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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.

RELATED:

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41 thoughts on “A Husband’s and a Wife’s Authority in Marriage

  1. This is the original model, tried, tested and true. If all women would see the truth in this, and get behind their man, this world would be a better place. But on the flip side, we men have become far to complascent. It is a shame for men to take the back seat, to be in the submissive role. We need to step up and take our rightful, God given place and lead.

  2. Chris- I completely agree with you. So many women today are on power trips and want total control of their husbands but will complain about how they don’t do anything to help with the kids, etc. Men have decided it’s easier to let the women have the control than to try to change it. On the flip side, I believe some men use this to their advantage and as an excuse to be lazy in the home.

  3. This is simply powerful and as Chris said, clearly tried, tested and true and most important – BIBLICAL TRUTH. Some will read this and look for the loopholes and justification of how their situations are different, and the “but you don’t know my husband” and no, we don’t, but God does and no one is so different than the other. We are all made of failing flesh, but we all have hearts that God can transform when we seek him, his will for our lives and live out our lives for God and not for man. When we truly “Seek God first, his kingdom, his righteousness” he truly will set our lives in order and teach us how to live in peace among others, especially in our own homes and families. He will teach us when to speak, when to be silent, when to act, when to be still – and he will always give us the right words, the right avenues, the right moments. God is so gracious an good. Just trust him in every part of your life.

    1. Thank you, Wanda!

      I know I didn’t think God’s design would “work” for us – but it has been the best thing that has ever happened to our marriage! God blesses obedience. We don’t always get the results we want – but we get the results God wants and He changes US to be the women He desires us to be.

      I’m thankful every day for God’s wisdom and His design for marriage. His wisdom is infinitely higher than mine. All my wisdom did for the first 14 years of marriage was make a big mess and cause Greg and I both a lot of pain.

      Love your comment!

  4. Isn’t it wonderful how patient God is with us. I was reminded by his sweet Holy Spirit this morning that I can find pure joy in every day in every situation because HE IS FOR ME! Now that makes my heart and spirit leap with joy ………
    Blessings (Ps. 91:2)

  5. Yas,

    Doesn’t it seem to you that this is spiritual warfare?

    What does your husband say to do during spiritual warfare, I wonder?

    Praying for him is WISE.

    I believe Satan wants to destroy him, you and your marriage. He needs you to stand in the gap. Would you like my prayer team to pray for you? Does he have a prayer team? I am sure he is facing huge opposition from the enemy.

    Praying for God to show you how to bless him and stand with him!

    1. I hadn’t seen this as spiritual warfare, but I think you are right. It seems my eyes just opened.

      I would love for your prayer team to pray for me. My husband doesn’t have a prayer team and neither do I.

      It’s true, he must be facing opposition. I hadn’t thought of that.

      His book came out a few weeks ago. But now we are working on the advertisement to properly launch the book officially in a few days or so (or one or two weeks). Now, I know he has started his second book, but I don’t know what he was writing about this week…

      Thank you so much and have a good night!

  6. Dear PeacefulWife,

    Thanks for the offer. I will keep it in store 🙂

    Finally, he spoke to me after one week. Or should I say yell.

    He was angry because I traveled without contacting him when I arrived. But I did. He just didn’t get my text message. I was hurt that he could think that I would do such a thing and give me the silent treatment for a week.
    Now, he is really trying to be nice.

    I don’t know what to do. I try to act as if nothing happen. I am feeling very disappointed.

    Nonetheless, I think I have to learn not to rely on my husband so much. When we were courting, I use to pray about everything, because I didn’t trust or know him so well. Now, I have maybe become too complaisant in my trust. I think I have to look unto God first.

    1. Yas,

      Well.. I am glad he is trying to be nice. I think that is part of his way of trying to make things up to you.

      It is ok to say, “That really hurt me.”

      But it is important to trust God first and to look to Him first. It’s easy to get things in the wrong order and then it is all a big mess! 🙂

  7. Joseph,

    This concept is from a teacher I greatly respect. I’m taking his class about spiritual authority now. Please pray with me that he will allow me to share the class notes here in a few months. This is stuff we all need to know desperately! I love this balanced approach. It makes so much sense.

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