It wasn’t my plan to post this on Father’s day; I wrote it last Sunday and then decided to sit on it for a few days to review it before posting. But here we are so I want to say, I praise the Lord and thank Him for my Dad. I’m so blessed in the Lord’s choice for me.
“What if my Dad tells me to build a nuclear bomb and blow up the Empire State building?” (Wherever that is…)
Thanks to listening to a few preachers I was well prepared for that question. I was teaching some kids about obeying their parents, and of course one of them asked, ‘what if my parents tell me to do something wrong?’
I immediately asked them how many times that had happened?
Never as it turns out.
Now of course if your parents tell you to directly disobey the Bible you can’t do that. But what about growing up, when can you stop obeying them?
We know honouring parents is a life long requirement, but there is obviously a point when we can stop obeying them. You’re (hopefully) not going to get to eighty five and still be asking for permission to stay out late.
While the point is obvious, the exact time when it happens is controversial.
I know my answer will be too liberal for some and too legalistic for others. So I’ll say, it doesn’t seem the Bible gives a totally direct answer on this. We have to rely on principles a little bit, which means your mileage may vary.
There is plenty here I’m not certain about, so let’s get a conversation going.
Age Is Irrelevant
Age has, mostly, nothing to do with it.
Admittedly a three year old, is never going to be mature enough to self govern. However maturity is not just granted at a given age, like 18.
In different cultures we see people being considered adult at 12, 13, 18, 21, and in much of the western world, 35 if ever.
It’s well documented how our societies have invented adolescence (a time with no adult responsibility and lots of adulty privileges), and pushed that time later and later. When our grandparents were getting married at 19 and 21, we’re getting married at 27 and 29 and wondering if we’re even ready then.
For example, teenage pregnancy is a very bad word now, when clearly there’s nothing wrong with it.
Maturity is not tied to age. It might be rare to find an 18 year old who is ready to be married and be a parent but that doesn’t make it wrong.
Not My House
I’m not sure I can point to any Scripture for this, but if you’re in your parents’ home, you’re under your parents’ authority. Yeah, you can be paying your way or earning your keep, but their house is still their domain.
I’m 25. I earn my keep. But living in my parent’s house I obey them. The way it plays out is far different than it did when I was twelve; I’m blessed with parents who have outstanding reason and common sense.
Dad says we live by the golden rule… he who has the gold makes the rules. There is a certain authority that comes from ownership.
Guys And Girls
Is the point of independence different for boys than girls?
I’m going to get shot for this. The Bible seems to say so.
A guy is to leave his parents and to go and get a wife (Genesis 2:24). A girl is to be given away.
A girl is under her dad’s authority until she is under her husband’s. (See Numbers 30).
What does that mean if she gets to 30 or so and hasn’t married? I don’t know. Under his protection? Probably. Under his authority? Maybe not. But can you have protection without authority? Err, yikes!
Some answers look like they’re left blank.
Now for a guy, he has more freedom to go out and be autonomous.
I hear some people make the case that the patriarchs were often in charge of multiple generations, but I think that is overridden by the command to leave your parents and cleave to your wife.
It would be wrong for me to marry a girl without her father’s permission. On the other hand it could be okay to marry a girl without my father’s permission (not that I could see that situation ever arising for me personally).
Marriage is a point where you do not have to obey your parents any more.
Paul and Elijah never got married, and yet there was a point when they were no longer under their parents’ authority. Jesus was totally obeying His earthly parents at twelve, but not at 30.
You could have your parents’ blessing to leave home and set yourself up. If so that would be a point when you’re out of their authority.
But what if you want to leave home, and they don’t want you to?
That’s a hard one. At this stage I think I could leave even if my folks didn’t want me to. They’re unsure.
My main defence would be, the command to obey parents is to children, and I’m not a child.
Determining when you can call yourself an adult and leave is difficult, and perhaps most difficult for you to say about yourself. And again, is it different for girls?
Why Care About This?
The point of this post is not to encourage you to take more liberties. It’s to encourage you to be more deliberate in your obedience and your decisions.
I’m not looking for reasons for you to go against your parents. Even in a situation when I no longer needed to obey my parents I would still take their advice and input seriously. If they were giving me counsel I would have to have well considered reasons to go against it. It wouldn’t be just on a whim.
In conclusion, it’s the heart that matters to God. If your desire is to please Him, and obey your parents while it’s reasonable to do so then that’s the main thing. It would be a sad situation if you had to get to the point where you had to determine to leave, contrary to your parents wishes, but in a few circumstance, I guess it could happen.
I hope and pray you all have great relationships with your parents, as I do with mine.
I left a lot of open and undecided points. Weigh in with your views…