“So pastors are under God’s authority,” Bekah explained. “Families are under the pastors.” She held her hand in the air and moved it down levels as she spoke. “Husbands are in authority over wives. Wives are in authority over children.”
When Ty didn’t respond, Bekah added, “It’s all very orderly, anyway.” But of course Ty didn’t give “orderly” as much weight as she did. In the Fellowship, orderliness was nearly one of the Ten Commandments.
— The Fellowship, Chapter 5.
The “umbrella of authority” is a concept that’s been around for many years. I was taught this very “order” as a teenager, although the charts I saw weren’t illustrated with patio umbrellas. It gives it kind of an easy-living vibe.
It’s a clean, logical graphic that makes its point with a single glance: The Umbrella of Authority concept effectively protects Jesus from getting cooties from women!
Haha, not really. We all know that in Christ, men and women can approach God as equals. So this chart isn’t saying that a woman can’t get to Jesus except through her husband.
Of course, if you look at the husband’s share of life responsibilities, you’ll see that he’s supposed to be the spiritual leader. And underneath the woman’s cute little umbrella, you see “Submit to husband’s authority.” So a woman could approach God on her own, but to be honest, that really does mess up the Natural Order of the Family, doesn’t it? And God is a God of order, so he actually prefers you to go through the proper channels.
So… just go through your husband, okay?
There’s certainly nothing here that a man could object to. Shouldn’t a man lead his family spiritually? Shouldn’t he provide for his family? Shouldn’t he love his wife? Well, then, what’s the problem?
What do you mean, these responsibilities don’t have to be limited only to husbands?
Oh. Hold on. We need to get something clear here.
You can’t shift these categories around. The umbrellas are impermeable when it comes to proper roles and responsibilities. You let a woman provide for the family or exert spiritual leadership, and the next thing you know, the husband will submit to her authority on some issues, and that’s it. The umbrellas disintegrate in a fiery, bloody, toxic meltdown.
This catastrophe completely incapacitates men. They won’t read their Bibles, won’t hold a job, won’t take out the garbage, nothing.* But they probably will look at porn and run away with another woman (probably some woman who usurped her husband’s authority, destroyed her home, and is now going to destroy yours). Why would you even want to mess with that?
No, this is the Natural Order of the Family. It looks great and worked really well in Victorian times, assuming you happened to be white and middle- to upper-class.
Just go with it.
It’s the Natural Order of the Family.
*Very recently, I read an admonition written by a man to younger women, advising them on how to find good answers to their questions. He explained that they were, first of all, to read their Bibles. Then they were to ask their husbands any questions they had. Don’t worry if you, the wife, knew more about the Bible than your husband did; your questions would motivate him to study! But the flipside is that he won’t read his Bible at all if you bypass his authority and seek out answers on your own.
I heard this same idea very often growing up. Men in patriarchal circles are badly prone to wind down to complete nothingness if their wives aren’t there to motivate, bolster, and reassure them that they are big strong leaders.
**By the way, why doesn’t Jesus have to do anything in this umbrella system?
***Seriously, it’s like its all dependent on our own works or something.