Stephen D’Evelyn on Obedience and the Fear of Being Transformed

Recently I heard a Church of England bishop remark that one might not think gay people who were looking to be married in church were being obedient when there was no wedding service for gay people. The word obedient has stuck with me. An oft-half-quoted Bible passage says:
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
(Philippians 2:8-10 New International Version (NIV))
Here I think the dynamic is not obedience to abstract law or tradition but revolution and paradox. It is not so much that Jesus was obedient as that he is transformational. If he had simply been obedient, he would not have turned things upside down, making selfless love the ideal, redefining status, putting the margins at the centre. So if we worry that people are not being obedient because there is no precedent, perhaps we may reflect on whether we are really afraid of being transformed.


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