I once witnessed an incident in which a passing cyclist snatched a pedestrian’s purse. Before the victim could recover from the shock, the cyclist was out of sight. At first she protested, then she just sat on the pavement and cried helplessly. In her purse were demand drafts, which represented her life’s savings. She had hoped to invest them to take care of her retirement. “I feel so powerless” she said “as I think of the future.” Satan too tried to snatch God’s authority in Eden. His attempt left Adam and Eve confused and under confident in their exercise of God’s delegated authority. This in turn damaged the basis of their partnership. What he found valuable in Eden; Satan still tries to crab grab in our lives today. A husband or wife who feels impotent to operate in either authority or submission, or operates it in a perverted way, is functioning from a deceived mindset that cheats them of true unity with God and each other. As they turn to their own devices to reclaim what the first couple lost; they end up feeling impotent or falsely potent, because their efforts are outside God’s blueprint. The bicycle thief was never arrested, but Satan can be.

EVE: “Isn’t it my duty to submit to my husband whether I want to or not? At least that’s what the pastor preached at our wedding. Somehow, it doesn’t seem fair, just because Adam lost it?”   This came from a modern day Eve, who oozed resentment. The Eve in Genesis succumbed to the influence of someone other than her husband; consequently she spent her life looking for the cover of the headship God had authorized her to live under. Her relatedness with Adam changed from the unity of true submission that partnership involves, to the crushing slavery of her, husband’s rule. The modern day Eve responds by gritting her teeth and bearing it. Another common response is to become a servile doormat who has lost all self-respect. With that she sacrifices the equality that true partnership involves. “He refuses to hear what I say. Last time we took a decision according to his royal highness, he was proved wrong and I was proved right. I wish he would not make mistakes in front of others.” Here was a wife who stood apart from her husband headship and corrected him, in her search for the leadership God has authorized for Adam. She lives to set right Adam’s Authority Deficit Syndrome by leading him Gen. 3:16. Without realizing it, she has forfeited her right to influence and stand with her husband in true partnership. Jesus’ desire and prayer is for his followers to reach ‘complete unity’ John 17:23. He demonstrated the unity of partnership with his Heavenly Father by making the choice to submit to Him. Similarly, till this Eve chooses to submit to her husband as she would to Jesus’ headship (Ephesians 5:22), the unity of partnership will remain confused. When submission is a result of her choosing, she will be free of the resentment and anger that leave her chaffing at the cover of her husband’s authority.

Transformed like Jesus!

A pilot friend of ours had to wait two days to fly a sortie because the person authorizing that sortie was away. The absence of the correct signature in his authorization book held up the sortie. Flying under any other permission is unauthorized exercise of authority. We need to be aware of the role God authorizes for each one of us and the goal for which that role equips us. Jesus’ goal for his followers is to live in love and unity-1John 3:24. His Spirit in us emboldens us to speak and act with an attitude of authority. As we obey, we gain the confidence that God honors what he authorizes. Husbands and wives support and assist each other in the roles God has given you, for right roles perpetuate right relationships. The ripple effect of this will transform society, beginning with the children who role model what you demonstrate, not what you teach!

Authority Reclaimed: When I was in school, I was fascinated by a lesson in our English text entitled ‘The Reclamation of the Zyder Zee’, which described the process of reclaiming land from the sea. Land was once covered by the seabed, through reclamation became useful and productive for the people of Holland. In Eden, there were three protagonists and God’s hidden but omniscient presence. So it is these same persons who must be involved in the process of restoring the relational balance todayGOD: The restoration of God’s authority structure within human relationships calls for partnership from human being who acknowledges his sovereignty. Jesus’ total commitment to obey his heavenly Father (John 5:30) restored the proper flow of God’s authority in the lives of the highest created beings and through them in all creation. Jesus’ loving sacrifice pointed the way to restore corrupt relationships. At every stage we learn from one who always operated with an attitude of authority. Not only did he teach with direct and not derived authority (Matthew 7:39); but his every action and command was authoritative; whether it was to forgive the paralytic (Mark 2:5), heal the lepers (Luke 17:14) or raise the dead Lazarus (John 11:43).

THE ADVERSARY: ‘You will be like God…’ This sentence of Satan’s thought spoken to Eve, is an expression of his own covetousness. Not being God’s legitimate agent in Eden, he resorted to counterfeit means to get what he coveted. He misguided Eve to corrupt the stewardship God had given Adam, by confusing his use of authority. Because of this, what he stole was only counterfeit authority, of which he still makes pretend use! Jesus demonstrated in the wilderness, that it requires just a few verses from God’s Word to strip Satan of his pretend power – Matthew 4:4. Any confusion in the exercise of authority must be countered with confidence from the Word of God.

ADAM: “I just let her make all the decisions. It’s easier that way” confided a husband who comesacross as hesitant and under-confident. Without knowing it, he had identified with Adam’s Authority Deficient Syndrome when he stood back to watch Eve eat the forbidden fruit-Gen 3:6. Adam’s failure to exercise his authority to enforce parameters was a costly mistake that set negative patterns for the human race in general and the marriage relationship in particular. Because he hesitated to take the responsibility given to him, he continued as a person who cowered before God avoiding the responsibility for what had occurred, much like the present day Adam mentioned above. Even today, husbands who hesitate to exercise the authority God vests in them; end up behaving and feeling powerless, even though they have been given the power of headship.

According to the Bible, I am the head of the family. When she works and wants me to share the household responsibilities, I feel compromised.” i Said a husband who was a high-powered Executive in the IT industry. This Adam mistook overbearing domination for headship. His desire for headship drove him to other than godly means to fulfill his need. I watched his wife cringe and block out his power to influence her. Their partnership and unity suffered; leaving him feeling more impotent than before. Jesus demonstrated of loving servant headship that covers the other’s faults – Ephesians 5:25-27, is the only role that can restore the lost authority to both the hesitant as well as overbearing husbands. Only the boldness born of faith (1 Corinthians 16:13-14) can release both to exercise the authority and power of headship to cover their partner’s inadequacies. Authority boldly and prayerfully claimed and humbly exercised will restore the ebb and flow of God’s redemptive power and authority. Jesus amply proved this by what he did for his bride.

Antique shops intrigue me, with their hint of waiting-to-be-discovered treasure. As I pottered in one of them, I heard this amazing story from a fellow bargain hunter. “While sorting through the rejected contents of an old palace near Tiruvanthapuram in South India, I came across a caste-off three inch wooden piece. Though basically rectangular, its irregular sides intrigued me. The agent noting my interest, said ‘you can have that piece as a bonus. It is a useless piece of wood.’” “My mind aflame with all sorts of possibilities, I carefully scraped away a quarter inch of surface dirt, before the real shape emerged.” He continued “Besides the pattern of carving, I discovered a small protrusion at one end and a depression at the other. It seemed to fit into something bigger.” “On my next visit,” “he continued, the excitement rising, “I studied every carving in the palace with great care, till I found where it belonged. My piece matched the carving along the headrest of the throne room chair, only it had lost the projecting tendrils.  The palace authorities bought the piece at a ridiculous price. The mission tendrils carved out of matched wood were glued together carefully; then varnished. Once it was put back, the restored piece was hard to distinguish, as it so closely matched the original.” “For an antique dealer, it was a dream comes true.” He concluded. Marriage today reminds me of the soiled unrecognizable missing piece of this story. This first relational pattern in which God cloned his capacity for relationships was the ‘main piece’ of the ‘headrest’ of the throne of Godly authority. Adam and Eve were to role model the exercise of Godly authority, partnership and unity. ‘Leave, cleave and become one flesh’ was the framework within which the unity and harmony of the Trinity would be duplicated at a human level. The soiled misplace version of the original blueprint we see today stands in dire need of restoration, to re-fit back into the divine order of things. Since the subversion of authority took place first within the roles in marriage, it is here that the redemption of relationships must start, so that the rest of society can be transformed. 

Self-Check Interaction:

1.List the ways in which you exercise authority – submission within your marriage.

2.Think of an incident in which you had difficulty in exercising authority – submission vested in your role.

What were the reason for this difficulty and how did it affect the relationship within which it happened? Discuss with your spouse or a trusted friend how you can prevent re-occurrences.

Use the following Scripture references.

Ephesians 5:21 following
1 Peter 3:1-2
1 Timothy 3:1-5