by Max Maxwell
All Rights Reserved.
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John: He would have no authority whatsoever, if you ask me.
Socrates: And does a surgeon have authority in regard to surgery?
John: Of course.
Socrates: But, I suppose, that if the patientís spouse could walk into the operating room and make decisions about how the operation should be conducted, we might say that the surgeon's authority was in question.
John: Yes, to say the least.
Socrates: Then any authority embodies the power to make decisions?
Socrates: Now, where is the jurisdiction of the Captain's authority?
Socrates: Where is the authority of the ship's captain expressed?
John: He has authority on the ship.
Socrates: And the surgeon's authority, where is that expressed?
John: The surgeon has authority in the operating room.
Socrates: Can the captain, by virtue of his authority as a ship's captain, enter an operating room and make decisions about how to perform the operation?
John: Of course not.
Socrates: Could a surgeon, by virtue of his authority as a physician, enter the bridge of a ship to take command and tell the crew how to steer the boat?
John: No, he could not.
Socrates: It seems that authority has a defined jurisdiction.
John: This is true.
Socrates: Is this true only for ship's captains and doctors, or is it true for all persons in authority?
John: I think it must be true for any position of authority, except for God.
Socrates: For now, I would rather consider human males. Is it possible to have authority without a defined jurisdiction?
John: Yes, a dictator has all authority in whatever jurisdiction he desires. There is, therefore, no need for a ruthless dictator to define any jurisdiction.
Socrates: What if a ship's captain did not know the jurisdiction of his authority and tried to interfere with the surgeon in the operating room because he believed his role as a ship's captain authorized him to do so? What would we think of him?
John: I would think he was a silly goofball who needed to be arrested. Nobody would put up with that nonsense.
Socrates: And if a police officer did not know the jurisdiction of his authority, could such an officer be said to have any meaningful authority at all if he did not know under what circumstances he was allowed to express that authority and towards what ends?
John: Certainly not.
Socrates: Would you say it is true that, in the absence of a defined jurisdiction, all authority degenerates into dictatorship, silly nonsense or simply turns into no authority at all?
John: Yes, that makes sense.
Socrates: It seems like it is very important to the integrity and functioning of any particular authority to clearly define that authority's jurisdiction.
John: Yes, I agree.
Socrates: We know that the jurisdiction of the captain's authority is the ship. And we know that the jurisdiction of the surgeonís authority is the operating room. My question is this: What is the jurisdiction of a husbandís authority over his wife?
John: A husbandís authority is God-given and covers his wife throughout their lives.
Socrates: I see. So if a man's wife were a surgeon, he could walk into the operating room and make decisions about how she will perform the operation?
John: No, he could not do that.
Socrates: If his wife were a judge, could he walk into her courtroom and dismiss her verdicts?
Socrates: It seems that a husband's authority over his wife has limits and falls short of governing her whole life.
John: When you put it that way, of course it does.
Socrates: Then can you help me more clearly understand the jurisdiction of a husband's authority over his wife?
John: Ok, if you want the jurisdiction of a husband's authority that is easy. A man has authority in the home, over his wife and children.
Socrates: The home is a definable sphere of life. Do you remember we said that authority has the power to make decisions?
Socrates: So a man has the authority to make the decisions in his own home?
John: That is correct.
Socrates: And this authority supersedes his wife?
John: Yes. This is part of his God-given role in life. The Bible teaches that this is the proper spiritual order. A man is to be over his own wife as Christ is over the church.
Socrates: You seem confident that this means something. However, I donít understand it yet. If a husbandís authority implies the power to be the decision maker in the home, I would like to ask some questions about the nature of this decision-making.
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© Copyright 2008 Kenneth J. Maxwell Jr.