Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Authority, Submission and Rebellion

The excellent Dalrock in his latest post discusses wives in rebellion.

Christian men and women are taught that husbands are responsible for making their wives want to follow the biblical command to submit.
If he doesn’t do what the wife thinks he should do (follow her leadership), he accuses the husband of not loving his wife sufficiently.
A few weeks back at Bible study we discussed authority and what it entails.  From Luke 7:8 (Emphasis mine):
For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
He's comparing himself directly to Jesus, as He is under the authority of God, so is the Centurion to his commander.  Our society doesn't give us the framework to understand this properly.  Urban Dictionary refers to "the Authorities" as an "Ambiguous group with unknown special powers or knowledge that someone refers to for the purpose of intimidation.", read: the police.  How apt.  Nobody in our culture has any real authority, there's merely various groups of coercers that we have to occasionally deal with, but to be avoided as much as possible.  I didn't even experience real authority in the military.  Real authority pushes decision-making down to the lowest empowered entity possible.  No decision that a grunt can make, should be made by his lead petty officer (LPO); no decision that can be made by an LPO should be made by his Chief; no decision that the Chief can make should be made by the Department Master Chief, and on and on.  Naturally, this wasn't my observation; for fear of anyone making the wrong choice, decision after decision was always pushed up and up the Chain of Command (CoC).  Nobody was empowered, nobody had authority. 

I didn't truly get how a functional authoritarial relationship was supposed to work until I reached my current position.  My current job role is essentially to make decisions on the night shift so that the engineers that are ultimately responsible can sleep.  This is all premised on teh notion that I am capable and willing to act in accordance with their wishes in their absence.  I act in good faith that it is the correct course of action.  Otherwise I am no longer acting in accordance with their wishes, I am in active rebellion.

In a functional society, everyone is under authority.  Everyone in the military's CoC answers to the person above them, a Captain answers to an Admiral, he answers to the Secretary of the Navy, and him to the Commander in Chief, and the CiC to the People (in theory, at least).  In a monarchy, the guy at the top, the King answers to God.  In a dysfunctional society (e.g. ours), everyone is in rebellion to authority, the CiC falls apart, citizens don't feel as part of a nation, and the President/King answers only to himself or his puppetmasters, not the People/God.

In a functional family, the children submit to the parents, the wife submits to the husband, and the husband to God.  In a dysfunctional family, the husband appeases the wife; the wife domineers the children, until they are in their teens and they tell both parents to "eff off".  When my kids are outside playing, out of earshot and line of sight, I expect them to behave the same as if I was right there watching.  Assuming God isn't watching 24/7, we have the Bible and our conscience to let us know what His will is; and He expects us to behave accordingly.  In my absence, I expect my wife to use her best judgement to not act contrary to my will.  That is what submission to authority is.

And of course, men are commanded to love our wives.  We do, often too much and not in the right way.  Now obviously a love for a wife is different than love for a child, but in this context they are similar enough for this comparison to hold up.  In Proverbs 13:24, we have the oft misquoted verse:
He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.
and 3:12:
because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.
Love is a subjective feeling, but an objective action; in the moment the difference between love and hate of the object may seem indistinguishable.  A butt-hurt wife with her tail between her legs isn't necessarily in the position to be arbiter.  By no means is this meant to excuse any sort of abuse or encourage use of an actual rod.  The husband is still under authority to God, and fully responsible for his actions.  The moment he stops loving her, he is in rebellion to God as well.  Just as as soon as she no longer submits to her husband, she is in rebellion to both him and to God.