They stand in front of God and man to take their vows, and everybody is overjoyed at the beauty and sincerity of their love.
The minister then asks them to repeat after him and things are going smoothly… until he gets to the line about how she will love, honour and obey her husband. All of a sudden it is radio silence, as she abruptly stopped talking and seems to be contemplating her next words or move. Everyone is holding their breath to see what is about to happen. Talk about an awkward moment.
Since the institution of marriage is of God, we should first look to the Bible for an explanation of why the woman has to say ‘obey’ but the man does not. Its genesis is said to be rooted in Ephesians 5: 21-33 which speak to man being not only the head of his household but also his wife, and so the wife is to submit to him just as the Church submitted to Christ.
Now before some of you feminists come at me, I am simply giving the biblical reference as to the whole notion of wifely obedience and submission.
A 2016 US study showed that almost 50 per cent of people polled said that the traditional wedding vow was outdated and that the ‘obey’ statement needed to be dropped entirely from the vows.
Jane Greer, a New York-based marriage therapist said that over time we have evolved from ‘man and wife’ to ‘husband and wife’, which is a reflection of the revolution of marriage itself. “‘Obey’ denotes meeting the demands and expectations of the other person in a more subservient way. Women are no longer simply the caretakers or servants to the men in their marriages. It’s now much more about mutuality, where both partners offer support in finances, caregiving etc.”
Greer did not stop there but further contends that the majority of men who want to keep the word are happy with things the way they are because it inflates their ego and props them up, providing them with a sense of supposed authority and control in the union.
Many people would also argue that obedience is for dogs and children, and not one’s life partner, as today’s unions are about equality.
Now that is all fine and dandy, but whether you want to believe it or not, whether you choose to accept it or not, when it comes to relationship, the Bible did not put forward equality. It is just not what the Bible teaches and you do not have to be a staunch Christian to follow the teachings of the Bible. You either choose to abide by them or you do not. After all, God did make us with free will and choice.