Mark 10:42-45 is a remarkable passage of scripture largely ignored by the Christian community, in practice if not in words. In other words, we talk a good game at serving and practice a better game at ruling, thus, being in our behavior, more like unbelievers, than we are like a biblical believing body.
Remember that the verses referred to in Mark are spoken by the Lord in the context of some of His disciples seeking a better position. [verse 37] Jesus didn't deny the reality of positions [verse 40] but explained the way to be elevated to a position of leadership is NOT by appointment. [verse 42] THAT'S the way of the Gentiles [unbelievers] and NOT the way of disciples. It is this fact..."the way to be elevated to a position of leadership is NOT by appointment" that seems to be totally forgotten by the Church and, as a result, the family.
Someone will, I'm sure, want to remind me that the scripture says Paul "appointed" elders in churches as he planted them on his missionary journeys. I would remind those reminders that the word "appointed" means to "ordain" or "set aside" and had to do with discovering those who were gifted, having a serving heart, who were then RECOGNIZED by the laying on of hands [ordained] to minister in that capacity.
This means that they were viewed to be gifted leaders by others and were thus appointed by the Holy Spirit and then recognized by the people. So that, even when the writer of Hebrews admonishes believers to follow the leadership of elders, it uses the Greek language that according to W.E. Vine, means [peitho] "to persuade, to win over, in the Passive and Middle Voices which indicates one voluntarily does so with an eye on their [The elders] character and life. [Hebrews 13:17]
There is no authoritarianism in Heb 13:17. In fact, the correct interpretation of the language in the first part of that verse is..."Be disposed to be persuaded by these elders to follow them as.." or.."The obedience stipulated is not by submission to an authority, but results from persuation." It's within the power of the body to examine and say 'NO." [See Heb 13:7]
As I read the whole of the New Testament epistles, it is also interesting to me that church leaders were not addressed separately, as if they had some special decision-making authority residing in them, when problems were addressed by the human authors of those epistles. Instead, Paul, for instance, directed his writings to the ENTIRE ASSEMBLY. He did not rebuke the ELDERS at Corinth for failing to deal with the immoral person or for not resolving the disputes among the brethren, as if they [elders] possessed some special ruling right over the body. As Jon Zens says, "He puts the nexus of responsibility on the whole congregation to carry out Christ’s revealed will."
There is a big difference between genuine behind-the-scenes loving elders [plural] who stand firmly for sound doctrine and admonish the Body of Christ to obey scripture and an authoritarian ONE-MAN show who teaches his own agenda and draws people away from the scripture and to himself. The latter MUST not be found in the Church. [Or in the family either for that matter.]
Someone asks, "I thought we were talking about marriage and authority?" We are!! Unfortunately there is a "kissing cousin" kind of relationship that exists between authoritarianism in the home and in the church. This since so many attempt to establish authoritarianism based on certain scriptures falsely interpreted and then applied to ALL men in ALL leadership positions.
So it seems to me that while the Bible DOES makes it clear that we are to submit to governmental authorities such as to the police and we are to obey the laws of our land (pay taxes, obey traffic laws, live peaceably, etc.), it also clearly commands us to NOT set up authoritarian systems or regimes within the Church and, properly interpreted, this prohibition would flow naturally into the home.
One man I read who obviously suffers from an authority complex stated "Every church must have one man who has the final authority and decision making power in the church, or else chaos would reign." I'm sure that man would also falsely pronounce, "Every home must have one man who has the final authority and decision making power in the home." This flies in the face of the servanthood of every believer to others and the truth that Christ IS the ONE MAN who has authority over all the churches AND homes and directs uniquely gifted people [Never one individual] to assist in the growth of all involved in that church or home.
It might help to indicate what an authoritarian individual in a Church or home might look like. I have a friend [Jon Zens] who gave some indicators that I've slightly adapted and will now use here.
1---They make a claim of direct authority from God which attempts to bypass the need to test all things such as character and scripture.
2---Their command to “submit to me” replaces the commitment of “I will serve you”;
3---Their method of leadership is to “order” people around instead of talking, listening, and desiring the right thing.
4---There is a dominating, “pushy” spirit in them instead of a loving appealing spirit.
5---They live in an atmosphere of control instead of an atmosphere of support.
6---They are unapproachable, intimidating and argumentative instead of loving, respectful and conciliatory toward others.
7---They offer an inflexible statement.."do what I say!", instead of a soft question.. "What do you think?"
8---They are more concerned with maintaining an authoritarian structure than they are for caring about the people and where they truly are personally.
May it not be so in our churches and homes is my desire and prayer.
Now we've established from this and the last post that, from my perspective at least, marriage involves more than one person, even in authority/leadership, and that such leadership is never automatic or is never demanded. And the same is true in the church. The next post will address specifically how this can be effectively worked in a marriage and family so that each person can reach their full Christian potential and be uniquely themselves in a family context where there is only One Lord.