Is God’s leadership authoritarian? No.
How do I know that?
Authoritarian leaders like all tyrants, are moral cowards. What matters to them is the maintenance of their authority, not the truth, or what is best for those they are supposed to be serving. This is always a highly destructive attitude for any leader to hold, in a family, a business, a church or a nation.
Nabal (I Sam.25) was an authoritarian leader of his household. The Bible says he was “…harsh and evil in his dealings” (v.3). When his servant observed how rudely he rejected a request from David’s servants for material assistance, the servant pointed out to Abigail, Nabal’s wife, that “…he is such a worthless man that no one can speak to him” (v.17).
In his folly, Nabal destroyed himself (vs.37-38). If it hadn’t been for Abigail’s wise and brave intercession with David, Nabal would have brought destruction upon his whole household.
Authoritarian husbands in the church hide behind Bible verses that suit their argument, like Ephesians 5:24: “But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be subject to their husbands in everything.”
Should wives obey this verse?
Of course, but husbands are foolish if they view this text in a one-dimensional manner. A wife’s help towards her husband has many facets to it, that some husbands don’t understand. It’s taken me a long time to understood all the ways my wife can help me.
On many occasions we’ve been out somewhere, and when we got home, my wife had some observations to make about what had taken place. Sometimes, it was because she thought my comments to others were excessive, or I had come across as extreme, or arrogant, or I needed to tone down the rhetoric. Sometimes she thought I’d shown too much attention to another female, and she said so.
Those sorts of comments are blunt and confronting. They are not designed to stroke and comfort my ego, and it’s only a fool who thinks his wife should be there to comfort his ego, because the Bible says, “…God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). And I’ve had to think about what I’d said and done, and also consider verses like these:
A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool (Prov.17:10).
Reproofs for discipline are the way of life (Prov.6:23).
He who regards reproof will be honoured (Prov.13:18).
Faithful are the wounds of a friend… (Prov.27:6).
Every husband has to ask himself this question:
Which is better: to love, accept and submit to the truth (regardless of who gave it to you, or the consequences), or be an egotistical fool?
You don’t need a lot of Bible knowledge to answer that question.
Naaman in the Bible shows us what a difference this can make. Twice (see II Kings 5: 2-3, 13) he took advice from people who were under his authority, one of these being a captured little girl from Israel. On both occasions, taking advice from someone under his authority, propelled him towards his healing from leprosy.
It’s easy for a husband to say to his wife,
God put me in authority, and I’m not taking no advice from you.
But all he proves in the process, is that he’s getting dangerously like Nabal.
There is a lot more on this subject in the Bible, if husbands (who can be proud and arrogant), will care to pay any attention. Like,
An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life (Prov.31:10-12).
If husbands understand the Biblical role of their wife, it will lead to them appreciating her. It will lead to them making greater room for her opinions and attitudes, and all the members of the household will benefit from the greater harmony and richness of relationship this will bring.
Shouldn’t every godly husband want this? And there’s one more thing:
The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honour and life (Prov.22:4).