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A Husband’s and a Wife’s Authority in Marriage

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I’m sharing a bit from a marriage class Greg and I took 2 years ago at our church.

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There are two types of authority in marriage:

1. Positional authority is authority that is delegated to a person by someone in authority over them.     This is the type of authority that God gives to husbands, church leaders, governmental leaders and managers/bosses at work.

Those in places of positional authority have ultimate responsibility and accountability before God for the decisions that are made in their sphere of authority.  God expects those in positional authority to care for, protect, provide for and wisely lead those God has placed in their care to accomplish God’s will and His good purposes.

  • HUSBANDS – “He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church – for we are members of His body.”  Ephesians 5:29-30  God intends husbands to nurture, love, respect, honor and care for their wives. (I Peter 3:7, Ephesians 5:22-33)
  • CHURCH LEADERSHIP – Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” (Jesus asked Peter this 3 times).  Peter answered, “Yes Lord, you know that I love you”  3 times.  Jesus said to Peter, “Feed my lambs.”  “Take care of my sheep.”  “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-18)    Jesus entrusts His “sheep” (His people, believers in Christ) to the “shepherds” or pastors and leaders in the church.  He desires the leaders in the church to seek His will, to honor Him, to live in His power, to accomplish His will and to lead His people wisely the way that Jesus wants them to be led and cared for.
  • GOVERNMENT LEADERS –  “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except for that which God has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves…. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority?  Then do what is right and he will commend you.  For he is God’s servant to do you god.  But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing.  He is God’s servant, and agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”  Romans 13:1-4

 

2. Influential authority is authority that someone has who does not have positional authority but who acts more as an advisor.  This type of authority can be as powerful or more powerful than positional authority.  This is the type of authority that wives have in marriage and that advisors have with kings and presidents, that a board of trustees has on the CEO, that associate ministers have with senior pastors, etc.

God is the originator of ALL authority.

“There is no authority except that which God has established.”  Romans 13:1b

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EXAMPLES FROM THE BIBLE OF THESE TYPES OF AUTHORITY IN ACTION:

1. EVE

Adam had positional authority from God to be the leader in this marriage before the fall.  Adam was created first by God.  He was given the command by God not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil before Eve was even created. He is the one who taught Eve what God said.  He is the one God held accountable when they both sinned.  He called for Adam.  He spoke to Adam primarily during the conversation after Adam and Eve had sinned.

Eve used her influential authority to persuade Adam to knowingly sin.  

She used that authority for evil.  But look how powerful it was!  That one decision to use her influence to sway Adam to eat the forbidden fruit has impacted all of creation – resulting in a curse, and it has impacted every single human being who has ever been born.  Her influence was extremely powerful.  We are still experiencing the ramifications of Eve’s influence over Adam to this day.

2. ESTHER

King Xerxes was a pagan unbeliever who ruled over the Persian empire of 127 provinces in the 480s-465 BC era.  His word was law.  He had absolute power as king.

An enemy of Queen Ester’s cousin, Mordecai, convinced King Xerxes to make a law ordering all the exiled Jews in the country to be killed.  In that kingdom at that time, once the king made a law, it could not be repealed.

Mordecai asked Esther to approach her husband, the king, to beg for the lives of her countrymen.

Esther was very concerned.  “For any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that he be put to death.  The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life.  But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.” Esther 4:11

She asked all the Jews in the city of Susa to fast for her (not to eat, and in this case not to drink – and focus on prayer) and she and her maids also fasted for 3 days and nights.  “When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law.  And if I perish, I perish.” Ester 4:16

Esther appeared before the king, and he was pleased with her and held out his scepter.

He said, “What is it, Queen Esther?  What is your request?  Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.”

She asked him to come to a banquet that evening along with Haman, the man who had influenced the king to write the law ordering Jews to be killed.

Queen Esther respectfully asked King Xerxes to spare herself and her people from death.  King Xerxes was enraged to find out that someone had plotted against the Queen and her people and asked who dared to do such a thing – and Esther identified Haman, who was sitting at the banquet table with them.

The king ordered Haman to be executed.  Then he gave Mordecai his signet ring and all of Haman’s estate.  The king ordered that the Jews had the right to assemble and protect themselves.

“And the city of Susa held a joyous celebration.  For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor.  In every province and in every city, wherever the edict of the king went, there was joy and gladness among the Jews with feasting and celebrating.  And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.”  Esther 8:15-17

3. DELILAH was able to use her influence authority to eventually get Samson to tell her the secret of his strength so that his enemies could destroy him.

4. SARAH used her influence authority to convince Abraham not to wait on God for the promised baby, but to take her hand maiden as his concubine.  This one decision Abraham made based on his wife’s influence produced Ishmael – and eventually, the arab race.  The impact of that decision is still news in the headlines almost every day today.

I Peter 3:1-6  This is how God commands wives who are married to unbelievers/carnal believers to influence them for Him.

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

APPLICATION

Wives are not without power in marriage.  We have an incredible ability to influence our husbands.

OUR POWER FOR EVIL

We can choose to influence our husbands for evil.  We can choose to destroy our men with our critical, condemning, harsh, unrelenting negativity.  We can crush their souls with our tongues and emasculate them with our words.  We can berate them, humiliate them and wound them emotionally and spiritually and in many other ways more than anyone else on the planet could.  We can destroy their reputations.  We can create intense conflict with their parents, extended family, friends and even coworkers.  Some wives create so much trouble for their husbands, that their husbands lose their careers.= particularly if the husband is a minister or missionary.

OUR POWER FOR GOOD

We may choose to use our influence for good to build up our husbands, to honor them, to genuinely respect them, to share our concerns, to respectfully, gently and humbly address sin in our husbands’ lives when necessary.  We can show real trust and faith in them that can inspire our husbands to such great heights – heights they could never have achieved on their own.

When a man knows without a doubt that his wife has every confidence and faith in him, that she admires him, that she believes in him, that she expects great things from him, that she sees the hidden hero in him – that is the most inspiring thing in the world to a husband!

We add our strength to their strength.  We work as a team.  We have unity, we have oneness.  We bring great honor and glory to God when we use our influence to persuade our husbands to do what is right, what is good and what is best for them, for our families and for others.  When we are operating in obedience to God, filled with the Holy Spirit, God empowers us to bring great blessing to our husbands and families and many other people around us.

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