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Bible Studies/Parent/Adult Child Relations


leslie lauger wrote at 2013-03-06 04:50:58
Hello there.  I have searched for this answer with an open heart to believe whatever the Bible teaches on this matter.   For adult single women the passage that is the strongest has to do with Miriam's rebellion against her brother Moses.   Though she appears to have been right about the issue, she was not submissive to her brother, the leader of Israel.   The LORD himself, in rarity, speaks about her punishment saying indeed she should be set without the camp for a period of time...The LORD himself there brings up the fact that her father could have corrected her very harshly and the people would have rightly stood behind him.   This is a strange passage to us.  But I do believe it establishes that a unmarried woman, even a well respected leader, is under the authority of her father.    

Also blessing followed Esther when she obeyed Mordacai.  He told her not to reveal her heritage.  What a command!  But God honored her and used her to save all the Jews.  The Scripture specifically says that it was with her the same as it had been when she was in her youth.   

Another point.  The Bible says "Let every man in Israel fear his mother and his father".  Practically speaking it is impossible to fear parents without obeying them.  Of course when a father or mother tell us to do something that is sin, we must obey God rather than man.

Also, instructs a fathers about letting their daughters marry or not letting them marry.   Clearly the father has the authority here.

Obedience to authority is something for all adults. Wives live their whole lives in happy obedience to their husbands.  We understand that our employer is "the boss".  We obey police officers.  An eighteen year old soldier likes to say he is an adult and he is proud of his obedience to his harsh authority.  I do believe there is afoot a dangerous falsehood that says the way to establish adulthood is to disobey something parents say.  But the truth is that the passage into adulthood is to be marked by obedience to every authority.  

If there indeed is an age when parents need to drop authority, there is a strange omission of the age in the Bible. That is worth pondering.

Some have said that men were twenty in the Old Testament when they could be accountable, and so that would be when the obeying of parents would end.   But again, the problem with that is that being an adult and being unsubmissive are not interchangeable concepts.  

One place in the Old Testament where the laws of annulling vows of women are addressed...all the categories of women are listed.  There is not the category of an unmarried woman not in her father's house. I have pondered why there is this seeming omission.  I think it is because unmarried women were of their father's house until marriage.  The Bible in an other place speaks of a woman of  bad reputation who "left the guide of her youth".

Ephesians 6 says "Children obey your parents in the LORD..."  Concerning the word "children" there is a word in the Greek which means "little ones".    That word is not used here, but instead "produced ones"--the same word used when children are told elsewhere to take care of their aged parents.  This is not a strong argument.  But if the word "little ones" had been would be easier to make the argument that adult children can be done with obedience.   

The story of the Rechabites is another strange story.  Grown men and apparently the wives they took to themselves lived a sparse lifestyle in obedience to a great grandpa.  The men obeyed him.  God says...Where is my obedience?  These people obeyed their great granddaddy.  This was exceptional..and they were rewarded, the Bible says.   I do think that once a child is married, a different household is established.  The reaching into another household to deliver a command can be something that destroys the harmony of the  young husband and wife, for what if her parents say something to the contrary of his parents.  Godly Christian families have always respected the new head of the family once a marriage has taken place. A married man should indeed leave his father and mother.  Fathers are to give their daughters in marriage.   Still the story of the Rechabites is there, and we need to heed the words of our parents if at all possible.  And I think our definition of possible might need to be carefully examinied in these cases.   

I could say more, other responsibilities call.  One thing is sure...that obedience still is a precious thing.  If we are obedient and respectful to parents who are froward and petulant, I believe God will deal with those parents.  God is always for the victim.  He is alive and powerful.  He will not leave a young man or woman obeying a parent to the adult child's emotional hurt.  The LORD will not  leave the young man or woman  there in that state one minute more than is good.  God will either teach the young person to entreat his parent and cause the heart of the parent to change, or God will do something more severe.

It should be noted that most usually these days the godly parent is simply giving command to his adult child that goes against unwise or even sinful desires of his son or daughter. So then, there is friction and rebellion in the heart of the adult young person, and so the young person seeks to loose himself from his God ordained authority.  

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Pastor Don Carpenter


I believe that every word of the Bible is God-Breathed. This blessed book is the foundation of truth for faith and practice. If you ask this volunteer a question you will receive an answer from the Bible that is based upon a litteral, normal interpretation, taking into account the grammar and culture of the time.


I have been in the ministry for almosat 20 years. During this time I served as youth pastor, assistant pastor, counselor, and Senior Pastor. Currently I serve as a Senior Pastor for an independent fundamental Baptist Church in New England.

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