Does Obedience Have Spiritual Value?

The topic was parenting. The issue was something called First Time Obedience (FT0). The blogger was critiquing FTO. Her comments got me thinking about the “spiritual value” of obedience.

It’s a tricky phrase “spiritual value”. Her comment was “Obedience, to have any spiritual value, must come after a personal encounter with Jesus, not before.” After thinking about this statement as it was delivered (as opposed to how it was probably intended), I came up with this question:

Does obedience (particularly of children to parents) have any spiritual value to the obedient before he/she becomes a follower of Jesus? I’m still thinking about it, but feel free to share your comments until I’m ready to elaborate on mine.

Nearly 24 hours later…been thinking about this question.

I suppose that obedience is a spiritually neutral behavior. It seems that it’s not inherently beneficial or harmful and that its value is dependent upon several additional factors. I would have to assume that this applies to the obedience of children to their parents…and yet…

The Old Testament tells children to “honor your father and your mother”. Paul in the New Testament essentially repeats this as: “children obey your parents”. Paul goes on to say that this obedience is “right” and “pleases the Lord”. So, is the Lord only pleased when Christian children honor/obey their parents? Is He ambivalent when non-Christian children obey their parents? Is it not also “right” for non-Christian children to obey their parents? If children obeying parents is “right” and “pleases the Lord”, isn’t there some sort of spiritual value to doing what is right and pleasing to the Lord?

In the original context, I think the blogger really meant to say that teaching our children to obey us (the parents) on the first command (as opposed to constantly having to nag and/or negotiate with them) does not have any soteriological value. That is to say, our kids aren’t going to become obedient to Jesus just because we manage to get them to be obedient to us in the manner of First Time Obedience. And perhaps she’s right on that point. Perhaps not. I can’t say because I’ve been too occupied thinking about what constitutes “spiritual value” and whether or not obedience has any.

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