Friday, July 19, 2019

Love and Submission (4) Elders and Husbands

The scriptures do not give elders authority. Elders are commanded to watch over people, serve them and protect them. But they are not given authority to control them.

Because we are engaged in a spiritual battle, new Jesus-followers are encouraged to submit to elders. This free action gives authority to the elder (an elder does not have an innate authority). They only have authority that is created when someone submits to them. If the people submitting lose their respect for the elder and withdraw their submission, the elder loses their authority.

Elders often demand that people in their church submit to them. This is a false understanding of authority. If people must obey them, they are exercising domination and control, which is a distortion of true authority. True authority is given freely by submission, it cannot be demanded.

The same applies to husbands and wives. Wives are urged to submit to their husbands (just as husbands have to submit to the will of their wives, because they love them). Husbands do not have an innate authority that allows them to demand that their wives obey them. Demanded obedience is actually domination.

Submission that cannot be freely withdrawn at any time, is domination and control, not true authority.

Christians should stop claiming that they have authority, because they are male or mature, or have been appointed to a particular role. They should earn authority, by loving, serving and demonstrating wisdom.

A person with authority can issue a command and know that it will be acted on. This can occur for two reasons.

  • The person with authority has power or the ability to compel the person to obey. The soldier obeyed the centurion, because he knew that if he disobeyed, the whole wait of the Roman Empire would come down on him. This is Imposed Authority.

  • The person receiving the command loves and trusts, the person issuing the command and has freely chosen to submit to them. I call this Free Authority. A person gains authority when someone freely submits to them, because they love them. The person submitting actually creates the authority of the person they submit to. That means that they can take the authority away, if they lose their trust, and stop submitting.

No comments: