For better or for worse, challenging authority is commonplace among epic moments in history. At the genesis of this reality is Adam and Eve’s garden blunder that sent the world, its inhabitants and descendents into a fallen, vicious cycle of challenging authority. It’s fascinating, and frustrating at the same time, that their challenging authority created the need for man-made authority as man was now separated from God – authority itself. It was now man’s responsibility to do his best to emulate God’s authority – much like it is a child’s responsibility to emulate its parents.
When thought about from the perspective of the child and parent analogy, it becomes apparent how important origin really is, as well as authority itself. Think about it. Does a baby really know any better? Even several years after birth a child is still heavily if not completely reliant on its parents. Of course, the hope is that parents subscribe to a worthy and hopefully the right authority. In doing so, anarchy is put under the rule of orthodoxy.
Apart from right, rightly ordered and righteous authority, which is God’s authority, it isn’t inherently bad that man challenges authority. In fact, it can be very good and the very thing that moves man closer to right authority, as has been demonstrated throughout history. Just because it’s man’s responsibility to emulate God’s authority, it doesn’t mean that he is indeed succeeding in doing so. It also doesn’t mean that the baby should be thrown out with the bath water – namely, that man-made authority should be done away with altogether. If man can cause such havoc under God’s supreme authority, even man-made authority, then how much more havoc can he cause under no man-made authority at all? Do you really want to leave the definition and preservation of authority to the whim of each individual? Wouldn’t that be somewhat analogous to a child determining and defending authority?
I’ve heard it said time and time again in reaction to some tragedy… that’s just not right. If it’s not right, isn’t there some rightly ordered authority we’re yielding to? Often times, yielding to right authority isn’t even self-advantageous here on earth, or not even recognized as being righteous. If we’re indeed yielding to some authority, then what is the origin of that authority’s authority? Man-made authority is not always perfect, but it serves a great purpose when it seeks to emulate God’s authority. Man-made authority ought to be man’s best attempt to balance the complex realities of the world in a righteous manner, to the best of his fallen ability.
*Origin of Discursion: Seeing a photograph of Anarchists at the G-20 Summit in the Wall Street Journal.