obedience can lead to a good or bad end. In choosing to cross a heavily trafficked thoroughfare, on foot, when the crossing signal allows one to do so, would make one fairly certain of arriving safely at the other side. The price to pay for disobedience in this instance may be quite unwelcome. However, in properly obeying the “walk/don’t walk” signal, one will likely be around to disobey another day.
We are all subject to obedience; and we do obey. Whether in right reasoned obedience influenced by common sense, or in imprudent obedience to the harmful things that can enslave. Whichever path you choose in life you will be influenced by events, situations, people or ideals. Each will impel obedience. It would be wise to follow Jiminy Cricket’s timeless advice: “Always let your conscience be your guide.”
When faced with a moment of truth, that to which one gives obedience, will either set one on a course toward unimaginable joy or unfathomable misery.