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    FAQ 96

    Patriarchal Authority
    in Marriage:
    How Important is It?

    Q. I've been told that a wife questioning her husband's authority is tantamount to acting as an agent of Satan? Is that true?

    The first thing we have to remember is that all and any authority we have - whether as a believer in relationship to evil powers, or a pastor in relation to a congregation, or a husband in relation to his wife/wives - is delegated and established by Yahweh. The issue is always what Yahweh has said, or not said.

    It is a sobering (if perhaps alarming) thought to realise that Satan actually has a position of authority that is higher than ours even though he is a fallen angel and an enemy of Yahweh and of all the saints. Understanding this is vitally important not only in spiritual warfare but also in our inter-personal congregational and domestic relations. Notice that when the Archangel Michael contended with Satan over the body of Moses that he did not personally rebuke the Adversary but said: "YHWH rebuke you!" (Jude 1:9, HRV; cp. Zechariah 3:2). What this means is that Satan, in terms of authority, lies directly beneath the Elohim (God), so that only Yahweh can rebuke Him. Thus Michael invoked Yahweh's Name in the rebuke.

    This idea of hierarchical authority is firmly embedded in Torah. Thus Paul said to the evangelist Timothy: "You should not reprove [rebuke, chastise, upbraid] an elder, but persuade him as a father ... and the elder women as mothers" (1 Timothy 5:1-2, HRV) for the Elders and Eldresses stand in the same position of authority over believers as do biological parents to their children.

    What this means in practice is that we only have the right to rebuke, chastise, or correct someone who is directly under our authority or someone who is on the same level of authority (see Luke 19:39; 17:13), and this, of course, only by permission of the Holy Spiri) in righteousness for the purpose of positive correction and edification.

    When the Peter rebuked Yah'shua (Jesus) for saying He was going to Jerusalem to be killed (Mark 8:32) the rebuke the apostle got in return was the most stinging there was: "Get behind Me, Satan!" (v.33). It didn't matter that Peter meant well - what mattered was:

    • (a) His thoughts were not of the Spirit but of the flesh and therefore Satan; and
    • (b) He took upon himself an authority he did not have in the same way that Satan originally did.

    On both counts, therefore, Peter became an instrument of the devil.

    A wife who rebukes, chastises, reproves, or upbraids her husband becomes an instrument of the devil for exactly the same reasons by virtue of her positioning under him by Yahweh. Whether he is right or wrong is not the issue, but the fact that in so acting, she sets herself above him and usurps an authority which Yahweh has not given her, imitating the original rebellion of Satan. If the husband (or Elder, Eldress, father or mother) is in error then the one whose station is beneath should use gentle persuasion only, and never rebuke. And in the case of a wife, Scripture makes it crystal clear that the way a wife should influence an unbelieving husband (or a believing one who is in error) is by means of "a gentle and quiet spirit" in the manner of the holy women of old (1 Peter 3:3-6) without necessarily the use of words but by chaste and holy conduct (vv.1-3).

    This does not, of course, give a husband carte blanche to do whatever he wants to her or to behave as a brutal tyrant. As discussed in many other articles on this site, a wife who is being abused should quietly leave her husband to preserve her life and/or salvation (and that of her children).

    A wife does have the right to question a husband's right to threaten her life or salvation by leaving him, but she does not have the authority to rebuke, chastise, correct, yell at, speak disrespectfully to, or attempt to discipline him in any way. In such a situation she should take the matter to whoever is in authority over him, namely, his Pastor, or to an Elder if he is not himself an Elder (Yah help him if he is) or (if he is threatening her life or the lives of their children) to the police. If he is a Pastor (and Yah help him even more if he is) then she should approach an Apostle for redress. If there is no Apostle, then she has no option but to leave him.

    This is an extreme situation, of course, but I suspect you are talking of ordinary day-to-day disagreements that are not life- or salvation-threatening. In which case you should simply submit to him, and if he gives you leave to present your objections, to do so in a quiet, unagressive and meek spirit. If he does not give you leave, then you should simply hold your peace and lay the matter at the foot of the cross for Christ to deal with in His own time and way. For to oppose him is to make yourself an enemy of Yahweh through defiance of your husband's - and therefore Yahweh's - authority. The same counsel applies to authority structures in the family or the local congregation, whether the one objecting be man, woman or child. And it was for this reason that if a son struck his father or mother under the Torah he was to be put to death. And if this is a matter if life or death under the preparatory covenant, how much more series is it under the completed or full New Covenant?

    In conclusion it should be stated categorically that if a man abuses his authority, then the judgment of Yahweh is upon his head, a judgment which, if not repented of, will have far reaching and possibly even terrible eternal consequences. Authority is never a light matter in Yahweh's eyes, which is why the rebellion of youth in the 1960s and 70s, which has led to the disorder and anarchy of the 21st century, was, and is, such an abomination in Yahweh's eyes, having such grave consequences for those who took it into their hands to set themselves up as gods.

    So, yes, to challenge the authority of your husband is to make yourself an agent of Satan, but to leave him if he is abusive is not.

    Author: SBSK

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    First created on 4 July 2002
    Updated on 17 May 2016

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