Who has authority?
Christ is, of course, our ultimate authority (Ephesians 5:23).
There are government and societal authorities (1 Peter 2:13-14).
We have authorities in the different groups of believers, our church gatherings (Hebrews 13:17).
I’d like to point out that some of these authorities have limits. They govern a specific area of your life, not all of your life. They may have authority under some circumstances, but not others. The government doesn’t get to tell you what to believe (though some may try). The church doesn’t get to tell you what your hobbies should be or how much to pay your babysitter.
Take the time to look at the different authorities and examine the scope of their authority. If your ladies group leader tells you to quit your job, she’s acting outside her scope of authority. She may (in love) point out how your job is too stressful and help you find other options, but she can’t tell you to quit.
Realize also that some of these authorities can be exchanged by your choice. You can move to another country/government. You can move from one church to another (hopefully this is a God directed change). You could change jobs or move to a new house with different neighborhood association rules. Most of us have the freedom to decide which authorities we wish to submit to. We can look for people who have integrity and align ourselves with them. We can look for situations that will bless us and our family.
What about authority in the home?
I’m going to share my “journey of thought.” I’ve studied everything from patriarchal teachings to egalitarianism and, honestly, I think most people truly just want to obey the Word and honor God with their choices. I’m in the same boat. I just want to hear God and do what He says. I’m not going to fault anyone for where they are in their journey of trying to learn and live truth.
That said, this is where I am.
I think that the husband is an authority over the wife, and parents are authorities over the kids until they become adults. Most people can agree over the kid part, but the husband/wife relationship is still up for major discussion.
I try to look at scripture in context.
One of the more common scriptures that people point to is this:
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:21 NIV
Some folks take this as an overriding rule ~ we’re all supposed to submit to each other, wives are supposed to submit to their husbands and husbands are supposed to submit to their wives too. I have a couple of problems with this. I think, in context, the above scripture is talking about an overall attitude between believers (it’s very general, this section is all about living a godly life), but my biggest problem is that in the next few verses it talks about wives submitting to husbands, children obeying parents and slaves obeying masters (try not to get distracted by the slavery issue, it was a social construct of their day). If we change the dynamic between husbands and wives because of verse 21, we also have to change children obeying parents and employees not listening to their bosses (or whatever social construct you want to look at). I can’t in good consciousness break up the set. I can’t explain away husband/wife and hold to parent/child and boss/employee.
Analogies are soooo helpful.
Then you have to deal with the Christ/church and husband/wife analogy.
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Ephesians 5:22-24 NIV
That’s a pretty plain analogy and the topic of the analogy is … (wait for it) … submission to authority. Not a lot of wiggle room there.
I’ve heard the argument that the word “head” doesn’t mean head/leader/authority, but rather “source.” I’ve done the research and I disagree, but even if “source” is the correct definition you’re still submitting to that “source.” The analogy is about submission and it doesn’t really matter what label you slap on your husband’s forehead.
I also look at the overall tenor of Scripture.
There are a handful of places in different books of the Bible where wives are told to submit to their husbands (not just one what-is-he-talking-about verse that we might question) and husbands are told to love their wives several times. There’s a theme going on here, I’m thinkin’.
All in all, I’m of the position that the husband is an authority in his wife’s life. (I do not see anything that says all men are an authority for all women.)
Why does he get to be the authority? (It’s not fair.)
Nope, not fair at all, but I don’t think fair is a part of the equation. I have a few ideas about the why, but no guarantee that I’m right. In the end it’s rather a moot point anyway. God (in His wisdom that is far higher than my wisdom) chooses the authorities from president to boss to husband to [whatever role or position] (Romans 13:1). It’s just my job to keep my thinking cap on and submit to authorities where they have legitimate authority in my life.
Talk about a respectful and tasteful appeal! (pun intended) Asking for What You Need? Go with the Oreo My husband loves Oreos. :) (from Assume Love)
This is one of those so good posts. It’s a heart changer ~ Relationships: The Schoolhouse of Christ-likeness (from (in)courage)
Be generous! Lori <><