Friday, October 7, 2011

Divine Right

This was posted as a guest post on a few other blogs, but I thought I'd post it here, too. It's an answer to those who say that we who want full, functional equality for women in the church and home (we call ourselves "egalitarians"), simply have a problem with authority. "Complementarian" is the term usually used for themselves by those who believe that women and men are equal in salvation before God, but that women must always be under male authority in the church and home.

What complementarians don’t seem to understand is that egalitarians don’t object to authority per se. What we object to is “divine right.” Most modern Christians have rejected the notion of divine right in all areas but this one. We no longer agree with, “Because I was born royal, I have divine right to rule this country,” or “Because I was born an aristocrat, I have divine right to govern the peasants on my land.” We certainly don’t agree any more with “Because I am white, I have divine right to be served by those of other races.” We also reject the corollary, which is “keep your place.” “Because you were born a peasant, it is not your place to govern the land,” or “Because you are of the servant class (or of a “lesser race,”), it is not your place to take jobs outside the serving sphere.”

Most Christians now would agree that there is no such thing as “divine right” – that God has established earthly authorities, but no one can say, “Because of my birth, it’s my divine right to be one of those authorities.” Except in this area. Christians say, “Because I was born male, I have a right to be in authority over my wife in the home,” and “Because you were born female, it is not your place to take leadership beside your husband in the home, or to take leadership in the church over men (“over your betters” is implied here, although we don’t use that term anymore).”

I might also add that in Paul’s day, the authority of the “pater familias” over his wife, children and slaves was one of the earthly authorities that had to be taken into account– and Paul’s words to the Ephesians reflect this understanding. That doesn’t mean that we, as 21st-century Christians, need to return to a husband-authority structure, especially when our own cultures have abandoned such structures; any more than we need to go back to serving a king or an emperor just because Paul said, “honor the king.”

I do agree that though God has established earthly authorities, God did not desire to do so in the church. Church leaders, yes – but not by “divine right.” Church authorities, no. Jesus said, “Not so among you.” I wish we would finally listen to Him.


PS. I wanted to add what Shirley Taylor at Baptist Women for Equality said today:

"What about the so-called difficult scriptures? You know what is difficult about those scriptures? The real difficulty in those scriptures is this: that we find it easier to believe that God made women inferior, than it is for us to believe that we have misinterpreted those scriptures."

I think she makes an excellent point.


The Politics Of Heaven said...


When Jesus said "not so among you", he did not eliminate leadership or authority in the Ekklesia. What he did was establish the different nature by which leadership was to be chosen and exercised.

Instead of the world's way of lording it over others, Ekklesia leadership was to serve. Jesus said "whoever will be greatest among you shall be the servant of all."

Kristen said...

Leadership and authority are two different things. I'm not questioning the existence or calling of leaders. I'm questioning a person's claim to have authority by divine right. If you want to claim divine right by virtue of your maleness, go ahead-- but don't do it here. This is my blog, and I don't permit you to teach or usurp authority here. You may learn in quietness and submission if you like.

The Politics Of Heaven said...


I have no problem learning quietly under your divinely ordained authority on this blog. After all, you wouldn't have this authority to exercise over me unless "it were given from above."

If that's not divine right, I don't know what is.

Kristen said...

Politics, you really are amazing. My authority on this blog comes by right-- but it's the natural right of the owner and creator of a thing, to say what happens to that thing. There is a sense in which such authority is from God, as the Owner and Creator of the whole shebang-- but I have no "divine right" over you and you know it. This is my blog; you can post here only if I allow it, and that's all there is to it. The circumstances of my birth and yours have nothing to do with it.

I was angry because I wrote this particular post in answer to the issue, "you just have a problem with authority." I explained the difference between authority and divine right-- and then you came on here with the same tired old argument about God-given authority, as if you hadn't even bothered to read what I was saying. And then you proceeded to man-splain to me what leadership and authority are all about. Please. I know I'm a woman, but give me credit for some intelligence-- and please actually read my posts before you comment on them, ok?

The difference between the kind of authority I exercise over my blog, and divine right, is that divine right is based on birth. I am not saying, "I have authority over you on this blog because I was born to own this blog and you were born never to own one." But you would say that because you were born male, you have the right to have authority over any woman you marry, and the power (should God call you) to lead women in church, while a woman can never be called to lead men in church. If you had really read this post, you would have understood that this is what I'm talking about, and that my power to tell you to stop trying to teach here is not the same thing AT ALL.

Right now I'm considering your comments here to be disruptive and trollish. Either change your tune, or stop posting here. I hope that's clear and that this time you really read my words.

The Politics Of Heaven said...


I did read your full post before responding. I simply chose to respond to a particular point within the post.

I have no intention of being disruptive. Trollish? Maybe, depending on your usage. Yes, if you're willing to come full circle.

You may not have been born to own this blog and exercise authority over it, but you were "born to have the right" to own this blog and exercise authority over it, whether you exercised that right or not.

In fact, almost all rights are by virtue of birth. This includes the earthly as well as the spiritual realm. And, of course, each jurisdiction has its own set of rights, always established by the Sovereign of that jurisdiction, earthly and spiritual.

Kristen said...

Yes, there are human rights that we have because of being born human. Yes, I believe human rights ultimately come from God. No, that is not the same thing as "divine right," which means that some humans get special rights and powers over others based on things like race, class or sex. Tgere is no favoritism with God.

You are using "leadership" and "authority" synonymously. I do not. I see no Scriptural justification that Jesus set up a hierarchy of authority within the church. Leaders are to be servants; they are not to set themselves up as authorities over the flock. And leaders are not born to leadership by divine right, based on gender, race, class or any such thing.

The Politics Of Heaven said...


I realize that you may not use "leadership" and "authority" synonymously, but wouldn't you agree that it's rather difficult to separate the two? How can you be a leader without authority? And how can you exercise authority without the position.

In fact, the Head of the Ekklesia has provided to us the use of His name to minister to others by His authority. "All authority is given to me in heaven and earth. Go therefore and......."

I agree that there is no favoritism with God.

How do you explain, then, the OT Ekklesia where God sets up the Levitical Priesthood? How do you explain the fact that Matthew and Luke both begin with a geneology of Jesus, as a human being and as a member in the Davidic Family in line for the inheritance of the throne as King.

Kristen said...

According to a standard online dictionary, "leadership" means "the action of leading" or "the position of leading." "Authority" means "the power or right to give orders, make decisions and enforce obedience."

Jesus taught leaders how they are to lead: by serving, not by giving orders and enforcing obedience. Leaders are to lead in His authority, not in some God-ordained power that they have over other Christians. Leaders lead as servants, by consent of the flock being led. I believe that Jesus did very much want to change the way His followers did business, in compared to the world's way. And it's not by asserting power or giving orders. If God calls you as a leader, you lead by serving the flock, finding out where the Spirit is leading, and following the Spirit.

As far as the "Ekklesia" is concerned, the Old Covenant was a covenant of the flesh. The New Covenant is a covenant of the Spirit. In the Old Covenant, you could only be a priest if you had the right fleshly qualifications. Those qualifications have been done away with in the New Covenant, where we are all a "kingdom of priests." Jesus Christ is the bridge between the Old and New Covenants. Born of the kingly line according to the Old Covenant, He is also the Firstborn of the spiritual New Covenant through His resurrection. There used to be favoritism with God-- but it was only for the purpose of sanctifying a people through which He could bring the Christ to inaugurate the New Covenant, in which there is no favoritism.

We are not in the Old Covenant any longer. It's high time we started acting according to the terms of the New Covenant in 2 Cor 5:16-17 - "From now on we regard no one any longer according to the flesh. We used to regard Christ this way, but no longer."

The Politics Of Heaven said...


We have been made free by the Law of the Spirit.

Kristen said...

I don't understand what you're getting at.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, this is a troll. - Kim

Kristen said...

Maybe half-troll, half-human? We'll see. :)

The Politics Of Heaven said...


Please! I may be a bit obnoxious, but to speculate about a possible extra terrestrial heritage of darkness seems beneath you. At least, I thought it was.:)

With that said, your paralegal training should verify the truth of what I said about the Law of the Spirit. The only way to escape the legal conviction of one legal jurisdiction is to have the law of a higher legal jurisdiction be applied. In this case. the Law of the Spirit of Life has made us free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)

It must be noted that we have not been redeemed from the Law. We have been redeemed from the "curse of the law." (Galatians 3:1) This is the "no more condemnation" of Romans 8:1 because a higher law took care of that in Jesus fulfilling the law required by God for righteousness.

Paul tells us that the Law has not been done away with. In fact, he tells us that the Law is good, just, holy and spiritual.(Romans 77:12, 14) He also says that by faith the law was not made void, but is, rather, established. Romans 3:31

The Law is still applicable because sin is still a reality. Paul also says that without law this is no transgression. Romans 4:15

According to Paul, to say that the Law has been done away with is to claim ultimately claim sinless perfection. I know some who claim that very thing.

Kristen said...

Politics, a troll is a being of faerie and is not extra-terrestrial to my knowledge, except in Elfquest, which not many people have read.

Anyway, it's not that I didn't understand what you said about the Law of the Spirit; I just didn't understand what it had to do with this discussion. We are discussing Divine Right and the New Covenant. I am not prepared to go into the details of law vs. grace, or how the Law of the Spirit and the Old Covenant law relate to one another. That is off-topic. Under the New Covenant there is no Divine Right. That is what the post is about, and the relationship of Law to the New Covenant is tangential.

As long as you want to go off from the main topic in tangential discussions, you are acting like at least a half-troll, whether extra-terrestrial or not. :) This is a blog, not a forum.

The Politics Of Heaven said...


You can deny the reality of spiritual birth all you want.

The fact is that being born from above, born again of the Spirit of God is all about Divine Right.

Everything we have under the New Covenant is all about Divine Right.

Only because Jesus was the First born of many brothers and sisters can we claim anything in Christ as joint heirs. Romans 1 says that as many as believed on Him did He give the right to be called the Sons of God.

Only those who have Jesus have Life and only those who have the Spirit of God have had the Law of the Spirit of Life applied to their life on behalf of Jesus, a literal legal application. This partaking of the divine nature through the Holy Spirit is only because of what The Son secured for us by Law. We have the advantages of divine heirs because the Head of the Family sees that we are identified with His Son, with whom He is pleased at all times. And because of the lawful actions of His Son, we get divine benefits rights and privileges through that same Son.

Everything was created by His Son, through His Son and For His Son. And we are joint heirs. Divine right by birth.

Kristen said...

Politics, no. You don't get to redefine my terms as I have set them up in my original post. I set out very clear what I meant by "divine right." I did not mean normal human rights, which everyone shares. I did not mean our inheritance in Christ, which is what you are talking about now. "Divine right" means special rights granted to someone because of having higher status at birth than someone else. This is how the term has historically been defined. Kings ruled by "divine right." This meant they were born to the power to rule because of their "royal" blood.

You don't get to redefine my terms and then claim we all have divine right if we are in Christ. The fact that divine right is exclusive to certain people based on their physical genetics, is exactly what I'm protesting here. The fact that divine right still exists in Christianity as the power to be in charge of women because one is born with a Y chromosome, is the issue. It's not about anything spiritual. It's discrimination based on the flesh, contrary to the nature of the New Covenant, and trying to pass as spiritual with a supposed stamp of God's approval.

I don't understand why you even want to make an issue of this, but I'm done. I don't plan to approve another post of yours on this topic.

Anonymous said...

I still think this is a troll, Sis, and the arguments aren't too logical. Follow this through and all Christians have a divine right to rule over everyone who doesn't agree with them.

Loved the last post, and will be commenting on it tomorrow. -- Kim

Kristen said...

Thanks, Kim. I didn't appreciate having my words redefined and then used to accuse me of "denying the reality of spiritual birth."

Looking forward to your comment on the Chacour book!

The Politics Of Heaven said...


I haven't redefined your terms. You have defined your term so narrowly that broader conversation and thought is inherently eliminated. Other relevant truth from Scripture is not allowed to be brought to bear in the thought process.

So your point is right only within your narrowly defined parameters.

BTW, What is Jesus had not just been "born of a woman," but born a woman?

Kristen said...

Politics, yes, I defined my term narrowly-- because that is the historical meaning of the term "divine right." That's the way the term has always been used, and I used it specifically to make a specific point.

The fact that we have what you want to call "divine rights" as members of God's family is, in fact, entirely another subject altogether. Those rights belong equally to all of His children. They are not in view here. You are the one who wants to introduce them as, yes, a re-definition of terms in order to change the subject, or make an end-run around it, or something.

The point I was making is that egalitarians don't have a problem with some people leading other people, or with there being authority structures. We have a problem with "divine right" as I have defined it, which a historical term meaning "special powers and rights based on your genetics at birth." If you want to address that point, do so. If you don't, then please desist.