(disclaimer: these are the ramblings of an over-active, over-taxed, under-rested, under-fed mind and body, and being such may not be initially coherent)
1. the state or quality of being obedient.
2. the act or practice of obeying; dutiful or submissive compliance.
3. the trait of being willing to obey.
force [fawrs, fohrs]
–verb (used with object)
1. to compel, constrain, or oblige (oneself or someone) to do something.
2. to drive or propel against resistance.
3. to put or impose (something or someone) forcibly on or upon a person.
Can obedience be forced?
The question is simple enough, and the answer may seem to be the same as well. Some would immediately assert, “Yes, it can be!” Others would state the contrary. Both sides have valid points to make.
Obedience can be forced.
If you define obedience as complying with the will of another, then by all means, obedience can be forced. For example, I tell you to sit down. You refuse. I then force you to take a seat. Obedience was forced.
Obedience cannot be forced.
If you define obedience as complying with the will of another, then by all means, obedience cannot be forced. For example, I tell you to pay attention. You refuse. I cannot force you to do so. Obedience could not be forced.
Thus in these cases, operating with the same definition, two contrary conclusions arise.
In order for both examples to work under the same definition, we must modify the definition of obedience and the force of it to account for limitations. Obedience may be forced as the mandate of the commanding power is attachable to physical, manipulable response. I can make you follow me, but I cannot make you believe I know where I’m going.
Expansion and Application:
While on some levels–namely physical–obedience may be forced, on others–eg. mental, rational, or psychological–it cannot be. However, perhaps the simple fact is that forced obedience is more destructive than listless negligence. To force against the will destroys the future likelihood of the subservient party willfully submitting.
From the example of God, we see a better solution. God never forces obedience. Rather, He leaves humanity free to do as it pleases, merely explaining the results of obedience and disobedience.
Just a thought: next time, instead of forcing obedience, explain expectations and consequences, and let a person choose to obey or disobey for himself or herself.