“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good.” (Romans 13:1-4)
Authority is ordained of God. As natural flesh controlled humans, we rebel against it. We would rather not answer to anyone for what we choose to do or not do. We want our own way and we resist the idea that we must be under a higher powder or authority. We are rebellious by nature. However, these “natural tendencies” aren’t exactly practical and most certainly not Biblical. As a citizen, we answer to the law. As an employee, you answer to an employer. As Christians, we answer to God. And as in churches, we answer to pastoral authority. A wife submits herself to her own husband. Children are commanded to obey their parents in the Lord, for this is right. And maybe reading that seems completely obvious to some, but I believe that it is actually very important to understand. Without God-given authority, chaos reigns. There would be confusion on every side. Like in the time of the Judges. Every man did what was right in his own eyes. But it was evil in the Lord’s sight. The Lord has built up certain chains of authority for good reason.
And while not all authority is practiced Biblically, authority is still a principle of God’s Word and is a righteous command.
All of the examples I just gave you, are good examples of authority and while I’m sure we might all benefit from discussing them, the chain of authority I would more specifically like to address is to daughters. Being her father’s child, a daughter is subject to her father’s authority. Also, this is the area I could probably relate to the best, being myself a daughter in my father’s house. The Lord has given me many opportunities to practice this principle, little to my enjoyment of the lessons at the time. J And it is my desire to hopefully encourage you, reader, and more specifically fellow “daughters”, in what the Lord has taught and continues to teach me in this important and certainly needed subject of Biblical authority.
Although liberal feminist women would heartily protest the idea of a woman being under subjection to any man, it is God’s divine plan for her as a woman of Godliness. And truly, it is a fulfilling and beautiful design. It is her place as a daughter to be accountable to her father, and when she is given away in marriage, by the father’s hand, it then becomes her place as her husband’s wife. The God-given responsibility to which the father held for his daughter is now placed upon her new husband. I don’t believe widowhood is necessarily an exception here either, although the chain of authority to which she would be accountable to could be different depending on the circumstances. (In I Timothy 5:16 you’ll find that churches are commanded to take care of the believing widows indeed and in James 1:27- “to visit the fatherless and widows”.)
When I read through my Bible, I find that it is the rare exception when a daughter was not actually living directly under her father’s roof. This is where Abraham’s servant found Isaac’s wife, Rebecca. She was serving from under her father’s roof. Rachel and Leah were both at home. And even Esther with her uncle Mordecai. And while some things change by culture, Biblical principles do not. Also, it wasn’t until these daughters were given away in marriage, that they left this God-given place of protection. And while there are exceptions, I believe it is under a father’s roof that a young girl finds the best place to practice such Biblical principles. However, regardless whether a daughter is living directly under her father’s physical roof or not, she is still subject to her father’s authority. In Deuteronomy 22 you’ll find that it was actually the father that was accountable for a daughter’s purity. When the young bride’s purity was questioned by the bridegroom, he went to the daughter’s father. Why? Because he was accountable for her.
“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1-3)
We are commanded to obey our authorities because it is right, but it helps to understand that we are also commanded this for our own good. “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.” Father’s are in a place of authority for a daughter’s protection. It isn’t to destroy the “good works” we would choose to take part in, but the “evil”. And again, not all authority is practiced in Godliness. There are exceptions in certain situations and circumstances where it would be wrong or maybe unsafe to stay under a certain authority. But as I said, these are exceptions. I am not speaking to daughters of such exempt circumstances in particular, but to daughters in general. God has designed our father’s authority for our own good welfare. “That it may be well with thee.” He isn’t a vindictive chauvinistic God who enjoys seeing women beat into subjection, as some might imagine. As females, we are said to be the weaker vessels. I Peter 3:7 says- “…giving honour unto the wife as unto the weaker vessel”. We are more emotional, more vulnerable, more sensitive, and much more delicate. This isn’t a downgrade. It is how we were made. And there is a reason for it. As women, we were made to compliment a man. To be a “helpmeet”. This is what a man needs. The husband was commanded to honour his wife in this, not use it to his own advantage. God has given us godly protection in our fathers, our brothers, our pastors, and someday, in our husbands. Simply said, we need it.
I have been amazed, over and over again, how many times the Lord has used my dad for my own protection. Especially in the small things. And really, the small things can be just as important as what we might call the “big things.” Because it is the little foxes that spoil the vines. (Song of Solomon 2:15) Times where all my dad could tell me was- “I can’t explain why, but I don’t have peace about this.” And guess what? If not but a little while later, I was thankful that I listened. Was it always easy? No. Certainly not. But it was always right.
I remember one instance in particular. We were away from home at the time, traveling along with friends for a special church meeting. The opportunity presented itself for me and my sister to stay a few extra days with some of these friends to go up to Edmonton afterwards. I really wanted to stay. It sounded like such fun and what could be the harm in it? So, I asked dad. (Chain of authority) I was rather disappointed when he hardly took much thought to this “wonderful idea” and simply said “no”. I remember feeling both deflated and very frustrated. At least, if I was going to go through the trouble of asking, he could think about it. My flesh revolted and my rebellious heart felt uncared for, unappreciated, and unloved. What about me? What about what I wanted to do? Not to mention, that as a 21 year old “adult” this was somewhat embarrassing. Most of these friends going were even younger than I was. But the Lord rebuked me for my attitude. He reminded me that I was not my own. That my life was to be hid in Christ Jesus my Lord, that I was His servant, and not free to do what I considered my own good pleasure. To submit to His ordained authorities. And for good reason too. That very Sunday after we had come back, the Lord was working in our church at home, and the Lord used my sister to help lead one young lady to salvation in Christ. Amazing! And what was this worth? An extended trip with friends? My own desire to have fun? Definitely not. If we had stayed, I don’t know what might have been different. The Lord used my authority. Proverbs 12:15 says- “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.” Our ways, are not always the right way. Isaiah talks about His ways being higher than our ways. And His thoughts than our thoughts. When the Lord speaks through our authorities, we need to listen.
I would like to add here, that I am not advocating that girls never make decisions for themselves. I don’t think that would be balanced. There are many times my dad has let me decide things for myself. But again, it is still a chain of authority. Biblically my dad has the right and command to use this authority. And as a daughter, I am subject to obey it. Although Ephesians 6:4 says- “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” It isn’t an authority to be abused for selfish means. It shouldn’t be to provoke you to wrath, but in the admonition of the Lord. Yet still, even if a father’s authority is being used for selfish gain, I believe that the Lord sees this. He looks on with a righteous and perfect heart. HE is still just, even in injustice. Romans 12:19 says- “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
Ultimately, in trusting our God-given authorities, we are trusting God.
It would seem easier to say we are only going to trust “God” on a subject matter, given who He is. Perfect. His justice is perfect. His love is perfect. His wisdom is perfect, and not to mention, all knowing. He is safe and never once fails. Trusting just Him, would seem easier. But, God works through our authorities. He chooses to use our fathers, our pastors, or eventually our husbands. He gives counsel through men. He chooses to use fallible men. And ultimately, we have to trust the Lord with the outcome. Romans 8:28 says- “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” When the Bible says “all things” I don’t see much room for exceptions. Do you? Not even through the decision our authorities make, which certainly do affect us. I have always been encouraged through the verse in Proverbs 21:1.
“The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.”
If the king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, how much more is my father’s heart? Especially if my earthly father is also a child of THEE King and seeks to do the Lord’s will as any good earthly father would. If the Lord turneth the king’s heart to do HIS will, how much more can the Lord turn my authorities’ heart to do HIS will? He most certainly can and we must trust the Lord in it.
To be continued….