From Jim O'Brien
July 29, 2016

Hi Friend,

Matrix of Authority

Every human being goes through a learning process to figure out who to obey. Who is the authority figure in my life? The first person is mom since she typically takes care of needs. The biologic message is I provide everything you need for life so you must learn to obey me.

Then life adds a complication when a second layer of authority-dad-is introduced. One of the first structural concepts a child must learn is that there are layers of authority. Since dad's authority is not biologic it was necessary for God to instruct man that the husband is the head of the family. It's a lot for a little mind to comprehend while he is also trying to decipher sounds to learn language, recognize human inflections to understand emotion, focus eyes to identify forms-and now must struggle with reasoning where Dad fits in the picture.

Still, it's an essential part of the process. Eliminating dad from the picture means the loss of a necessary layer in the matrix of authority. Kids that miss it are at a disadvantage from which some never recover.

Watching riots occur around the nation one wonders if we are witnessing the biologic consequence of children growing up without a father in the house. Anarchy against law enforcement is created by people without respect for the structure of a civilized culture. The learning begins in the family but the job isn't complete, maybe for a lifetime.

It's interesting that President Obama has vacillated about the cause of the chaos occurring in our nation even while cities are being destroyed. He appears to side with the anarchists rather than the police. He is like a child supporting a sibling throwing a temper tantrum rather than recognizing the authority of the parent. Is this a reflection of the family structure where he was raised? He seems to lack a realization that the Constitution is the governing document of the United States and that our rights come from God. But then he has also asked about the fairness of United States military superiority over an enemy like Iran.

Some weeks ago Donna and I were watching a couple of the grandchildren while mom was changing the baby. I was giving instructions to the oldest when he responded, "I have to do what mom and dad tell me but I don't have to obey you." It was said without the least bit of anger or "attitude" in his voice. So I explained, "If I tell you to do something contrary to the teachings of your mom and dad you don't have to obey me. But I am older than you. I know more than you. You might do something to cause injury and your parents expect me to supervise you. It is important that you obey me."

In all this the parent is the primary authority over a child. Not grandparents, or schools, or doctors. The rest of us are part of the support team to build the layers of authority to support parental authority.

But that wasn't the end of the lesson. The important thing for a child to learn is that "God gave man a commandment to honor his father and mother." There are two people in that equation-it wasn't enough to obey only one. It is the foundation for the layer of authority. By extension, God expects people to obey parents, grandparents, teachers and the police.

This is essential because God is the cornerstone of a civilized culture. One of the names of God is El Shaddai which refers to the bounty God supplies to man. It comes from a root word meaning "breasts". As a mother supplies life for her child so does God provide everything man needs for life. Therefore, He has absolute power.

The commandment has one other statement: "that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you." (Exodus 20:12) The Apostle Paul calls it the first commandment with promise. A long life is contingent on a human's ability to work within a structure of authority. Is it a promise for a nation as well? Can any nation continue on the land which God has given when it abandons the foundation of civil authority?

The matrix of authority begins with God, extends through father and mother and continues through those who enforce the laws of our nation. Civilized culture depends on every layer.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien