It’s interesting that there are two places in the Scriptures where kings use the terminology. One used it righteously with graciousness and generosity:
Esther 5:1 Now it came about on the third day that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace in front of the king’s [a]rooms, and the king was sitting on his royal throne in the [b]throne room, opposite the entrance to the palace. 2 When the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight; and the king extended to Esther the golden scepter which was in his hand. So Esther came near and touched the top of the scepter. 3 Then the king said to her, “What is troubling you, Queen Esther? And what is your request? Even to half of the kingdom it shall be given to you.” 4 Esther said, “If it pleases the king, may the king and Haman come this day to the banquet that I have prepared for him.”
5 Then the king said, “Bring Haman quickly that we may do [c]as Esther desires.” So the king and Haman came to the banquet which Esther had prepared. 6 [d]As they drank their wine at the banquet, the king said to Esther, “What is your petition, for it shall be granted to you. And what is your request? Even to half of the kingdom it shall be done.” 7 So Esther replied, “My petition and my request is: 8 if I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and do [e]what I request, may the king and Haman come to the banquet which I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do [f]as the king says.”
Esther 7:1 Now the king and Haman came to drink wine with Esther the queen. 2 And the king said to Esther on the second day also [a]as they drank their wine at the banquet, “What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to half of the kingdom it shall be done.” 3 Then Queen Esther replied, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me as my petition, and my people as my request; 4 for we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed and to be annihilated. Now if we had only been sold as slaves, men and women, I would have remained silent, for the [b]trouble would not be commensurate with the [c]annoyance to the king.” 5 Then King Ahasuerus [d]asked Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, [e]who would presume to do thus?” 6 Esther said, “A foe and an enemy is this wicked Haman!” Then Haman became terrified before the king and queen.
The other used it unrighteously:
Mark 6:21 A strategic day came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his lords and [n]military commanders and the leading men of Galilee; 22 and when the daughter of Herodias herself came in and danced, she pleased Herod and [o]his dinner guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you want and I will give it to you.” 23 And he swore to her, “Whatever you ask of me, I will give it to you; up to half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25 Immediately she came in a hurry to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And although the king was very sorry, yet because of his oaths and because of [p]his dinner guests, he was unwilling to refuse her. 27 Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded him to bring back his head. And he went and had him beheaded in the prison, 28 and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard about this, they came and took away his body and laid it in a tomb.
I noted before in Incentives that essentially this is a king granting ‘equality’ to a woman.
Jesus does a similar thing with us in John 15.
John 15:12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17 This I command you, that you love one another.
These examples show us that love elevates the honor and dignity of those under headship or authority to similar status. Indeed, the command to husbands thrice in Ephesians 5 is to love his wife as himself.
Many Christians like to harp on the fact that husband are to act like Jesus did toward His Church to their wives. Indeed, husbands are to “Love their wives as Christ loved the Church.” However, how many of those same people would use the same language that Jesus did with His Church in John 15?
John 15:14 “You are My friends if you do what I command you.”
The implicit counterpoint is that we, as Christians, are not Jesus’ friends if we do not do what he commands. Likewise, wives that disobey and/or do not submit to their husbands are not their husband’s friend. Rebellion alienates. It should be treated not with more kindness but correction, admonishment, or rebuke.
This leads us to the conclusion that although this status is enjoyed by those under authority, it cannot be treated with contempt. Instead, it should be treated with humility and graciousness as in the example of Esther above. The attitude is respect, and the action is obedience.
Indeed, Paul describes Jesus giving us the proper example between Him and the Father as He submitted to the Father’s will.
Philippians 2:3 Do nothing [c]from [d]selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude [e]in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be [f]grasped, 7 but [g]emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death [h]on a cross.
As this plays out within Christian marriages in our feminized culture and churchianity, it is often the wives who act more like Herodias’ daughter than Esther. They treat a husband’s graciousness and willingness to sacrifice for her with contempt and derision and exploit it. Look no further than the “divorce industry.”
If you look for it you can see it everywhere. It’s cliche to put down husbands and fathers. It’s cliche to blame them even when they have done nothing wrong. Be on your guard and speak out against it when you can.