The words “blind obedience” have a negative connotation. They imply something different from “obedience,” standing alone, which is generally thought to be a good thing. The expression “blind obedience” could suggest faith in the face of uncertainty, but it doesn’t. Instead, it suggests unquestioning adherence to inherently imprecise rules, even in the face of silly or adverse consequences.
As an animating life principle, “blind obedience” doesn’t have much traction. The Gospel simply does not contain enough rules to direct my day. Yogurt or granola for breakfast? Should we invite the Wheatleys or the Adamses to dinner? Should I help my son with algebra, hire a tutor, or just let him try to work it out? Should I read about corporate law or venture capital tonight? Or skip both in favor of The Da Vinci Code? Even though I may embrace certain rules, a life of “blind obedience” would require rulemaking on a scale that would make the IRS blush.
As a result, we tend to use “blind obedience” selectively. It is an accusation that we hurl at people who are taking a certain rule to what we perceive as extremes. For example, we might criticize someone who refuses to see Passion because it is rated R. In this context, the adjective “blind” connotes “unthinking” or “unreasonable” obedience.
Which brings me to Solomon, the current focus of study in my Seminary class. Of course, Solomon was known for his “wisdom,” but he also was a very spiritual man. Or so I infer from the fact that God appeared to Solomon twice, and on both occasions, God was pleased with Solomon. In the second visitation, Solomon is told to walk in “integrity of heart.” 2 Kings 9:4. If Solomon does this, his throne will be established forever, a promise that seems to have both earthly and spiritual dimensions. On the other hand, if Solomon turns away from God, the Lord will “cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them.” 2 Kings 9:7 Again, the spiritual dimensions are clear: the land is the Promised Land, the land where Israel could dwell with God; to be “cut off” from that land is spiritual death.
As you undoubtedly know, Solomon could not hold it together. He imported “many strange women” (2 Kings 11:1) who “turned away his heart.” How could this have happened? Unfortunately, the details surrounding Solomon’s change of heart are sparse, but general progression is not hard to imagine. Remember that Solomon was not only the smartest man around, but also the richest. (Standing on the backs of the people will do that.) I suspect that his fall was the end result of a gradual erosion. (He was king for 40 years, so he had time to erode.) A little compromise here, a small concession there. When you are smart and rich — in addition to having been visited by God! — it would be easy to believe that you are the master of your own passions.
In my view, Solomon is a case study for “blind obedience.” God gave him a rule when considering prospective wives: “Ye shall not go in to them [the foreign women], neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” To Solomon’s expansive mind, this rule must have seemed a bit provincial. What God was really concerned about was the possibility that Solomon would turn to other gods, Just because his wives worshipped other gods …
The power of rationalization is immense. And I suspect that it increases with education and intelligence. By definition, “blind obedience” provides a check against rationalization.
Therefore, my Seminary Thought Question is as follows: Although we generally think of “living by the Spirit” as a good thing, isn’t there a role in every person’s life for “blind obedience”?