Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Husbands: Authority & Responsibility

What is the authority and responsibility of a Christian husband?

One of the good things I learned in the Navy was that authority and responsibility must go together in equal proportions. A person with authority but no responsibility will exercise that authority arbitrarily. He will order people around with no objective other than establishing his own authority. Conversely, a person with responsibility for a task but no authority to help him accomplish it will only be frustrated.

Before I apply this concept to Christian husbands, I want to discuss and hopefully dissolve a common misconception. Because the Scripture tells wives, children, and servants to obey, some Christians have inferred that it is the job of husbands, fathers, and masters to command. This is an inference only and is, therefore, invalid. The Bible contains no direct teaching nor implication that husbands, fathers, and masters are to be commanders. The Bible does not teach a chain of command. It teaches a chain of obedience and submission.

Look at the passages addressed to husbands:

"Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them." (Col. 3:19)

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless." (Eph. 5:25-27)

There is no commanding here—only sacrifice. Husbands are responsible to love their wives in the same way that Christ loved the church, and for the same reason—to make her beautiful.

"Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers." (1 Pet. 3:7)

Husbands are to be considerate and respectful of their wives. We are to love our wives in order to make them lovely, not because they are lovely. A woman needs love the most when she is unlovely. It is the husband’s responsibility to give that love.

The Bible teaches fathers and masters to follow the same pattern of respect, consideration, and sacrifice.

The Bible’s emphasis is on responsibility rather than authority, but husbands are given the authority to fulfill their responsibilities. In Numbers 30, God gave them the authority to confirm or nullify vows or rash promises made by their wives, even if the vows were made before marriage. The chapter ends with these words:

"These are the regulations the LORD gave Moses concerning relationships between a man and his wife, and between a father and his young daughter still living in his house." (Numbers 30:16)

Husbands are responsible to protect and care for their wives, and they have the authority to carry out that responsibility.

You can read more on this subject in Being Christian, available here.

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