Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Wilt thou love him, serve him, honor and obey him?

To start the year off, I want to blog about something that has been on my
heart for quite some time.obedience. Writing this post has not been easy,
and I am sure it will not be an easy read, but I feel it is right that I
wrote it and that you read it. Let me warn you, though, it will take a
humble heart to digest the meat found on this table of food for thought.

What does it mean to be obedient? Does it mean abiding by a certain set of
rules? Does it mean doing as one is told, no matter what? Does it mean one
can use one's own judgment as to which rule to follow and which one not too?

For as far back as I can remember, I never paid much attention to rules. I
was never a leader, but I was certainly no follower. I guess you could say I
walked to the beat of another drum, one only I could hear. When Mom issued
an order, I remember only obeying upon direct threat of punishment. Once,
when I was nineteen, I was sitting in a computer lab at the West Virginia
Rehabilitation Center and the teacher asked, "Shannon, did you know you are
not supposed to wear shorts?"

"Really?" I asked, truly surprised.

I mean, I had been wearing shorts all week, and I was hearing about it only
just now?

"It's true," the instructor insisted. "It's in the rule book."

"Oh, yeah?" I said, "well, no one has said anything to me, yet."

"You aren't one to follow the rules, much. Are you?" he asked.

"Not much," I replied, surprised at myself for the first time.

Honestly, it had never occurred to me that I was not one to follow the
rules. But, it's true. Only if the punishment outweighed the actual order,
or if the rule help me out personally, did I see the need to obey.

Of course, as an adult citizen of the United States, I am bound by the law
of this land. If I break a law, I will be punished for it, either by paying
a fine or spending time locked up. But, am I forced to obey the law of the
land? No, I am not. If I choose to continually break the law, I will
eventually be put to death, but until I am actually dead, I can not be
forced to obey.

So then, what keeps me from disobeying? Well, for one thing, I cherish my
freedom and my life. If I break the law, my life and freedom will be taken
away from me. I guess you could say I have a healthy respect for the law.
Admittedly, the law is not perfect, but if we abide by it, it will keep us
from prison. Secondly, now that I am a Christian, I want to do what is
right; I want to obey my heavenly Father.

Okay, so what kept me obedient to my parents, grandparents and other adults?
I wanted to please and knew that was one sure fire way to do so. I remember
one time, when I did not want to go to church. I was a teenager and
determined to have my way. My grandpa threatened to take the belt to me, and
I believed him. Thus, I went to church. :)

Corinthians says in chapter 13 along about verse 11, "When I was a child, I
spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I
became a man, I put away childish things."

So, now, I'm all grown up. I turned thirty-two yesterday, as a
matter-of-fact. My parents no longer tell me what to do. When I got married,
nearly eleven years ago, now, I remember my grandma saying, "I don't know
why you'd wanna get married. You just go from one boss to another!"

I wasn't much more than a teenager at that point, either and remember
thinking, "Yeah right!" I mean, nobody had bossed me around before, and they
weren't going to start, just because I said, "I do," up at that altar.

Here's another question. Do vows mean anything anymore, or are they just
words in a church? Are those solemn words spoken in a traditional wedding
ceremony all for show, a means to an end? Or, do they actually mean
something to the one speaking them?

If my memory serves me correctly...and I haven't watched the video in years
so my memory might be a little faulty...I remember standing before the
preacher and answering "I do," to the following question: "Do you, Shannon
Johnson take this man, Terry Wells to be your lawfully wedded husband, to
have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer,
forsaking all others, cleave ye only unto him as long as ye both shall
live?"

That was the easy part. Of course, I would take him as my husband! Of
course, I would love him, whether he was sick or well, rich or poor, and I
would forget any other man and be his wife! No big deal. It was the next
part of the vows that began to get a little muddy.

I can't remember quite how it went, but I stood there before the preacher,
holding my future husbands hands and promised him that I would, among a few
other things, love and serve him, honor and obey him. At some point after
the ceremony, I remember thinking in astonishment, "What on earth did I just
promise?" I mean, Terry and I chose to say the traditional wedding vows, but
did I really mean what I said?

Over the next ten years, I read the holy Scriptures, listened to countless
Bible lessons, searched Google long and hard, had long talks with older
women in the faith, all in an attempt to find out what I had vowed to do on
that sunny, March afternoon. I would hear women friends talk about how their
husbands wouldn't allow them to do this or that, and I would think, how can
these women be this way? I mean, can't anyone think for themselves, anymore?
And then...

Several weekends ago, I was standing in the kitchen, yammering on about how
one friend of mine said her husband wouldn't allow her to do something, when
my own husband turns to me and says, "They have Bible to back up what they
believe. What do you have? If I were you, I wouldn't get in an argument with
them, because if you don't have Bible to back you up, you don't have
anything to stand on."

I was floored...absolutely stunned, and for a while, I couldn't say a word.
For the first time, like it or not, something clicked inside my thick head,
and I finally understood.

On that special day almost eleven years ago, I vowed before God and
everybody to allow Terry to become the head of my house. I vowed to allow
him to become the spiritual leader in our home. I vowed to honor him, serve
him, love and obey him. And, what kind of job had I been doing? Well, if
you've been paying attention, here, you won't need to be told.

Now, before I go any further, I want to make something very clear. By
agreeing to obey her husband, a woman is not giving him the right to use her
as a punching bag. She is not giving him the right to hit her. She is not
giving him the right to inflict hurt of any kind on her or her children. A
husband does not have the right to expect things from his wife that she can
not give. In case you think I'm wrong on that subject, go read Ephesians
chapter 5, where it says that husbands are to love their wives as Christ
loved the church and gave himself for us. If a man loves his wife and family
like Jesus loves us, then he won't want to hurt anyone. Just so you don't
get the wrong impression, my husband is one of the kindest men I have ever
known and has never raised his hand against me or our children. But, I know
there are men out there who do and women who let them, so I wanted to let
you ladies know, the Bible does not support spousal abuse in any way, shape
or form.

But, as my husband, does Terry have the right to tell me what to do? Well,
in a word, yes...at least, in some things. Does he tell me how to clean or
do the dishes or laundry? No, because he does not have too. Does he tell me
how to raise our girls? No, because he does not have too. He trusts me, and
I know, because he told me so. The same goes for how I dress, how I wear my
hair, how I spend our money and where I go.

Now, y'all might be thinking I'm contradicting myself, here, but I'm not. I
have the same rights as a Christian as my husband. God speaks to me, and He
speaks to Terry, but, I do not have to wait to hear from Terry in order to
hear from God. God speaks directly to me. Although He has spoken through
Terry a few times with a word for me, I do not believe that God speaks to
women only through men. I also believe that if a woman says God has called
her to preach, then she should preach. However, in saying that, I do not
believe women are to lead men in spiritual matters, and I do have the Word
to back me up. Go read the 11th chapter of 1 Corinthians, where it talks
about the head of every woman is the man, the head of every man is Christ
and the head of Christ is God.

See, I warned you it would take a humble heart to read this post. After all,
didn't the Lord say we are to be as little children? And, children are
admonished to obey, right?

So, what does it mean to be obedient? The very next Sunday after Terry
admonished me that I neede Bible to back me up, a minister at church said
that Christ learned obedience. Then, the minister asked, "Who are we
obedient to?" Immediately, I thought of Philippians chapter 2 verse 8 King
James Version which says, "and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled
himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

Clearly, if Jesus had not been obedient to His father's plan of salvation,
you and I would have about as much chance as an ice cube in Florida in July.
To be a Christian, simply means to be Christ-like, and if we are going to
say we are like or trying to be like Jesus, then it stands to reason that we
ought to be obedient to our heavenly Father, just like Jesus was. Am I
right? And, if God is telling me to submit to my own husband, to obey him,
then it stands to reason that I ought to obey. Right?

This is not to be taken lightly, nor is it to be pushed aside as something
we just can't understand. After all, it took me more than ten years to
understand what my vows mean in my home. And, for the record, I'm not
telling all women they have to be like me. What I am saying, is that as
Christian women, if we endeavor to obey our God, we will fall in to the
place God wants us to be in all areas of our lives: our homes, our callings,
our jobs, and anything else we can think up. To quote a good friend of mine,
"What a peaceful thing it is to know one's place."

Now, stop making faces at your computer screen, ladies. I'm serious, here.
Don't try to tell me you don't understand, because your heavenly Father gave
you a good brain and will help you use it, if you ask him. We're adults, and
it's high time we start acting like mature women. If you are upset by this
post, take a minute or fifty to pray. After all, God never gets tired of
hearing from us, and I am so glad He is always there.

Just as a side note, to add a bit of humor, here, that same Sunday at
church, during morning worship, our pastor, Roy Boyd was preaching good and
practically standing over me when he said, "I'm the head of my house, and my
wife knows it." Then a moment later, he came back toward my Pugh, almost
stood over me again, and said, "God is not the author of confusion." Lol So,
see, God does have a sense of humor, even when he is chastising you. And, if
you've ever heard Roy Boyd preach, you can probably get a good picture of
this in your mind.

One more thing that I feel I need to add.my pride, my fleshly pride does NOT
want me to post this entry to the blog. It is not easy to admit that I have
been wrong for so long, and neither is it easy to humble myself this way.
But, if my testimony can help someone else, then I will post it. For, as I
have been saying, I must be obedient to my God, and the word does say to
confess our faults to one another. Does it not?

Happy New Year, y'all!

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