CTBHHM: Spheres of Authority

CTBHHM: Spheres of Authority July 11, 2014

Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 259-260

In this section Debi asks Michael to write about when a woman is permitted to disobey her husband. Michael goes on for pages and pages, so we will only deal with the first few sections here.

All Authority Belongs to God

Paul taught that we are to obey the higher powers, and yet there were times when he and the apostles obeyed God instead. We know that when the Jewish or Roman government commanded the early church to act contrary to Scripture, Peter said, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). This and other examples establish the fact that there can be exceptions to obeying the authority that you are under. Many women disobey their husbands on grounds that they are obeying God instead. They get into a habit of always doubting his judgements and of second-guessing him. They let him “lead” when they think he is right, effectively reversing the male/female roles. When is it appropriate for a wife to refuse to obey her husband? Is there a point at which she is no longer under his authority? Yes, but not as soon or as often as most women suppose.

This isn’t anything we haven’t heard already from Debi. Remember the sections when Debi castigates women who think they can hear from God themselves, rather than through their husbands? She doesn’t mince words.

Although actually, there is something here we haven’t heard before—the passage stating that “we ought to obey God rather than men.” I’ve been wondering for some time now how the Pearls could so totally ignore that verse, and here Michael brings it up preemptively. I suspect he would argue that God sets husbands as their wives’ authorities, so for wives obeying God means obeying their husbands. Regardless, I would like to see Michael actually grapple with the verse rather than just throwing it out there as though it’s not in fact blatantly contradictory to the rest of what he says.

Spheres of Authority

Here Michael goes around and around, talking about all the different authorities—the husband, the government, angels, etc. I’m not typing it all in, but I thought this part was especially insightful:

The church does not have the right to intrude into family matters, unless false doctrine or immorality is involved.

I have never seen Michael suggest that the church has any role at all in the family—even where there is false doctrine or immorality. In fact—let me flip back a few pages—ah yes, earlier in the book Debi says this:

The pastor claims that he is the head of the local church and is, therefore, the highest religious power on earth. My husband’s response to a man’s claim to ecclesiastical authority over the family is to call him a liar and a deceiver.

If Michael actually things the church does have authority over the family should the family hold false doctrine, he really needs to tell Debi, because as it is she is clearly under the impression he doesn’t believe any such thing.

A husband does not have the right to break the just laws of man or God, nor does he have the right to constrain his wife and children to do so.

So wait. I feel like this depends a lot on how one defines “the just laws . . . of God.”

In those areas where God has delegated some to be in authority, he has relinquished a certain amount of control to that authority—for better or for worse. God does not micromanage all spheres of authority. He allows certain latitude for the authority to be wrong and still retain office.

Aha. Here we get down to it! This appears to be the basic theme Michael is hitting on in this section—that God has delegated certain authority to the husband, and that within that sphere of authority he is to be obeyed—even if he uses his authority badly or to hurt others.

Our entire lives are bound up in a chain of command. We must answer to others, who, in turn, must answer to God.

Not every position in this chain of command is equal to every other position.

Jesus Taught Spheres of Authority

Jesus emphatically confirmed that God has established different spheres of authority when he said, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:15-22). Which is to say, government has its jurisdiction, and God has his jurisdiction; there is no conflict regarding each in its sphere of authority. When God granted government the power to rule in carnal cases, he relinquished to them the power to tax as they might choose. God does not step in and stop a government from unjust taxation. That is a sphere of influence that belongs to government alone—even if they abuse the power.

I take it Michael would have been against the American Revolution?

It seems Michael does not take kindly to attempts to right wrongs. So long as an individual authority is not reaching beyond the authority delegated to them, they seem to have free reign to act well or badly and those under them have no standing to complain or agitate for change.

The principle would apply to all delegated authority: police, judges, governors, presidents, kings, husbands, churches, and parents over their children. Only within the realm of authority that God has granted each entity, does he allow them to sue or abuse that power without interfering. If any authority abuses its power behind that which God has allowed, it becomes subject to a greater power—as when a husband physically assaults his wife and becomes subject to the power of the state.

The bit about husbands who assault wives being subject to the power of the state is interesting given that earlier in her book Debi cautioned women that men are often violent because their wives are not paying them proper reverence and gave only wives who have properly reverenced their violent husbands permission to bring in the civil authorities. Where would Michael come down on that? Should wives first ensure that they are doing nothing to provoke their husbands’ violence, or should they go to the authorities about their husbands’ violence?

God will allow government to license its citizens, to act unjustly, and to abuse its regulatory powers, and its subjects are still obligated to act obediently, but if government attempts to regulate belief, as in commanding parents not to teach their children that homosexuality is sin, then it has stepped outside the sphere of authority that belongs to government.

Aha, so Michael would have been against the American Revolution.

Also note the fear-mongering about homosexuality and the government.

The secret is to know from Scripture the extent of the jurisdiction God has delegated to each authority.

Yes, I guess that would be the question.

Next week we start to get some specifics.

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