parental consent necessary for marriage?

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cultureshock

Puritan Board Freshman
In our culture, especially in Christian circles, it is usually customary for a young man to ask permission of the father of the woman he intends to marry. Is this mere custom or is it a biblical mandate? I was wondering, specifically, how the fifth commandment and Numbers 30 factor into this issue.

Furthermore, if it is shown that this custom is a biblical mandate, are there any cases in which it is right for a couple to marry against her parents' wishes?

This is something of a personal question for me, since my wife and I were married quite apart from her father's approval. We went ahead with it on the advice of my pastor, who tends to be rather dispensational. I have never quite been convinced of his reasons because of his dispensational leanings, but my conscience still sways back and forth on the issue, wondering whether we did the right thing or not.

I would appreciate any Scripturally-reasoned input on this issue.

Brian
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Hi Brian!

First of all, welcome to the Puritan Board! :welcome:

Second, I too have a personal interest in this issue because my wife and I eloped under difficult circumstances. Our experience is not one that I can discuss in a public forum, but I can say that I have researched this issue at some length (both before and after our decision) and, yes, I believe there are circumstances that warrant marriage without the father's permission. However, that ought not to be the norm. There is a Biblical responsibility that parents have to approve a marriage and a Biblical duty of a prospective couple to honor the parents. Yet, as stated in the Wesminster Directory for Public Worship: "Parents ought not to force their children to marry without their free consent, nor deny their own consent without just cause." If a parent does deny consent without just cause, the next step would be to take the problem to the church session. However, that is not always possible and our society is not geared towards handling these issues either. The Records of the Geneva Consistory show that the civil magistrate handled issues like this during Calvin's day. Martin Luther also wrote about this issue. I have accumulated quite a bit of documentation over the years which I don't have readily at hand at the moment, but I can assure you that this issue is one that has been addressed by godly minds in times past. I'll be glad to dig up some of my resources a bit later. Meanwhile, the next issue to how to go forward after the marriage with healing and reconciliation if possible, not to mention a relationship between the parent and any future children. These are very tough issues and in my own life they are not easy to answer, let alone for another. But, I hope these comments offer some encouragement at least. Best wishes.
 

cultureshock

Puritan Board Freshman
Andrew,

Thank you for your response.

In our situation, we really struggled with the issue for a year and a half before getting married. As far as I understand it, the issue between us was that her parents hold to the teachings of Bill Gothard, who promotes very strict, and I think extra-biblical, requirements before a young person is ready to be married. And, according to this man's teaching, until a young person meets those requirements, the parents should not consent. At the same time, she and I were both moving towards Reformed theology, and this caused very much tension. We waited and tried to discuss the issue of marriage with them every so often, but her father did not seem willing to relent on the Gothard stuff, and would re-assert the same ideas. I tried to respectfully disagree with him many times, but that only ever demonstrated to him, all the more, that I was a rebellious individual. So, we finally went through with it according to our pastor's counsel. What do you think, was our action justified or not? This is not to give the impression that we did everything right or as respectful as we might have; we certainly did not.

By the way, where did Luther write about this issue? I have read all of his major writings, and some minor ones, and have not yet come across it. Perhaps I missed it? I'm interested in any Reformed resources on this issue.

Also, how do 1 Corinthians 7:38 and Numbers 30:3-5 specifically apply to this issue?

Brian
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Could you elaborate on the teachings of Bill GOtherd as it relates to this topic? I do not think I have heard of the man.
 

cultureshock

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by Draught Horse
Could you elaborate on the teachings of Bill GOtherd as it relates to this topic? I do not think I have heard of the man.
Jacob, see for yourself at: http://www.billgothard.com/bill/topics/courtship/

Most of what Bill says in this link I have no quarrel with. One part that I find very strange is when he requires, under "4. Determine Marriage Readiness", "Does the young man have a clear purpose in life that his wife can support?" Now, I'm not exactly sure what Bill means here, but the way this principle was applied to my situation excluded me from marriage readiness even though I had asserted, as the next step in my post-college life, the goal of attending seminary and not being sure of what would happen after seminary. Call me crazy for not having the rest of my life planned out step-by-step (is sarcasm ok on this board?). In spite of the way it was applied to my situation, I believe the principle to be an enforcement of something that should not be enforced. What do you all think?

Gothard is really popular inter-denominationally with homeschoolers. Though his views on courtship are basically conservative and mostly good, his fundamental theology is kind of strange on topics like grace and such. You might check out more on his main page if interested (http://www.billgothard.com).

Brian
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Brian,

I can certainly relate to the harmful Gothard influence on this subject. In my case there was an extreme extra-Biblical requirement to which we could not in good conscience submit.

I can offer the following citations which may be helpful to you (not all are exactly on point perhaps to your situation but may nevertheless be profitable or encouraging):

Some Scriptures relevant to the the subject of marriage and parental consent (I'll defer to others on Num. 30):

Gen. 2.24; Gen. 24.58; Ps. 45.10; Eph. 6.4

Of primary importance, perhaps, are the Fifth and Seventh Commandments:

Westminster Larger Catechism: See Q. 123-133

See also Q. 137-139:

Question 137: Which is the seventh commandment?

Answer: The seventh commandment is, Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Question 138: What are the duties required in the seventh commandment?

Answer: The duties required in the seventh commandment are, chastity in body, mind, affections, words, and behavior; and the preservation of it in ourselves and others; watchfulness over the eyes and all the senses; temperance, keeping of chaste company, modesty in apparel; marriage by those that have not the gift of continency, conjugal love, and cohabitation; diligent labor in our callings; shunning all occasions of uncleanness, and resisting temptations thereunto.

Question 139: What are the sins forbidden in the seventh commandment?

Answer: The sins forbidden in the seventh commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, are, adultery, fornication, rape, incest, sodomy, and all unnatural lusts; all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes, and affections;all corrupt or filthy communications, or listening thereunto; wanton looks, impudent or light behavior, immodest apparel; prohibiting of lawful, and dispensing with unlawful marriages; allowing, tolerating, keeping of stews, and resorting to them; entangling vows of single life, undue delay of marriage; having more wives or husbands than one at the same time; unjust divorce, or desertion; idleness, gluttony, drunkenness, unchaste company; lascivious songs, books, pictures, dancings, stage plays; and all other provocations to, or acts of uncleanness, either in ourselves or others.
Westminster Directory for the Publick Worship of God:

Parents ought not to force their children to marry without their free consent, nor deny their own consent without just cause.
Wesminster Confession of Faith, XXIV.III:

It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry who are able with judgment to give their consent. Yet it is the duty of Christians to marry only in the Lord. And, therefore, such as profess the true reformed religion should not marry with infidels, Papists, or other idolaters: neither should such as are godly be unequally yoked, by marrying with such as are notoriously wicked in their life, or maintain damnable heresies.
Matthew Poole's Commentary re: Ps. 45.10:

'Forget also thine own people, and thy father's house'; not simply but comparatively, so far as they oppose or hinder the discharge of thy duty to thy husband; or so far as they are corrupted in doctrine, or worship, or practice. He alludes to the law of matrimony, Gen. ii.24, and to what Solomon did say, or should have said, to Pharaoh's daughter, to wean her from the idolatry and other vices of her father's house.
Poole's Commentary re: Jeremiah 35.19:

...which brings in another question, Whether parents have a power to oblige their children in matters which God hath left at liberty...2. Unquestionably parrents have not a power to determine children in all things as to which God hath left them at liberty, for then they have a power to make their children slaves, and to take away all their natural liberty. To marry or not, and to this or that person, is matter of liberty. Parents cannot in this case determine their children; Bethuel, Gen. xxiv.58, asketh Rebecca if she would go with Abraham's servant before he would send her...5. Parents being set over children, and instead of God to them, as it is their duty to advise their children to the best of their ability for their good; so it is the duty of children to receive their advise, and not to depart from it, unless they see circumstances so mistaken by their parents, or so altered by the providence of God, as they may reasonably judge their parents, had they known or forseen it, would not have so advised. But that parents have an absolute power to determine children in all things as to which God hath not forbidden them, and that children by the law of God are obliged to an obedience to all such commands, however they may see their parents mistaken, or God by his providence may have altered circumstances, I see no reason to conclude...
Poole's Commentary on I Cor. 7.36-38:

36 But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely: there is a general and a particular uncomeliness; some things are uncomely with respect to all persons; of such things the apostle doth not here speak; but of a particular uncomeliness with respect to the circumstances of particular persons. Neither doth uncomely here signify a mere indency and unhandsomeness, but such a behaviour as suiteth not the general rules of the gospel, which judgment is to be ruled by the circumstances of persons, as they more or less desire marriage. If she pass the flower of her age: if she be of marriagable years, or rather, if she beginneth to grow old, and need so require, and be desirous of marriage, so as the parent seeth reason to fear that, if he gives her not in marriage, she will so dispose of herself without asking her father's advice or leave, or be exposed, possibly, to worse temptations: which two things seem to interpret that term, if need so require. Let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry; in such a case as this a Christian parent shall not sin, if he disposeth her in marriage: let her marry to such a person as she loveth, and her parent seeth proper for her. He speaks in the plural number, because marriage is betwixt two persons. The reason of this determination is, because the apostle, in his former discourse, had no where condemned a married estate during the present distress of things, as sinful or unlawful, but only as inexpedient, or no so expedient as a single life during the present distress; he had before determined, ver. 9, that it was better to marry than to burn. Now no inexpediency of a thing can balance what is plainly sinful. If therefore the case be such, that a man or woman must marry, or sin, though marriage brings with it more care and trouble, yet it is to be preferred before plain sinning.
37 Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart; if a man be resolved to keep his daughter a virgin, not uncertain in his own mind and wavering what he should do, upon a just consideration of circumstances; having no necessity; and doth not see a necessity to dispose of her, either for avoiding some sin against God, or for the better providing for himself and the rest of his family; but hath power over his own will; but hath a perfect freedom in his own will, so that his will be not contradicted by his daughter's fondness of a married life; for in such a case the father, though he would willingly not dispose of his daughter in marriage, yet ought to be overruled by the will of the daughter, and so hath not a power over his own will, being forced by the rules of religion to take care of the soul and the spiritual welfare of his child; for though the parent hath a great power over his child, and ought to consent to the marriage of his child, yet he hath no power as to wholly hinder them from marriage. And hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin; if he be fully resolved, upon a due consideration of all circumstances, and the virgin be satisfied, and yields up herself in the case to her father's pleasure, in such a case, if the father doth not put her upon marriage, but resolves to keep her unmarried, he doth well; that is, not only he shall not sin against God, but he doth that which is more eligible, considering the present circumstances of things, and better than if he did find out a husband for her, and give her to him (as it is expounded in the next verse).
38 So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; there is no general rule for all parents in this case, where the duty or sin of parents may arise from their or their children's different circumstances. But supposing that a parent, having duly weighed all circumstances, that she can forbear; in such a case as this, if the parent disposeth her in marriage, I cannot say he sinneth, but he doth what he may do. But he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better; buth with reference to the present state of things in the church and in the world, and with reference to the young woman's liberty for the service of God, he doth better, if he doth not so dispose her. The thing is in itself indifferent, and Christians must be in it ruled and inclined one way or another from circumstances.
Calvin's Commentary on I Cor. 7.36-38:

36. But if any one thinketh that it were unseemly for his virgin. He now directs his discourse to parents, who had children under their authority. For having heard the praises of celibacy, and having heard also of the inconveniences of matrimony, they might be in doubt, whether it were at all a kind thing to involve their children in so many miseries, lest it should seem as if they were to blame for the troubles that might befall them. For the greater their attachment to their children, so much the more anxiously do they exercise fear and caution on their account.1 Paul, then, with the view of relieving them from this difficulty, teaches that it is their duty to consult their advantage, exactly as one would do for himself when at his own disposal.2 Now he still keeps up the distinction, which he has made use of all along, so as to commend celibacy, but, at the same time, to leave marriage as a matter of choice; and not simply a matter of choice, but a needful remedy for incontinency, which ought not to be denied to any one. In the first part of the statement he speaks as to the giving of daughters in marriage, and he declares that those do not sin in giving away their daughters in marriage, who are of opinion that an unmarried life is not suitable for them.
The word ajschmonei~n (to be unseemly) must be taken as referring to a special propriety, which depends on what is natural to the individual; for there is a general propriety, which philosophers make to be a part of temperance. That belongs equally to all. There is another, that is special, because one thing becomes one individual that would not be seemly in another. Every one therefore should consider (as Cicero observes) what is the part that nature has assigned to him.3 Celibacy will be seemly for one, but he must not measure all by his own foot;4 and others should not attempt to imitate him without taking into view their ability; for it is the imitation of the ape -- which is at variance with nature. If, therefore, a father, having duly considered his daughter's disposition, is of opinion that she is not prepared for celibacy, let him give her away in marriage.5

By the flower of her age he means the marriageable age. This lawyers define to be from twelve to twenty years of age. Paul points out, in passing, what equity and humanity ought to be exercised by parents, in applying a remedy in that tender and slippery age, when the force of the disease requires it. And it requires to be so. In this clause I understand him as referring to the girl's infirmity -- in the event of her not having the gift of continency; for in that case, necessity constrains her to marry. As to Jerome's making a handle of the expression sinneth not, for reviling marriage, with a view to its disparagement, as if it were not a praiseworthy action to dispose of a daughter in marriage, it is quite childish.6 For Paul reckoned it enough to exempt fathers from blame, that they might not reckon it a cruel thing to subject their daughters to the vexations connected with marriage.

37. But he who standeth firm in his heart. Here we have the second part of the statement, in which he treats of young women who have the gift of abstaining from marriage. He commends therefore those fathers who make provision for their tranquillity; but let us observe what he requires. In the first place, he makes mention of a steadfast purpose -- If any one has fully resolved with himself. You must not, however, understand by this the resolution formed by monks -- that is, a voluntary binding over to perpetual servitude -- for such is the kind of vow that they make; but he expressly makes mention of this firmness of purpose, because mankind often contrive schemes which they next day regret. As it is a matter of importance, he requires a thoroughly matured purpose.

In the second place he speaks of the person as having no necessity; for many, when about to deliberate, bring obstinacy with them rather than reason. And in the present case7 they do not consider, when they renounce marriage, what is in their power, but reckon it enough to say -- "such is my choice." Paul requires them to have power, that they may not decide rashly, but according to the measure of the grace that has been given them. The absence of necessity in the case he appropriately expresses in the following clause, when he says that they have power over their own will. For it is as though he had said -- "I would not have them resolve before knowing that they have power to fulfill, for it is rash and ruinous8to struggle against an appointment of God." But, "according to this system," some one will say, "vows are not to be condemned, provided these conditions were annexed." I answer that, as to the gift of continency, as we are uncertain respecting the will of God as to the future, we ought not to form any determination for our whole life. Let us make use of the gift as long as it is allowed us. In the meantime, let us commit ourselves to the Lord, prepared to follow whithersoever he may call us. (Revelation 14:4.)

Hath decreed in his heart. Paul seems to have added this to express the idea more fully, that fathers ought to look carefully on all sides, before giving up anxiety and intention as to giving away their daughters in marriage. For they often decline marriage, either from shame or from ignorance of themselves, while, in the meantime, they are not the less wanton, or prone to be led astray9 Parents must here consider well what is for the interests of their daughters, that by their prudence they may correct their ignorance, or unreasonable desire.

Now this passage serves to establish the authority of parents, which ought to be held sacred, as having its origin in the common rights of nature. Now if in other actions of inferior moment no liberty is allowed to children, without the authority of their parents, much less is it reasonable that they should have liberty given them in the contracting of marriage. And that has been carefully enacted by civil law, but more especially by the law of God. So much the more detestable, then, is the wickedness of the Pope, who, laying aside all respect, either for Divine or human laws, has been so daring as to free children from the yoke of subjection to their parents. It is of importance, however, to mark the reason. This, says he, is on account of the dignity of the sacrament. Not to speak of the ignorance of making marriage a sacrament, what honor is there, I beseech you, or what dignity, when, contrary to the general feeling of propriety in all nations, and contrary to God's eternal appointment, they take off all restraints from the lusts of young persons, that they may, without any feeling of shame, sport themselves,10 under pretense of its being a sacrament? Let us know, therefore, that in disposing of children in marriage, the authority of parents is of first-rate importance, provided they do not tyrannically abuse it, as even the civil laws restrict it.11 The Apostle, too, in requiring exemption from necessity,12 intimated that the deliberations of parents ought to be regulated with a view to the advantage of their children. Let us bear in mind, therefore, that this limitation is the proper rule -- that children allow themselves to be governed by their parents, and that they, on the other hand, do not drag their children by force to what is against their inclination, and that they have no other object in view, in the exercise of their authority, than the advantage of their children.

38. Therefore he that giveth in marriage. Here we have the conclusion from both parts of the statement, in which he states, in a few words, that parents are free from blame if they give away their daughters in marriage, while he at the same time declares that they do better if they keep them at home unmarried. You are not, however, to understand that celibacy is here preferred to marriage, otherwise than under the exception which was a little before expressed. For if power be wanting on the part of the daughter,13the father acts an exceedingly bad part if he endeavors to keep her back from marriage, and would be no longer a father to her, but a cruel tyrant. The sum of the whole discussion amounts to this -- that celibacy is better than marriage, because it has more liberty, so that persons can serve God with greater freedom; but at the same time, that no necessity ought to be imposed, so as to make it unlawful for individuals to marry, if they think proper; and farther, that marriage itself is a remedy appointed by God for our infirmity,14which all ought to use that are not endowed with the gift of continency. Every person of sound judgment will join with me in acknowledging and confessing, that the whole of Paul's doctrine on this point is comprehended in these three articles.

Source: http://www.ccel.org/c/calvin/comment3/comm_vol39/htm/xiv.viii.htm
Martin Luther, That Parents Should Neither Compel Nor Hinder the Marriage of Their Children, And That Children Should Not Become Engaged Without Their Parents' Consent (1524) -- see also http://www.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/History/teaching/protref/women/WR0912.htm:

It is quite certain therefore that parental authority is strictly limited; it does not extend to the point where [] wreak damage and destruction to the child, especially to its soul. If then a father forces his child into a marriage without love, he oversteps and exceeds his authority. He ceases to be a father and becomes a tyrant who uses his authority not for building up -- which is why God gave it to him -- but for destroying. He is taking authority into his own hands without God, indeed, against God. The same principle holds good when a father hinders his child's marriage, or lets the child go ahead on his own, without any intention of helping him in the matter (as so often happens in the case of step-parents and their children, or orphans and their guardians, where covetousness has its eye more on what the child has than on what the child needs). In such a case the child is truly free and may act as if his parent or guardian were dead; mindful of what is best for himself, he may become engaged in God's name, and look after himself as best he can.
Martin Luther, Letters of Spiritual Counsel:

As I have written before, children should not become engaged without parental consent. But at the same time I also wrote that parents should not and can not rightly compel or prevent their children to please themselves. ... In short, I pray you not to delay your consent any longer. Let the good fellow have peace of mind. And I cannot wait much longer. I shall have to act as my office requires.

-- Letter dated June 4, 1539

See also letters on this same topic to John Schott (May 1524) and Anthony Rudolf (May 12, 1536)
Spottiswood's History of the Church of Scotland, pp. 366-367:

Public inhibitions should be made, that no persons under the power and obedience of fathers, tutors, and curators, either men or women, contract marriage privately, and without the knowledge of those to whom they live subject, under the power of church censure; for if any son or daughter be moved towards a match, they are obliged to ask the counsel and assistance of their parents for performing the same. And though the father, notwithstanding their desires, have no other cause than the common sort men have, to wit, lack of money, or because they are not perhaps of a lineage and birth as they require; yet must not the parties make any covenant till the ministry or civil magistrate be acquainted therewith, and interpone their request for the parent's consent; which if they cannot obtain, finding no just cause why their marriage ought not to proceed, in that case they, sustaining the place of the parent, may consent to the parties, and admit them to marry, for the work of God ought not to be hindered by the corrupt affections of worldly men...
Philip Edgecombe Hughes, ed., The Register of the Company of Pastors of Geneva in the Time of Calvin, p. 73:

...In the case of children who marry without the consent of father or mother at the age when they are permitted to do so [stated as being ages 20 for a man and 18 for a woman on the previous page], as above, if it is known to the court that they have acted lawfully while their fathers have been negligent or excessively strict, the fathers shall be compelled to assign them a dowry or to grant them such portion and position as would have been the case had they consented to the marriage.
E.L. Hebden Taylor, The Reformational Understanding of Family and Marriage, pp. 8-9, 14:

Luther denied that marriage was a sacrament and said that two conditions must be present for a sacrament: it must have been specifically instituted by Christ and must be distinctively Christian. Marriage does not qualify in either respect. Luther also taught that marriage is part of the natural order and hence it cannot be included in the sacramental system of the Church and that a religious service is not necessary for a valid marriage.

A great attempt was made by the Puritans to continue the work of the reformation of family and marriage begun by Luther and Calvin. Thus they tried to establish it upon a civil rather than religious basis by passing an Act of Parliament in 1644 which asserted that 'marriage to be no sacrament, nor peculiar to the church of God but common to mankind and of public interest to every commonwealth.' The Act added, 'notwithstanding, that it was expedient that marriage should be solemnized by a lawful minister of the Word.' A more radical Act in 1653 swept away this provision and made marriage purely a civil matter to be performed by the Justice of the Peace, the age of consent for man was established at sixteen years, and for a woman at fourteen.
William Gouge, On Domesticall Duties, p. 113 (re: Eph. 5.31):

What wrong then doe such parents unto their children, as keepe them, even after they are maried, so strait under subjection, as they cannot freely performe such duty as they ought to their husband, or their wife? This is more then a parents authority reacheth unto. Yet many thinke that their children owe as much service to them after they are married as before: which is directly against this law...Others can never tarrie out of their parents houses, but as oft as they can, go thither. The ancient Romans, to shew how unmeet this was, had a custome to cover the brides face with a yellow veile, and so soone as she was out of her father's house to turne her about and about, and so to carrie her to the house of her husband, that she might not know the way to her father's house againe. All those pretenses of love to parents are more preposterous then pious: and naturall affection beareth more sway in such, then true religion. Their pretense of piety to parents is no just excuse for that injury they do to husband and wife.
[Edited on 5-1-2005 by VirginiaHuguenot]
 

cultureshock

Puritan Board Freshman
Andrew,
Wow. I had no idea there was so much Reformed writing on the subject. Thanks for posting all of that. It is very helpful.

Brian
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Originally posted by cultureshock
Andrew,
Wow. I had no idea there was so much Reformed writing on the subject. Thanks for posting all of that. It is very helpful.

Brian
You're welcome, Brian! God bless you and your family.
 

ChristianasJourney

Puritan Board Sophomore
No scripture, just my $.02

I'd not blame Gothard for the strict guidelines that Christian parents tend to lay set down. Gothard, from what I've read, merely suggests ideas, and offers stories...it's the parents that come up with their own guidelines, as well as other notable pastor's and teachers that are out there (i.e. Jonathan Lindvall who is into the courtship movement).

The Bible doesn't require that a parent only ascribe to Biblical laws in setting down rules. If your child is glucose intolerant you command that he not eat flour, yet flour is perfectly okay to eat. Likewise a parent that lays down extra-Biblical requirments for their daughter's marriage isn't violating scripture. My relative told her daughter that she couldn't marry a diabetic. Why? Because her family has a long and troubled history of diabetes, babies have died, people have gone into comas, etc, and she didn't want her to increase that weakness in her own family. Your dw's parents are likely looking out for the welfare of their daughter, even though they're laying down rules that you disagree with.

However, regardless, it is a Biblical philosphy that a daughter is under the protection of her father. As long the rules aren't ungodly should it matter really what they are. It should be between her, her father, and God, and certainly if a marriage it to take place, God is big enough to see that'll happen. To circumvent the father's authority is asking for long-term trouble and a ruptured relationship that might take years to heal.

Parents who follow IBLP, while I disagree with many of them, are some of the most loving, devoted Christian parents that I've met. Whether you see it this way, your wife's parents probably had her best interests in mind...

Now that you've married without her parents approval how is the relationship? Would it have been possible to abide by those principals while courting her instead of just wrestling her out from under their authority, or 'saving her from them' (which is often the mentality of many dh's). It may have taken longer, but in the long run it would have salvage a very important relationship between a parent and child.


And in everything God is sovereign. He will see to it that what is supposed to happen will happen--and if a relationship ends because of strict parental guidelines, both parties involved should recognize that this too is the will of God.

Anyway, as I said, it's my $02.


[Edited on 5-1-2005 by ChristianasJourney]
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Janice,

I appreciate your comments but I have to disagree overall. I think that extra-Biblical requirements laid upon a potential couple by parents -- unless they are agreed upon by those involved -- are generally by definition contra-Biblical. If the daughter, for example, desires marriage (ie., is of age and is not gifted with continency) and the prospective suitor is a Christian (thus meeting the Biblical requirement to marry "in the Lord") and there is no moral impediment to the marriage, I cannot see a justification for a parent to hinder that marriage. While the daughter and the parents may jointly come up with particular qualifications which they agree upon, which I think is reasonable in general, if the parents and the daughter are at odds because of excessive strictness on the part of the parents, then according to the wisdom of the godly men whom I have previously cited on this subject, it is the parents who should yield, not the daughter. Extra-Biblical requirements can amount to tyranny or slavery, and that authority is not given to parents. Marriage is a duty to those who have not the gift of continency and should not be hindered by parents unless on solid moral and Biblical grounds. This is taught by the Westminster Standards, as I have noted, and is the historic understanding of marriage according to the Reformers and their heirs. A father has a duty to be involved in the marriage of his child, but has not authority to hinder a reasonable marriage by withholding just consent. Perhaps the 'rub' lies in determining what is 'just consent,' but I have given examples of that earlier. In any case, the father's will is not absolute and consideration must be given to a daughter's calling to marriage and whether the requirements of a father are truly Biblical.
 

LadyFlynt

Puritan Board Doctor
No one is saying that the parents are neccessarily horrible, Janice. The problem lies with Gothard.

He doesn't "just suggest"...he is dogmatic about his teachings. One of my closest friends was Alumni. Because we didn't go that direction (we couldn't afford the Advanced seminar...now I know the Lord intentionally didn't let us go) they went from being mentors to us to hardly saying two words...(their sons fortunately do still speak to me when we run into each other...they are like brothers to me as I am closer to their age). We read their books...even some we weren't supposed to read (since we didn't go to that particular seminar)
...my friend lives her life by an outline everyday and in bondage...
She's constantly calling herself a glutton and she barely eats...she will only wear makeup based upon a book that is "recommended" by Gothard reading every ingredient on the label, using only certain cook books, etc. She admits that she misses witnessing oppurtunities because she has a list and schedule in her head and it's point A to point B to point C to the point where she can walk right by you and not see you because she is trying to be perfect...(can you picture the clergyman beating himself over and over for his sin in the Scarlett letter...that's her).
Gothard teaches dogmatically that hospitals are evil places to birth a child. (my sister in law could have died due to this teaching...fortunately our mil was living with her and happened to be a nurse). He teaches that you have to pray the "sins of the parent" out of a child (especially if that child is adopted) and that that child WILL carry on the generational sin (where is God's sovereignty here or His changing of the believers nature?) this particular teaching I believe increased abuse in my own childhood. I didn't even know my father (mother divorced), but was made to pay for years by her and my s-dad for my father's sins (though my s-dad carried out the same sins as well).
Gothard has taken good ideas...legalized them...warped them. The man is neither married nor has he children. He is accountable to no one and all are accountable to him (sound like a cult yet?)
Book suggestion: A Matter of Basic Principles...this book was written when a cult watch group had received numerous phone calls and letters asking about Gothard and giving testamonies of abuse and scandal surrounding Gothard. I also suggest you do a web search...I have come across news reports of abuse within his varying reform schools and training schools.
 

ChristianasJourney

Puritan Board Sophomore
I've been to both Gotherd seminars (years ago) and have known a number of people who are part of the Alumni (enthusiastic supports of him) their kids were in ATI, etc...and while they have been very much into rules and procedures I haven't encountered the same feelings that your friends have portrayed, toward you. If anything I've noticed to much of an openess to "strange thoughts" and not a well rooted understanding of Biblical principals, too many rules and not enough doctrine.

I have researched Gothard on the web, and personally while I'm not a big fan of his, I'm not ready to believe what other's say about him either. I take everything I read with a grain of salt. Just ask my church history professor friend his opinions on Calvin, and his attitude will curl your toes. Is his information wrong, probably not, but there are two sides to every story, and any one side will sound really, really biased.

I have a relative who tried to court a girl whose parents were big into Gothard, and that courtship went about as sour as you could expect...so it's not that I don't have an understanding of what's wrong. The principals taught by IBLP is often a really really skewered interpretation of scripture. I recognized that when I was 13.


But this isn't about Gothard, and this doesn't make these parents more or less right because they're followers of Gothard. The point here is how much say does a Christan parent have over an adult child. Do they have a right to not give approval of a marriage based upon non-Biblical (not to be confused with anti-Biblical) criteria. At present I do feel that parents have that authority if those criteria aren't violating scripture. You can see this illustrated by the authority that God has given to fathers to be able to nullify a daughter's vow that they disagree with (Deut.), in such a case God will not hold the daughters accountable. You can also see it in cases such as Jacob asking Laban for his two daughters, and Moses being "given" Zipporah. In Judges in the story of Jephthah.

A parent might see some undesirable qualities in a man dating their daughter...but qualities that don't contradict Biblical principals--he might be immature, short-sighted, too impulsive, or other traits which he believes will cause hardship, for his daughter, he is trying to protect her from the trajectory he can see her headed down. While I disagree with Gothard--and while he has turned some of what is good into a list of so many rules I believe that his basis and the reason why he encourages fathers to cause their daughter's beaus to jump through so many hoops is to raise them to maturity. (While I can't say how strong I disagree with this--and the frustration and provokation that's likely to result) that doesn't mean that a father doesn't have the right to tell his daughter that he wants her to wait until she and her beau are more mature, or that this isn't the right person for her.

It isn't uncommon for two people who profess to be Christians to marry, and later for one to fall away and turn this "Christian marriage" into a nightmare. If before the marriage the parent perceives an immature in either one of them (and often this is the case) it is his responsibilty to do everything in his power to cause them to grow, or to tell them to wait (unfortuantely this seldom happens.)

Anyway that's my conservative opinion.
 

LadyFlynt

Puritan Board Doctor
Janice...I'm about as conservative as you get without going amish (I know, I've been there in a literal sense!). We also believe and are preparing our children to accept courtship rather than dating. My husband and I actually started out courting (but were allow to go to dating as we got older and were engaged for 2 LONG years). We had a whole town of chaperones (I kid you not!).

You actually affirmed what I was trying to say. There are good ideas. But skewered. There are principles, but with faulty misuse of scripture as a foundation. This is where things get sticky.

With all that said...

There are at times extreme circumstances where marriage w/ or w/o a parents permission may be deemed appropriate. The gentlemen on this board are not sharing those details as they are personal. Therefore their cases may have had just cause. My case definately had just cause. I actually had permission under certain conditions. A teacher refused tolet me graduate as she did not want me getting married. I went and got my GED instead. In all actuality, I stayed in a bad situation when I could have married a year earlier. I wanted to do that which was right, but put my life in physical danger in so doing.

Also the Bible does say that if the temptation is too great then let them marry. In other words, it is instructing thought towards understanding the situation and what is betimes neccessary.

I have watched a friends children from ATI courting, the loops everyone had to jump through, and the disaster that it ended in. I think that there are better, more balanced ideas of courtship out there. Joshua Harris would be one of them.
 

ChristianasJourney

Puritan Board Sophomore
Originally posted by LadyFlynt

With all that said...

There are at times extreme circumstances where marriage w/ or w/o a parents permission may be deemed appropriate. The gentlemen on this board are not sharing those details as they are personal. Therefore their cases may have had just cause. My case definately had just cause. I actually had permission under certain conditions. A teacher refused to let me graduate as she did not want me getting married. I went and got my GED instead. In all actuality, I stayed in a bad situation when I could have married a year earlier. I wanted to do that which was right, but put my life in physical danger in so doing.

Also the Bible does say that if the temptation is too great then let them marry. In other words, it is instructing thought towards understanding the situation and what is betimes neccessary.
I agree.
 

satz

Puritan Board Senior
hmm...just some related stuffs;

1. What is the christian woman's parents are unconverted? Does this change the situation at all? What if they are against her marrying a believer of any kind?

2. Do a christian man's parents have the same kind of authority to control the marriage for their son?
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
I think the situation for a Christian young lady whose parents are not believers and in fact hostile to Christianity is indeed different from the situations that we have been discussing in this thread. Obviously, the Fifth Commandment is not negated because of the parents' unbelief; however, if the young woman is called to marriage it is her duty to marry in the Lord, and I argue that parents have no authority to hinder a Biblical union. Care must be taken by the young woman (and her beau, and ideally, the minister, etc.) not to offend the parents unnecessarily, but the parents cannot hinder what God would bring together.

Parents have a Biblical duty to be involved in their sons' preparation for marriage just as much as their daughters'; however, there is a difference perhaps in how that plays out to the extent that the daughter is going from the headship of the father to the headship of her husband, while the son is leaving the headship of his father to become a head himself. The young woman's consent is crucial (witness Rebekah) and not to be trampled upon, but a young man is expected to be the initiator of the courtship and the young woman is not. All I'm saying is that there are some differences in the way it all plays out, but parents have a duty and a role in both cases.

Colleen, I really appreciate your thoughts on this whole matter. Thank you for your wise and helpful remarks.

One other point I'd like to make is that Laban is sometimes viewed as a good example of a father/father-in-law. I have read Calvin's and Poole's commentaries on the whole account with Jacob and Laban, and I am in agreement with them that Laban was "crafty" and "iniquitous." I would say that he was the antithesis of a good father/father-in-law. His requirements and dealings with Jacob ought not to be viewed as a model but as a warning to fathers which they should avoid.
 

LadyFlynt

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by VirginiaHuguenot
I think the situation for a Christian young lady whose parents are not believers and in fact hostile to Christianity is indeed different from the situations that we have been discussing in this thread. Obviously, the Fifth Commandment is not negated because of the parents' unbelief; however, if the young woman is called to marriage it is her duty to marry in the Lord, and I argue that parents have no authority to hinder a Biblical union. Care must be taken by the young woman (and her beau, and ideally, the minister, etc.) not to offend the parents unnecessarily, but the parents cannot hinder what God would bring together.
Andrew, I'm not sure if I fully agree with you here. This could play out in varying ways. I had parents that insisted they were Christians and yet were hostile towards that selfsame Christianity in many ways. (confused yet?)

Either way...I don't believe the commandment reads that Children obey your parents in the Lord, only if they are in the Lord, etc. I don't believe that a parent's unbelief is cause for rebelling. The areas that speak of exceptions, I believe are historically and scripturally given provision for.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Originally posted by LadyFlynt
Originally posted by VirginiaHuguenot
I think the situation for a Christian young lady whose parents are not believers and in fact hostile to Christianity is indeed different from the situations that we have been discussing in this thread. Obviously, the Fifth Commandment is not negated because of the parents' unbelief; however, if the young woman is called to marriage it is her duty to marry in the Lord, and I argue that parents have no authority to hinder a Biblical union. Care must be taken by the young woman (and her beau, and ideally, the minister, etc.) not to offend the parents unnecessarily, but the parents cannot hinder what God would bring together.
Andrew, I'm not sure if I fully agree with you here. This could play out in varying ways. I had parents that insisted they were Christians and yet were hostile towards that selfsame Christianity in many ways. (confused yet?)

Either way...I don't believe the commandment reads that Children obey your parents in the Lord, only if they are in the Lord, etc. I don't believe that a parent's unbelief is cause for rebelling. The areas that speak of exceptions, I believe are historically and scripturally given provision for.
I may not have been entirely clear. What I am trying to say is that the Fifth Commandment applies to all relationships whether the parties are Christians or not. However, just because the parents are unbelievers does not authorize them on the basis of the Fifth Commandment to prohibit an otherwise lawful and Biblical marriage on the part of their Christian daughter. I am just trying to reaffirm the very verse that you cited, ie., Children obey your parents in the Lord. If parents whether they be believers or unbelievers lay contra-Biblical requirements or conditions upon marriage to their children, I consider that to be an unlawful hindrance to marriage and submission in that case would not be obeying in the Lord but rather submitting to tyranny. A Christian young person in such a case ought to have recourse to the church or civil magistrate to remedy the abuse of parental authority and on that basis be able to proceed with a Biblical marriage even if the parents object for unBiblical reasons. Make sense?
 

cultureshock

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks, everyone, for your replies. I think the biggest struggle for me that left me in doubt was that my pastor threw out Numbers 30 largely due to his dispensational influence. I was never quite satisfied with that approach, since I affirm that the principle of corporate solidarity continues into the New Covenant. Since we believe this, my wife and I really wrestled with the idea of whether there ever exists a case in which it is lawful to go against authority, and if there did, whether ours was such a case. I do believe we did the right thing in marrying against her father's wishes, and that our case was one in which he was trying to delay the marriage without just cause.

Brian
 

LadyFlynt

Puritan Board Doctor
Glad the discussion was of service...and it made for good discussion at that...no one came to blows
:cool:
 
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