Who’s the Boss?

April 20, 2013

When this old hippie went into the military I had a crash course in discipline and authority. I bucked authority and laughed at discipline from my widowed mother and school officials. I felt there was little they could do and after all it was the sixties. Their tired old mantras and silly rules were outmoded and meant to oppress the people and deny them freedom. I was determined to be free and unshackled.
Well, in the military I found there were some big consequences for not following orders and the authority had some “paddles” that would do more than break over my posterior. The Uniform Code of Military Justice had ways of making me very sorry if I decided to buck their system of outmoded rules and did not sing their mantras. Once informed of the penalties I was quite the model Airman. No one ever pulled a “gig” slip on me and my salute was as sharp as they came and I could yell, “Sir! Yes, Sir!” louder than anyone in the flight. What the school system and dear old Mom could not do in seventeen years the Air Force did in less than six weeks.
Did I like it? Hardly! Was it good for me? Absolutely! Salvation made the biggest change in my life. Basic Training ranks second only to that, though it came first. I was to meet both officer and enlisted that were not as smart as I was nor as efficient, but I followed orders and maintained discipline. I even opted to join the base Honor Guard where there was more discipline. It at least offered some tangible benefits to me like not having to pull details and free movie passes.
Even though I was once the lower than a dog and had to salute them in Basic Training, I was eventually given a place of leadership when I was promoted to sergeant and within that position had certain powers and privileges. Even as a lowly airman I was allowed to make some decisions and even give suggestions to my superiors. Within my area of expertise and authority I had freedom. If I stepped out of my bounds, which I did from time to time, I was reminded of my boundaries. My intentions may have been honorable, but that did not matter.
I share all that to say this. I can understand some of the feelings a woman may have about this submission thing. I did not know all that I was about to experience when I enlisted in the military. A woman getting married may not know because she has not been taught about roles or saw bad roles in her parents and vowed that her marriage will be different. She then goes on to do it all wrong trying to do it right. She may question, “Who says I have to submit to anyone anyway?” Or she may look at her spouse and say, “Yeah right, here is a real leader!” Well, you married him so you must have seen something in him and God sees even more. He will change him better than you can so don’t try. We are about to see who says the man is the head of the family.
We all know the story of the fall of man so I will not go through the whole thing but get right to the verse, which is a bone of contention to many.

Gen 3:15-16
15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
16 Unto the woman he said I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. (KJV)

Another translation might be “thy desire shall be subject to thy husband and he will rule over you.” If your desire is subject to someone that means they decide whether you get to fulfill that desire or not. There were times that I desired to leave boot camp, but my desire was subject to my drill sergeant and he would not let me fulfill it. This happens in many areas of life. You may desire to buy a car, but that desire is subject unto the loan officer. You may desire to quit a job, but your financial situation will not allow it. Your children may desire many things, but their desire is subject unto your approval. You might not desire to pay your taxes, but that is definitely subject to the approval of the IRS and I don’t think they will approve it.
What does rule mean? The Hebrew word is mashal (maw-shal’); a primitive root; to rule: KJV– (have, make to have) dominion, governor, X indeed, reign, (bear, cause to, have) rule (-ing, -r), have power.

Gen. 1:16-18
16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. (KJV)

Micah 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. (KJV)

From the meaning of the word and the two other scriptures using the same Hebrew word it pretty clearly means he is the head of the house judicially/federally. To be in accordance with God’s will for man that headship must be accomplished spiritually, but the position is somewhat unquestionable. I am not twisting any verbiage here. It says what it says.
The next logical question would be why is he the head. It would appear that before the fall they were perfectly equal. During the time prior to the fall there would be no need for any kind of leadership or authority. They were alone. They had no children. They were given the job of tending the garden, but God has not stated that He had them on any kind of clock or set any time related goals. They had eternity. They worked the part of the garden they decided on working and stopped for eating or mooching as they desired. There was no competition between them. They were in perfect harmony. After all there was no sin or any other humans.
God desired to make man. Man was designed to serve God. God loved man. The Westminster Confession says that the chief end of man is to love God and to serve Him forever. Pretty simple, huh? You serve a God you love forever and everything is bliss. That is not a hard thing to bear.
Ok, so God had his crew of angels and He had man. Man had the animals to care for and a garden to maintain. What more could God and man ask for? God, who loved man, saw that it was not good for the man to be alone and so He created woman. This way man would have someone like himself to commune with and develop a relationship with akin to what God had with His angels and with man. Sounds like a cool deal!!
We are not told why God chose to use the rib of Adam. The speculation that I like is that He did not take Eve from the head to be above Adam nor the feet to be beneath him, but the rib to be close to him and his heart. This would remind him to love and cherish her as he would himself for indeed she was bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.
She was created as a help meet for him or a help suitable for him. She was created for man like the angels were created for God (I Cor. 11). Maybe that is why men call their beloved ones angels and say they were sent from Heaven. In many ways those statements are fairly theologically correct.
If Eve was made for Adam then he was responsible for her like God is responsible for the angels. This is why it is theologically incorrect to say that Eve caused the fall of mankind. God did not intervene until Adam ate. I believe that it is highly possible that Adam could have interceded for Eve and God would have redeemed her and we would all be in garden today. Why Adam did not we do not know. We do know that the serpent deceived Eve, but Adam ate willingly and in full knowledge of what he was doing. Then and only then were their eyes opened to their nakedness. Mankind fell because of Adam’s sin.

Rom 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (KJV)

So why is man head? He is still responsible. Adam blew his responsibility in the garden and part of his curse is to be eternally responsible for his wife and now children. Because of sin there would not be the perfect harmony and unity of purpose. There would be discord. There would be disagreements. If a decision is to be made and you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement what do you do? A decision must be made and it must be made now and you are polarized. There is no time for a call to the pastor or time for a mediator. Do you flip coins or arm wrestle? That is not very orderly nor within the parameters of walking in the sound mind in which God wants us to function.
In the military, anytime you have two people working on a project one will be in charge. Even if they are of equal rank and ability one takes charge and is held responsible. Other corporations use the same principle. They just use different criteria. Two generals with the same capabilities will take it down to the date they were promoted to determine which one leads. The difference may only be the matter of a day, but that one day will be the deciding factor. If they differ, the one with the oldest date of rank decides their course of action. He has the tie-breaking ability. The responsibility of the results of the decision resides in him. They are equal in every way, but one is held as the primary, accountable officer.
The married couple is not a corporation or a carnal military unit, but the same issues exist and the need for someone with a tie-breaking vote and place for responsibility to reside. God chose the man to have that vote and responsibility. Here also, it is not a question of ability. It is accountability. You are both generals engaged in spiritual warfare to maintain your marriage, your family and your testimony. Equality or ability is not the issue. Obedience to the position and assignments that God has given you is what counts.
While that may seem to give the husband the power of a dictator, he is not to have the attitude of one. We know that Ephesians 5 tells us that he is to love his wife as Christ loved the Church and be willing to die for her. There is no room for despotism there.
Though submission was directed at the woman it is kind of a back door curse on the man. Since so many men shirk their responsibility as the head of the family and do not want to be accountable for themselves or anyone else it does not appear to be a blessing or something desired. Most men abdicate their authority and responsibility rather than abuse it. I would venture to say that if the majority of women were to be honest they are angry because they have experienced the abdication rather than the abuse of their husband’s headship.
Since woman was made to be a help meet/suitable for man, he would be wise to allow her to help him. My wife is a financial wizard and I am weak in that area. Guess who keeps the checkbook in my house and why I am not in the poor farm? I am not always happy with her fiscal decisions, but for the most part I go with those decisions because of her track record of success. The only advantage of me exercising my authority and doing it my way would be that I would not ever have to worry about being overweight. A wise man knows when to exercise authority, when not to exercise authority and when to delegate it.
In our fallen world, both men and women have weaknesses as well as strengths. Ideally, they would complement each other perfectly and be an unbeatable team. Realistically, if they are both honest and work on their weaknesses as well as their strengths they can still be extremely victorious. If they learn their gifts and nurture each other’s gifts as well as their own, they will have a super marriage and the love and joy will spill over into their church and community and fruit for the kingdom will abound.
You say, uh Ron, where in the world is my power in this as a woman? The man sure seems to have it all. Your power will lie in how well you learn to meet the needs of your husband through your submission. Learn how to convey your needs in a way that will inspire him to fulfill his role as God would have him to do and to create in him the love that is willing to die for you. If you can love him and respect him even in your disagreements and trust God to give him discernment you will experience the power of the Holy Spirit within you. This can only be done as you yield to the Spirit. You will never accomplish it in your flesh. Bill Gothard has an article on making an appeal. I would also suggest his seminars. You may not agree with everything he teaches, but he has some good material on many issues. If you think about it, you make appeals and negotiate with people all day long. Why expect your spouse to jump when you snap your fingers? (Psst! Guys, are ya listenin’?)
Submission will also help you to understand your relationship with Christ and the role you play as His Bride. As you learn the skills of communication and negotiation to deal with an imperfect man, you will learn the skills of intercessory prayer for your husband, yourself and the world. As you learn to have patience with this flawed man and watch as God uses your husband in spite of himself and his limitations you will learn that God can do the same with you as you have patience with Him.
There are at times when there is as much power or more without title and roles than if you have the title or role. I had more people surprised that I was knocking at their door when I was newly saved. They asked if I was the Pastor, Deacon, or a Sunday School teacher. When I told them that I was just a member they listened to me. When I eventually became all of those things people were less interested in hearing me because they felt that it was my job or that I had some sort of vested interest more than the average member. My title and position actually hindered me.
Esther saved her people from destruction by being wise and understanding her husband. She was Queen, but could not pass the edict to save her people, but she knew how to get her husband to see her view and her needs so that he would pass the law. She caused him to love her so that even though she walked into the throne room unannounced, which could cost you your life in those days, he extended his scepter and received her unto himself. Her husband was the head, but she certainly was the neck that could turn the head. If she had approached the issue like some women approach their husbands today, her people would have perished and there would have been a new Queen that day. In fact, trying to exercise her position in the wrong way is what put Vashti out and Esther in. Persuasion always works better than demanding, threatening and denouncing! (Uh, guys, wake up! This works for you, also.)
As well as learning how to harness a different kind of power, there is freedom. Ultimate responsibility falls to the husband. God will hold you personally accountable for your life, but your husband will stand before God to account for your family.
I use this same freedom in my job and have used it in ministry. My job is to do the very best that I can for my superiors. I make suggestions to policies and procedures as appropriate. If they chose not to use them I am free. If they are right, great! If they were wrong and my way would have worked the failure is not mine and I am justified. I sleep at night either way because the final responsibility and accountability is not mine.
You have the same freedom. If you do what you are supposed to do and your husband ignores you or messes up you are not accountable. If you pray and are obedient to God it will work out. I also believe that God will protect you. Abraham really messed up when he told the King that Sarah was his sister. She was his half-sister genetically, but in reality his wife. She must have been very beautiful because the King took her to be part of his harem. Sarah put up no fight to this. It is hard for me to believe, but she went along with it. Before she could be defiled, God had a little talk with the King and told him that if touched Sarah he was dead. Abraham, the father of the faithful, blew it!! Sarah trusted God and He cared for her and overcame her husband’s error.
Sadly, in her later years Sarah lost some of that trust in God and had Abraham sleep with her concubine to get a child. God gave her the son He promised, but we are still paying for the lack of faith on both their parts. If there had been no child of the flesh, we would not be having Israeli-Arab battles.
See it really does come down to who is in control. It is God. Your husband is under God’s control and so are you. Your husband is required to be submissive to God and so are you.  You may not like any of this. You might even be boiling. Jist remember, I is jist the messenger. If we believe the Bible to be His infallible, preserved, verbal-plenary inspired word then we have to go with the parts we may not like or understand. There are a few things that I wrestle with also. The submission of the wife to the husband is clearly taught here.
Yes, it is Old Testament, but we studied which parts of the Old Testament are still valid for today and know that all Scripture is profitable for doctrine. We also know that all things written were for our ensample/example. It is pre-Christ and we will address the New Testament passages in future studies.
I submit that this is just as enduring as God’s moral law and in effect. It was pre-law so the law being supplanted by grace is not an argument for ending this role assignment.
Let us look at the rest of the process here. Do snakes still crawl? They have vestigial legs, but they crawl. Do women still have sorrow and pain in childbirth? Drugs are required to diminish this since it is still present. Does the ground still need to be tamed? We use all kinds of fertilizers and weed killers, etc to force the land to be fruitful.
Man would be better off if he had not traded the sweat of his brow for the wrinkle of his brow. Trading sweat for stress he gets obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and a host of other maladies. How does he seek to prevent these? His brow sweats at the Q Club in lieu of his job. This now makes his workday longer when he fought so hard for shorter hours. To live to enjoy the fruit of his work he must still have sweat of the brow. That part of the curse is still here.
Do we still die though redeemed? Yes. Do we still return to the dust from whence we came? Yes. Nothing else has changed since the curse was given. Why would the roles that were ordained at the curse change? They have not and will not until the new heaven and new earth when we shall be as the angels and do not marry nor are given in marriage.
As we look at other passages dealing with the roles of men and women the submission issue will come up again. This is where it started. This is the legal precedent. Some theologians would say it involves the rule of first mention and all passages henceforth are to be interpreted in light of this one. That’s their way of saying legal precedent.
I believe that to be a good practice. Unless God removes something like the dietary laws (Acts 10:15) we must safely assume that when He gives a principle or edict it remains until He takes it away or elaborates on it.
Sisters, it takes great wisdom and great grace for men and women to do it right. May God grants us grace and wisdom as we seek to fulfill His will even when we do not understand it or even find it unsettling or distasteful. May we find His power and use it well.





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