An in-depth look at the role of leadership and authority meant for pastors and elders, and the issue of adults honoring and obeying their parents. This article will release thousands from the fear of man and the bondage of religion.
Who is the head of your family?
A divorced mother expects her 30-year-old son to submit to her opinion as to whom he will marry and when. She claims that it is her God-given role to be the head over her son until death do them part. A woman submits to the meddling of her mother-in-law because she has been taught that she is to subject herself to her husband’s parents. A family feels it is God’s will for them to homeschool their children, but their pastor demands that they send their children to the church school. He warns them that they will be in rebellion to God if they do not submit to his pastoral authority. A family motivated by the conviction that they should honor their father and mother grieves as they watch their children suffer from the permissive influence of grandparents. But, they dare not take steps to protect their children, for they are supposed to honor their parents, aren’t they?
And the list could go on and on! To compound the problem, in recent years there has arisen a twisted doctrine advocating that the family be constructed around a patriarchal head. This modern heresy has sanctioned the depraved human tendency to dominate by allowing potentates to pose as patriarchs. In addition, for the many who blindly submit, this practice has satisfied the common human weakness of commuting one’s responsibility. Some are giving up rights they have no right to forfeit, and others are taking to themselves powers that no man has a right to wield. For many families, this has become a great source of friction.
It is all about a grab for authority or a willingness to abdicate one’s unalienable responsibility. Something is out of whack, and for too long now it has been fostered on the church as Bible doctrine. Families are stumbling, and children are being hurt.
Every week we receive several letters or emails that have to do with this subject. We have answered many letters personally, but, until now, we have deferred going public. Of late, the sheer volume of correspondence on this issue, and the fact that it is destroying families, has forced us to address this subject candidly.
I write and publish this with great reluctance. I do not doubt that the things I say are the truth, but they cut so deep that I recognize my unworthiness to deliver the message. Yet, I must be faithful. The pervasive stench of religion, on the one hand, and the glory of our liberty in Christ, on the other, demand that we address this issue head on. This message will release thousands from the fear of men and from the bondage of religion.
We love our Church, but something has come up that we feel is threatening our home. Our Pastor started this youth choir for the young teens. They get together and practice, and then they travel with the older teens to sing in other Churches. We are not comfortable with our young daughter leaving home so much, especially traveling and staying in motels with much older boys and girls and with other adults. Our Pastor feels he is in the line of authority and that my wife and I should submit. If we don’t, we are in rebellion and will be treated as such. We want to do what is right.
Dear Brother Pearl,
Our Church has a school, and our Pastor has made it clear he expects all members of the Church to send their children to the Church school. As we learned about homeschooling, we felt more and more that God was calling us to train our children at home. We talked with the children, showed them the literature on it, and they were all for it. When our Pastor heard we were considering this, he called us in and told us that he would consider our decision rebellion against the Church and God. I believe that parents have the God-given authority and responsibility for training their children. Given our Church’s position, how can I do this and not be rebelling against authority?
Your pastor is deceived and so are you. You have allowed your family to be placed under bondage. Dictators are made by the people that submit to them. You share the blame. Your preacher will have to answer to God for usurping authority that belongs to God only, and you will have to answer to God for the evil consequences that come upon your wife and children as a result of yielding your conscience to another human being.
This is nothing new. Twenty-six hundred years ago the prophet Jeremiah wrote: “The prophets prophesy falsely, [Which is what these preachers are doing when they claim to hold authority to direct your personal affairs.] and the priests bear rule by their means; [They bear rule by no authority higher than their powers of persuasion.] and my people love to have it so: [Church members like to have a strong man tell them what to do so they don’t have to think and pray. It provides a false sense of spiritual security.] and what will ye do in the end thereof?”- Jeremiah 5:31. The end thereof was sin and servitude.
You have no right to convey your authority as head of your home to your pastor or to an angel from heaven. God placed the husband as head of the home, not the pastor.
The church in Corinth was allowing itself to be led astray in matters of doctrine, and Paul told them, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong”- 1Corinthians 16:13.“Quit you like men” means, conduct yourselves as men should—act like men. He was telling them to stand up to this false doctrine in a manner as is worthy of men. When I look across the churches of America, I must ask, “Where are the men?” If families are not run by the children, they are run by the wives. If not by the wives, then by the preachers. “As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.” – Isaiah. 3:12. Fathers have abandoned the “path” God laid out for the family.
Where are the men?
We will examine all the verses that are offered in support of the doctrine of pastoral dominance. The Scriptural information on pastors is very limited. The word pastor is found in the New Testament (KJV) only one time (Ephesians 4:11), and there is no mention of pastors having any authority to rule or command the church. His function is that of a teacher of the Word of God.
Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
The pastor is a teacher of the word of God. His job description is given in verses 12-16. He teaches and edifies the body of Christ, guiding it to minister to itself until it grows up. Verse 15 clearly identifies the head of the church as Christ, not the pastor.
Local churches were ruled by elders, sometimes called bishops. The word, “rule” is used in reference to elders in just two passages. It is not used in reference to bishops.
1Tim 5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.
The elders rule the church in a manner prescribed by Scripture (teaching Bible doctrine) Their rule is not autonomous.
Heb 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation
9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. [They obey in regard to the word of God spoken]
17 Obey them that have the rule over you, [verse 7—the one who led them to Christ] and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
24 Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you.
Again, the elders rule by speaking the word of God and by living an example of faith that others can follow. In verse 17, their rule is described as watching for the souls of those to whom they minister. They watch by guarding against strange doctrine that would damage the souls of those in their care.
There is nothing that indicates that a minister has the authority to meddle in the personal life of anyone. There is not one example anywhere in Scripture that a minister ever told anyone who to marry, where to live, how to school their children, what job they should hold, or any other matter beyond sound Bible doctrine. That is it for the word, “rule.” There are no other verses to examine.
“Obey” is used in reference to an elder just one time, and it is found in the second of our two passages (reviewed above) containing the word, “ rule” in reference to elders.
Heb 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
We have already discussed the context of this verse above. Christians are to obey elders in regard to the word spoken unto them and follow their faith, not being carried about with divers and strange doctrines. No further obedience is ever demanded.
The command to submit to elders is found just one time (in the passage above), and the context remains that of submitting to Bible doctrine.
Many Christians think that they should heed anyone who happens to be at the religious helm. Jesus predicted that the church would become corrupted and that there would be many false teachers. Jesus’ greatest enemies were religious leaders and their doctrines. The first three gospels are a running account of Jesus in contest with structured religion. It was religion that crucified him, and it will be religion that produces Antichrist. Man is a religious animal, and history reveals that religious ritual and tradition triumph over revealed truth and common sense in every century. So it is today.
Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. [He is speaking of prophets, not just Christians in general.]
Mark 13:22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. [Those who claim to represent Christ will include a number of deceivers.]
The old covenant was marked by false shepherds.
Isaiah 9:15 The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail.
16 For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.
17 Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly.
In the passage above, the leaders of the people caused them to err, which resulted in the destruction of those who blindly followed.
Even more horrendous, when the people followed false teachers, it resulted in God rejecting their young men, orphans, and widows.
Even the apostolic church was plagued with false teachers.
2Peter 2:1-3 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways ; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you:
2Cor 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
There is no escaping the presence of false teachers and prophets. I don’t say this so you will dismiss all teachers, for I too am a pastor/teacher/elder. But we should all be as the Berean Christians, for when the Apostle Paul himself preached to them, they “searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so”- Acts 17:11
The Scripture was their final authority, not the apostle.
No preacher worth his chicken dinner would be less than thrilled to have his congregation going home after hearing his sermons to check everything he said with the Word of God. Any minister who shows reluctance to being questioned is not to be trusted. The Word of God ALONE is our final authority in all matters of faith and practice.
What should be our response to ministers who misuse their gifts and offices? We are given a good example in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. He speaks of false brethren who sneak into the congregation and preach a doctrine that denies Christian liberty.
Gal 2:4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:
So how did Paul deal with this false teaching that would bring the Christians into bondage? He did not yield for even an hour.
5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
These teachers, preaching false doctrine, must have claimed to be men of special gifts, for Paul makes a point of stating how unimpressed he was. He shows no sympathy, and even disdain for their reputations.
6 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me God accepteth no man’s person:for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:
When the apostle Peter came to Antioch and conducted himself in a way that was misleading to the Christians, Paul rebuked him publicly. Peter’s celebrated position in the early church did not place him beyond the reach of public rebuke when he failed to act according to the truth of the gospel.
11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
This was not just an isolated event, for Paul writes to a young preacher named Timothy and tells him to publicly rebuke any elder that sins.
1Timothy 5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. [The elder rules through the word]
18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. [The preacher’s study of the word is compared to an ox treading out the corn.] And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.
19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.
20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
The authority of a minister does not extend beyond his allegiance to the truth. He is honored only as he honors the truth. If he publicly sins, he is to be publicly rebuked.
1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
He connects the spirits with false prophets. The passage assumes that there is a spirit behind the prophet, and that one should examine the spirit that motivates a minister. I draw your attention to the fact that ministers were not to be taken on their claim or their credentials. Any minister is suspect. Every prophet should be examined as to the spirit and the accuracy of what he says. If he has the wrong spirit, or if his message is false, the Christian has a duty to dismiss him. When a prophet speaks, others should be judging the content for accuracy (1Corinthinas 14:29).
History, both secular and religious, is the sad and sordid drama of men seeking to dominate and control others. Every local church has its stories of fights and struggles for control and power. It is an unending conflict. If a church has a few precious months when there is complete harmony, it is treasured by those who experience it.
Many ministers are sincere, desiring for Jesus to be the shepherd of his sheep. They would love to give themselves to nothing but the study and ministry of the Word, allowing other elders or deacons or mature men to tend to all the other affairs of the church.
There are always people who are uncomfortable when someone else is in a place of authority. They are self-appointed analysts, seeking out imperfections and talking about them. If they can, they will keep a congregation on the edge of splitting.
Their vital part in the conflict gives meaning to their otherwise insignificant lives. Every local church has them. Sometimes they lie dormant, waiting until the time is ripe, but when they see a crack in the minister’s armor, they slink out of retirement and begin to gather and “share” information.
Circumstances like these tempt a minister to use his office to tighten up on the congregation. He is in an excellent position to dominate, and it is a great temptation to become autocratic (with the best of intentions) to save the church from heresy, immodesty, monetary abuse, selfish controllers, and any number of genuine threats to the body of Christ. Fear of division and strife are what motivates him at first, but then there are the lower motives: fear of financial loss, fear of losing his job, fear of rejection and failure. He begins to lord it over God’s heritage. The tighter he squeezes, the more things slip beyond his control. It eventually degenerates to a battle for self-survival. Once he crosses the unseen line and makes himself the head of the church, there is nothing to stop him from drifting further and further into making his own rules. He no longer resembles a true minister of the gospel, and the church becomes a corporation with a desperate C.E.O. at the top. This is not the exception. Sadly, it is the rule.
I take no pleasure in saying these things. I feel like a juryman sitting in judgment of a battle-scarred soldier who made a mistake on the battlefield. Pastoring is a tough job. It places mortals on pedestals and grants them powers meant only for God. It is a wonder that any ministers of modern churches ever avoid all the pitfalls. James said, “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body”- James 3:1-2. It is a warning to not seek a place of authority, for it is a difficult horse to ride. For that reason, Paul told Timothy in regard to choosing bishops: “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil”- 1Timothy 3:6.
The disciples manifested this human frailty to dominate. Two of them got together and decided to ask for the highest positions—above the other ten.
Mark 10:6 And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you?
37 They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.
42 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.
43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.
45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
The same word translated “exercise authority,” above, is found in 1Peter 5:3 translated as “being lords over.” In Matthew 20:25 it is translates as “exercise dominion over.” No such word is used in reference to the ruling of elders. In the passage above, Jesus told the disciples that the church was not going to be like human institutions and corporations. There will not be anyone at the top exercising authority, dominion, or lordship over the others. The top is the bottom. One rules by serving others; he doesn’t serve by ruling. His message is: don’t seek a high seat of power; seek a low place of service. This balance is virtually unknown in today’s church.
In the following passage Peter tells the elders to do what elders do: feed the flock—preach the Word.
He warns them that while they are teaching the Word, they should not lord it over God’s heritage, but rule by example.
1Peter 4:1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
The following passages are the clincher. These are the only places where the chain of command is given. It is very clear. Listen up! The head of the woman is her husband. The head of the husband is Christ, and the head of Christ is the Father. There is no pastor or elder in the chain of command. He rules the church by obediently preaching the word. He has no authority to rule a man’s wife or his children or the man.
1Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
2 Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.
3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ;[not an elder or pastor] and the head of the woman is the man; [not just any man—only her husband] and the head of Christ is God.
Ephesians 5:21Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. [No one in the church is expected to be “above submitting.”]
22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, [Not to a pastor, elder, or bishop.] as unto the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: [No one or group of men are the “head” of the church.] and he is the saviour of the body. [ No one measures up to being the “saviour” of the body of Christ, the Church.]
24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. [Scripture sure keeps the chain of command working well, all under Christ!]
What is their ministry? There is a perfect example in Acts 15. It has all the ingredients. There was a big dispute over what constituted salvation for Gentiles. When the issue came to a head, the apostles and elders came together with the whole congregation to decide on church doctrine regarding the salvation of Gentiles. Read the chapter and note that the decision reached by the elders and apostles was in the presence of all the church and with their unanimous consent. The issue was finally decided when James quoted Scripture that pointed them to a correct course of action. The word of God confirmed the already-stated views of Barnabas, Peter, and Paul.
Acts 15:22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren:
23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:
25 It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
The letter was sent in the name of the apostles, elders, and brethren (the whole congregation) with the affirmation that it was by the guidance of the Holy Spirit that they spoke with one accord.
So we see that the elders functioned as teachers and led the church to have one mind on the issue. They used Scripture to persuade, and did not coerce or demand as one with sole authority. Their authority did not exceed Scripture and the guidance of the Holy Spirit as perceived by the whole congregation.
In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he says that a bishop should rule his house and have his children in subjection, but concerning the church he said a bishop should take care of the church.
1 Timothy 3:4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) [A minister takes care of the church by ministering the Word of God, not by meddling in personal affairs.]
After looking at all pertinent Scripture on the subject, it is clear that a man is the head of his family, under no one but Christ. And God has blessed the man with other men who have gifts of ministry. They guide and lead by example and teaching of the Word of God. You can thank God for teaching/preaching elders who rule by accurate Bible doctrine and mind their own business.
In recent years a doctrine of “giving up your rights” has been taken to cult-like extremes. It is the concept that one is protected from the consequences of his actions if he is under an umbrella of authority. Their surrender of conscience to authority is reminiscent of the Dark Age concept of the divine right of kings and masters.
No one has a right to convey or assign his conscience to the care of another —not children to their parents; not a wife to her husband; not a man to elders; not elders to bishops, cardinals, or popes.
A child must obey his parents, a wife obey her husband, man obey the government, and Christians obey the elders of the church, only according to the jurisdiction of each. No one, other than God, has command over the moral nature of another. A man, woman, or child will answer to God for the things done in his or her body, whether they be good or bad, irrespective of what the powers-that-be have dictated. On judgment day, no one will avoid blame by saying, “But I was under authority.”
We spoke of certain unalienable rights (duties—responsibilities) that are given by God, rights that cannot be conveyed to another; they remain the individual’s sole responsibility before God. Even your children have unalienable rights. They cannot transfer or hand over the sexual right of their bodies to their parents. Each moral agent is responsible before God to guard his own conscience. No child should allow his parents to use him sexually. A wife should not obey her husband if he wants to practice anal intercourse, or if he wants her to view pornography, or smoke pot. She should not obey him if he is subjecting the children to perversions of any kind. However, if he wants her to stay home with him on Sunday, she should obey. If he wants her to wear jewelry or bright-colored clothes or dye her hair or cut her hair, she should obey. None of these issues are moral.
God has a prior claim on everyone, even children. When Jesus was 12-years-old, we find him troubling his mother and Joseph by his prior commitment to his heavenly Father. Though he was subject to them, he gave them to understand that his Heavenly Father came first.
A young man of 18 tells how his parents wanted him to be a commercial artist. They sent him to college to prepare. In his first semester, he learned that he would be drawing from nude models in the second semester. The immorality of the school was shocking to him, and being a young man of virtue, he knew that he could not continue in that environment. When he told his father that he was giving up his art career for studies in theology at a nearby Bible Institute of no reputation, his father demanded that he stay in art school. He wanted to honor his father, but not at the cost of his own honor, so when appeal and reason failed, he announced that he was leaving the art school and going to Bible College. His Christian father, a man of high principles and old-fashioned ideals, told his son to leave home if he was going to disobey. The young man packed up his bags and left. When his father saw his success in the ministry, he forgave his son, but the son, then a minister, never doubted that he did the right thing. There was a man going about his Father’s business.
In every generation the church has its proponents of blind obedience to government. The church leaders of Germany preached duty and submission to the powers that be. That unqualified subjugation of the religious populace enabled Hitler to march young Christian men off to conquer the world and kill Jews while singing hymns of praise to God. Romans 13 is cited as mandating complete surrender to the current political powers. But Romans 13:7 qualifies the subjection and limits it to those things over which government has rightful jurisdiction. Some things we owe to God, not government, which is what Jesus had already told us in Matthew 22:21.
When it comes to taxes and civil laws that maintain the social order, we must obey the government, but when the government tries to get between God and the family, or between the parents and the children (in regard to education, impartation of culture, values, and worldview) we must obey God, not government.
Jesus disobeyed civil law when it interfered with obeying God (Matthew 11:2; 21:23-27). And, Peter and the other apostles placed God above government, as did Paul.
Acts 5:27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them,
28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.
29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
Dear Mike and Debi,
My husband and I are struggling with issues with his family. He was abused by his dad as a child, and now his brother has been charged with abusing children. His family wants to get together, but I fear for my children. My husband is undecided. He knows all those things happened, and are continuing to happen, and we could be putting our children at risk regardless of how hard we try to watch them. He wants to show honor to his dad, but does forgiveness and honor mean subjecting yourself and your children to them? Family is the ugliest thing in our life, yet we are commanded to honor and obey.
The Bible does not command adults to obey their parents, and honor has nothing to do with subjection to another. Your children come first. Personally, I would break off all contact with the old reprobate and “honor” him from afar. If your husband does decide to get together, make sure the children are never out of your sight, and never allow them to sit in the “devil’s” lap. On judgment day, you won’t suffer any loss for having not trusted your children to a criminal, but you will suffer loss now and forever if, on your watch, your children are molested because you didn’t have the backbone to offend a sinner who offends children and should be cast into the sea with a concrete block tied to his head. I say that with Scriptural authority (Matthew 18:6-10).
Where are the men? Has this doctrine of authority so eroded common sense and supplanted personal responsibility that reprobate parents should be unconditionally reverenced as God?
My dad left my mother for a lady he met on the internet. My mom is not blameless in this situation, for she nagged him to death for the past ten years. My sister and I have taken some very hard looks at how we treat our husbands since all this happened. Our dilemma is in trying to honor both parents without taking sides. Both parents are trying to win our favor over the other. Also, my dad wants us to let him and his live-in lady take our children places. How can we honor him and yet say no. Are we being judgmental?
You’ve got the question backward. It is not how can you honor him and still say no. The question is: Having said no, how can you honor him?
Wise judgment is the duty of every moral agent.
A person without judgment is a conglomerate of flesh without humanity. Jesus said, “…judge ye not what is right?” - Luke 12:57. He also commanded us, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment”- John 7:24. Likewise, Paul said, “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man”- 1Cor 2:15. I would just as soon my children ride on the hood of the car as go anywhere with either one of them. Their feelings would be my last consideration. Where are the men?
I am 49-years-old and have a question in regard to obeying my father. I would like to sell my house and move from the area, but he does not feel I should, and he reminds me that if I want God’s blessing I must honor him. When am I free to make my own decision?
Eph 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
The children that were to obey their parents were still being brought up in nurture and admonition. There is no example of an adult obeying his parents. It is emotionally sick for a parent to expect his grown children to obey him.
It should be the goal of every parent to bring his children to the point of making independent wise decisions. If parents have earned the respect of their children, the grown child will want to continue to consult his parent in matters of importance, but the final decision is his.
In the time of Israel’s wandering in the wilderness, we find that a person 19-years-old and under was not considered a responsible adult, but upon turning 20 he would die for his own sins. A Jewish child was considered to be two-years-old with the commencement of his thirteenth month. In our reckoning, the nineteen-year-old would be eighteen.
Dear Mike and Debi,
How do we honor our parents and yet protect our home? We have received the teaching that we should honor our parents, and that if God made the command to do so, and you don’t, then you aren’t obeying God. Our children have been taught to respect their grandparents, but our parents do not accept our manner of life and raising of our children. They often question us in front of the kids and even go so far as to go against us. When we are in their home on visits, we feel that we are in competition for the kids’ hearts.
Sometimes self-righteous parents get all up in the air over their young children being overindulged in candy or privileges.
It is not going to hurt the kids to eat junk or experience some permissiveness several days out of the year. However, if the grandparents’ influence is weekly or even daily and is going to cause long term adverse effects in your children, you will want to correct the situation with as little pain as possible to everyone involved. Your first duty is to your children, but try to be wise and patient. When grandparents know you mean business, and you have established boundaries, and the consequences are loss of contact with the children, they will comply. In the final analysis, my children would be raised without grandparents before they would be damned by them. Again, the root of the problem is your lack of resolve and backbone. When you get kindly tough, the grandparents will most likely back down.
I am thirty-years-old. I would like to know when, if ever, is the authority of the old parents no longer in force over an adult son, especially if the mother is not in authority to her husband? Although I am not married, I have been on my own for many years, and I am well established in my career and ministry. My mother is a divorcee, so I have provided for her over the years. My dad has not been a part of my life for many years. Mother can be very spiritually manipulative. I have met a young woman whom I believe would make an excellent wife and mother to my children. She is not only a good choice, but she has my heart, and I believe I have hers. Her family is wonderful. They would be all for our marriage. My mother, on the other hand, does not like the idea. A while back, my mother did pick out a wife for me. She was sure this was the girl God had for me to marry. I was willing to talk to the girl’s parents, although I was not in any way attracted to her. As it turned out, the girl was already asked for and soon married. Do I, as a grown man, submit to my mother, or should she, a woman without a head, submit to me?
The Last Straw
No, the last straw is your backbone. You don’t deserve a wife if you allow your mother to continue to rule you. Men must be men before they marry. There is absolutely no Scripture that supports the concept of a man submitting to his mother. Where are the men?
How do we set boundaries gently while maintaining relationship and honor with our parents? My mother-in-law redecorates my home to her liking, meddles in our finances, belittles my husband, telling him he’s foolish to spend money this way and that. My other stepmother throws fits when we aren’t “fair.” Both women want 100% loyalty and subjection from us. My mother examines the kids for bruises and marks and uses the “examination” as a tool to threaten calling the DHS when things don’t go her way. Help us.
Grow up. If I had a parent or in-law that threatened to call child protection on me, I would move to a different state and not leave any forwarding address. They could report me missing, but they could never report me to the authorities. Where are the men to allow a cantankerous old battle-ax to intimidate the family? Open the door and show her the way out.
One topic we would like you to address is, “When has parental authority been taken too far?” We have friends who gave their approval of a potential spouse for one of their grown children. When the mother got into a fuss with the other mother, she called it off. We have another family in our church where the same thing happened, except the older sister, who it appears will be forever single, convinced her dad to start a series of lectures and give ultimatums to the young man who loves her little sister. The young man failed her course. Now it appears the little sister will end up an old maid too. And then the clincher is our own daughter. A young man asked for her with full blessings of his parents (mom). After months of careful courtship, his mom said she felt it was not right. The young man came to tell us what his mom felt, yet he knew she has always been rebellious and manipulative, and he was not going to let her control him as she does her husband. My husband agreed, but the poor young man agonizes over the lack of harmony at such a special time. Now his mom says he can marry in 2 years, and I suspect he will finally obey his mother.
One thing is clear in all these situations: the females in the family are all determined to dominate! When is enough-enough?
I am a 31-year-old widow with 7 children. My church has been very supportive of my family, and I would like to stay meeting there. We had recently moved and had started a new church when my husband was killed. The new church has several doctrines that we never followed. The leadership asked that I find another place to worship if I do not want to wear a scarf. My husband never believed such a thing, and I do not feel the men of the church have authority over me in such private matters. What do you think?
If my wife were left a widow with 7 children, and she had a church that was willing to give guidance and assistance, and they wore two gallon plastic pails on their heads, making that a condition of fellowship, I would hope she would go to Wal-Mart and buy 8 plastic pails.
As we said earlier, we do not have a right to commute our consciences to another, but a scarf on your head is not going to be an affront to your conscience. The church was right to tell you to make a choice. I can’t believe you would find that to be a difficult decision. And who knows what God might do if an eligible man in that church saw and respected your submission.
We included that last letter to make the point of not being petty. If a church wants you to wear black or dark blue to the service—as the Amish do—it should not be a problem with you. If the elders demand that all women wear long dresses and all men wear bow ties, on such nonessentials we are at liberty to give over our liberties.
If you have a preacher who preaches the Word of God from a King James Bible and he and his family walk in holiness, you should be able to put up with a lot of nonsense and pettiness. As much as I dislike structured religion, I would take a big spoonful of it every week to hear the Word of God expounded accurately.
It is time for men to be men, mothers to be mothers, children to be children, and ministers of the Word to tend to study and preaching. Parents must take their hands off their grown children, and grown children must assume responsibility and authority for all their actions.
It has exhausted me to write this. We have made enemies and raised a lot of questions. I trust we have provided some Biblical answers.
Matthew 23:8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.