Sometimes, people view marriage as an escape from painful problems with parents. Such a view is unwise for at least two reasons.
First, being married will not eradicate problems with our parents. They will continue to play a role in our lives whether we are married or not.
When we are bitter toward our parents, we continue to be adversely affected. That is because our emotional focus is on the injury (real or imagined) we have incurred from them.
The Escape from Problems, Biblically Speaking
The Bible teaches us to “leave father and mother.“ That is so that we may “cleave“ to our spouse. (Genesis 2:24) But when we are bitter, we are unable to break away from the negative emotional focus. This can bring a negative influence into the marriage. Forgiveness, not anger and withdrawal, is the way to be liberated from this kind of negative emotional focus. Couples should help each other resolve this kind of bitterness before marriage if possible.
Second, we have to learn to deal maturely with parental manipulation. There may be other wrongful influence even after marriage. Marriage will not magically change this kind of parental behavior. You can’t escape it. That is especially true when children enter the picture. The more we have learned to lovingly counter manipulation while unmarried, the easier it will be to do so in marriage. Couples should also help each other relate to their parents prior to marriage. That way, they have already established loving ways of dealing with their extended families.
Most parents want what is best for their children. This is so, even though we may disagree with them on what is “best.” Because of their legitimate concern for our well-being, and they know us so well, any objection they offer to our marriage should be seriously considered. Open discussion of the reasons for their concern demonstrates both respect and wisdom. In many cases, their concern is valid and helpful in forging successful marriages.
Some people think parental permission is not only desirable but necessary before marriage. If it isn’t given it would not be considered within God’s will. This position seems unwarranted. The passages used to argue this point are often addressed to tekna. (“Children [tekna] obey your parents…” Ephesians 6:1.) Surely, young children should obey their parents. But this passage probably is not teaching that we must obey our parents throughout our lives.
Other passages merely call for us to show honor to parents. (See Exodus 20:12.) In any event, whatever obedience may be due to parents by adult Christians it is not unconditional. It is contingent on other factors. That is true with all obedience to human authority. (Compare Romans 13:1 with Acts 5:29.)
Some atheistic or Muslim parents, for example, would never consent to a Christian marriage. Gaining the approval of parents for marriage plans is a value we should pursue. But it is not a prerequisite for marriage. A new couple will certainly benefit if they find a way to gain their parents’ approval for marriage. But there are times that is not possible.
This article comes from the book, The Myth of Romance by Dennis McCallum and Gary DeLashmutt. It is published by Bethany House Publishers. Unfortunately, this book is no longer in print. For that reason you may have a difficult time locating it. But if you’re able to find a copy of this book we recommend it.
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Filed under: Preparing for Marriage