authority and respect

Submission to authority



April at The Peaceful Wife received this request and kindly forwarded it to me:

On today’s post, Robyn made the comment:  ‘I’m a recovering feminist and require a firm hand.’  I would like to know what that means to her practically, and how she feels “a firm hand” can help her to be a former feminist godly wife.  Would you please ask her to describe this with examples and/or consider writing a post on this?  There are many young men in the church who want to lead their wives well, but don’t know how to deal with arrogant, disrespectful, un-submissive, feminist women/girlfriends/wives in the church.  It’s frustrating when many women admire Sean Connery, sometimes even knowing that he hits his wife, but they won’t respect their own men who don’t.  I don’t want to hit any women, but there must be a godly response men may use to inspire women to want to obey.  What works for Robyn?”


Before starting, I want to get a few things out of the way.  I’m not going to address the feminist behaviours of all women or girlfriends ‘in the church’ because they cannot surrender to the authority of a husband which they do not have.  I am addressing this part of the request: There are many young men in the church who want to lead their wives well,”

Also, It’s frustrating when many women admire Sean Connery, sometimes even knowing that he hits his wife, but they won’t respect their own men who don’t. “  This seems to be in a negative vein to demean Sean Connery.  This is judgmental and I do not agree.  If you would like to view the video you can do so here.  Also, you can read an interview from 2011 from Sean and Micheline Connery here. I have recapped Barbara Walters closing statement to the video, which is given in her likeable Barbara Walters style:  “By the way, Sean Connery has been married to Micheline for 31 years, and we have not heard a single complaint.”   And just out of curiosity I Googled images of the two of them, and I could only find TWO in which Sean was not touching Micheline.  The connection of the two of them appears even warmer after you read their interview.

I’m sorry, but instead of criticizing the man or their marriage style, how about looking at the fact that in a world where divorce rates climb and women are leaving in droves (70% of divorces are initiated by women) and even with those in the public eye … Micheline stays.  I’m not saying I condone domestic discipline but neither am I saying that I condemn it.  What I am saying, is that I don’t want to be so narrow as to disregard a couple or their marriage that has obvious proven longevity because some small part  might ‘appear’ to be distasteful.

OK now, onto what the email calls, What works for Robyn?”

First, I’m not totally comfortable with writing to the male gender.  When I write, it’s… well, it’s to me and to women who are like me.  The extrapolations from my experiences come from a female mind for female readers.  I write in ways that I feel would have connected with me years ago had I been willing to listen.  So be patient with me if I dance around a bit as I attempt to find the ‘write’ voice.

Second, my husband did not force me to become obedient to him.  It was a breaking I experienced between me and God.  My husband was (and is) the instrument that God used to make me obedient to Him.

Third, I prefer to respond to such requests via private email, but at my husband’s direction I am doing it as a post.

A person needs for their ‘no’ to stand as their ‘no’ (or their yes as their yes).  This isn’t a male-female issue but an issue of person. It is carried out in marriage by a husband and wife, and we each do it differently.

If we are both a ‘no,’ or both a ‘yes,’ everything is cool, right?  It’s when we run into that inevitable (and unenviable) no/yes conflict that we run into problems, because what we are really talking about here is who is going to lead and who is going to follow.

When you have a wife who is, “arrogant, disrespectful, and un-submissive” like I was, as a husband you are going to need to be all man.  By that I mean know how to be confident in your masculinity.

Lots of Christian men generally don’t do this.  They move in their part of the curse – they back down, back away, withdraw – let her eat the fruit.  They call it preserving the peace or serving her with love.

Poppycock!  This is the reasoning of the lazy or the coward.

It boils down to the same end result:  You give in.  Your ‘no/yes’ is not respected, so therefore you are not really leading (which is love) – you are allowing your wife to lead in power, just like Adam let Eve lead.

To press forward in masculinity is to move into her space.  A method of doing this is to use physical stature to exert your authority over her so that you can rein in her power, pressing into her arrogance and disrespect by calling it into the open.

I don’t know what tipped the scale for my husband, and I can’t tell you the day, but I remember the calm coldness of the moment when he said, “If you were a guy I’d deck you, but I can’t because you are a female. But then another guy would never have said that.  If you were a subordinate at work I’d fire your ass, but you’re not, so that is not an option either,” and turned – very casually – and walked away.

(Please remember that I am not writing as a prescription, I am sharing what worked for me – for us.  I believe in the form of what I’m saying, but it is lived out slightly different in each marriage because each marriage is comprised of two uniquely different people)

Equality opposes synergy

Here’s my take on the equality issue.  Husbands and wives are about as equal as a banana and a peach.  A banana is 100% banana, equal to all other bananas.  A peach is 100% peach, equal to all other peaches.  To measure a banana against a peach would be foolish, because although they are both fruit, they are completely different.  A banana split won’t work with a peach and a peach cobbler won’t work with a banana.  Each is equal in its own rite.

We are duped when we think that marriage is about equality.  It isn’t. It’s about the synergy of masculine authority and feminine power.  It isn’t about 50/50 – ‘You chose last time so I’ll choose this time,’ or ‘I have equal say in this marriage and I have valid points, so you are going to listen to me’.  Views rooted in equality pit two people against one another, making synergy impossible.  The equality of men and women is not the issue, and it muddies the water when we enter marriage with that mindset.

That’s the problem with the feminist view: equality.  Authority and submission are not equal, because they are synergistic – 100% authority and 100% submission.  Equality calls for keeping score.  Synergy is about the bigger picture:  The marriage.  Equality is about division.  Synergy is about unity.

Failed masculinity

With the benefit of foreknowledge about the fall of humankind, what should Adam have done with his wife’s action that was disobedient to God and disrespectful of Adam’s authority?  You know the answer.  With her power she stepped into the space of his authority (she thought she knew better).  He should have pushed back into her physical space with his authority and said, “No.  God said no,” as he [Adam] took the fruit out of her hand.

If a wife’s response is, “arrogant,” anddisrespectful,” treat her the way she is acting:  She is unwittingly calling you to battle.  You are feeling her move in her God-given power.  She IS a worthy adversary, but she’s using it to destroy and not build up (Proverbs 14:1).  This move shows immaturity on her part and disrespect of God’s authority, because He gave His authority to you, you didn’t make it up. (Ephesians 5:22-24; Colossians 3:18)

Don’t walk away in anger, throwing your hands up; rather, press in with your authority.  Meet her at the point of her request, but not in her way which is with femininity, respond with what you are – with what you have: your masculinity.

  • The eyes – a direct ‘stare’.
  • The voice that is calm, cold and disconnected, a ‘tone’ that lacks any emotion.  Because at this point in the disagreement, conflict, fight, or whatever you want to call it, she’s probably got enough emotional power for 5 people. You need to offset that.
  • Physical stature that turns square on as if to face an enemy, which is what she is making herself to you at this moment
  • Physically start to press into her bubble of space, narrowing the gap between the two of you.
  • Don’t stop until she backs up – even if she backs into a wall (or your motorcycle).  With me, it is not usually until I feel an object against back and sense I’m being ‘fenced in’ that the negative emotion subsides.

You are not trying to diminish her power – you both need that power to be an efficient force against Satan – but rather, trying to get back together on the same side so that Satan cannot come between you.  As the husband this is your responsibility, clearly defined by the delegation of God’s authority.

I asked my husband where or how he learned to do this and if he realized it’s a pattern. He responded, “It’s battle mode.  It happens naturally for me.  My testosterone gets ‘jumpy.’  I know I’m a man, but I start to shrink inside like a little boy.  The problem was that I used to blame you for ‘making’ me feel that way with your lack of respect – it made me angry, which just made it worse. (Hulk is out.) When I realized it wasn’t so much your fault as me not stepping up to my authority, the pattern became much more effective.”

If she doesn’t like it, tell her to take it to the church (Pastor/Elder/Leadership).  If you’re validated by your convictions and conscience, you have nothing to fear.  This is the same thing I tell wives when they feel that their husbands are abusing the authority.  It’s the responsibility of the church – hold them to it.  It’s not about ‘counseling.’ It’s about a judge making a decision so that you can move on with life. (1 Corinthians 6:1-5):

Does any of you dare, when he has a matter of complaint against another [brother], to go to law before unrighteous men [men neither upright nor right with God, laying it before them] instead of before the saints (the people of God)?  Do you not know that the saints (the believers) will [one day] judge and govern the world? And if the world [itself] is to be judged and ruled by you, are you unworthy and incompetent to try [such petty matters] of the smallest courts of justice?  Do you not know also that we [Christians] are to judge the [very] angels and pronounce opinion between right and wrong [for them]? How much more then [as to] matters pertaining to this world and of this life only!  If then you do have such cases of everyday life to decide, why do you appoint [as judges to lay them before] those who [from the standpoint] of the church count for least and are without standing?  I say this to move you to shame. Can it be that there really is not one man among you who [in action is governed by piety and integrity and] is wise and competent enough to decide [the private grievances, disputes, and quarrels] between members of the brotherhood.

Women are multi-faceted powerhouses

In marriage I believe we are called to achieve a perfect balance.  Not to BE perfect, but to work towards a perfect balance with each other.

God gave the husband all the authority. When He created the wife, He did the same thing with all the power.  Husbands abuse their authority – they are human.  And wives abuse their power – they are human.  Without the blending of the two forces we get a continual loop of the scenario of Adam and Eve.  Please don’t let your ‘take away’ be that the husband is always right and the wife is always wrong. That’s not what I’m saying, and if you hear that, you are missing the point.

A husband needs the power of his wife to be a better man.  A wife needs the authority of her husband to be a better woman.

Here’s a really cool metaphor that God taught me.  The power God gives a wife is equivalent to an 18-wheel truck that is speeding downhill.  The husband’s authority is the air brake system.  Her power is so great that she will continue in it, because that’s what she was designed to do!  It is only the air brake system that can slow this massive moving force.  A wife in her power (speeding truck) must be willing to trust and yield to her husband’s authority (air brake system).  Now I’ll bet if you’re a wife reading this, your reaction will be similar to what mine used to be, ‘why does the husband get to be the air breaks and have the control over my power?!’  That’s the punch:  A truck didn’t make itself, and it doesn’t drive itself.  God not only manufactured the truck … He’s also the Driver.

Your marriage is the truck.  Neither one of you owns it – it belongs to the Driver.

Finally, a word of caution:  to want to have authority over your wife’s power is a good and godly thing; but to want to make your life easier or to just get your way because you are stronger and bigger, or thinking you are better or more privileged in any way just because you are the man, is not the way of the Lord – it is the tradition of men. This is the seed of feminism: men following the tradition of ‘wearing the pants.’

Satan twisted the direction and purpose of the authority God gave men because he could not diminish it, so men hated the power of femininity and abused women, seeing them as less valuable.  Women, being responders, have merely reflected that twist of direction and purpose; but they move in what they are – power – so women are usurping the masculine authority that originally hated their femininity.

Satan subtly shifted the direction of authority and power in marriage so that husbands and wives would be at each other instead of one synergistic unit directed at him.

Slippery isn’t he?

You must want to lead your wife with authority because it’s what God commands.  Because it is what’s best for her, for you and what’s best for the marriage.  Your success will depend on the motive of your heart.