Recently, I posted a case study about honoring parents when you are married. This idea is a common question that counselors have asked me, hence the case study.
You may want to read:
- Honoring Does Not Mean Giving a Person All They Want
- Guidelines for Making Decisions As a Couple
- Read All Forty-Eight of Rick’s Case Studies
There are redemptive and non-redemptive ways to respond to this relational challenge. Here are a few thoughts to think through about honoring your parents after you are married.
You Must Unify
The first thing that I would recommend is for the married couple to talk about what is going on between them and the parents. The goal is to make sure the couple is on the same page before they engage the parents in question.
It is essential to have unity in the marriage before addressing any challenging topic outside the marriage because if the issue proves to be divisive, the first ones to divide may be the couple.
God gave the law because of our sinfulness. If there were no sin, this would not be an issue. But because there is a sin, God laid down some instructions on how to live with fallen people.
In the beginning, God spoke about “leaving and cleaving.” You got a hint about this “pre-sin” concept in Matthew 19 when Jesus spoke on divorce. The Lord gave the law for divorce because of hard hearts.
There is a stronger case for leaving and cleaving than stretching honor to mean you must always obey your parents regardless of how it impacts your marriage. A married couple is more subject to one another than their parents. There are many Scriptures about the couple’s priority to one another, e.g., Ephesians 5:22ff; 1 Peter 3:1-7.
Ephesians 6:1 is generally understood to mean minors or young children in the home. The logic of the text points to that. To interpret it otherwise would run into conflicting and contradicting passages, and our hermeneutic of non-contradiction wouldn’t allow for that.
What Does Honor Mean?
To honor is a good thing. But you must define what it means. If a mother were demanding time with the daughter by manipulating her, the best way for the daughter to honor her mother would be to walk her through her non-biblical thinking. It would be better for her husband to lead this conversation.
What greater honor can you bestow on her than to help her think biblically. Christians must outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12:10), and you would not be honoring her if you didn’t attempt to discuss her unbiblical thinking with her.
I realize that you may not be able to help her because of her pride, but my point is that honoring sometimes requires that you admonish a sinful person.
In some situations, if the parents persist in pressuring the children to do more than what the Bible expects, you would seek to get the local church involved. It is a wise and humble person who wants others to speak into their lives. If the parents don’t want it, make sure you have wise counsel, so the parents don’t divide you.
Be Redemptive First
Before you distance yourself from the parents, make sure you exhaust all possibilities to be redemptive in their lives. God does “turn folks over” to their ignorant and proud thinking, but He is foremost a redemptive Lord.
You want to emulate God this way (Ephesians 5:1). Be sure to keep your conscience clear by doing all that you can to be at peace with the parents. It could be that distance is the only thing you can do, but that must not be your first call to action.
Call to Action
- Are you and your spouse able to talk about parent issues humbly and with wisdom? If not, why not?
- Are you afraid to speak to the parents about your concerns? If so, what needs to change?
- What would honoring look like with the parents? Does the Bible support your ideas?
- Do you have any bitterness or other forms of anger toward these parents?
- What specific ways will you pray for and be redemptive toward them?