When we were only but little children, we depended on our parents for answers to all of life’s questions. Childhood is a season of innocence. As I imagined how babies were made, I once asked my Mum for the answer; she told me they were given from heaven. That didn’t fly. I then imagined on my own they must come through the anus. Up till now I’m still trying to figure how they are really born. If you believe that, you can as well believe in the virginity of a mother of three.
Our views on every aspect of life were the views of our parents. We were simply indoctrinated. And really our parents were our small gods. We had absolute trust and confidence in whatever they told us. If anyone said something contrary, we raised objections and if we were questioned why we were so confident about our position, we simply retorted, “My mum said so.”
But things begin to change as we enter adolescence. We enter a stage of curiosity. We gradually begin to question all that we had been told one by one. Now Mum, “why is it a sin to wear trousers?” “Why should the skirt extend below the knees?” Some parents simply yelled back at their kids without really answering the question with a view to really convince. The only problem is that without convincing the kid, it’s only a matter of time, she’ll leave home and be on her own. She’ll ultimately only live out at that time the convictions of her parents that had become her personal conviction.
The stage of adulthood is a completely different ball game. A child is now really no longer a child. He’s now in the university learning under Professors and interacting with sophisticated ideas and institutions. This is when the scorecards of many Parents stare them in the face. Convictions that are shallow fall like a pack of card. As a reaction, some parents begin to put up a belated fight, commanding their children to abide by certain code of behaviour and slamming threats if those codes are violated.
The only problem is you can’t deal with an adult as you will a child. When a child enters adulthood, a parent must change approach. The approach must now be gentle, patient and diplomatic even if firm! You can’t but seek to humbly convince at this point. Commands and threats won’t work. A lot of prayers too if s/he’s obstinate. When all is done however, a parent must learn to accept the individuality of their adult children and their rights not to follow all the convictions of the parents.
Many parents never come to appreciate the need for this allowance. They say, “no matter how grown you are, you are still my child.” Some even believe after marriage, their child still ought to submit to their instructions.
Now in the choice of a life partner, the role of a parent is to guide the child prayerfully but not to impose. If after all the advice a child says this is the person I want to marry, then that ought to be respected. Anyone grown enough to be married is an adult and should be able to make a decision he’ll be responsible for. I was disturbed when some of our brethren told me their parents threatened to disown them if they married someone outside the parent’s denomination. First, Jesus won’t support your parent on that stand if that’s all the reasons for their disapproval. Our Lord Jesus is very passionate about the unity of His body. His dying plea in John 17 is that we should be one as He and the father are one. In Ephesians 4:3, the Holy Spirit pleaded with us again to endeavor (try, make every effort) to keep the unity of the body of Christ. I believe Jesus will really really be angry with anyone who keeps dividing the body of Christ by refusing to walk in love towards every believer by such sentiments.
For those in this situation or other similar situations of parental disapproval, my advice is for you to be patient. Take the matter up in prayers trusting that God will change their hearts on the matter. You should also think about reaching out to influential people in your family (whom your parent respect) who may agree with you and help convince your parents or at least get them to reconsider their stand. Elderly Pastors and Mentors can play important roles here too.
This was how the generation of our parents handled such issues. I heard stories of those who waited for 3,4,5,6 years while this whole process went on. They wanted that parental blessing by all means and it’s really great to get it. Eventually when their parents saw they were unbending in their decision to stick together, they gave their approval. Most parents will. The problem is I doubt if many in our own generation can wait that long. I doubt if I will advice anyone to wait that long for parents who will not respect the decisions of their adult children.
If this happens to me, maybe I can wait for up to two years just to demonstrate my honour for them (and I believe it’s important to demonstrate this honour) after which if they don’t bend, I’ll grab my woman and enter the next available marriage registry. We’ll send them all that is due to them as groom’s parent and continue to relate with them in honour as our parents after the wedding.
I’m sure right now in your head, you’re reciting, “Children obey your parents in the Lord…” only that you didn’t notice the word “children” and “in the Lord.” A 25 year old is not a child neither is insisting someone cannot marry another true christian on denominational ground a demand in the Lord. I just told you it violates Jesus’ position.
Indeed we must admit that many times what we cannot see climbing a tree, our parents may be able to see sitting on a stool. Whatever the case, the reason for their disapproval must not be flippantly dismissed. It must be carefully, soberly and prayerfully considered. However in the end, if despite those concerns and after you have carefully considered and prayed about them, your faith to proceed with the union remains or even increases, a wise parent ought to lovingly support you. Where they don’t, you are not bound to continue to wait for them.
But there are situations where the reason for their disapproval is not even biblical i.e it is not in the Lord. In this kind of situations, you have even a greater duty to obey the Lord at their expense (Luke 14:26, Mathew 10:37). If for instance the disapproval is based on the fact the lady is not from your tribe and not more. This is a lady that is a true Child of God and God has led you to marry. This position violates Galatians 3:26-28 NIV which reads:
“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile (there is nether Igbo nor Fulani), neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Because the position violates the word, you are not bound to follow it, you should rather follow God. If the reason for the disapproval is biblical e.g that the guy is not a true child of God or that he is totally irresponsible and lazy or that he is a baby who has not grown in Christian character, or he has a wife already – things like that- we ought to listen to our parents. The rule at all times is whether the counsel is rooted “in the Lord.”
Brother Kenneth Hagin (now of blessed memory) who is a well respected elder in the faith once shared the story of a couple…. Let me just quote him verbatim and I’m done. P. 71 of his book, “Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage.”
“I remember two RHEMA graduates. The young man was a good, successful minister. They met and decided to get married. At first her mother said that it was fine. But then her mother got hold of some erroneous teaching and said, ” No matter how old you are, you’re still supposed to obey your parents. You can marry him but you have to wait a year.”
She was in her mid twenties. She said, “Well, no, we’ve already planned everything.”
Her mother said, “Now you’re in disobedience.”
They both called me long distance, crying on the telephone. The young lady said, “What am I going to do? Do I have to obey Momma?”
I said, “you are twenty-four years old, You certainly do not have to obey your mother!”
Now that will go over big with some people who claim they believe the Bible! They don’t believe the Bible at all if that offends them. Children should be trained while they are children to obey their parents. But children should grow up and get out on their own. Parents should teach their children to make decisions on their own. Parents should teach their children to make decisions for themselves. Parents are not responsible for their grown up children.
I told this young couple to go ahead and get married. I said, “you’re not being disrespectful towards your mother. she can’t run your life and tell you what to do.”
This was a situation between two spirit-filled Christians, one of whom had been in the ministry for several years. We all prayed and were convinced that she had the same burden for ministry that he had. She had a desire to help him. I said, “You have to follow God then. I can’t help what your mother said. I encourage you to follow what you believe God has said to both of you.”
They went ahead and got married. Her parents didn’t even come to the wedding. I marched down the aisle with her. Later the mother and father said to them, “Will you forgive us? We were wrong. If we had to do it over again, we would be at your wedding.”