Parents Prayer For A Married Son Facing Divorce
Bible Verses About Divorce: 22 Helpful Scriptures
I always found it interesting that one of the first things God was concerned about after creation was that we were not in life alone. In Genesis 2:18, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him.
” So in addition to creating the heavens and the earth and all the animals and finally man; God created marriage for the man and the woman. This early picture in the garden shows how much God loves and cares for us. Unfortunately, the fall of man was right around the corner in Genesis 3. Things would never be the same.
One area where we can clearly see the effects of sin is in the marriage relationship. Divorce is very common today even to people that go to church and are believing Christians.
The topic of divorce has many passages that we can look to for answers about when divorce is allowed, what happens when a spouse dies, and even what did Jesus have to say about divorce while he was here on this earth. If you are reading this article you have probably been affected by divorce either by your own personal divorce or by the divorce of someone close to you. Consider these verses…
Bible Quotes Containing Word Divorce
Deuteronomy 22:19 and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought a bad name upon a virgin of Israel. And she shall be his wife. He may not divorce her all his days.
Deuteronomy 22:29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.
Jeremiah 3:1 “If a man divorces his wife and she goes from him and becomes another man’s wife, will he return to her?
Malachi 2:16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”
Matthew 1:19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.
Mark 10:2 And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
1Corinthians 7:11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.
Matthew 5:31 It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’
Scriptures Talking About A “Certificate (or Decree) of Divorce”
Deuteronomy 24:1-3 “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her his house, and she departs his house, 2 and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife, 3 and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife,
Isaiah. 50:1 Thus says the LORD: “Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce, with which I sent her away? Or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities you were sold, and for your transgressions your mother was sent away.
Jeremiah 3:8 She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore.
Matthew 5:31 It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’
Matthew 19:7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?”
Mark 10:4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.”
Jesus Explains Why Divorce is Allowed
Matthew 19:8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
Matthew 19:9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
Verses Where The Woman is Not To Divorce Because Their Spouse is an Unbeliever
1Corinthians 7:12 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her.
1Corinthians 7:13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him.
Bible Verses Where A Wife is Freed From Marriage Because of Death
Romans 7:2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage.
1Corinthians 7:39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.
Jesus Talks About When Divorce is Adultery (The same thought repeated by 3 of the Gospel Writers)
Matthew 5:32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Mark 10:11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
Luke 16:18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.
The topic of divorce will always be a hotly debated subject. It is sad that such a large percentage of marriages will end in divorce.
Jesus clearly allows for divorce under certain conditions but it is always important to recognize that divorce was never the intention or the will of God for His people. Maybe you are reading today and considering a divorce; if this is the case I would encourage to seek wise counsel.A great place to find great Biblical advice is from the pastor from a local church that teaches the Bible accurately. Most pastors would love to listen to you and try to help you. Maybe there will be a hope of reconciliation for you and your marriage.
Divorce affects both spouses, any kids that may be involved, and even both families that are involved. My prayer for you this day is for healing for your marriage as you seek the will of God for your life.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
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Happily Married with Husband and 3 Kids, Divorce? Sage Steele opens up about the Discrimination in Journalism
So you’re a bi-racial woman, and you don’t look black enough, and you have an intensely curly hair that does not let you look white enough either. The question is how you will handle all those gazing eyes and raising queries of people. Sage Steele knows all about the hate she has received in twenty-one years of her career but still growing stronger than ever.
44 years of age, Sage is a sportscaster and the host of NBA Countdown on ESPN and ABC.
It is a hard thing for women of any race to be a part of sports broadcasting, and when you are racially diverse, there are so many obstacles you have to come across.
Sage felt the discrimination of being a bi-racial girl ever since her senior year of high school, where she was the only black kid among 1800 students.
From then onwards she knew how cruel and ugly the world we live in really is.
“I didn’t even know that I was the only black student 1,800 kids until someone told me because I didn’t look at people that way — I never have.”
Not just her childhood but Steele has faced many discrimination and hateful comments all her life, on both personal and professional level. With a white, half-Irish half-Italian mother and African-American father, Steele always had difficulties finding her true identity. She never felt she was fully accepted for being who she is.
Apart from having multi-racial parents, Sage is married to a guy who doesn’t belong to her race either. Her husband of seventeen years Jonathan Bailey is a Caucasian.
This makes people bash her at times for being a black woman marrying a white guy. Even her children don’t look they have a black-skinned mother. She was even called a nanny when she took her newborn daughter for an outing for the first time.
This incident devastated Sage even to think how judgmental people can be.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called a sellout for marrying a white man and for having kids that look white.”
Caption: Mommy at work! Sage Steele at a basketball game with her kids
Sage opens up about being a bi-racial woman in sports media and how much it affects her as a person in an interview with Huffington Post.
In the interview, she talks about how women should stand up for themselves whenever they feel that they are harassed by athletes or fellow reporters.
“I feel continuing to talk about it — I know that sounds cliché — but continuing to talk about it, that’s a big deal. If you experience it, I think you have to talk about it, as well.”
She also talks about how important it is for someone to be themselves rather than pretending to be someone else.
“I’m really sticking to it!” And I preach that [lesson] to women — being yourself and being true to who you are.”Sage Steele is a happily married woman with three beautiful kids. She got married to husband Jonathan Bailey on October 1999.
There isn’t much information regarding Jonathan, but we know that he is a stay-at-home dad who formerly was a personal trainer. She has three children, two daughters, Evan, 9, Quinn, 13 and a son Nicholas, 11, with her husband.
It's been seventeen years since she is happily married with no signs of divorce anytime soon.
Steele talks against Muslim-Ban Protest
Steele had her own two cents about the recent protests against 45th United States of America President Donald Trump's Muslim immigration ban.
When massive crowds protested against the action in major airports around the country, Steele had the unfortunate incident on getting caught in the protest in LAX, when she missed her flight due to the delays caused by the crowd.
She later on went on to vent about this on INstagram where she posted this image with the following caption
This comment was heavily criticized by multiple people, including fellow journalists. Clearly, Sage isn't a person without any faults.
@sagesteele hey Sage..w/ all due respect..what types of protest do you prefer? The 'disruption' is the point of protest.
— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) January 30, 2017
I understand the inconvenience of missing a flight etc, but why people are protesting -for inhumane regulations- is much bigger than that. https://t.co/mG5ZcMXPZ6
— Julie Stewart-Binks (@JSB_TV) January 30, 2017
Sage grew up in a military family with two siblings, Chad Steele, and Courtney Steele. Her parents are Gary Steele and Mona Steele. Her father Gary is an army veteran who was the first African-American to play varsity football. In 2013, he was inducted into the Army Sports Hall of fame for his outstanding career.
Sage was recently caught up in a controversy when she shut-down the celebrity MVP from team Canada, Win Butler, after winning the NBA All-Star games while she was interviewing him for bashing America and its political situation.Graduated from Indiana University with Bachelor of Science in sports communication, Sage started her career from WSBT-TV in South Bend, Indiana as a reporter and producer. She worked for couple more television stations WISH-TV, WFTS before joining ESPN as a sportscaster.
Stay Married or Divorce? a Tougher Decision for Parents | Marriage.com
Are you coping with a difficult marriage and wondering whether you should leave? Are you afraid of the consequences for your children if you decide to divorce? You’re not alone.
It’s a decision that doesn’t touch upon the distress children go through
Staying in marriage only for the sake of the kids is a decision often made with noble intentions. Parents don’t want to disrupt their children’s lives or cause them pain. However, it’s a decision that doesn’t touch upon the emotional and psychological distress children often go through when their parents are estranged.
Children experience mixed feelings
If children are being raised in a conflicting environment or in the silence and apathy of sleepwalking through a dead marriage, divorce may open the door to a healthier, happier future for everyone in the family – especially the kids.
This is crucial – only if parents make dedicated efforts toward creating a harmonious, supportive child-centered divorce that puts the children’s emotional and psychological needs first!
Children raised in homes with parental conflict, little parental cooperation, or parental negligence end up building a poor model of how marriage can and should be lived. Happiness, harmony, mutual respect, and joy are usually nonexistent when parents are emotionally separated while still living under the same roof.
Children experience mixed feelings, often blaming themselves for the divorce and experience a lot of mental turmoil in childhood.
Why divorce can be best
I grew up with parents who chose the path of staying together for the kids. It was the more common decision for their generation. I had a very unhappy childhood and grew up to have a very unhappy marriage.
I later divorced when my son was eleven years old. That left me with a personal understanding of both sides on this topic. Obviously choosing between divorce or staying in a toxic marriage is an option no one wants to face. They both create pain and hurt.
However, my own experience, talking to numerous therapists and parenting experts as well as reading study reports, I opt-in on the side of divorce.
When handled with the real wellbeing of the children in mind, divorce can be better for the children.
It’s especially preferable to years of living in a home in which parents frequently fight, disrespect one another and children grow up engulfed by sadness, pessimism, and anger.
That’s the world I grew up in and the scars are still with me today, many decades later. Dr. Phil often says, “I’d rather come from a dysfunctional family than be in one.” I firmly believe he’s right.
Ideally, the entire family will benefit with the United family dynamics
If parents with troubled marriages exercise some discretion, put aside their marital discord and make determined efforts to re-connect, seek marriage counseling and stay together in a renewed commitment to their marriage – that would be perfect. The entire family will benefit with the United family dynamics.
Sadly that’s rarely the case.
So parents must put themselves in their children’s place to understand the impact of their unhappy marriage on the kids. And make wise choices from there.
Key questions to help you decide
Having founded the Child-Centered Divorce Network, written a book on breaking the divorce news to children and becoming a Divorce & Co-Parenting Coach, I have created several questions to help parents make the crucial ‘divorce or stay together’ decision.
- Are my children being negatively impacted by the emotional or psychological environment in our home?
- Can life be better for my children if we divorce and live in two separate homes?
- Will my spouse and I be happier and more effective as parents if we were living apart and less embroiled in our patterns, conflicts, and drama?
- What will our children say about how we parented them when they are grown, adults?
Give these questions your serious consideration.
Initiate a non-confrontational conversation with your spouse
Watch your children closely over the next few weeks to see how they are coping with life at home. Have you been aware of sadness, anger or other strong emotions that reflect their inner angst or turmoil?
Seek out the help of a professional therapist, co-parenting coach or support group for objective advice to guide you in this important decision-making process.
It’s not divorce per se that scars children. It’s how parents approach the divorce that does the damage – or supports the wellbeing of the children you love.Be sure to put your priorities in the right place when contemplating this serious decision. There are lots of helpful resources available to you locally and online. So reach out and get the support you need to choose what’s best for you and your kids.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
To the Sons and Daughters of Divorce
Few things are more traumatic than a car accident — 2,000 pounds of steel and glass bending and scraping, with no respect for the limits or boundaries of the human body inside. There’s a path of healing that every victim of a serious accident must take.
Children with divorced parents have experienced a different kind of violent, traumatic collision. And every child of divorce must wise walk a path of healing. It will, of course look different for different sons and daughters, but no one can deny that the emotional and relational bleeding needs attention, ly long after the papers are filed.
A chorus of adults with long-divorced parents will dismiss in unison: “I’m not broken, thanks very much. I’m not a project. I’m fine. It’s not even a big deal. I’m not a victim, and it certainly doesn’t deserve this much attention.” I totally get that. Depending on the day, I might say the same thing if I read my first two paragraphs.
My parents divorced when I was nine. I’m not a victim, but the break still broke me. It wounded me in ways I could not control. Years later, because I didn’t have the resources to work through things as a nine-year-old boy, certain forms of brokenness seem native and normal to me.
“The break that happens between mom and dad in divorce happens within the child.”
Divorce “attacks the self, because the self is formed within the belonging and meaning provided by the family. When it is destroyed, the threat of lost place and lost purpose becomes a reality. Without place or purpose, one becomes a lost self” (Andrew Root, Children of Divorce, 21).
More than losing myself, though, I lost the ability to relate to my heavenly Father. I certainly didn’t think that God had anything to say, or even cared, about the mangled, overturned vehicle in our living room. I’m sometimes still tempted to think that way today. But he does. He speaks.
And he cares.
Right now, we’re just focusing on what you (and I) experienced, and how you can heal. This isn’t meant to judge divorced parents, or to deter parents from getting divorced for legitimate reasons (abuse or adultery).
The point is to see how, as children of divorce, Jesus Christ is a light in dark places, a hope for the broken, confused, and lonely.
We will piece together some themes from Scripture to explain how God understands and relates to children of divorce, in ten points.
1. Everyone in a family is organically, emotionally, spiritually connected
Paul explains, “For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy” (1 Corinthians 7:14). While not the main point of the text (primarily speaking about marriage between a believer and unbeliever), we can note three things:
The family is a unit — an organically connected singular entity (“because of his wife . . . because of her husband . . . as it is”).
The child’s spiritual wellbeing is interwoven with the integrity of their parents’ marital wellbeing (“made holy . . . made holy . . . they are holy”).
A broken marriage, therefore, has breaking effects on the child (“Otherwise your children would be unclean”).
2. For a child, experiencing a divorce is experiencing a violent storm
Malachi argues, “Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth” (Malachi 2:15). Ah, yes.
“What was the one God seeking? Godly offspring.” In the Hebrew, “A child of God.
” What does the child experience? The Lord enters the scene to explain what happens to a child when parents fail to guard their marriage “in the spirit”: “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless” (Malachi 2:16). There is always violence in divorce — a scary, violent, destructive storm within and all around the family.
3. Divorce does not just separate parents
“So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:6). “I know.” We use a metaphor for divorce: “It’s getting gum a rug. It can’t fully be done.” Okay. We forget that the spouses aren’t the only ones who get “separated.
” The gum metaphor certainly doesn’t capture what happens to a child of a divorce. A marriage can be separated, at least in some ways; a child cannot. A child is an irreducible unit — a singularity cannot be separated from itself. And yet, we are.
What the parents experience relationally, the child experiences internally.
4. Divorce separates you from you
So when your parents — your first example and measure of relational unity and security — were separated, you were torn in a way that a human is not built to be torn. There is no “gum” and “rug.” There’s just you.
You’re one “thing,” and now you feel you’ve been cracked in half into two things. Even if you don’t experience the emotion explicitly, you still feel and experience and respond to the tension, because the separation is real.
“We all fight through adversity, of whatever kind, so that we can fight for the weak down the road.”
Regardless of whether the divorce was justified or biblical — completely aside from any of those questions — divorce was a violence you experienced. What man “separates” in divorce happens to you, too. What happens between Mom and Dad happens in you. “There is no soundness in my flesh . . .because of the tumult of my heart” (Psalm 38:7–8). The effects are far-reaching, often more than we are immediately aware.
Depression, anxiety, addiction, anger, compulsions, and distractions are all possible effects of being torn, and very often we are not even aware that these things might be related to the “accident.”
5. Brokenness is not unrighteousness
Scripture uses many different metaphors to speak ethically, but theologians have used at least two terms that are relevant here: the “forensic” and the “renovative.” The “forensic” is legal. It’s declarative. It’s right and wrong. Scripture uses the terms “righteous” and “unrighteous” for the forensic (Acts 24:15).
The “renovative” is felt — it’s inside of you. It is helpful and hurtful. Scripture uses the terms “holy” (1 Timothy 2:8) and “broken” (Psalm 44:19; Psalm 69:20; Proverbs 29:1; Ephesians 4:22). To put it in a crass and reductionistic way, the forensic is the external evaluation, and the renovative is the internal state of affairs.
In order to heal, we need to be able to distinguish between our brokennesses.
6. You didn’t do anything wrong, but you still have to heal
Popular therapy for children of divorce will say again and again, “You didn’t do anything wrong.” That’s a forensic category. And it’s true. Your parents’ divorce is not your fault.
But, unfortunately and tragically, it still breaks you.
You are still, in a real way — in an on-the-ground, in-your-fibers sense — overwhelmed by a weight too heavy to lift and twisted in knots too complex to untie in a single counseling session.
The choice given to the child of divorce is not whether or not they should experience the brokenness of their parents’ divorce, but whether they will consciously process or unconsciously suppress the breaking. Henri Nouwen explains, “What is forgotten is unavailable, and what is unavailable cannot be healed.” wise, to intentionally face the reality of being broken is not to face defeat, but healing.
7. Marriage and divorce communicate something about God’s love
Parents represent in a priestly and prophetic way, for good or ill, Christ’s attitude toward their children (Ephesians 6:1–4). This reality happens not only in the direct relationship of parent-to-child, but in an exemplary and indirect way in the public, parent-to-parent relationship lived before the eyes of the child (Ephesians 5:25–33).
And so, in divorce, parents communicate a view of God’s love that speaks more powerfully than words. It is important to recognize, then, that there will always be a painful proverb in the back of your head that has its root in that experience. It’s not the same for everyone.
“Love doesn’t last.”
“Failure in love is always my fault.”
“I need marriage to escape my loneliness.”
“I will never get married.”
“God’s ready to leave me any moment.”
“My love isn’t enough to keep people together.”
“I’m not enough.”
All lies. But lies are powerful when they have good material to work with. Divorce is a fertile ground for lies of justified self-hatred. Children of divorce, myself included, have always searched too hard for love.
the song goes, “I fall in love too easily; I fall in love too fast; I fall in love too terribly hard for love to ever last.
” We are searching for a sense of home, a way to convince ourselves the lies in our abandonment and loneliness won’t have the last word.
8. God has a special affection for you
What do we see in the texts we’ve looked at so far? A condemnation of the divorced? No. It’s not even about that. What do we see? God’s caring hand for the child. For you. Even if you’re an adult.
These texts are God speaking, and naming violence that you’ve experienced. Malachi 2:15 is God saying, “You’ve been in a car accident, and you need to heal.” He says, “I’m looking after you. My eye is on you.
You are my child.”
We see God’s protective care for children of divorce. We see the structures that he has set up to care for the weak and his grief over the violence that breaking these structures does. God is the lifter of weight.He is the untier of knots. His specialty is in redeeming — in healing, restoring, and strengthening.
His forte is in trauma, and in complex pain — not always in fixing or explaining right away, but in being-with (Isaiah 43:2).
He has a singular and unique affection for you: “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him” (Psalm 103:13). That verse probably means nothing to you.
In fact, it may make God feel further away. The ‘father’ pictures in Scripture have never been anything but painful for you.
That doesn’t change the fact that God does show perfect and intimate compassion to you the way a good father should. He does.
9. God is building you to help others
Through sorrow and tragedy, God gives you an awareness of the world. A sixteen-year-old with divorced parents is, in a sense, more aware of the world around him than the same sixteen-year-old without divorced parents. We all fight through adversity, of whatever kind, so that we can fight for the weak down the road.
If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. (Proverbs 24:10–11)These verses flip suffering on its head. If we had divorced parents as a child (and faint, because it’s too much for us), it is so that we can rescue others when we’ve been made strong.
In the end (and even in the midst) of your healing path awaits a unique strength that will not only deliver you, but will allow you to carry others through the same journey, fighting the same voices, healing the same wounds, building the same faith and perseverance.
10. Reach out to others who have walked this hard path
Ernest Hemingway wrote, “The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” To put it tritely, experiencing the divorce of parents is just really, really hard. There’s no escaping that. It comes with tears. It comes with being very afraid. It comes with anger. You carry the bitter weight of having divorced parents.
“You deserve to be deeply loved, and you are deeply loved by God. He will carry and keep you.”
I don’t presume to know your situation, what your parents are , or what your family has gone through. All I know is that it must be extremely painful, and that God knows your pain. By his grace, it will not destroy you, but make you stronger (Isaiah 42:3–5).
Paul realized that he went through an affliction “so that [he] may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction” (2 Corinthians 1:4). He is a man who once “despaired of life itself” who now “[does] not lose heart” (2 Corinthians 4:1).
He learned to be strong because he was weak (2 Corinthians 12:9), and God is still using him to comfort Christians in chronic and excruciating pain all over the world.
I don’t think I have found more help in my own journey of healing than in seeking help from others who have walked the same paths — who have had to do the hard work of finding Christ through the weeds of having divorced parents. Look for other sons and daughters — of God, and of divorced parents — and walk with them.
You are not pathetic. You are not alone. You deserve to be deeply loved, and you are deeply loved by God. He will carry and keep you.
Changing Allegiance From Parents To Spouse
In Genesis 2:24 we read, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” This principle is repeated in Ephesians 5:31.
God’s pattern for marriage involves the “leaving” of parents and the “cleaving” to one’s mate. Marriage involves changing allegiance from parents to spouse.
Before marriage, one’s allegiance is to one’s parents, but after marriage allegiance shifts to one’s mate.
Importance of Psychological Break from Parents
It is what the psychologists call “cutting the psychological apron strings.” No longer does the individual lean on his parents, but rather on his mate. If there is a conflict of interest between a man’s wife and his mother, the husband is to stand with his wife.
This does not mean that the mother is to be treated unkindly. That is the second principle, which we will deal with shortly. The principle of separating from parents is, however, extremely important.
No couple will reach their full potential in marriage without this psychological break from parents.What does this principle mean in the practical realm? I believe that it suggests separate living arrangements for the newly married couple. While living with parents, the couple cannot develop independence as readily as when living alone. The dependency on parents is enhanced as long as they live with parents.
Living in a meager apartment with the freedom to develop their own lifestyle under God is better than luxurious living in the shadow of parents. Parents should encourage such independence, and the ability to provide such living accommodations should be a factor in setting the wedding date.
Making Spouse Happy Should Take Precedence
The principle of “leaving” parents is also important in decision making. Your parents may have suggestions about many aspects of your married life.
Each suggestion should be taken seriously, but, in the final analysis, you must make your own decision. You should no longer make decisions on the basis of what would make parents happy but on the basis of what would make your partner happy.
Under God, you are a new unit, brought together by His Spirit to live for each other (Philippians 2:3-4).
This means that the time may come when a husband must sit down with his mother and say,
“Mom, you know that I love you very much, but you also know that I am now married. I cannot break up my marriage in order to do what you desire. I love you, and I want to help you, but I must do what I believe is right for my wife and me.
It is my hope you will understand because I want to continue the warm relationship that we have had through the years. But if you do not understand, then that is a problem you must work through. I must give myself to the building of my marriage.
Importance of Changing Allegiance From Parents to Spouse
…The principle of separation from parents also has implications when conflict arises in marriage. A young wife who has always leaned heavily on her mother will have a tendency to “run to mother” when problems arise in the marriage. The next day her husband recognizes that he was wrong, asks forgiveness, and harmony is restored.
The daughter fails to tell her mother this. The next time a conflict arises she again confides in Mom. This becomes a pattern, and before long, her mother has a bitter attitude toward the son-in-law and is encouraging the daughter to separate from him.
The daughter has been very unfair to her husband and has failed to follow the principle of “leaving” parents.
If you have conflicts in your marriage (and most of us do), seek to solve them by direct confrontation with your mate. Conflict should be a stepping-stone to growth.If you find that you need outside help, then go to your pastor or a Christian marriage counselor. They are trained and equipped by God to give practical help. They can be objective and give biblical guidelines.
Parents find it almost impossible to be objective.
Honor Parents, but Not Above Spouse
The second principle relating to our relationship with parents is found in Exodus 20:12 and is one of the Ten Commandments: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” It is repeated in Deuteronomy 5:16 and Ephesians 6:2.
The command to honor our parents has never been rescinded. As long as they live, it is right to honor them. In Ephesians 6:1, Paul says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Obedience to parents is the guideline from birth to marriage.
Paul’s second statement is, “Honor your father and mother—which is the first commandment with a promise—that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth” (vs. 2-3). Honor to parents is the guideline from birth to death.
Honor was the original command and stands forever.
The word honor means “to show respect.” It involves treating one with kindness and dignity. It is true that not all parents live respectable lives. Their actions may not be worthy of honor, but because they are made in the image of God, they are worthy of honor.
You can respect them for their humanity and for their position as your parents, even when you cannot respect their actions. It is always right to honor your parents and those of your marriage partner.
“Leaving” parents for the purpose of marriage does not erase the responsibility to honor them.
How is this Honor Expressed in Daily Life?
You honor them in such practical actions as visiting, telephoning, and writing, whereby you communicate to them that you still love them and want to share life with them. “Leaving” must never be interpreted as “deserting.” Regular contact is essential to honoring parents. Failure to communicate with parents is saying, in effect, “I no longer care.”
A further word is necessary regarding communication with parents. Equal treatment of both sets of parents must be maintained. Remember, “For God does not show favoritism” (Romans 2:11). We must follow His example.In practice, this means that our letters, telephone calls, and visits must indicate our commitment to the principle of equality. If one set of parents is phoned once a month, then the other set should be phoned once a month.
If one receives a letter once a week, then the other should receive the same. The couple should also seek to be equitable in visits, dinners, and vacations.
Holidays Can Get Complicated
Perhaps the stickiest situations arise around holidays —Thanksgiving and Christmas. The wife’s mother wants them home for Christmas Eve. The husband’s mother wants them home for Christmas dinner.
That may be possible if they live in the same town, but when they are five hundred miles apart, it becomes impossible. The solution must be the principle of equality.
This may mean Christmas with one set of parents one year and with the other the following year.
To “honor” implies also that we speak kindly with parents and in-laws. Paul admonishes: “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were father” (1 Timothy 5:1). We are to be understanding and sympathetic. Certainly we are to speak the truth, but it must always be in love (Ephesians 4:15).
The command of Ephesians 4:31-32 must be taken seriously in our relationship with parents: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
A further implication of honor to parents is described in 1 Timothy 5:4: “But if a widow has children and grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.”
When we were young, our parents met our physical needs. As they grow older, we may have to do the same for them. If and when the need arises, we must bear the responsibility of caring for the physical needs of our parents. To fail in this responsibility is to deny our faith in Christ (1 Timothy 5:8). By our actions, we must show our faith in Christ and honor for our parents.
If I could make some other practical suggestions, I would advise you to accept your in-laws as they are. Do not feel that it is your task to change them.
If they are not Christians, certainly you will want to pray for them and look for opportunities to present Christ, but do not try to fit them into your mold.You are expecting them to give you independence to develop your own marriage. Give them the same.
Do not criticize your in-laws to your mate. The responsibility of your mate is to honor his parents. When you criticize them, you make it more difficult for him to follow this pattern. When your mate criticizes the weaknesses of his parents, you should point out their strengths. Accentuate their positive qualities and encourage honor.
The Bible Gives Examples
The Bible gives some beautiful examples of wholesome relationships between individuals and their in-laws.
Moses had such a wholesome relationship with Jethro, his father-in-law, that, when he informed him of God’s call to leave Midian and lead the Israelites Egypt, Jethro said, “Go, and I wish you well” (Exodus 4:18). Later on, after the success of Moses’ venture, his father-in-law came to see him.
“So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. They greeted each other and then went into the tent” (Exodus 18:7). It was on this visit that Jethro gave Moses the advice that we discussed earlier. His openness to his father-in-law’s suggestion shows something of the nature of their relationship.
Ruth and Naomi serve as an example of the devotion of a daughter-in-law to her mother-in-law after the death of both husbands. Jesus directed one of His miracles to the mother-in-law of Peter, and she in turn ministered to Jesus (Matthew 8:14-15).
Freedom and harmony are the biblical ideals for in-law relationships. The train of God’s will for marriage must run on the parallel tracks of separation from parents and devotion to parents.
This article comes from the book, Toward a Growing Marriage, written by Dr Gary Chapman, which was published by Moody Press (unfortunately, it is no longer being published).
: cleave to spouse, cleaving, leave and cleave