When Disobedience Equals Honor

When I was growing up, my parents were pretty strict. I was OK with their rules most of the time and didn’t feel the need to rebel against them, but it wasn’t until after I grew up and left their home that I realized how much their boundaries protected me.

I thank God that He, too, placed high boundaries around me. Most notably, my nearly complete lack of boyfriend activity prior to meeting Steve. I wasn’t nearly as OK with His limits in the moment. They just made me feel left out and weird. I spent a lot of time praying that he’d bring a man into my life. And I was frustrated a lot during the waiting. But looking back, I see that the unanswered prayers were, like my parents’ rules, a merciful protection from harm.

BA_largeGiven my history, it’s hard for me to imagine having parents who encourage you to sin. But this week’s Boundless Answers column is in response to a woman who is living with her fiance because her parents want her to. And they think marriage should be postponed not only until after she finishes school, but preferably, till she’s 30. Living with her fiance now, they reason, is good practice for marriage and insurance against divorce.

She wrote,

They are adamant that we live together, so we can see if we’re compatible before marriage. You can probably see where this is going. We’ve fallen into sexual sin several times.

How can we convince my parents that it is a good idea for us to marry now? I can’t think of any reasons they’d agree with, as they don’t see any problems with premarital sex. It’s really important to us that my parents are happy, and I don’t want to dishonor them by going against their wishes. We really want to honor God, and honor my parents, but I just think two years is too long, and I’m worried we may sin again. Any ideas?

She’s made of stronger stuff than I am. I know I would have fallen many, many times under those circumstances. I replied,

It sounds like your parents want you to have a meaningful relationship. And they’re encouraging you to do what the conventional wisdom says is a wise path to marriage: test the relationship by living together. They’re also against early marriage, again going with the current trend to delay marriage because it seems that later marriages are more likely to be satisfying and less likely to end in divorce.

But their good intentions aren’t enough. Their worldly wisdom is clashing with your conscience. Because you know Jesus, and presumably are studying Scripture — His revealed will for our lives — you know your highest authority isn’t them, but God, and God has revealed a plan for relationships, sex and marriage that’s opposite of what they’re asking you to do. This makes for a lot of gut-wrenching angst.

So what should you do?

To find out, read “Disobeying Your Parents.