Friday, October 19, 2018

Authority (1): often despised

This series of blog posts were originally presented as a speech at the October 1998 Ontario Women's League Day in Ancaster, Ontario. Much of the spoken style remains.

"Authority" is often thought of in negative terms. One would ask why. The answer is two-fold. Authority is often despised because of the frequent abuse of authority. Sadly it happens often that one in authority over others abuses his power. We will speak about that in a future instalment.

A second reason authority is often despised is because man has an inherent unwillingness to submit to someone else. Ever since the Fall into sin, every human being has a natural urge to be completely autonomous—a law unto himself. This is not a new development in humanity. You see it already with the first humans, Adam and Eve. God had placed them in the Garden. He had given them a beautiful place to live, work to do, food to eat. They could eat from every tree in the Garden, except for one. There was one tree they were not to eat from. That was God's law. The man and the woman, however, rejected that law. They rejected God's authority and ate from that tree.

Ever since, man has continued to reject authority. By nature, man is lawless.

Media comment on authority

It is very interesting to see how the media comments upon the biblical teaching of authority. There was a profound example of interesting media comment the summer of 1998. On June 9, 1998, the Southern Baptist Convention issued a Declaration on Family Life. It reads as follows:

God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. It is composed of persons related to one another by marriage, blood or adoption. Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a life-time. It is God's unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and his church, and to provide for the man and the woman the framework for intimate sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means of procreating the human race. The husband and the wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God's image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to his people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation. Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord. Parents are to teach their children spiritual and moral values and to lead them, through consistent discipline, to make choices based on biblical truth. Children are to honour and obey their parents.

Media comment on this declaration was very interesting. That the media had lots to say about this statement was not unexpected. What was surprising was what the media focused on. The declaration began with a very narrow definition of marriage. It said that marriage is the union of one man to one woman for a life-time. Part of the liberal media agenda is gay rights. With the legalization of gay marriages, it is surprising that the media did not latch on to that point.

Furthermore, the declaration says that the marriage between a man and woman is for a life-time. It excludes divorce. Again, how surprising that the media had nothing to say on this point.

When the Declaration on Family Life spoke about children, it said that children are a blessing from God "from the moment of conception." Largely, the media rejects that. The message promoted in our culture is that a woman can terminate life in her womb if she wants. And yet the media did not zero in on that part of the statement.

Neither did they comment on the declaration's call to parents to provide "loving discipline" to their children. The child rights advocates hate the word "discipline." Yet the media let that pass.

It let all of this pass. It let pass the opportunity to lambaste Christians for their views on marriage and divorce, abortion, and child-rearing—typical hot-button items. Instead it fixated itself on one sentence: A wife is to submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband…

Isn't that interesting? Of all the places the media could hook into this statement, they focused on this aspect. Why? Because of the hatred of authority. Because of the inherent human tendency to reject the idea that there are levels, structures, of authority in life—in society, in families. 

(The next post will be about the source of authority.)