Wedding Vows – Does the Word “Obey” Offend You?

One bride told her wedding planner, “Our pastor was going over our vows with us, but when he read the words “obey your husband,” I laughed out loud. He was offended and started on a lecture about how the wedding vows of the church say the wife should obey the husband.  How do I get out of this?”

Wedding vows are a controversial topic among today’s modern brides.  If you’re not a church-going couple, then it probably isn’t even an issue – you’ll simply change your wedding vows to say something to the effect of “love, honor, and cherish.” But if you’re being married in the church, you may run into some resistance.  Wedding vows are meant to be your promise to one another.  And for many women devoted to their faith, it’s a natural given that they’ll “obey” their husband.  So what does that mean?   Does it mean he barks orders at you all day and you dutifully do what he says?  No.  Obeying the husband, according to the church, is more about the father being the head of the family and leading his wife and kids toward a fulfilled life.  But if you dislike the word “obey,” then ou shouldn’t include it in your wedding vows – simple as that.

Any pastor who hasn’t run into this problem before must be very new to the job.  It’s rare to encounter one who openly disagreed with a bride about the exact wording of their wedding vows.   As a couple, you can opt to simply write your own wedding vows instead of using a pre-printed version – this will hopefully get you out of the embarrassing confrontation with your pastor.   Your groom may object to writing his wedding vows (many men don’t feel comfortable writing heartfelt prose).  If he’s worried, offer to work on them together – they don’t have to be a surprise.  Then when the time comes to go over them with your pastor, let him know that you’ve created your own.    And if you still wish to use the traditional wedding vows, substituting the word “cherish” for “obey,” then stand your ground.  Don’t let anyone bully you into promising something you don’t believe in.   If you’re a bride who does want to include “obey” in your wedding vows, then be proud of it – your faith and belief is equally as wonderful as the brides who want their modern independence.  To each her own.