Monday, August 20, 2007

Who Needs Authority?

Last week, our pastor preached on authority. It brought back memories of Bill Gothard’s Basic Youth Conflicts series which is founded on submission to God ordained authorities in our lives. I began thinking that in our society, there is such hostility whenever anyone mentions the words “submission” and “authority” – even in church, and especially in the context of marriage. We are a nation of individualists who take pride in self-determination and admire self-reliance above all. Submission to authority, is for some reason seen as weakness, when it actually strengthens a society.

It brought to mind a conversation I recently had with one of my relatives regarding this very same topic. His opinion is that authority and respect have to be earned. Just because someone holds a position does not automatically give them the right to expect submission or respect from anyone. He backed this up by saying that he prides himself on the fact that his 9 year-old son and his son’s friends treat him like one of their own, and call him by a shortened version of his first name. When I was growing up, that was a good way to find yourself in the woodshed. We never would have dreamt of calling our parent’s friends by their first names or nicknames. It was always Mr. Jones and Mrs. Smith, not Bobby and Joan.

There no longer seems to be an appropriate level of respect for authority and the subsequent submission it must bring about in our nation today. This is not to say that there shouldn't be accountability. We must certainly hold our leaders accountable. However, we must afford them a certain degree of respect, and must submit ourselves to their leadership - even when we disagree with their decisions. Colin Powell once said, "When we are debating an issue, loyalty means giving me your honest opinion, whether you think I'll like it or not. Disagreement, at this stage, stimulates me. But once a decision has been made, the debate ends. From that point on, loyalty means executing the decision as if it were your own".

People love celebrity but despise authority. From the disrespect our nation affords the Office of the President, to the disrespect many have for their teachers, pastors, police officers, military, parents, and yes, even spouses, I fear the very fabric of our nation is fraying as we rapidly slide down the dangerous slope of rebellion.

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