Authority: Women in the State and Business

This is part of a series of posts on the doctrine of Authority. Click here to see the entire series.


Evangelicals are united in their belief that the husband is the head of the wife and that in the marriage covenant the wife is to submit to the man.  Conservative Christians are also united in their belief that women are not allowed to exercise authority over men in the church and that women are to submit to men.  For some reason when we get to the representative institution of the state, it suddenly becomes completely permissible for women to exercise covenantal authority over men by holding office.  Why is this?

There is no reasoned position that describes why women should be allowed to exercise covenantal authority over men in the State.  The position is simply assumed to be true because that is the way things are done.  In the history of the United States that was not always the case.  The colonial period was characterized by the understanding that women did not have the right to exercise representative authority.  Only slowly did that understanding change, perhaps coming to a crucial high point with the granting of suffrage, the right to vote to women.  The reason that women had been forbidden the “right” to vote was because voting was seen as an “authoritative” activity and women were understood to have no right to exercise authority in the institution of the State (more on that topic later).  Nor were women permitted to exercise an illegitimate authority to perhaps cancel out the authority of their husbands via the vote.

Women are assumed to have the right to hold authoritative office in the State because of the presupposition that the State is a service/contractual institution.  But, that assumption is wrong.  Officers in the state are sworn into office with the taking of an oath.  God says that they are His representatives (diakonos) to do good.  God gives them specific, written instructions on what to do.  God grants them the monopoly exercise of the power of the sword.  The only logically consistent conclusion that can be made is that women have no more right to exercise authority over men in the State than they do in the other two institutions.  Anybody who believes that they do has the burden of proof to show why the State is somehow different.  If a woman may hold authoritative office in the State then it needs to be shown why the clear prohibition to hold office in the Family and the Church does not also apply to the State.

The logical conclusion then is that women are not permitted to hold any office in the State that is authoritative.  Therefore, a woman could act as a secretary to the Governor, but could not be the Governor.  A woman could act as an aid to a Senator, but could not be a Senator.  Any State office that is entered by means of a sworn vow and that gives access the exercise of monopoly power would be forbidden for a woman.   It necessarily follows that any woman who holds an authoritative office is in sin.  It further follows that any person who aids a woman in holding an authoritative office is contributing to that sin.  Lastly, anyone who votes for a woman to hold an authoritative office is sinning as well.

Women in Business

Because of the fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of biblical authority, many fundamentalist Christians do not understand the doctrine of female functional subordination.  Since they do not understand the difference between service and representative authority they issue a blanket pronouncement that since Paul does not allow a woman to teach she must also be forbidden to work outside the home.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Proverbs 31 is the classic passage on the woman of tremendous service authority.  The passage is too long to quote here.  Take a moment and read the passage.  Notice how many business activities the woman is engaged in.  This woman has tremendous service authority.  The Bible does not prohibit women from having service authority.  Women are free to engage in as many business activities as they desire.  Women are free to be Presidents and Chief Executive Officers of corporations.  There is no limitation placed upon the activities of women when it comes to service authority.

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