Headship is not authority in marriage Part 2

Ballista has posted a reply to my previous Headship in marriage is not authority. I’m going to comment as fast as I can because I don’t have that much time.

Let me start by saying this. We are talking past each other somewhat. Ballista is assuming that the husband has authority in marriage. If there is authority in marriage, then he is absolutely correct and I am wrong. However, the issue that is amassing contention is that he is analyzing the headship of the NT with the lens of authority being the same as headship. These two frameworks are different, and they lead to completely different consequences.

They are incompatible. You have to examine them as two separate fraweworks. Most of this post will be on distinguishing between the two framworks, with reasoning on why headship is not exactly authority as stated from the Scriptures.

Deep Strength espouses the typical religious feminist model of marriage, and only furthers it in his current post. If such a distinction is to be taken as he describes, then the natural next step from women is “I don’t have to submit to that evil evil man!”. There’s no force stopping her either, as the Church has recognized the right of woman to be in rebellion to God, using rationales much like Deep Strength’s. No chastening can come from either the husband or the Church, in other words. I’ve dealt with several feminists that have used the exact arguments in his post, that the requirement to submit is an artifact of The Fall and is negated with Christ, to completely negate Ephesians 5 and other Scriptures that define marriage. DS puts himself on very dangerous ground, as well, to indicate the dynamic of marriage has changed in any way from the days of Adam and Eve, especially since the dynamic has not changed by God’s directive (it has changed by man’s doctrine). Deep Strength goes on to write:

“However, based on the Greek word study I did it seems that the headship-submission model puts both husbands and wives in a position where they must fully trust in the Lord and not rely on “authority” or “consequences” or the “state” in order to win their spouses to Christ even if they say they are Christian but don’t act like it.”

This analysis is an incorrect summation of my post.

The Scriptures explicitly state that wives should submit to their husbands as unto the Lord. If a woman is abusing her free will by saying that “[she doesn’t] have to submit to that evil evil man!” then she is directly disobeying the Lord and her husband. She will be held accoutable on the day of judgment for that.

The incorrect analysis stems from the fact that I am discussing the only responsibilities of the husband and it is being directly applying it to the actions of the wife. While the responsibilities of the husband are interdependent on the responses of the wife as humans — male and female, husbands and wives — we only have control over our own actions.

Likewise, the fact that feminists and christo-feminists are wrong has no bearing on the fact that God commands me to love them even though they are my enemies.

The point of issue when it comes to authority is the man over himself and his possessions. This was my primary concern in that post, not that the husband was the one to “call the shots”. The feminist model has removed these things, as Deep Strength’s first post illustrates. All these are hers without question. This is “fully trusting in the Lord” as Deep Strength puts it. The husband has no authority over himself, much less the marriage as head.

This is not what I have said at all. In my previous post I explicitly stated that husbands still retain authority and thus responsibility over their possessions and children.

This is the whole issue with respect to marriage – such arguments invert the marriage relationship, rendering the wife as head and the husband as the one who submits. But this leads to the real problem that Deep Strength has with his theology:

“Just as we don’t see “abuse” (of any sort) as a legitimate reason for divorce for wives, we also don’t see the ability to impose direct consequences on wives as the husbands as the headship model does not confer such authority.

The Father isn’t interested in compelling those who are adult — husbands and wives — to obey as one might a child.”

This literally constitutes a direct denial of the Scriptures that I posted previously about chastening. The Greek word used in Hebrews 12:5-8 is paideuo (G3811), which indicates this same chastening as a child receives from a parent (a derivative of the word occurs in Ephesians 6:4, paideia (G3809). It also occurs in 2 Timothy 3:16 in relationship to the Scriptures. The function of chastening is a very real New Testament function – after all, why would God be referred to as the Father if He is to not function as such?

This is a misapplication of G3811 paideuo.

Paideuo is only used in the context of a parent-child relationship which is an authority-obedience relationship and not of the husband-wife which is a headship-submission relationship.

However, as I stated in my previous post, what a headship relationship is called to is what Jesus does with His disciples. Likewise, husbands are called to correct and rebuke their wives if they go astray. This serves the same purpose as chastisement, except that chastisement carries with it the weight of the rod while headship does not.

  • Authority = rebuke, correction, and chastisement = direct on the right path AND ability to directly punish
  • Headship = rebuke and correction = direct on the right path AND inability to directly punish

As husbands retain authority and responsibility for the household and its possessions he can limit the use of those as an negative incentive in the case of a disobedient wife. However, the difference in authority and headship lies in the fact he cannot directly punish her such as with the rod or by telling her to obey him or face punishment.

“He is interested in those who are under such circumstances to love as he would (which means teaching, correcting, rebuking and training as husbands) and winning husbands without a word (1 peter 3) as wives.”

DS recognizes these things, but then doesn’t recognize the authority of husbands to do these things as head. If Jesus and the Church is Husbands and Wives, then surely the husband has the right to give and take away from his wife and children, as much as God has the right to do so with His children. This was the whole issue of the last post. Does the husband have the right to chasten his wife the same as the Lord God has the right to chasten His children? God’s the same yesterday today and tomorrow right? Deep Strength says no. Perhaps he doesn’t recognize the issue at hand for husbands. Walk a mile in one’s shoes, right?:

Again, this is a misapplication of what authority means versus headship.

Consider the examples that Jesus has shown as the head of His disciples in John 6 when He talks about Himself as the bread of life. They would have thought as “cannablism”:

60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble? 62 What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would [j]betray Him. 65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” Peter’s Confession of Faith 66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” 68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. 69 We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?” 71 Now He meant Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, [k]was going to betray Him.

Certainly, both the Father and Jesus have the authority to compel those under Them to chastise and obey like children. However, that is not how they work with us as believers. He gives us free will whether to choose to obey him or not. We have to actively submit to Him just as Jesus did with the Father, and just as the Church does with Christ.

“For example, the husband is not bound by the actions and thus consequences of the rebellion of his wife. In the OT, the husband is responsible for the actions of both his children and wife and has to bear the consequences when they act out. But with the restoration of headship-submission if the wife gets herself into consequences of her own choosing the husband does not have to bear the burden of such responsibility. This is how it is supposed to be from the beginning.”

Being bound as tightly to another person as one flesh, the husband can not help but be bound to the actions and consequences of the rebellion of his wife. This was the whole issue with dvdivx, and the issue that requires a good husband to take action in authority over himself and his wife as head of the marriage. The money issue I mentioned in the last post is another. If he doesn’t have the right to act in response to the wife as the head of the marriage, then he is just sunk along with her.

Ultimately this is the true difference between headship and simple authority – simply the state of the union between the members involved. If there was ever a thing called authority in marriage, it has always existed in God’s plan.

Furthermore, DS has a very skewed view of how marriage and family life works. As a child, my parents were very bound by the consequences of my actions. If I went around throwing rocks through windows as a young boy, they were the ones that had to pay for the repairs. Of course, my parents were free to then chastise me as they saw fit, but I wouldn’t have been the one that would have had to answer to the others (and the cops) for the vandalism.

Ballista is correct in that the issue here is completely exposed. First, we must understand the relationships via 1 Corinthians 11 and Ephesians 5:

  • Headship — God-Jesus, Jesus-Church, and husband-wives
  • Submission — Jesus-God, Church-Jesus, and wives-husbands

God and Jesus show us the perfect dynamic of the divine-divine relationship of headship and submission. They are ultimately working as one.

The Jesus/Christ-Church relationship shows us the dynamic of the divine-earthly relationship of headship and submission. It is readily apparent that Jesus does not use authority to chastise the church and compel it to obey like the paideuo relationship above.

Rather, it is the kephale headship relationship. However, in this headship relationship the Father and Jesus do rebuke the Church for its errors in accorandance with the Scriptures’ teaching to rebuke and correct those in error. This is performed through Scriptures, prayer, medititation, fasting, and other Christian believers. This is what a Christian husband SHOULD be doing when his wife is off track, which I believe we both agree on.

Before the feminist reforms, marriage used to work in this same way for 1900 years after Christ. One of the more interesting discussions in Men On Strike was the idea of coverture. This idea presupposed that the wife acts under the husband’s direction under the law, meaning he had both authority and responsibility over her assets – if any decision was made in the family, he was to make it or approve of it. This is because the marriage unit was considered one person under the law with the husband as head, fitting Biblical teaching. Interestingly, wives hold coverture rights over husbands now, partly because of the erosion of authority illustrated in these posts.

Historically, husbands have been very responsible for their wives. Even to the present day, this could be argued. While “separate responsibility” is a laudable idea, it is just not workable in the idea of marriage. She will act, and he will feel the consequences of those actions, regardless of who is “responsible” for them or not. Marriage is “one flesh” after all – in such a situation, responsibility becomes irrelevant. If one is to judge in terms of “responsibility”, as was stated in the comments, then justice is required. Ideally and practically, the husband functions as first agent to accomplish such justice since he is the head of the marriage, and then the Church. Yet Deep Strength would leave husbands crying out for justice, and the sin would fall on their heads because all the Lord would say to them is “go take care of it, you’re the head of the marriage.” But under DS’s ideology, they can’t.

Ultimately, the message that seems to come out of this is how corrupt things have gotten in marriage, simply because of the skewed idea of what headship entails. The authority (or rights, if you want to use another word) indicated by the headship has been completely eroded, while the historical responsibility indicated by it remains. The calls of the religious feminists to men to “man up and lead their families” ring hollow simply because they do not have the authority behind it. In the end, the wives are the ones doing the leading. This is the whole goal behind the erosion of husbandly authority. All that results is the inversion of marriage roles, creating an abomination to God.

I would disagree that the law ever aligned with what the Scriptures say on headship. If you make the assumption that headship is authority — they are slightly different — then that is the case. However, headship has never been exactly what authority was otherwise Paul would’ve used exousia instead of kephale.

One thing I want to make mention of here is the bolded.

Ballista is assuming that husbands have authority over their wives in marriage. If they had authority over their wives in marriage what he says is indeed correct and I would be wrong. It logically follows that if the husband has authority over his wife in marriage then he does have the ability to chastise her like a child and impute direct punishment. However, this is not what the Scriptures say as I have already pointed out.

This is what the Scriptures say about being married to unbelievers, which is essentially the same as being married to a Christian who says they are a believer but doesn’t follow the Scriptures:

1 Corinthians 7:10 But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not [d]leave her husband 11 (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not [e]divorce his wife.

12 But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not [f]divorce her. 13 And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not [g]send her husband away. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through [h]her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. 15 Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called [i]us [j]to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?

The headship-submission relationship between the husband and wife makes it so that the wife is able to choose to submit or not of her own free will. If the husband has authority then he can force his wife to submit and obey to him with the rod and other such chastisements. He would also be responsible for her actions. This is not the case. If she choose to leave, the believer is not in bondage anymore.

The difficult part to accept is that others’ free will may hang consequences over our heads. The important part to understand is that those consequences are not always ours to clean up. If you take responsibility for them then you are teaching the other person that they can be irresponsible and someone will clean up their mess.

It is good stewardship for a husband to limit credit and lockdown money in the case of a spending wife because he is tasked with stewardship of the household and thus money. However, it is not his job to explicitly clean up any of the consequences of behavior such as debt that the wife made of her own free will; she should answer those consequences. The law may not say this, but that is what free will is in the Scriptures, and we already know that the law does not necessarily align with the Scriptures.

As Donal eloquently sums up in the comments of the first post:

This approach squares with my understanding of Sacred Tradition. I’ve linked to Chrysostom’s interpretation of the relationship between husband and wife before on your blog, and it basically states the same thing. If either party in a marriage fails to uphold their end of the bargain, that is on them. The virtuous spouse must maintain their own duties as best as they are able until the recalcitrant spouse mends his or her ways. [ed: or leaves like 1 Cor 7]

Conclusion

Under the authority model of headship:

  • Husbands have headship (and thus authority) over their wives. They can chasten and punish them like they would children.
  • The husband is also responsible for the actions of the wife in this scenario, as she is under his authority.

From what I have read of the Scriptures this is false. I think the confusion lies in that as I already stated the sin consequences of the fall morphed it from a pre-fall headship-submission to post-fall authority-submission to a post-Christ headship-submission relationship.

Additionally, the secular red pill manosphere advocates treating wives as they would children. It does work, but that is not the way it should be in mature relationships.

  • Husbands have headship (not authority) over their wives. They should rebuke and correct them as necessary if they are off track of the Scriptures. They have stewardship over the household and its possessions and ability to use and limit them as necessary. However, they cannot directly punish a wife with the rod or compel obedience.
  • The husband is responsible for ONLY for his own actions, and the wife is responsible for her actions. However, one of the most difficult parts to understand is that actions of one spouse may have consequences over the family. This does not absolve you from what the Scriptures command each spouse though.

Doing in the right thing, in hard circumstances, is never easy.

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7 Responses to Headship is not authority in marriage Part 2

  1. Peter says:

    I’ll just note that authority in such cases is DELEGATED authority.

    When a Private disobeys an Officer, he is not punished merely for disobedience to the person, nor because he is the property of the superior. He is punished because in disobeying one person, he has rebelled against the authority of the Nation and is punished by that Nation.

    Likewise, when a wife disobeys a husband, she is rebelling against God. Her punishment is the punishment for sin against God, because the authority of a husband is delegated authority.

    The husband may not be free to personally beat his wife any more than an Officer may beat a Private or a Policeman may beat a speeding motorist, but that does not mean that any of them are without authority.

    I work as an officer in an Emergency Services. The powers that I possess under the governing legislation would surprise many people. That authority is delegated me as a tool to permit me to carry out that responsibility.. You cannot – in justice – require someone be responsible for something without giving them the means to do so.

    If a husband is expected by God to ensure that his household is well ordered, then it should go without saying that God gives him the delegated authority to do so.

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  3. ballista74 says:

    @Peter Great comment. All authority is vested in God, and any others hold is delegated. Those delegated authority are held responsible by God for how it is used. Any task required requires the authority over the resources to do that task, be it anything or anyone under the sun.

    With marriage, Ephesians 5:22 typifies this: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” Another way to say this is that wives are to follow the delegated authority of the Lord as vested in husbands as if it were the Lord Himself speaking. Or as I’ve heard before, “you follow his orders as if they were coming from my mouth”.

    Anyone with authority is the one ultimately held responsible if the task isn’t completed, OR if the authority is misused.

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