Sunday, January 10, 2010

Rights and the Christian: authority and rights

"Rights" and "authority" are from the same Greek word, exousia. When Paul talks about the personal rights of an apostle, or the authority of an apostle, he uses the same word. In English "authority" can mean the right to have others obey you. That is how it is often used. Rights are the authority you have to act for yourself, or have the freedom to act on your own.

A person with authority, has the authority to act on their own, but also has control over the actions of others. A person with authority, can not only control their own actions, but also influences the actions of others. However, in Greek, both of these concepts are covered by the word exousia, to have the authority, right or the entitlement to act, or control the actions of others.

When we discuss the notion that men and women should have "equal rights" this is the same as saying that men and women should have "equal authority." If a doctrine says that women should not have authority equal to male authority, then by definition, women do not have equal personal rights to men. Essentially, some Christians are teaching that women do not have equal rights in the home and church.

It is interesting to see how some teach women to "lay down their personal rights" and honour male authority.

True Woman Manifesto
    Men and women are both created in the image of God and are equal in value and dignity, but they have distinct roles and functions in the home and in the church. (9)

    We are called as women to affirm and encourage men as they seek to express godly masculinity, and to honor and support God-ordained male leadership in the home and in the church. (10)

    Marriage, as created by God, is a sacred, binding, lifelong covenant between one man and one woman. (11)

    When we respond humbly to male leadership in our homes and churches, we demonstrate a noble submission to authority that reflects Christ's submission to God His Father. (12)

    Selfish insistence on personal rights is contrary to the spirit of Christ who humbled Himself, took on the form of a servant, and laid down His life for us. (13)
This manifesto makes it appear selfish for a woman to insist on her rights, but noble for her to uphold the rights of her husband. Is there an equivalent document which asks men to lay down their authority and uphold the rights of their wives? No, the Danvers Statement and the Southern Baptist statement also call for women to submit to the authority of the husband.

While one may argue that Christ has himself modeled the "laying down of personal rights," nowhere do the scriptures say that women were created as weaker vessels in order to best model the laying down of rights; and men were created as stronger vessels, so that they may maintain authority and not lay down their rights. In fact, this appears to be based on the assumption that might makes right.

3 comments:

Gem said...

While one may argue that Christ has himself modeled the "laying down of personal rights," nowhere do the scriptures say that women were created as weaker vessels in order to best model the laying down of rights; and men were created as stronger vessels, so that they may maintain authority and not lay down their rights.- Suzanne

To the contrary, Ephesians 5:25 says "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her".

The teaching you have posted appears to put the pants upon their women and emasculate their men! YIKES!

J. L. Watts said...

That's why we to dispense with man-made doctrine. If we feel that the Apostles where inspired, and what they wrote sufficient, then that should settle it.

I think more than a few of the 'preachers' today would criticize Mary for being out of her proper place, especially when she told Christ what to do.

Don said...

The TWM is a bunch of hooey!

Avoid drinking that Kool-Aid.