Love, Honour, and (ahem) Obey


“Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong.  Let all that you do be done in love.”        I Corinthians 16:13-14

Our garden statue elicited a comment from the young children of friends when their family came to visit one weekend – “That’s Mr. and Mrs. Prins reading the Bible together!”

Over the 48 years of our marriage, Scripture reading has been part of almost every day.    Recently, coming across our wedding Bible, my husband pointed out the inscription of our chosen wedding text, and we looked at it with new eyes.   The officiating minister veered off to the theme of family trees (which would have been more appropriate for my sister’s wedding the following year: they dreamed of establishing a tree nursery.)  My bemused co-workers asked whether we would be having kids right away.  But we would have done well to have really meditated on its wisdom of that text instead, taking it to heart right from the start.

The wording in the wedding vows was also a little problematic, as I was appalled by an archaic use of the word obey in the wedding vows.  We were early in the era of women’s liberation, after all.  I pictured being dragged reluctantly into situations where I had little or no input on the decision-making.

On the condition that my soon-to-be husband would never take advantage, as he promised, I did agree to obey.  And, in truth, he never has.  As time went on, I began to understand that the word obey also carries a connotation of listening closely, being alert to tone and stress and nuance.  Being watchful, having faith, being strong for each other in tough times, having courage to face what sometimes seems like insurmountable obstacles in a relationship.  There’s wisdom in the text and in the vows we made that day.

In the naivete of youth, you don’t always understand that there are many forces that have the potential to tear a marriage apart, that constant vigilance is necessary to maintain the health of a relationship, that we had to work, individually and together, to keep the claims of extended family, parenting, church and career in their rightful places.

But God is faithful.  And God is good, even though we are not.  And, thankfully, it’s that Love that’s cradled this marriage, throughout the years.