Last updated on October 9, 2020
I have a question that I can’t quite figure out. I’ll try to make it short. Basically, I want to marry this Christian girl who also happens to be the one who’s revealed the gospel to me.
We started dating when we were teenagers, and when we first started dating I asked her father for permission to date her. He said yes, but only if we follow his rules. His rules were great rules and very beneficial. For example, we couldn’t hold hands, hug, kiss (obviously), or be alone together — ever. Not even in the most public if places could we be alone together. Now during this time, I had been raised in a denominational church, and I had many misguided ideas about scripture. These false beliefs convinced me that these rules weren’t necessary.
Long story short we broke all of the rules given to us in less than a year, and her parents forced us to break up. It was after this breakup I realized the severity of my actions, and I started obeying the Lord. We both attend biblically sound churches of Christ now. They broke us up because we broke all such rules and at the time I wasn’t a true Christian. This is a very good reason to break us up.
Anyway, I am now currently a real Christian, but they don’t believe that I am a real Christian. This girl I am with is my best friend and I am hers. Even if we aren’t dating, we still strongly desire to be in each other’s lives, and we don’t want to be with anybody else. We have both stated to each other that if it were up to us, then we would get married today. We won’t get married immediately for other reasons outside of her parents, reasons like I need to graduate college, etc. Her parents will not allow us to text, see each other outside of school, and basically, they don’t even want us talking to each other. I see this girl every day, and we try to obey her parents’ wishes. This is super hard, though, as I see her every day, and it never really felt like we broke up. We stopped kissing and hugging. I think all we will ever do is occasionally hold hands. We both are committed to each other. Since I repeatedly keep failing to honor her parents’ wishes on the conditions of our relationship they deem that I am not truly a Christian and want to enforce even more rules. They deem this as so because she is supposed to obey her parents.
What I am curious about is: Am I sinning by talking with her and speaking of marriage with her? If she decided to start texting me after she’s 18, is she sinning by doing this? I want to keep in contact with her, but it just really seems like her parents aren’t going to let it fly. They are paying for her college and a few other things, so I could see her scripturally having to obey her parents, which means no contact with me, but at the same time, the choice of a spouse is clearly up to the two people in a relationship. I would think she could keep in contact with me as I am her choice of partner, but if she does so anyway, is she sinning? I would like to be clear on this because if it’s true that I am causing her to sin, then I need to stop immediately so that we both won’t be condemned.
Her parents are Christians as well and live a very blameless life. I look up to her father in many ways. He’s a great man and a great example. He just doesn’t trust me, though. I can totally understand why, but it doesn’t seem like they will ever accept me because of my past. I’ve tried countless times to appeal to him, but if I don’t totally ditch his daughter, then in his eyes I’m not a true Christian because I am causing her to sin, which would be true if I was causing her to sin, but I struggle to understand if they have this kind of authority over her.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth’” (Ephesians 6:1-2).
The command for children to obey their parents is qualified by “in the Lord.” A parent cannot demand their children to sin. The second aspect of this command is that it is addressed to children and not to adults. Somewhere along the line, a child must “leave father and mother” (Genesis 2:24). While honor continues to be owed to one’s parents, obedience to their every desire ends at some point.
In this country, we arbitrarily mark that age of transition at 18. But to claim the rights of an adult, you have to also accept the responsibility of your decisions. For example, she has every right to speak to you. But at the same time, her father doesn’t owe her a college education. He has the right to stop payment at any time, and he may decide that he doesn’t want to pay for a daughter’s education when she doesn’t want to listen to his advice. I’m not saying things would go this far, but I want you to start seeing that by claiming adulthood, you are acknowledging that each adult can make his own choices, for good or ill.
If you want to talk to each other, then be prepared to find a way to pay for your own phones. But do keep in mind that as Christians that doesn’t allow you to misuse communications (Ephesians 5:3-7). If you want to go out on dates and her parents threaten to stop paying for college, then you will need to figure out how the two of you will pay for college without her parents’ support. If you decide to marry, then you are also saying that you are taking on all responsibilities for bills. What I want you to see is that claiming adulthood is a two-edged sword because it also means you can no longer claim dependency.
Please understand, I’m not saying that her parents’ lack of forgiveness is acceptable, but I’m only talking to you. I’m glad you’ve changed and grown. I wish you the best, and I hope you’ll stay in touch. You have choices ahead of you and some of them are going to be difficult to make because you need to look down the road and see where each choice leads the two of you.
I greatly appreciate your response. You’ve cleared this up for me, and for that I am grateful. Your website is of great benefit to me, and I use it almost on a daily basis. Keep up the good work! I pray that God blesses your ministry with seeking hearts, and I want to encourage you to stay firm in the Lord that He may be well pleased. Tomorrow is never a guarantee, so as long as it is called today let us serve the one true God. Thank you for dedicating your time to me. Your advice was richly received.