By Jeff Klick
Parental authority, what is it? It’s a topic of much debate and discussion these days. What does it look like for me as a parent or me as a young person specifically in relationship to being part of choosing a marriage partner? It really doesn’t matter what people think or surmise, it only matters what God says regarding this subject. My theology comes from searching the scripture and deciding what I believe the Word of God is saying. It comes from a diligent search of the Word and a conviction to which I believe to be from the Holy Spirit for my life.
The Old Testament and New Testament give us different perspectives, but a lot to chew on. I believe that the Bible clearly gives examples regarding parental involvement and authority in general. It is my belief that the concept of authority is foundational to every area of my walk. When Jesus stood amazed at the centurions understanding of authority and said, “I have never seen such great faith in all Israel” Matt 8:8-10 it makes me think it takes great faith to believe and to walk out authority in any area of our life. And it is important!!.
This is not a preference, but a conviction. Understanding authority and walking it out is foundational to Christianity. This cannot be separated from our Christian thinking anymore than my skeletal system, or digestive system can be removed from my body. This is a major system of the Kingdom of God and its abuse has done great damage to the Body of Christ.
I realize that we don’t live in the days of the Old Testament, but principles regarding parents being involved can be seen throughout. There was no specific rule stated, “Dad’s the authority here…” it was just an accepted part of their culture.
In the New Testament the writers addressed authorities and it seems they take for granted that everyone already knew and understood the basic principles from the O.T. There was little reason to explain… it was a given. They just added to the already standing foundation.
I believe that this is God’s design and not my own. He set things up this way with different levels of authority as the structure. Romans13:1-5 It is His way of ruling His creation, and what He has instituted. And so we start with the clear understanding that God has established different realms of leadership and authority. Governments, families, Churches etc. Each institution is independent of each other and directly accountable to God. The head of the family answers directly to God as does the President or a Pastor. Both the Governor and a Father are answerable to God. Example: Eli as a father, and Saul as the King of Israel God has given the right of rulership to these positions. They can in one sense rule as they please, but they will one day be accountable to God for the way they handled their leadership positions. The right to rule is God given and subjection is God’s plan and purpose for those individuals who find themselves under authority.
With that as my back drop let’s look specifically at parental involvement in the lives of the people of the O..T. working my way through the N.T. I hope to see if God’s view of “ the right of rulership” fits into my life. If by chance it doesn’t, I pray that my life will change, as I know that God’s word is not wrong.
The customs and people of the days of the O.T. were definitely different than ours in America, but there are basics that don’t change. Something like a floor plan. How I paint, the carpet I choose, or the pictures and furniture may vary from yours; but the floor plan is the same and it stays the same.
Gen18:19 God chose Abraham so that He would direct and command his children and household after him to keep the ways of the Lord. I guess God wanted a strong man that would command, like in an army. It was his right to rule.
Gen19:8 Lot had 2 daughters pledged to be married. Yet he, as the father, had the right to rule his girls and to send them out to the wicked men of the city. There is no record of objection anywhere. The sons-in-law to be were not their authority yet. This definitely seems to be an abusive authority to say the least, yet the mindset appears to be taken for granted, “What Dad says goes”.
Gen16:6-9 Scripture says Sarai was an abusive authority, yet the angel of God tells Hagar to go back and submit to her master and mistress. Submission seems to be the issue not being mistreated.
Gen21:20 It was absolutely normal and part of the culture to choose your son’s wife. Parents had the power, the right to rule. Hagar took a wife for her son.
Gen24:3-4 Issac was at least 40 yrs old and he gave no objection to having his dad send his servant to choose his wife. This was normal…”you listen to your dad!” he has the right.
Gen24:50 Laban and Bethual answered for Rebekah ---Here she is, take her and go…she had no say. When her Mom and brother didn’t want her to leave they asked her to stay 10 days and they asked her what she thought….vs57, but this had nothing to do with her marrying Isaac. She had no say; she was pledged to be his wife, period! They had made the decision because they had the right.
Gen26:34 Esau choose for himself without any advice and it was a disaster all the way.
Gen28:1-2 at the age of at least 40 yrs old Jacob is commanded by his father to go to Laban and get a wife from his family. Jacob gives no objections. The word says he OBEYED his father and mother.vs7
Gen34:4-6 Shechem has violated Diana yet his father goes to Jacob and asks for her hand for his son. These people were pagans, yet they understood the right of the father as the ruler of the home.
Gen42:1-2 Jacob orders his grown sons to go to Egypt and refuses to let Benjamin go who is at least 30yrs old. It was the fathers right.
Gen48:8-11 Judah, who is maybe 15yrs older than Benjamin, has to appeal to his dad and convince him that Benjamin must go.
Exo2:21 Jethro gave Moses his daughter in marriage
Exo16:8 God says that when the people grumbled against Moses they grumbled against HIM. Wouldn’t this be true against any leadership position when God has given the right to rule? There are ways to appeal and deal with things you don’t like and to not be divisive and/or grumble.
Exo20:12 Now the law comes. Honor your Mother and Father … the 5th commandment. Written for all ages to read and never be forgotten. One of the biggy’s
Exo21:15; Deut27:16 If you attack or curse your parents you must be put to death or stoned. This was a law.
Exo22:16-17 If a man seduces a girl he must pay and marry her, EXCEPT if her father absolutely refuses to give her in marriage. Daddy had the final word and the right to rule…this was one of the laws.
Num 14:29-30 & 21:5-7 Joshua and Caleb are the only ones who didn’t grumble and rebel against Moses and God, and they are the only ones who get to enter the promised land. This speaks for it’s self regarding how God feels about speaking and acting against an authority which He has put into place and given the right to rule.
Num 16:27 God judged Korah and his whole family for leading a rebellion and gripping against Moses. The whole earth opened up and devoured him. I think God is very opposed to this method especially when he has established a specific authority.
Num 30:3 When a young woman living in her fathers household makes a vow and he doesn’t like it he can forbid it and disavow it, as could a husband. She was under submission to either dad or husband….period. This too was a written law in the Hebrew law books.
Deut 7:3 & Judges12:9 Daughters were to be given away.
Deut 2:18 If a man had a stubborn and rebellious son that would not listen to them who was a drunk and a profligate they were to stone him. Obviously he was an adult to be a drunk . This too was a law. Parents had a God given right to rule.
Judges 11:29-39 This daughter was willing to give her life rather than to dishonor her father, she could have run away.
Judges 14:1; 15:2 Samson tells his parents to get him this girl for his wife. Why didn’t he just go get her himself? Because he honored the fact that God gave parents the right to get wives?
1 Sam 17:25 The reward was the daughter. He had the right as Dad and King.
1 Sam18:17 Again the daughter is given away without any say.
1 Sam. 3:13 Eli was rejected by God because he did not restrain his adult sons. A fathers responsibility from God.
It seems very clear the way the O.T. was, the parents were to be a part of getting and giving their children in marriage. They were to rule their homes and their adult children would listen and honor their parents. God’s law repeated this in many ways. God never accepted or encouraged rebellion in any form.
Another reference to rebellion versus honoring can be seen in David’s relationship to King Saul. This is the correct way to deal with an abusive authority. He would not touch him, but let God take care of him. This took great faith and endurance.
1 Kings 2:8-9 and 2 Kings 16:5 – Shimei’s rebellion and disrespect against King David.
In the New Testament we never see stories of how the family relationships were, but it is clear that certain principles never changed. Parents still had the God-given right to ruler- ship. Fathers are still the head, children were still told to obey, and adult children are still to honor their parents.
Matthew 15:3-6, Mark 7: 8-13 – Jesus severely rebukes the Pharisees because they have let go of the command regarding honoring their parents, so that they can go with their new traditions. Just because the world says “your parents can not tell you what to do,” or “you are old enough to decide for your self,” or whatever; we as true believers should not nullify the Word of God to make room for “new thinking” which is in direct violation to the Word of God.
Romans 1:29-30 – A list of depraved deeds belonging to ungodly people is given and being disobedient to parents is included. It must have been unheard of to disregard or disobey parental involvement like a large percentage of our culture does. We think it is normal; God lists it among evil behavior.
Ephesians 5:21- 6: - Paul addresses how we should live as believers - submitting to each other. Wives, husbands, children and slaves, who else is there? There is no addressing of singles or unmarried children so, until you are married or under your parent’s release (which is the father’s call and no one else’s), you are under them. Children obey and honor your parents. It is between each family, when, where, or how, and anyone who undermines a father’s rightful, God-given responsibilities to rule, is not submitting out of reverence to Christ. This could be considered sin and encouraging a rebellion similar to Korah.
Eph. 5:22 – 24 - 22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Authorities are very clearly stated.
Eph. 6:1-2 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2"Honor your father and mother"--which is the first commandment with a promise-- 3"that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."
Philippians 2:4 - As believers we should consider others first. As a father this should help us not to be overbearing, but it does not nullify the father’s right to rule his family.
Colossians 3:18-21- Again, rules for holy living. Children are to obey and honor and fathers are told not to exasperate their children by being unreasonable, or embitter them. So if you find your self in a family, Ephesians 6 and Colossians 3 have rules for households. Regardless of how the world thinks households should be run, God has His way. Fathers are the heads and children are to obey. If the father releases at age ____ that is his choice. The Bible does not give a specific age.
2 Timothy 3:2 – Again, a list of the horrible ways that people will be in the last days. Being disobedient to parents is among them.
1 Timothy 3: 4-5, Titus 1:6 – These are lists of qualifications for being an elder. He can not have children that are disobedient. Disobedience is an issue with God. Fathers have the right to rule their homes and children should consider it their spiritual duty to obey.
Philemon 8 – Paul tells Philemon that in Christ, he could order him to do what is right. But instead he will appeal to him. There is a realm of authority that Paul has, but he chooses to exercise that authority with kindness and gentleness, appealing to him instead. Maybe fathers need to remember this in dealing with their adult children.
Hebrews 13:17 - Obey your leaders for they do give an account. Parents will give an account on how they rule their homes and children. This should put the fear of God in all of us as parents.
1 Peter 2:11-13 – We are to be aliens and strangers in the world. We are to abstain and live such good lives among the pagans that they will see our good deeds. One good deed in verse 13 is to submit for the Lord’s sake to every institution among men. This would clearly be children to parents especially when disobedience is named as a wicked, sinful desire in Romans 1:29.
1Peter 5:1 – Elders are to serve and young men are in the same way to be submissive to those who are older, and clothe themselves with humility. Young men should be submissive, not demanding boastful or proud, but humble and servants to others.
Jude 6 – Jude is describing certain godless men who have changed the grace of God into a license to sin. He compares them to Korah’s rebellion and how they also rejected authority. There are authorities and we should take care to respect those in places of authority lest we be compared to Korah.
It is clear that God has set parents in the place of authority. Rebellion and disobedience is wrong. Each family has the right to choose and rule as they seek God and do what they deem correct for their family as long as they do not violate Scripture.
As Christians it is our spiritual duty to do good to our neighbors and seek their best. We should serve each other and consider each other important. If someone is encouraging you to disobey, dishonor or be rebellious, it is obviously sin. It is comparable to Korah who encouraged grumbling and rebellion to the authority at that moment. Parents are the authority at the moment and to grumble, rebel and disobey could have disastrous results. Or to encourage someone to do these things is just as sinful.