Title: Joshua and Judges: Crossing the Jordan - Obeying God's delegated authority, part 3. JOS 1:16-18.
Announcements / opening prayer:
Direct authority of God - the Word.
Individual - volition of the soul.
Marriage - the husband.
Family - the parents.
Nation - the government.
The subject of Christian marriage is important and since we are pursuing a short doctrine on authority, it is in our interest that we spend enough time on each subject of delegated authority.
God did not design marriage to make people happy. He gave Christ for that.
God never said that marriage will make you happy. Each of us can share the happiness of God only through our own personal relationship with God. Marriage is a wonderful gift from God and an arena in the church age in which believers can glorify God as it represents the relationship between Christ and the church.
In order to glorify God marriage requires love, virtue, honor, sacrifice, forgiveness, integrity, proven character, hope, and faith. Yet all good things require these.
But when you think about it, what good or great thing is life does not demand these things. Things that God is in His person and character; all of which were displayed in the person of Christ.
Christians often get a distorted view of the doctrine of right man, right woman. God has a plan for your life and He knew ages ago who you would marry, so in essence, by that truth alone the doctrine is correct, but this has been distorted by believers as well as Hollywood and those people who write romance books that are stacked in every airport gift shop.
Right manwoman are not compatible in every area of life. That lie is promoted by Hollywood and even by Christianity.
The distortion is that the right one is compatible the other right one in every way. This is a lie. You're not Legos that perfectly click together in every way. We're individuals that made a life changing decision to commit ourselves to another in Christian marriage.
The right one is the one that God allowed you to marry. They are the one because you married them. They became the right one when you said "I do" before them and before God. Delegated authority #1 is free will, and you used that to choose to marry someone. If it isn't about will then why the marriage vows? He could have prevented you from ever meeting them. He could have put them in another century, but He didn't. You vowed before Him to be devoted to one another in Christian marriage. There are always parts of them that will not be compatible with the same parts in you. They are irreconcilable differences and God commands that you function in the roles that He has ordained, as unto Him, in agape love and divine integrity. Agape bridges irreconcilable differences to the glory of God. Agape sacrifices for the benefit of the other and forgives.
In God's divine power the differences between you become the areas of max. glorification of God. In order to maintain harmony and union these areas demand divine virtue.
In this divine power, it is actually the differences between you that become the most glaring places of glorification of God since it is in these areas that sacrifice, agape, forgiveness, patience, kindness, truth, hope, faith, and endurance are fully required for harmony and unity to exist.
For instance, Christ said, "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? The unbelievers do the same." This is not a passage on marriage, but it can be applied to the areas of difference and potential conflict in a marriage. If you only love them when they are loveable, what credit is that to you? The whole world does the same thing - and then half of them split up.
A friend of mine wrote an article about the authority of the husband in marriage. It is insightful, poignant, and doctrinal. It is written by a man who has much experience in the word of God as well as marriage. Before we get back to tackling 1Pe 3, I'd like to share it with you. I'd like to personally thank him for writing this, sharing it with me, and giving me the permission to share it with our congregation.
Pablo Picasso said, "Good artists borrow, great artists steal."
Being a doctrinal believer and member of the United States Military, authority is a concept that is thrown around a lot in my little world. Over the last 10 years I have been exposed to God’s authority over me as my creator and heavenly father, the authority of my military superiors over me, my authority as a Sergeant over my troops, and my authority as a husband over my household. During my daily life I am in an often dual role of simultaneously being under and wielding authority. In my military life I have had the benefit of being under competent authority, as well as the painful blessing of being under authority that was less than stellar. While possessing authority I have had the experience of exercising it well, and learned the lessons provided when I have exercised it poorly. The last two years have been particularly challenging for me in regards to the leaders placed over me and those I have led.
I have come to the conclusion that authority, as an institution, gets a bad rap, particularly in marriage. Over the years I have heard it said, from more than one pastor teacher, that the marriage relationship is 100-0. The husband has all the authority and the wife has none. There is no 50-50, the man calls the shots. While these statements are true, I imagine that this blunt approach does a lot to send woman stomping from the church, convinced that if they remain, their lives will be a never ending misery of domination and oppression, and this has happened to many, mostly because their husbands have an erroneous personal definition of the term.
So here it is:
Authority: the power to determine, adjudicate, or otherwise settle issues or disputes; jurisdiction; the right to control, command, or determine.
This is certainly the definition I live with day to day in the military, where it is broken down even further beginning with the Constitution and ending with the thousands of pages of directives, instructions, codes, and written orders. We are trained to know the limits of our power as well as the limits of those over us. Rules, responsibilities, and chain of command (whom has power over whom) are laid out in excruciating detail, leaving almost no room of error or misinterpretation.
The bible often makes use of military analogies such as, “a soldier in active service”. I can relate for obvious reasons. So I am going to use my experience in the military to give the men of the world an analogy regarding authority in marriage, and just a better understanding of authority and its proper application in general. You may think that marriage and military life don’t relate, and obviously not every aspect is transferrable, but I have applied many of them in my marriage and they seem to be working so far.
For today’s analogy we will use the basic Air Force Unit construct of a squadron. A squadron is made up of any number of personnel, but usually does not exceed 300 persons, though I have been in squadrons that were 700 strong. They are made up of a commander, usually ranging in rank from Major to full bird Colonel, a Superintendent who is usually a Chief Master Sergeant, and depending on the mission and scope, varying assortments of under officers and enlisted.
We will focus on the Commander and Superintendent, whom I will refer to as “Chief” from now on. Within a squadron there is no question that the Commander is in charge. His uniform usually displays the highest rank within the squadron, he has his own office, personal secretary, support staff and in some instances, his own government car. His lawful power and authority are spelled out under the Uniform Code of Military Justice as well as the previous mentioned directives, instructions, etc. He is one of the only people within the unit who can apply actually punishment to his subordinates. A squadron commander has usually been in the military for over a decade and has worked his way up the ranks serving in leadership roles at lower unit levels.
The Chief, on the other hand, began at the bottom somewhere around his 18th birthday. He mopped floors, cleaned equipment, turned wrenches, been to several bases within a half dozen major commands, and deployed numerous times to at least a couple of major conflicts while working his way up from E1-E9. He is often the highest ranking enlisted person within the unit, but only possesses the authority as it is delegated to him by the commander. He is often in his mid forties, early fifties and has been in the military anywhere from 22-30 years but technically has to salute the lowest ranking 22 year old 2nd Lieutenant.
Only the most naïve, arrogant of 2nd Lieutenants, however would even presume to try to give orders to a Chief. The Chief’s office is right next to the Commanders, attends most of the Commander’s meetings and has the Commander’s ear in all things. A good Commander holds a competent Chief in the highest regard. The best Hollywood example out there of this relationship can be found in “We Were Soldiers”. The scene where Mel Gibson’s character (Commander) introduces Sam Elliot’s Sergeant Major character (Chief) to his officers, listing and praising his exploits and letting his junior officers know that he answers to him and him alone is a pretty good representation of the respect that a Chief commands even with his superiors.
Now that the frame of reference has been provided here is the main point of the analogy:
Commander - in full charge of the squadron.
Chief - highest ranking enlisted man and the Commander's right hand man.
Congratulations husbands you are the Commander, but your wife is the Chief.
And I have learned from personal experience that if you fail to treat your wife with the same honor and respect accorded a Chief by the Commander, then you have elected the way of pain.
Now let’s correct some fallacies regarding authority:
Fallacy #1: Being in charge means you are bettermore valuable, than those you are in charge of.
Within the Air Force Squadron construct, the Commander is actually not very necessary for day to day operations. While essential for making major decisions or shaping the units future direction (mostly as the result of dictates from HIS superiors) a unit can usually function just fine for several weeks without his direct involvement. In fact, it is standard operating procedure to solve day to day problems below the Commander level, and inform him of the results: “Sir, here is what happened and how we fixed it.”
I work 12 hours a day. I am not in a position to handle my family’s day to day problems on a regular basis. Not to mention that my job requires I deploy. I spent a year in Korea. During that time I trusted my wife to handle the day to day operations of the household (and she did a first rate job of it). Kids, finances, and most purchases were hers. She would, of course notify me if she had to make a major purchase. If she felt that it was absolutely essential (car repairs, clothing for the children, etc) she simply acted and let me know what had happened (Honey, here is what happened and how I fixed it). If it was a want, or its necessity was arguable, she would call me and we would discuss it.
Fallacy #2: Being in charge in marriage means you have all the answers.
If you actually operate under this assumption, than I weep for you. Over the last 2 years I have watched at least a half dozen Lieutenants crash and burn because they have tried to lead this way. Let’s be honest, what does a 22 year old who has been in the military for less than a year know about the specifics of a mission compared to subordinates who have been doing the job, in some instances, since the Lieutenant was born.
Even the Commander, who has a respectable amount of leadership experience, knows he doesn’t have all the answers. An officer at his level, by nature of his position, usually possesses great authority, but very limited understanding of specifics. Whereas higher ranking enlisted personnel usually have a greater understanding of the details, but limited authority. The purpose of communication between the two is to merge authority and understanding into a workable solution. Here is an illustration:
The Squadron leadership is conducting a weekly staff meeting. Around a conference table sit the Commander at the head, the Chief at his right, and the other segment leads, usually Senior Non-Commissioned Officers (sergeants). One of the segment leads brings up a problem:
Segment Lead: “Sir, we have the following problem…” (insert apocalyptic issue here)
This is where the Commander asks all the probing questions, and his enlisted leaders answer those questions seeing as they are subject matter experts. Then the Commander usually turns to his right and asks, “What do you think, Chief?” at which point the Chief, taking into account all the information presented, usually replies,
“Sir, I recommend the following…” (insert solution based on trial, error and 20+ years of experience in the field).
The Commander at point may accept the offered solution as is, fine tune it based on information or instruction he has received from his superiors, or reject it outright (though outright rejection is rare to the extreme). Whatever the Commander chooses to do, he accepts total responsibility for the decision, but in my experience, the majority of the solution comes from the recommendation of his enlisted leaders, and particularly from his Chief.
As mentioned earlier, I spend most of my waking hours at work. I do not have a detailed understanding of issues at home since by necessity of my job, I am geographically separated from them. I defer to my wife in all matters of day to day operation of the household, to include finances, since she is the subject matter expert. If there are major issues that she cannot, or is unwilling to solve on her own then we talk about them. Most of the time I ask her what she thinks we should do, and most of the time, and especially if it is her area of expertise, I go with her recommendation (though not always). However, once I have made a decision I am fully responsible for that decision, but we’ll cover that later.
Just as my wife treats me with respect by informing me of her solutions or deferring to me for major issues, I provide her the same respect with my areas of focus. It is my responsibility to keep her informed about everything in my life that would affect hers whether it’s how much I make, changes to my hours, possibilities that we may be relocated, plans for the future, basically nothing should come to her as a surprise if I was aware of it ahead of time, even if she plays no part in its planning or execution. Withholding information in general that could potentially affect her or the rest of the family would be extremely disrespectful.
Fallacy #3: Having authority in a marriage means having total control. Men,if you operate under this fallacy than you are an abusive husband.
As mentioned earlier, the Commander has powerful authority over his subordinates. However, even his authority is both delegated and limited. Some of it is delegated by his superiors, but most of it is detailed in the numerous, previously mentioned, laws and directives. For example, while my Commander has the authority to order me to pay any outstanding third party debts, he cannot order me to donate money to an organization, or support his kid’s school fundraiser. While he can instruct me to follow the instructions of my military superiors as if they were coming directly from him, he cannot order me to obey commands from his civilian wife or children. The Commander is not the king and his power over me is specific in scope.
If it is discovered that he [the Commander] has over reached regarding his authority, he is held accountable and disciplined/fired/court-martialed by HIS superiors.
The same applies in marriage, especially Christian marriage.
The ultimate authority in any marriage is God. All of the man’s authority is delegated from God as instructed through the Word.
A husband, simply because he is in charge, cannot decide that he wants a second wife, or that he wants to have an extramarital affair, or that he can share is wife with a friend. The Word forbids this. More importantly, a husband in this dispensation has no say in his wife’s relationship with God (“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”). I have yet to read a scripture that says at the Bema Seat of Christ I will be held accountable for the spiritual walk of my wife.
The nature of authority demands that if I will not be held responsible for something then I have no authority over it.
God would not expect a wife to convert to Islam, LDS or Atheism simply because her husband has chosen to do so. So why would He expect her to take his lead in her relationship with Him? While a husband and wife are “one flesh” they are still two different people. The idea that I am responsible for another’s spirituality and will answer for it is the kind of thinking that leads to evils such as honor killings.
Fallacy #4: As husband, I have the privilege of being in charge. Wrong. As husband you have the RESPONSIBILITY of being in charge.
As any leader in the military can tell you, leadership over others means you are responsible for their wellbeing. As a supervisor, I am required to know about my troop’s lives. I often inquire how things are with finances, health, home life, mental state. When I listen to conversations they are either having with me or others I pay attention to cues that may indicate chemical dependence, unsafe behavior, unusual or erratic actions, questionable/illegal activity, etc. If they come to me for help I am required to see that they get the help they need. If they tell me they think they might kill themselves I am their shadow until I can get them to the professional aid they require. I recently experienced a situation where an Airman under the authority of a very legalistic 1st Sergeant was abandoned by him to his own dark thoughts after the Airman had been arrested for a DUI and that sergeant concluded that the Airman was a “waste of flesh”. Fortunately my immediate supervisor, recognizing the danger, stepped in and mobilized several personnel to locate and secure this young man. They arrived at his home, catching him returning from the drug store, with the drugs he was planning to take his life with in his hands. The 1st Sergeant is currently under a criminal investigation for dereliction of duty.
A Commander in the military is responsible for everything that happens under his command whether he was aware of it or not.
If a subordinate is caught dumping chemical waste improperly, the Commander is called before his superiors to answer for it. He does not get to tell his boss, “It wasn’t me General! It was the sergeant who did the dumping! I had nothing to do with it!”
A Commander who fails to take responsibility for those under his command is usually quickly relieved of that command.
Overbearing husbands have no problem calling the shots but are usually quick to shirk the responsibilities of their authority. Often single minded in the pursuit of what they want, they tend to ignore, or find a nuisance, the cues their families drop that their needs are not being met.
While no one is responsible for the happiness of another, it is a misuse of a husband’s authority to deliberately create situations of hardship in order to fulfill selfish, personal desires.
It is vitally important that a husband engage in constant dialogue with his wife. If a Chief told the Commander that unit morale was low, or that work conditions were becoming unsafe, the Commander would take the Chief’s concerns seriously and take action if it was within his power. If your spouse comes to you with valid family concerns such as the wellbeing of the children, status of the finances, or condition of the marital relationship, and the solutions to those problems are within the husband’s power than it is his responsibility to act. Even if such action is not in agreement with his own personal desires.
I originally intended to serve in the military only one enlistment where I would earn money for college, gain technical experience and the benefits of veteran’s status. Members of the armed forces voluntarily give up numerous Constitutional and personal freedoms during their term and I was looking forward to having those freedoms restored and moving on to college and the civilian sector. As the end of my enlistment neared I came to realize that with a wife and two children I could not maintain the same standard of living on the outside that I could if I reenlisted, and that if I did re-up, my duty schedule would make my goal of earning a college degree impractical. Also, even though civilian companies were interested in hiring me, benefits such as medical, would be greatly reduced, and word on the street was that those jobs were volatile in their layoff processes.
After several days of discussion with my wife, we came to the mutual decision that it was in the family’s best interest that I should reenlist in the military. I did not want to at the time, but the Lord has made it clear that it was the right choice for my family and more importantly, for His plan.
Marriages that work are based on mutual respect, also known as agape. I would give better odds to an arranged marriage where both parties learn to respect the position and contributions of the other, than to any relationship that started with both parties “falling in love”. It is vital that the husband respect his wife. Yes, I am well aware that there are plenty of marriages where the wife operates as a hen pecking harpy, but today we are focusing of the evils of the overbearing husband without a clue (though it is often the husband’s fault his wife has become a hen pecking harpy).
An effective leader trusts and respects his subordinates. The same is true of the husband to wife relationship. The woman is the responder. If the husband treats her with love, trust, approval and respect she will respond in kind.
If he shows her nothing but scorn, indifference, anger, contempt, condescension, patronization, etc, then he best hide the kitchen knives.
Here is one last note, men. This is especially for the majority of mainstream Christian men who think God’s commandments in marriage regarding authority are an excuse for the husband to treat his wife however he wants and expect her to take it forever. God is a patient Supreme General; Commander. His reproof and discipline are much preferable to their worldly counterparts. But just as many of the kings of Israel learned, beginning with Saul, that patience has an eventual end. Also remember that the Lord loves your wife just as much as he loves you. If you repeatedly abuse your power, violate the sanctity of your marriage, or consistently fail in your responsibilities to your family than YOUR superior can, and will relieve you of command. [end of article]
For this reason we will give a close look to 1Pe 3.
1PE 3:1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives,
"In the same way" reveals to us that these are Christian wives who have unbelieving husbands since just prior, Peter dealt with the common situation in the early church of house-slaves who had unbelieving masters, who at times treated them badly. We studied that section not long ago.
Yet we would conclude that the Christian behavior of the wife towards a believing husband who happens to be acting like an unbeliever at a given time would be the same.
Do not conclude that because you are not a Christian wife that this doesn't apply to you, and I even mean the men, since all of us are under authority and this situation of a believing woman married to an unbelieving man is so very applicable to all believers when the authority that they are under is acting worldly, is unfair, or not understanding or wise.
After singling out as a particular class, Christian house-hold slaves, and exhorting them to be submissive to their masters and to patiently endure unjust punishment, Peter addresses another class of Christians which also was prominent in the early Church, namely, Christian wives who had unsaved husbands. The wife had been saved under the preaching of the gospel, but the husband had remained an unbeliever. These wives were seeking to win their husbands to the Lord Jesus. But they were going about it in the wrong way. The inspired apostle gives them instruction how to effectively witness to their husbands that they might be won to the Lord.
Peter exhorts them, in view of their husbands' obstinate rejection of the gospel, to stop talking about it, and just live a Christ-like life before them. The husband was to be won to the Lord Jesus not by nagging, but by holy living.
In other words, they heard and knew the gospel and now the Christian virtue in the wife would do the rest. There was no reason to keep telling them the gospel that they already heard and knew, but rather, now, the wife would display the person of Christ through her own behavior and conduct.
Both Peter and Paul found it necessary to impress upon the Church that incompatibility of religion did not justify dissolution of marriage. This subjection to their husbands would also be a factor which God could use in winning their husbands.
1PE 3:2 as they observe your chaste [pure] and respectful behavior.
We must conclude from this that the unsaved observe, somewhat carefully, the behavior of Christians.
Chaste is the Greek word hagnos, from the root word hagios which means sanctified or saint and so it means a behavior that is set apart from the world's view of as wife under less than inspiring leadership in her husband, in this case the unbelieving husband.
"chaste" - a`gno,j[hagnos] = pure from defilement, not contaminated, holy.