Where Manhood Stands Tallest

Where do you find manhood most visible and evident? If you were looking for manhood among the men of your city in which forum would you be most likely to find it?

My manhood journey began with the understanding that I had abdicated my headship as the husband within my marriage. So is marriage the place where manhood is to be identified?

Others recognise that their father displays real manhood, ruling his household with authority and setting up the next generation for authority and success in the following generation. So, is the family the forum in which manhood stands tallest?

What about those men who are giants of industry, outstanding political leaders, commanders of men, men of supreme personal talent and ability and so on? There are several places where outstanding men might stand out. Which of those places is the one where manhood is at its most potent?

Job’s Example

Job exemplified the self-sacrificing character of real manhood in his dealings with men. He was a political leader (he had a seat at the gate of the city – where the civic leaders exercised their leadership). He was totally selfless in his care for the needy, such as the disabled, widowed and helpless. He had a large family that honoured him. He had vast wealth and enterprise. See Job 29:7-17.

Yet Job was called into another forum to have his manhood tested. That forum was God’s presence. God called him to account for himself. Job did not achieve his greatest manhood until he accepted that call, which took him two attempts. See Job 38:3 and 40:7.

The Throne Room

Truest manhood has always been found in men who will do business with God. Men who hid from God’s presence lost their manhood, like Adam hiding after breaking God’s command. But men who were willing to run into God’s presence were those who God favoured the most readily.

King David was guilty of adultery and murder and he tried to hide his sin at first. Then the prophet came and convicted him. At that moment David did not go to Bathsheba’s family for reconciliation. Nor did he try to put things right with the family of her dead husband or with the people of Israel. Instead he ran into God’s presence and declared, “I have sinned against You!”

Against you, you only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight: that you might be justified when you speak, and be clear when you judge.” Psalm 51:4

Men who will enter the throne room, obedient to God’s earthly requirements for their lives, but also willing to do business with God, stand out as the real men of history.

Face to Face With God

Abraham, Moses, Joshua and Paul did business face to face with God. They were statesmen and commanders of men. They and others like them found the true forum for real manhood.

Your own manhood will not become what it is supposed to be until and unless you do business with God, face to face in the throne-room.

The Other Throne

The first throne where manhood is to be found is actually the heart of man. A real man does not have himself on the throne of his life. His heart is committed to God and he will do what God wants him to do. He will live his life sacrificially on behalf of others. He will be a defender and a rewarder, not a self-indulger.

Job had such a heart, as seen in his life of sacrificial benefit to others who needed assistance. His life was not his own, but was spent in blessing others, loving his neighbour and giving himself sacrificially.

Any man who lives life as if it is his own property for him to use as makes him happy is not a man at all.

Real men have done business at two thrones. They have the Lord God on the throne of their own heart, as the Lord of their life. Consequently they live their life sacrificially for others. They have also been into the throne room of God’s presence and invited God to do business with them, as they do business with Him.

Look in the Right Place

Don’t go looking for real men in the fitness centre. Don’t go to the discos looking for real men. Don’t even be impressed with the way their wife and children seem to give due respect to them.

Don’t look for the list of the richest men or winners of the “man of the year” award.

It is hard to see the heart of a man or to know if he has been into God’s presence or not. But the way a man lives his life for others, responds to God’s claim on his life and does business with God are the surest indicators of whether the man is a Real Man or not.

Unseen Authority

I have often struggled to comprehend authority that is not explicitly displayed. And so I have a problem truly understanding the operational authority in a situation if it is unseen. Yet in our lives much of the most important authority we will employ or be subject to is unseen.

I discuss this reality in helping husbands work through issues with their wife. In my recent trip to Europe I applied it for the first time to assist a young mother work through issues with her children.

Let me explain what unseen authority is in practice and how you can tap into it.

Enforced Authority

When we see authority enforced we tend to think of it as having bearing in a situation. If a sign says, “Do not walk on the Grass” and yet everyone does walk on the grass we see that the authority behind the sign is effectively non-existent.

When we see a security guard checking everyone and causing people to be detained and blocked from entry then we think of the authority as being effective.

This is what I mean when I say that we tend to respect authority when it is explicitly displayed. When we do not see an explicit display we tend to think of the authority as being of a lesser quality.

Unseen Authority is Real

While some forms of authority appear to be ineffective they can still be very real. Their reality may become apparent at some later time when recourse is finally applied. This is the case with God’s judgement of man’s sins. Many sinful people live all their life without any apparent recourse or judgement for their actions. But on the day of God’s judgement there will be a very evident display of the power and relevance of His authority.

But unseen authority is also real in other ways as well. Consider the authority which a patriarch has in passing down a family blessing to his children. In the case of Isaac, son of Abraham, the man was old and blind when it came time to pass the blessing. Isaac was of no economic value, having past his usefulness. He was able to be fooled by his wife and son.

Yet this useless old man had unseen authority. There were many things that Isaac could not do. He certainly could not have physically thrown his weight around and given us an explicit display of his authority, but he carried authority none-the-less.

The Unseen Transfer

When Isaac put his hands onto Jacob’s head he transferred the most potent family blessing in human history. Yet it was not charged with Hollywood effects or tinctured with electronic thrills.

The authority that flowed through Isaac was unseen and the transfer that came to Jacob was also unseen. And in just the same way there is an authority which we can employ that is just as invisible, but also just so powerfully effective.

Headship is Unseen Authority

What the Bible calls headship is actually invisible authority at work. It may or may not be seen in some explicit display, but it is equally as real either way. The problem that many people have in coming to terms with this unseen authority is that it is ‘unseen’ and they tend to think that authority must be demonstrated to be real. I hope I have at least opened your perspective a little on that score.

When the Bible teaches that parents have authority over the children and that the husband is the head of the wife these expressions of God’s authority (the government of God) are profoundly real, even if they are impossible to see with the naked eye.

The headship that God assigns is so powerful that it remains in force even when those who should be under that headship are in rebellion.

Did you get that? Headship and authority from God is so real and enduring that not only does it not have to be visible but it can even appear to be contradicted.

The Persistent Unseen Authority

For example, consider a man whose wife has chosen to leave him and live in a separate dwelling. As far as the visible expression of his authority over his wife is concerned it is nonexistent. So what is the reality?

Let us assume, for the purpose of this example, that the husband goes to God in prayer and tells God that the wife is no longer under the husband’s authority. The wife believes that to be true and so does the husband. But what does God say?

Imagine God calling the angels over with the record books to check the matter out. In God’s files what is the record of the authority over the wife? 1Corinthians 11:3 says that the wife is under the husband’s headship. Now the wife has decided to leave the husband. Did the wife’s action change God’s reality? That might best be answered by considering the question, “Is the authority assignment in God’s hands or man’s?”

The Government of God is determined by God and all the authority He assigns is as He assigns it. Mankind is not given the ability or authority to mess with God’s turf. So the authority given to the husband is persistent unseen authority. It persists even in the face of the wife’s rebellion against it. It is not authority based on explicit display, but on God’s supremacy.

Applying the Unseen Authority

In further posts I plan to elaborate on how I apply the truth about unseen authority into the circumstances of the marriage and parenting. Suffice it to say here that once we understand the persistent quality of God’s assigned authority we are better equipped to use that authority, at least before God’s throne, even if the people who should be under that authority have rejected it.

Government of God

The primary government to which we all must give account is the Government of God in our lives. But before you get all religious on me and think of that simply as some kind of stuffy or sentimental notion suited to church liturgy, let me assure you that I am talking about real administrative government over people’s lives.

The Government of God is not a religious construct created by bishops and popes to assert their control, but a primary level of government to which all people in every generation must give attention.

When God Governs

Most people have a dualistic notion of reality. They subscribe to various religious concepts, but see them only as notions or religious beliefs. When it comes to practicalities they have a completely different sense of reality.

Most religious people would admit that God is supreme over all, as a religious concept. But when it comes to the practicalities of who is in control, God doesn’t get another thought. This dualism decimates the real substance and authority of people’s lives. They live in a state of contradiction and compromise.

If God only governs in some notional sense then He does not govern at all. If God’s government cannot be seen in practical reality then it is only an empty concept and should not be subscribed to, even by the religious. It would be delusional and vain.

However, God does rule in the affairs of men and God has prescribed a form a government that is to be practically applied on the earth. That government is the government of God in the earth.

Application of God’s Government

In future posts I will explore some expressions of and implications of God’s government. Initial issues to consider include deism versus theism, God’s hierarchical order of authority and the role of personal conscience. I will not cover these in detail here, but wish to focus your attention on the reality of God’s government over your life and how that might be expressed in your experience.

Deism versus Theism

Those who acknowledge God can be relegated to two different perceptions of God’s government of man, relating to the level of intervention which God will exercise in the affairs of men.

Deists are those who believe in the existence of God but who do not expect Him to interfere in the lives and circumstances of humans. They conceive of God as an observer of that which He created and set in motion. Deists see that human history is in the hands of human will and that God will not intervene unless things become very drastic, as with Noah’s flood or Sodom’s sin.

Theists, on the other hand, believe that God not only initiated all things, but remains actively interested in and ready to intervene in human affairs. Theists recognise man’s place in responding to God and calling upon God’s power and they pray with expectancy to a God they know will hear and respond.

God’s Active Government

By the definitions explained above, I am a theist. I live my life with expectancy of God’s active intervention, and calling on God to direct that intervention according to my prayers.

I believe in God’s active government within the affairs of men. Men can conceive and plan what they will, but God has more than the power of veto. God has a pre-emptive will and dynamic foreknowledge, empowering Him to engage with the issues of human existence in a proactive and powerful way.

It is this divine activity that gives zest and substance to God’s prescribed government. His own active engagement gives power to His instructions and His expectations from man.

God’s Prescription of Government

The Bible provides the basis of all human government, developed by His divine guidance from the time of Noah. A complete study of the role of government as God designed it is a worthy investigation, found in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

The particular prescription of God’s government that I want to focus here is found in Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth. Paul laid out an authority structure in which man is under Christ, who is under God, with the wife under the authority of her husband.

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” Apostle Paul, 1Corinthians 11:3

God’s Hierarchy

Note the significances of this verse. God’s notion of government and authority is hierarchical. A person under authority is given authority over others.

In a day when the flat organization is being popularised and everyone wants to minimise their responsibility to be under authority it is worth noting that God, Himself, operates within an hierarchical construct of government. Government is not a matter of everyone doing what is right in their own eyes.

Note also that mankind is meant to be directly under the authority of God, through Christ. Civil government is not described in this hierarchy. Civil government is, by God’s design, a servant to God and man, not an imposition over the responsibility and authority of mankind. Civil government is not interposed between God and man, nor does it absolve man of responsibility.

Note also that the core unit of social structure, the home, is an expression of the government of God. A husband being responsible for his wife and a wife submitting to her husband is at the heart of divine government on the earth.

Modern Government

Today there are various forces competing for rulership over the lives of men. Governments, big business and social engineers are among those who wish for mankind to comply with their plans.

International law now imposes itself over sovereign nations. At the domestic level children defy the will of their parents and wives assert their independence of the husband’s headship. So government is in an interesting state in homes, communities, churches and nations.

The best way to navigate through the uncertainties and competing claims on the lives of men and women is to submit to the government of God.

Regaining Domestic Authority

How does a hen-pecked husband regain his rightful authority? If he is under his wife’s demands and rebuke, how does he restore his rightful place of headship in the home?

This a pretty challenging issue for many husbands, especially those who do not have their wife’s permission to be the head of the home.

The Wife’s Permission

Some Christian ministries handle this by suggesting that the wife’s ‘submission’ is a precursor to the husband’s headship. I object to such nonsense. They arrive at this case by noting that in Ephesians 5, where the Apostle Paul tells husbands and wives about their respective roles, the wife is advised about ‘submission’ before the husband is addressed about his need to love the wife.

The suggestion that a person can only have authority once their subordinate gives it to them is ludicrous on several accounts. Real authority comes from being under authority, so how can one who is a subordinate assign authority to their leader. The leader gets his or her authority from someone with more authority than them, not someone with less!

There is no place in society where true authority is determined by the response of those under authority. What happens in reality is that those who don’t wish to be under proper authority face consequences for that stance. They do not gain power over the authority but are dealt with by the authority.

Husbands are not dependent on their wife’s permission to hold their position of headship over the wife.

God’s Assignment

Husbands have headship over their wife. They have that headship whether they want it or not. They have it whether they use it well or not. They have it for as long as they have a wife. They have it whether they are smarter or stronger than their wife, or whether she outperforms them in every way. They have it because it is God’s assignment to them.

God assigns authority, as the principal authority figure in the universe. No-one has more authority than
God. No-one has the power to revoke God’s authority. No-one has a voice that has the right to speak against or challenge the authority of God. And that God, the Almighty God, our Creator and the sustainer of all things is the one who gives husbands headship in their home.

The attitude, opinion and actions of the wife are inconsequential to the fact. The man carries the responsibility of headship whether his wife likes it or not. He carries it whether his wife approves or not. He even carries it while his wife is vigorously rebelling against it. She has zero power over the man’s authority and headship.

The Wife’s Part

The wife is responsible for herself and her attitudes and actions. She will give account for her words, actions and attitudes to God. She has no authority over the husband’s role. She cannot veto it, negate it, overturn it, modify it or otherwise subvert it in any way. It is outside her power.

The wife did not assign the husband’s role, God did. The wife did not make the husband her head, God did. The wife did not elevate the man by her approval of him, but God placed a mantle of responsibility on him whether the man and woman knew about it or not.

Oh, and it doesn’t matter whether either of them or Christians or not. This is not the Christian order for marriage; it is God’s order for marriage. It applies across all cultures, all ages, all socio-economic situations, and all parts of the globe.

Restoring Order

The first step in restoring the godly order for the marriage is to know the order and how serious it is. It is not something the couple need to agree on in order for it to become real.

Once a husband realises that he stands accountable before God for the place of responsibility which God has given him he can then take the matter to God for divine wisdom about restoring that order in his home.

There are several practical insights that will apply in that process, but I’ll leave the subject for now, so you can absorb and mull over the implications of what I have outlined here. And my prayer in that God give you wisdom and grace to empower you to stand before Him, fully accountable for your actions and completely ready to honour Him ahead of all else.

Staying Under Command

Westerners have little grip on authority. Most westerners don’t have authority, because they are not under authority. Most westerners have violated their right to rule by refusing to be ruled. Of course they are ruled, or indeed dominated, but their spirit is one of insubordination and independence. So they have lost the right to rule.

This is profoundly significant for the menfolk of the west. They are the ones who are supposed to lead, as the head of their home. Yet they cannot take that lead, since they know nothing of true headship and authority. Their challenge is to stay under command.

I want to help you learn how to do that, so here’s an analogy I recently used to illustrate this principle.

The Chain of Command

Before we dig into my illustration let me remind you how God has set up the command structure. God has created an hierarchical authority structure for us to operate within. God is the head of that structure. The next in command is Christ. So God, as Almighty God and as the Son of God, Jesus Christ, occupies the two top positions in the hierarchy. Husbands are given a place of authority directly under Christ. Wives are given a place directly under their husband.

Husbands, then, have a pretty awesome place of authority. They are directly answerable to Jesus Christ. Imagine being directly answerable to the Prime Minister or President of your country. That’s the place of authority husbands have in God’s scheme of things. That’s a pretty elevated place of responsibility and authority.

Abusing the Boss

Imagine being directly answerable to the leader of your nation, and then taking orders from someone else. When you begin taking orders from someone other than your boss you are abusing the boss. You mock the authority of the boss because you do not revere and respect it. You stop being under that authority and so negate the delegated authority given to you.

Every time you let someone change the orders your boss gave you the effect is that of mocking your boss and demeaning the boss’s authority. What does it say about your boss, when you let some person off the street tell you what to do? You are lowering the authority of the boss to being no more significant than that of a stranger or some person with no authority.

Stay Under Command

The most important thing for a person to do is to stay under command. This is especially so if you have been given the privilege of direct access to someone of high authority. You certainly would not want to violate that authority and lose your place under it. You want to remain in direct line of command from the highest officer possible.

To do that you must honour your boss. You must be diligent to faithfully fulfil the wishes and instructions of the boss, so he is pleased with you and retains you in the position of authority he has assigned you.

This is equally as important for husbands as the head of their home. If a man disregards the lordship of God and Christ in his life he loses the effective authority that has been delegated to him. He ends up with a wife and children who have no regard for his leadership and headship, since he has no regard for Christ’s headship over him.

The Challenge

Many men are already starting from a lost position. They have to regain their authority in a context where their wife rules them and their children ignore them. This is a pretty hefty challenge, but it is one that can be met. God is the one who assigned men their authority and so when men move into it they do have God’s backing.

The question I get asked from time to time is about actually activating that authority, especially in a context where it has never been exercised before. That is where this Soldier analogy came from. I hope you find it helpful.

Soldier to Soldier

Imagine two platoons of soldiers from different armies working together in a battle zone against a common enemy. Each group is kitted out with their issue of uniform and equipment. The soldiers from the two armies mix together, but are under the direct command of their platoon leader.

A soldier from one army advises a soldier from the other nation that the way he carries his ammunition belt is not right. One army wears the belt around the waste and the other slings it over the shoulder. The solder being told what to do by the other soldier has to decide what to do.

He can take the advice of the other soldier. If he does so, he is stepping outside the instructions given him by his own army command. The kit which he is issued and trained to use is to be utilised as instructed. If he rejects his own command he makes himself subservient to a mere soldier from a different nation. He is acting outside his chain of command.

However, the suggestion may be a good one. So, could he not follow the instruction if it strikes him as a good idea? The answer is, No! He must operate within the chain of command and stay under the authority of his commanding officer.

What to Do?

What he can do is go to his commanding officer and ask for permission to wear his kit in a different manner to what is prescribed. The commanding officer may happily give him leave to do so. It may not be a significant matter. The officer may allow the soldier to do what he thinks best. Or there may be good reason why the prescribed wearing of the kit has to be maintained.

By respecting the command of his own platoon leaders the soldier is staying in a place of authority. That authority protects him and also empowers him with delegated authority.

The Point

The point of this illustration is to convey the concept of authority to people who have little practical experience in living under God’s authority. The next issue is how to practically apply authority and headship into a home where it has been absent. I’ll tackle that question in a future post about Regaining Domestic Authority.