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To Obey Is Better

May 15, 2015
Woman who wants her own way

I was a bratty newlywed. As a new believer I loved God’s WORD and praying and everything to do with God—except honoring my husband. In my defense, I had never been taught to respect my husband as God’s authority over me. This part of the Christian walk came very slowly, with lots of tears and struggles and, yes, rebukes.

One such occasion for rebuke struck me at the heart. I was desperately trying to get my husband to buy me a study Bible with room for notes and expressions and side comments, but he felt it wasn’t necessary. I begged. I pleaded my case and tried in every way to convict him of his selfishness in not getting me what I NEEDED.

I made this an object of contention between us. I felt my zeal and hunger and longing to explore God’s words justified my demands. I studied God’s Word, but I somehow missed the part of wives obeying their husbands in everything (even attitude). No matter how much he yelled and demanded my submission, I outwardly shut up, but inwardly I burned with indignation at his injustice. When he wanted much lesser things of value he would buy them—guns, more guns, fishing equipment, etc.

Seething way down deep, I kept asking for my study Bible and he kept denying me. I used the Bible as a righteous reason to be stubborn. It was very complicated. To this day I still feel ripped off that I had to be so many years without my own Bible, but now I see something else, more devious, more subtle, more conniving at work behind my “holy war.”

It wasn’t until this battle of the wits peaked into a full-fledged war with shouting and pouting and several really embarrassing scenes that I finally saw a tiny glimmer of my faults. One scene happened at the mall. I found a Bible for half-price, and when he still stubbornly refused to buy it, I hit the fan big-time. Some of our friends were in direct line of the assault and received a very unflattering dose of my brattiness. They were so alarmed that they told the Pastor (who was also my good friend), and when he next saw me he told me he had heard I acted like a child and therefore should be treated like a spoiled child. When he scolded me, I tried to glorify my case with a holy explanation, but he would not listen to my reasons. He forced me to stop and look at myself. To this day I still hate him for it…sorta. Who wants to take an honest look at oneself? Good grief! I couldn’t very well live with myself until I repented of this, but I never told my Pastor…are you kidding? Some things a lady keeps to herself. But things come around, and around.

Now 20 years later the reaping of the crop of my misguided, misplaced zeal has born its fruit in my own daughters. Now I see…but what do I do to stop this repeating pattern—how can I undo it? How can I repent of generational sin? Now my own lovely daughters use the same ugly tactics, and I know what is in store for their marriages. How can I train them to rise above it so they can be spared all the years of discord?

It is subtle, but I see it when I call them to get up in the morning, but they spiritualize their disrespect and hide behind their Bible reading, ignoring my call. I admonish them, but they drown out my voice with Scripture memorization. They piously ask me to pray with them to know God’s will, but ignore my will for them. It is all so deceiving…these “godly” virtues.

Godly virtue is what I want of my children: reading God’s Word, loving it like I did, memorizing verses, praying; yet I want obedience. I know that if they do not respect me they will not respect God when obedience means doing something that doesn’t make them feel good. I know they will not respect their husbands. I can see the writing on the wall—writing that I wrote.

Somehow my mouth is totally stopped. My hands are tied. I have tried to explain the unexplainable. And even when I feel I have clearly shown them from the Bible, they rise above my words and do what they feel is right. I know I am reaping from all those years of treating my husband with disdain for not buying me the Bible I wanted. I am reaping a crop of—I don’t even know what to call it.

I know what I want from my children is obedience. I hate feeling treated like “I just don’t get it” about spiritual things. I know what God wants from his children is obedience to him. It took me years to see that sentiment, kindness, piety, devotion, feelings of giving and sacrifice, and all that goes with it are stuff and nonsense without simple obedience. I found this verse that says it all: “And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22).

Now I can clearly see why God reacted to Saul when God gave him specific instructions to follow in a battle with the Ammonites. God told him to ruthlessly destroy everything and everybody. Saul had tender, gentle feelings, thus hesitated doing such a brutal thing. Saul was frugal and didn’t see any need to destroy herds, especially since they could be offered as sacrifices. Saul acted in a more caring, more spiritual, more all-compassionate way than God. God’s response to Saul’s trying to out-do God is found in 1 Samuel 15:23: “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”

God called Saul’s compassionate acts “rebellion,” and rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. We have entered into a new realm and it is altogether EVIL.

Obedience is better than sacrifice. I think I have learned this lesson too late to pass it on to my children.

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6 comments on “To Obey Is Better”

  1. Perhaps there are more serious ways in which you butted heads with you husband. Yet, in this specific scenario, does it ever cross your mind that your husband was in the wrong? You are half of the marriage and your wants and needs are just as important as your husbands. Am I rebellious in believing that I am an equal half in a marriage? Why couldn't you buy the Bible yourself? I am not trolling your article, these are legitimate questions I have. I was brought up on these principles, yet these never made sense to me. Im very much wanting to hear some thoughts and logic on the subject of being a submissive wife. Thanks! ---Amy---

  2. I'm with the previous commentator. Buy a Bible. He's your husband not your daddy. Did I miss something? And buy another book that teaches you what godly respect and honor look like. Share it with your daughters. Learn. Grow. Your life and their lives aren't forever ruined. You seem to have plenty of repentance and humility. There is grace and certainly hope through His redemption.

  3. I cant thank you enough for this warning. God is using this as an example of how our spiritual mask can ruin our children. Some of the most "spiritual" women i know lack a good home. Goodness is not in our spirituality but in how we express love to God by our love for others (from the heart). If we love God we will love even our enemies, how much more our mothers, fathers, husbands, brothers, sisters and children and that then goes out to our neighbors and this lost world. I stand before God totally guilty and need His forgiveness and empowering grace to love by obeying Him who teaches us how to love. The whole N.T. is God's law of love, His commands on how to love who and how. There are more commandments in the N.T. then the old. We are to love! And God tells us how. Wives respect, reverence and obey your husbands...treat the younger women as sisters...older women as so much you do to these little ones you do it unto me....This article makes me fear and fall down in worship at His long suffering to me a wretch! God bless you sister!!!

  4. Hi and thanks for the article. I am an older woman of 55 with a good marriage to a 100 per cent command man. Our marriage is not 50/50, it is 100/100. You are not treating your husband like a "daddy" to run your desired expenditures by him. You are honoring him. And through honoring him, you are honoring God. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Please don't accept criticisms about that. Good job.
    What I have learned is that when my husband will not let me do something, or have something, it is alot like when God tells me I can't do something or have something. And it is best for me to trust and obey than to have my way. He may have reasons that he does not want to tell me about and, just like God, is under no obligation to do it. The reason will most likely present itself at some point down the road.
    How often over the years I have failed to do this, but I continue to pursue it as a goal. I had no example of submission in my own home, growing up, either. I only knew I wanted to be like the Little House Mom, not like my Mom.
    When I read Created to be His Help Meet I began to really get it. Please read that book and keep it on your bedside table and it will show you the way. It will nourish your heart, as it did mine. If you have read it, read it over and over.
    When your daughters see the joy you share and thankfulness for what your husband gives you or does not give you, God will open their hearts. Your changed attitude and reverence will sell them more than any sage words or scriptures. Kids are skeptical beings, particularly teens. They will likely watch you for awhile and eventually question you about why the change. There is your opening to reach them. They may want to read Preparing to be a Help meet.

    Are we perfect? no. And God knows that.
    "For He knoweth our frame. He remembereth we are dust.

    Keep trying. Satan will use the stupidest little things he can to create a divide between a husband and wife. He has used far sillier things than not buying a Bible. But you can win and stop taking the "bait".(at least MOST of the time ?)
    And then you can win back your precious daughters.

    P.s. Your wise commenter was Kimmy. Start talking 50/50 and " I have my rights "and you will either (a) end your marriage and become a single Mom or (b) find yourself and your husband eaten up with bitterness at 65 and hating each others' guts


  5. There is truth in all of the above responses. We are indeed to "be obedient to [our] own husbands" (Titus 2:5) and "the wife [is to] see that she reverence her husband" (Eph. 5:33), while the husband is "to love his wife even as himself" Eph. 5:33, and "dwell with [her] according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel..."I Peter 3:7. This is not a father/daughter relationship, but a husband/wife relationship. Why, indeed, did she need to ask her husband if it was okay for her to buy a Bible, especially in light of the fact that he bought boats, fishing gear, etc. Money was not the issue, but control, which is not condoned by God, given the above verses. Perhaps the daughters' lack of obedience is a combination of seeing both a controlling, domineering husband as well as a lack of respect on the part of their mother. Hypocrisy on the part of either/both the father and the mother bears bitter fruit in their children, but God is in the redeeming business and no case is beyond His power to restore. "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save;" (Is. 59:1).

  6. Why didn't he want you to buy the Bible? I get where you are trying to go with this article, but it just seems like you could have saved up for instead of arguing about it and letting it become such a big issue... Was it a version of the Bible he didn't believe was reliable? This just seems like an a poorly written/edited article that's going to cause a lot of confusion and arguing.