Authority is good

One of the realiziations that I have run across when I was discussing the concepts in the posts on Structures of Authority with “egalitarians” is the implicit notion that authority is bad and equality is good.

If we implicitly hold “equality” to be an ideal, then this necessarily assumes that authority is bad. You can’t have it any other way.

Unfortunately, this is obviously proved incorrect.

  • The triune God — Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit — exists as 3 in 1 and has a clearly defined authority structure within Himself — Father > Son > Holy Spirit.
  • God is good.
  • God, who is perfect, cannot contradict Himself.
  • Therefore, authority which is of God and in God is good.

Prior to the fall, we know that God gave man authority over three different aspects of creation which was good:

  1. Man (humans) > animals
  2. Man (humans) > earth
  3. Husbands > wives

Ironically, the only one treated as “bad” is that of husbands > wives.

Post fall, we know that there are multiple structures that God delegates to earthly authorities in the Scriptures that are good.

  • God > Earthly authotiries > Christians
  • Father sends Jesus to die for our sins
  • Jesus delegates/sends Holy Spirit to believers
  • Holy Spirit > husbands > wives
  • Husbands > wives > children, and also parents > children
  • God > God inspired Scripture > Pastors (elders/overseers) > church (or flock)

Arguing with anyone with implicitly wrong assumptions will always result in failure. If they assume that “equality” is what is inherently good and thus by the same measure that “authority” is inherently bad, then they will never understand the nature of God. If they don’t understand the nature of God, then they will be prone to rebellion irregardless of logic.

I believe the reason why “equality” is held as the gold standard, aside from the insidious creep of feminism, is that “equality” is meant to be as an equivalent to “unity.” God definitely desires unity between all Christians, and desires that all may be saved that they may also enter into unity with Him.

However, unity and equality are not the same thing. We know that the triune God, perfect in His 3 in 1 unity, is also perfect in His authority (Father > Son > Holy Spirit), and by that nature He is also perfect in love and goodness.

Therefore, we base our assumptions not on equality but on authority. We base our hopes not on equality but unity. And we know that which brings together unity and authority is God whose banner is love and goodness.

This is the paradigm shift that is needed to truly understand Christianity. I will be exploring the different paradigms in upcoming posts.

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31 Responses to Authority is good

  1. Robert What? says:

    I’m not telling you something you don’t already know, but “equality” had a totally different meaning and intent to the founding fathers: it was equality before the law. Was it always followed? Of course not, as we are fallible beings. But it was an ideal to be striven for, which makes all the difference. In our post modern age, it has come to mean equality of outcome, which is impossible to achieve and horrific as an ideal as it empowers those who decide the outcomes and impoverishes everyone else. Meanwhile, equality before the law seems to have been abandoned even as an ideal.

  2. Andrew says:

    I still have much to research, but from what I’ve read, many of the ideas we have about “equality” and “mutual submission” came from social marxism and Machiavelli, which came from people as long ago as Locke and Hobbes, which was based on the idea that citizens of a country must first approve of their government leaders/representatives before they “allowed” those authority figures to lead them. This has the impact of believing all authority is somehow inherently “wrong” and “bad,” and therefore must be approved of before being “granted” the right to use any of that authority.

    But as your post explains, God is the one who grants authority over others, who in-turn grant authority to those below them. Authority is always a chain-of-command hierachry that descends from above, not one in which average citizens issue authority from below. In God’s design, we don’t have the authority to grant any authority, and therefore we don’t have the authority to deny it as well.

    When all those reversed ideas of hierarchy, authority, and “equality” as “universal-sameness” were written into our constitution, we were basing our entire country on ideas that are contrary to scripture, even as we tried to rewrite history that we were founded on it.

    When the first immigrants left England and came to the US, they were rebelling against their authority, and we celebrate that rebellion as “freedom” and “liberty,” but in doing so, we have also taught all the following generations of Americans how to rebel against thier own authority.

    What we have is just the inevitable conclusion to what was started centuries ago.

    Women believe they have a God-given right to rebel against their own husbands when they don’t like or agree with that leadership, because they believe that they are the ones who have the right and authority to decide whether or not men have the responsibility (without any authority) to lead them. Their entire understanding of authority and responsibility as good, God-given systems of organization and leadership is completely backwards, because they believe they have more authority than they do to make decisions they were never designed or intended to make.

    The bible says that “women were made for men, not men for women,” and “suffer not that any woman would have authority over a man.” Christians and Feminists can ignore those verses all they want, and pretend that parts of the bible don’t really apply to them, but that doesn’t remove the fact that Eve came from Adam, and God granted Adam authority over Eve, and likewise all husbands have authority over their wives. He gave us “headship” authority over our wives, and commanded wives to submit to their own husbands “in everything, as the Church submits to Christ.”

    A big part of the problem is that women talk out of both sides of thier mouths, and want the best of two opposites. They want men to have all the responsibility, as women retain full authority over them. And while women know they are unhappy, they are too preocupied with thier own rebellion and blaming men for thier own problems to see the damage they have caused themselves. The only way men can have the authority God gave husbands and fathers over their wives and children is to stand back up and claim it. Most women will complain, but some will be happy to comply, and they will enjoy the peace of their own surrender.

    Just as God convicts ungodly husbands of their sins, and God can also harden the hearts of leaders like Pharaoh, He can cause nations and leaders to change or fall aside. But, proper, godly change – just as authority – always comes from above, not from the rebellious actions of citizens, wives, and followers.

  3. Robyn says:

    “Ironically, the only one treated as “bad” is that of husbands > wives.” And so many have swallowed hook, line and sinker.

  4. infowarrior1 says:

    Its the equation of:

    Authority=abuse or oppression
    Equality=no one in want or need. No one being oppressed.
    People rich=oppress people poor.
    People Strong=oppress people weak
    The gap between poor and rich= Keeping poor people down and abused
    King=Tyrant

  5. infowarrior1 says:

    “equality” as “universal-sameness” were written into our constitution”

    Equality is sameness quality or quantity-wise. It is not a distortion of its meaning.

  6. Andrew says:

    @infowarrior1

    Yes, the word “Equality” was written in the constitution, but the context and meaning of that word (“sameness”) is not a biblical concept.

    Even though we try to enforce this idea of “Sameness,” “Equality” does not truly mean “Sameness.”

    “Sameness” is pretending that we have no differences between classes, sexes, races, groups, etc., and attempting to blur any lines between all those things to remove all of those “pesky” differences in the name of “Equality.”

    “Equality,” then, is just the politically correct, easily marketable term we use to enforce universal-sameness. Everyone likes their own personal idea of “Equality,” so we have all accepted this bad definition of it.

    Men and woman could not be any more different than they are (or were), but in the name of “equality,” we’re trying to change women into men and men into women, until we have all become “the same” – namely lost and confused about what it really means to “be a man” or “be a woman,” and wondering why women don’t like feminine men and men don’t like masculine women. We are foolish!

    “Sameness” is foolishness. It is not good for us, because it contradicts God’s design for us.

    We see differences as “bad” things that must be eliminated to make others happy, not characteristics of God’s design to reflect varying portions of His greatness and glory.

    To be clear, some of our differences are part of His design, and some of our differences are the results of our own unbiblical choices. God does not like to see people starving, but allows people to make poor choices that leave them without food. He does not like to see people being oppressed, but allows people with authority to make poor decisions that affect the lives of those under their authority. We are all very different. We are not equal in human appearance, power, fame, or fortune, but we do have Equality in God’s view.

    “Equality” in the bible, honors the equal human value we all have in His sight, noting that God has no favorites among us. We all have equal human value before His throne. Our race or socio-economic status mean nothing to Him. But, we are each given different lots in life to use for God’s glory. Some have easy lives and some don’t, and comparing our lives to others to minimize those differences is the same vanity that King Solomon wrote about in Lamentations.

    Our lives matter not – only what we do with our lives to honor Christ has any eternal value. Everything else is meaningless.

    “Equality” does not attempt to limit or remove the differences between us to force some faulty perception of “sameness.” Some of our differences are rooted in God’s value of those qualities.

    If God wanted men and women to look, think, and act the same, then he would have designed us that way. But, He didn’t, because He is not interested in a bunch of confused, cross-dressing halflings. To Him, that would be the same as being “lukewarm” when He wants us to be hot or cold.

    God doesn’t want our sameness, because He wants our lives to reflect the full array of His goodness.

    Men aren’t “bad” or “wrong” because they don’t think and act like women, and women aren’t “bad” or “wrong” because they don’t think and act like men. So why are we trying to destroy those differences in the name of “Equality,” when we always were Equal.

    When God gave husbands authority over their wives, He was establishing an organized system designed to love, cherish, protect, and provide for those wives. And if a husband must be responsible for all those good things, then it is only fair to husbands that they have the freedom and authority over their lives to ensure all those responsibilities are fulfilled. When wives whine about fake “oppression” and “inequality,” they limit husbands’ abilities to do our “husband” jobs well.

    The truth is that some are born rich and some are born poor. Some have great influence and power and some don’t. And, while we all share equal human value, we can never be the same until we die and stand before His throne for judgement. Our purpose is not to be the same, or to become like others, to share the same privileges and powers, but only to become like Him.

    A wife cannot possibly fathom how difficult it is for a husband to lead her well, while she is trying actively to challenge and protest every little decision he makes. How does a man lead his wife where God wants them both to go while she is yelling at him and pulling the steering wheel in the opposite direction? She might think she is “just” meeting her needs, but doesn’t realize that she has thrown her family on an avoidable detour down a very difficult road – one which will make her much more unhappy than before, because it isn’t where God wants them to be.

    The constitution was based on the same ideas that John Locke and Thomas Hobbes had centuries before. It assumed that government authority was inherently a bad thing that must be monitored and approved by the governed – to take the authority away from the leaders, and give that authority to the “followers.” It’s backseat driving – the same as “Equality” Feminism throughout society and “Mutual Submission” Egalitarianism in the Church. And, that all sounds nice at first, but demonstrates a fundamental unbelief and distrust in God’s sovereignty over our spiritual/family/workplace/government leaders and lives.

    God doesn’t need our help to change the hearts and lives of those in authority over us. He is sovereign over the whole earth and all who are in it.

    God has the power to change history, people, and nations. He hardened Pharaoh’s heart to free the Hebrew slaves from Egyptian rule. He is always on His throne, and is attentive to the prayers of the righteous. And, if He would spare a whole city from destruction because of one believer residing in it, then He could easily exert His own influence, power, and authority over our world leaders as well. That would be an easy thing for Him to do!

    Jesus said of the Roman Centurion, “I have not seen a man with such faith,” who requested but Jesus’ word that his child would be healed. He had men who were in authority over him, and he was a man with authority over others. He understood the power and organizational efficiency of chain-of-command authority, and did not slander authority as an inherently bad thing. This trust in authority is what enabled him to have complete trust and faith in the authority of Christ. And Christ was impressed by that level of faith!

    To rebel against our authority is to rebel against God’s authority over us, because it denies the sovereignty and authority of Christ over our leaders. How can we expect our wives and children to respect our authority as men when we won’t respect the authority of those above us?

    The constitution was based on the rebellion of people opposed to oppressive/”oppressive” British rule. Since then, they’ve become our biggest ally, and when the tragedy of September 11th happened, the Queen of England stood up and sang our Star-Spangled Banner with all Americans. How ironic is that?

    God can do anything!

    We have equal, God-given, human value, whether or not we have happy, easy lives of riches, fame, and power, or sad, difficult lives of poverty, loneliness, and oppression. Though we will never be the same in the eyes of this world (even when we try to be), we will always be “Equal” in Christ. And that’s all that really matters!

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  8. @ Andrew

    Speaking of human based authorities, in general it seems that God’s preferred method is:

    1. An anointed leader from among the people [often by a prophet]
    2. This anointed leader works with the elders in the community in order to make good decisions.

    It’s almost too simple a system really. Elders are chosen because they have life experience. Likewise. they will have gone through life raising families so they know how to think in terms of the bigger picture of running a family albeit on a community or national level.

    It’s pretty clear that democracy and it’s general derivatives will always result in the type of civilization that we have now as the same thing happened to the Greeks and Romans when their civilizations fell.

    ———————-

    As far as “equality” goes I try not to use the word anymore. It’s too loaded.

    I prefer to just say that we are all God’s creations and thus slaves to Christ. That keeps the humility in there.

    Then in terms of ability or material things we are all given different talents. That’s why the parable of the talents is my favorite. It shows that God creates us differently and we each have different things we are to be held accountable for. Those with more are held accountable with more.

  9. @ Robert What?

    I find equality to be a poor descriptor because of the connotations that go along with it. I also don’t find democracy to be a good form of government either given it will always be warped into the state it is now by the general population.

    Like I was telling Andrew, the reason why the parable of the Talents is my favorite parable is that it shows the differences of which we were created. Those who have more are responsible with more, and those with less are responsible with less. It’s about what you do with what you’ve been given according to your talents. Even discussing equal opportunity and equal outcome I think misses the point because it assumes that all people should be given the opportunity to try or do something. This is simply not the way the world works nor should it. For example, when you go down this line of thought you have the “opportunity” to go off course such as wives should have the opportunity to lead the family instead of the husband.

  10. @ info

    Hmmm, I skimmed it.

    So it would seem there are problems with whatever you do, lol.

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  12. Robin Munn says:

    At one point last year, I got into a debate with an egalitarian over the principle of headship in marriage. In the process, I discovered that egalitarians claim that the subordination of the Son and Holy Spirit in the Trinity is a new idea, unsupported by church tradition. Here’s the best egalitarian treatment I’ve found on the subject:

    http://www.cbeinternational.org/?q=content/doctrine-trinity-and-subordination

    The inherent sense that “authority is bad” — or rather, “if there is authority in the Trinity then there can’t be true equality between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” which comes to the same thing in practice — is woven throughout that text, but I don’t have the background to refute it at present. How would you have answered the egalitarian I found myself debating last year?

  13. @ Robin Munn

    I will start working on a post on this, but I’m also going to talk to people who know more about Church history than me before I post anything.

  14. Robin Munn says:

    Thank you. I look forward to seeing it when it’s ready. Church history is one of the things I don’t know enough about, so I couldn’t answer the argument properly. At the time. I went to CCEL and looked through it for some passages of early church fathers’ writings that were in support of authority in the Trinity, but there was way too much material, and I didn’t know where to look (e.g., who spent a lot of time writing about the Trinity), which is something a person well versed in church history could probably tell you.

    I did find one passage from the writings of Basil, which I quoted in my argument (it was an email argument, so I still have it). From http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf208.vii.ix.html

    19. […] We must not, however, regard the œconomy [cf. note on page 7] through the Son as a compulsory and subordinate ministration resulting from the low estate of a slave, but rather the voluntary solicitude working effectually for His own creation in goodness and in pity, according to the will of God the Father. For we shall be consistent with true religion if in all that was and is from time to time perfected by Him, we both bear witness to the perfection of His power, and in no case put it asunder from the Father’s will. […] 20. When then He says, “I have not spoken of myself,”[John xii. 49.] and again, “As the Father said unto me, so I speak,”[John xii. 50.] and “The word which ye hear is not mine, but [the Father’s] which sent me,”[John xiv. 24.] and in another place, “As the Father gave me commandment, even so I do,”[John xiv. 31.] it is not because He lacks deliberate purpose or power of initiation, nor yet because He has to wait for the preconcerted key-note, that he employs language of this kind. His object is to make it plain that His own will is connected in indissoluble union with the Father. Do not then let us understand by what is called a “commandment” a peremptory mandate delivered by organs of speech, and giving orders to the Son, as to a subordinate, concerning what He ought to do. Let us rather, in a sense befitting the Godhead, perceive a transmission of will, like the reflexion of an object in a mirror, passing without note of time from Father to Son.

    The egalitarian I was debating had sent me an article by Phillip Cary titled “The New Evangelical Subordinationism”, in which Cary claims that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are united in will (I agree), and then claims “[a]nd where there is but one will there cannot be the authority of command and obedience, for that requires one person’s will to be subordinate to a will other than his or her own” (I disagree). That’s the point at which I found the Basil passage above, to make the argument that a structure of authority within the Trinity is not at all inconsistent with the three members of the Trinity sharing one will.

    I don’t have much else that’s helpful on the church fathers and how they saw the Trinity, but that’s at least one data point you might be able to use.

  15. Robin Munn says:

    By the way – I just double-checked the Basil quote I posted, and it seems I got the paragraph numbering slightly wrong: the first part is at the end of paragraph 18, not paragraph 19. If you do a text search in that page for the words “We must not” and the words “When then He says”, you’ll find, respectively, the first and second parts of the passage I quoted.

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  17. Bee says:

    @Robin Munn,

    There is a lot of good information regarding the trinity in this debate by Wayne Grudem and 3 others:

    http://christianessentialssbc.com/messages/wayne_grudem_sermons.asp

    Do relations of authority and submission exist eternally among the Persons of the Godhead?
    Debate: (Wayne Grudem, Bruce Ware vs. Thomas McCall, Keith Yandell)
    October 09, 2008

    It is the 9th audio recording listed from the top.

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