1 How can you leave your father and mother AND honor What should that grandmother say to her son and family when she your father and mother? July 1, 2007 - Ephesians 5:22-33 next sees them? A newly married couple decides to do some redecorating in their A man has a good job opportunity before him. But it would mean townhouse. The groom’s mother hears about it. Without consulting he, his wife and their family would have to move out of the city where the couple, she orders paint and borders because she knows just what both their parents live. Both sets of parents discourage the move needs to be done. She shows up one Saturday to begin working. The because of the distance and possible infrequency of visits. What young couple stands in shock as the mother-in-law comes in. The bride should the man decide? despises the colors her mother-in-law chose. What should the young A couple is doing their best to raise their children. One day their couple do? parents come to visit. One child acts out. The couple respond but not A family decides to go down to the lake for the weekend. But the in the way that the grandparents think is appropriate. So the husband’s mother thinks that lake isn’t particularly safe. In fact, she grandparent speaks up to their son and daughter in law about the “right insists that they stay away lest one of the grand kids gets injured. way” to discipline kids. How should the couple respond? What should the husband say to his mother? We face situations like these at various times in our lives. Family A grandma looks forward to her 70th birthday. But her son and relationships present exciting, dynamic and sometimes difficult family have totally forgotten about the significance of that birthday. opportunities for growth. For Christians, God’s Word provides So instead of planning something or making themselves available for a tremendous insight on how He wants us to handle similar situations. special occasion, they’re away on holidays. She receives a postcard But sometimes, His commands seem to go in opposite directions. You from them 3 days after her birthday saying “wish you were here.” might have heard of the 5th commandment, Honor your father and mother. We probably repeat that one frequently to our kids. But 2 God’s Word puts forward another principle about family relationships willing to give up your life for hers. Last week we saw how husbands that seems to contradict the 5th commandment. This principle states need to Love our wives as our own bodies by nourishing and “For this reason a husband shall leave (or forsake) his father and cherishing them. Today we come to this principle of husbands leaving mother and be united with his wife and the two shall become one flesh. or forsaking their parents. How can husbands forsake their fathers and mothers AND honor Today we’re going to explore what it means to forsake your their fathers and mothers? That’s the question we seek an answer to father and mother and honor your father and mother. We will discover today. it is possible to do both by God’s strength. These two ? will protect This spring and early summer, we are studying the curse on us from unhealthy extremes in relationships with out parents. To those marriage and God’s prescription to reverse it. The curse comes from of you unmarried, something for those married who still have parents, Genesis 3:16 where God says to Eve “Your desire shall be for your parents who have married children; there is much for you to discover husband and he shall rule over you.” In other words, women would today in your relationship with your own parents and preparation for inherit this sinful desire to rebel against or take over their husbands marriage one day. So I would invite you to open your heart again to position of headship in the marriage. Husbands would inherit the God’s Word. Our text comes from Apostle Paul’s letter to the sinful desire to rule over their wives harshly. Ephesians, chapter 5, verses 22-33. Our study passage for these last weeks reveals God’s plan so Ephesians 5:22-33 His people can reverse the curse. Wives, instead of desiring your 22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he husband’s position and trying to take over or dominate him, engage in is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. intelligent willing submission. Husbands instead of harshly ruling 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with your wives you must - Love your wives as Christ loved the church, water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and 3 blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their From there, Paul jumps off into verse 31. “For this reason a own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31"For this reason a man will man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife and leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."[b] 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about two will become one flesh.” We’re focusing on the first part of that Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. verse today. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother.” 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold Paul uses the Greek word “kataleipw” which is translated leave or fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (ESV) forsake. It’s an intense word that means to “leave behind.” So there is What does God command? to be some sort of departure or separation between a husband and his Husbands, leave your father and mother and cling to; hold fast to parents when he enters into marriage. If you are following along in your wife. This command comes from Ephesians 5:31 in our your Bible, it will contain a note that Ephesians 5:31 directly quotes a passage. Paul has just described how husbands are to love their wives very early Old Testament text. Let’s turn back to Genesis 2. God as their own bodies. We saw last week that this meant husbands need created man but no suitable helper was found for him. So God creates to nourish and cherish their wives or provide for and protect them. woman. Let’s see what happens in Genesis 2:18-25. Then at the end of verse 29, Paul gives us the example “just as Christ does the church.” In other words, husbands need to imitate Christ’s Genesis 2:18-25 NIV 18 nourishing and cherishing love for the church in loving their wives. The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Then in verse 30, Paul states “for we are members of his body.” He 19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, reminds us that just as husbands are to love their wives as their own that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. bodies, Christ loves us, the church, because we are members of his But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the body. LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 4 23 The man said, What was the motivation for this forsaking or leaving? Did "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' you notice that phrase “for this reason” at the beginning of Genesis for she was taken out of man." 24 2:24 and Ephesians 5:31? For what reason? “This reason” points back For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. 25 to Genesis 2:23 where the man said “This at last is bone of my bones The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman for she was taken out Paul quotes Genesis 2:24 in Ephesians 5:31. Genesis 2 of Man.” That’s the reason a man is to leave his father and mother. provides God’s original design for marriage included this principle of The man needs to consider his wife as part of his own body. For husbands leaving their father and mothers. What’s particularly the first man, this was not only a spiritual consideration but a physical striking about this is by the time Moses wrote Genesis, husbands lived one. Long before the first heart transplant, God performed the first rib with or very near their parents after marriage. In fact, the wife left her transplant. She literally did contain part of his body. She literally was home to join her husband. We see that is Genesis 24 where Rebekkah part of his body. leaves her father’s home to marry Isaac. So within this context of Every husband that follows Adam needs to consider his wife as husbands living with or very near their parents, they still are part of his body like we talked about last week. Though the husband commanded to leave or forsake their father and mother. comes from his parent’s bodies, at marriage a new family unit is So what does it mean to leave or forsake them? A husband established. That’s the Biblical principle of leaving your father and needs to establish healthy boundaries between his parents and his new mother. family unit. One Bible commentator says “husbands need to leave so What extreme does this principle guard against? Some they can cleave or cling to their wives.” Before marriage, his first husbands (and wives) have an enmeshed relationship with their obligation is to his parents. Afterwards, his first obligation is to his parents. The word “enmesh” means to “entangle, involve or catch as wife. 5 if in a net.” It describes people who are too involved in each other’s But in light of the Biblical principle of a husband’s headship, lives. That can happen especially when a husband never really goes he is called to take leadership in this area of setting healthy through a healthy transition in his relationship with his parents. boundaries. I’ve known situations where a family plans to do Parents and children need to move from a commanding something but then one of the husband’s parents doesn’t think it’s a parent/obedient child relationship to an adult parent/adult child good idea. So without consulting his spouse, the husband cancelled relationship. the plans because his parents said so. Or a husband may give his In the scenarios which began the message, the mother-in-law parents unlimited access to his family home with no boundaries. If his who orders paint and new borders for her son and daughter-in-law parents are not sensitive and mature about that respecting their without consulting them has overstepped healthy boundaries. It’s a daughter-in-law’s wishes, that can lead to trouble. If a husband husband’s responsibility at that point to step in and say “Mom, this is concludes that his family’s life must revolve around his parents lives for my wife and I to decide.” As I understand this scripture, when a then it’s likely he has not “left” his father and mother. husband lets his parent’s opinions dominate his and his wife’s views, So in light of these realities, how can we live out God’s then he has not left his father and mother in a healthy way. I would command for husbands to leave their fathers and mothers and be argue that the same goes for a wife with her parents. The Biblical text united with their wives? Parents, when our children enter pre-teen and doesn’t directly address that because wives literally did leave their teen years, we must recognize the simple fact our children are parents to move into their husband’s home in Bible times. But today, a becoming adults. We parents have to ask for God’s wisdom to figure wife’s parents can be over involved as much as a husband’s parents out what to hold on to and what to let go of. Parents and youth need can. wisdom and grace during this season. But what about later teen and young adulthood 17-20s? 6 Since I don’t yet have teenage or young adult children, I When we marry, we need to be patient with ourselves and our consulted some other mature Christian believers about this. One said, parents in establishing healthy boundaries. Seek the Lord’s grace, “we must have a willingness to always show or direct our kids towards strength and help to set healthy boundaries while honoring your father God’s way – how should you treat a guy or girl; a husband or wife; and mother. When your kids marry, seek the Lord’s wisdom to know how to run from sin’s entanglements. We need to talk with them about how to respect boundaries. things we’ve seen and learned. We need to interpret these events for So God commands husbands, leave your father and mother and them from God’s perspective. We also need to seek God’s wisdom on be united with your wife. But how does this command go with granting increasing freedom to our kids. One wise believer counsels another pretty famous command found in a list of ten pretty famous “we need to give kids as much freedom as they can handle, perhaps statements. not quite as much as they want at certain stages of their teen years. What else does God command? Honor your father and mother Then be ready to catch them when they ask for advice or help.” (parents you might elbow your kids now) 12 Youth, teenagers and young adults still living at home – "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12) recognize your relationship with your parents is going through this transition. I ask you to pray for God’s help for you to act in maturity Here we discover the tension we face in living out this “leave through this transition. Pray for your parents. Give them a break. your father and mother command.” God commands us to honor our Kids expect their parents to be perfect. We make mistakes. We fathers and mothers. Our relationship with God is dramatically endure suffering too as we try to figure out how to make healthy impacted by our relationship with our parents. One commentator puts transition from having you totally depend on us to letting you go in it this way – “Your father and mother are the channel of God’s gift of independence. life to you.” Believing in the Lord Jesus Christ is the beginning of our 7 relationship with the Lord. But we could never have entered into such respect them, support them and love them. The word Honor a relationship unless our father and mother gave us a beginning. They means to give weight to, to glorify, to give a place of precedence, to were only able to give us a beginning because of God’s gift of life to take someone seriously. them. So in obeying this commandment, we are honoring God by As the Lord God is honored for his priority to all life, so father honoring those through whom He gave us life. and mother must be honored for their priority as the Lord’s To back up the importance of this command, God attaches a instruments, to the lives of their children. Notice the command does promise to it. “Honor your father and mother so that you may live not say “obey” but “honor.” One Bible commentator notes, “it is long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” The promise is easier to obey than it is to honor. You can hate your parent and still long life in the Promised Land. This promise was carried through obey them. But you cannot hate your parent AND honor them. So Israel’s history and right into the New Testament. When a person gritted teeth obedience or dutiful observance to a parent while honors his or her parents, they are honoring the Lord and will receive inwardly despising them is not obeying this command. blessing for it. But the reverse is also possible. Dishonoring one’s So why have I brought this command into this series on parents may result in loss of life and loss of blessing. The Israelites marriage? Some husbands or wives neglect their parents. Like the took this very seriously as directed to do so by the Lord. Disrespect son in our first scenario who made no space for his mother’s 70th for one’s parents was a serious offense in the covenant community, birthday. They take this command “forsake your father and mother” and rebellion against them was punishable by death, precisely because way beyond its intention to set healthy boundaries. Leave your father such disobedience constituted disobedience against the Lord. and mother does not mean abandon them. It does not nullify the 5th So what does it mean to honor your parents? Honoring commandment. It does not mean abuse them or scorn their opinions. your parents means to give weight to their opinions, esteem or 8 We need to figure what it means to leave our father and mother while support the Lord’s work. It subtly rebels against the Lord’s honoring them. For that, we need God’s Word and grace. commandment here. One way we can do this is by heeding Jesus’ teaching on this. One of the people I consulted with regarding this message One example is Matthew 15:1-9 Jesus spoke very strongly wrote me these words: “I have seen marriages where people have been against neglecting parents. so focused on "forsaking their father and mother", and focusing on each other and their children that they would not be there for their Matthew 15:1-9 mom and dad when they needed them. These same people are hurt and Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from surprised when their children grow up, leave home and never come Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!” 3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 back again. We are a family and my parents and my wife’s parents For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’ 5 But you say that if a man says to have a role in our lives and our children's lives. We can honor our his father or mother, ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,’ 6 he is not to ‘honor his father’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You parents by putting up with their quirks and little annoyances and not hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 8 ”‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9 They feel like we have to point them out to them and every one else. Some worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’” day, if not already, we will be just like them. People need to know that Some Pharisees or religious leaders refused to support their they have value just because they are people, even more so when they father and mother financially. They justified it by saying “the money I are your roots.” could have given to you, I gave to the Lord.” Some rabbis approved So what are some ways in which we can honor our parents? this exception to the commandments of Moses and thus in effect Make decisions in your business or work that shows the primacy of nullified God’s law (v. 6). Jesus totally condemns that decision. It is your family while honoring your father and mother. wrong to absolve oneself from responsibility towards our parents to Make an effort to communicate and keep them up to date on the goings on in our lives. 9 Appreciate, take in and be thankful for their support in childhood Heeding both commands protects us from those two unhealthy and over the years. extremes: Enmeshment with our parents; Neglect of our parents. Take some time to try to imagine what it was like when they were parenting you. If you don’t know ask – what was it like in those This balance is not easy to maintain. But God’s Word gives us days to be a parent? What challenges did you face? His will on this; some clear directives to guide my decisions. But Emphasize their positive points to others. much more than these directives, is the power to carry them out if WE Emphasize what they did right. (Kids are often quite good at pointing out what parents do wrong. Why not point out what they will ask for it. God will empower and enable husbands to set healthy did right). boundaries in their family’s life between them and their parents. God Take seriously their counsel, wisdom, advice and direction. will empower and enable husbands to speak truth in love to parents If not contrary to the Lord’s will, heed their advice. about healthy boundaries. God will grant wisdom and guidance to Support them financially when they need it. Work them into your budget. Be planning already how you are going to support them parents about respecting healthy boundaries in their children’s when they are no longer able to care for themselves. Some Bible commentators are convinced the primary meaning of the word families. God will provide when honoring father and mother impacts “honor” is financial support. We need to plan for their care not absolve ourselves of that responsibility to the state. your ability to work or time at work. God will help husbands/men Tailor family events and special occasions to their schedule. recognize that though their job is critically important it is ultimately Readjust your schedule to care for them; minister to them. not more important than marriage, family and honoring father and Love them – don’t just throw money; don’t just bring flowers; love mother. God will help parents and children through transitions in them. their relationships. If you are a child living at home you honor your parents by respecting their house rules. In fact, Christ died so that we might fulfill this. Without His All these actions are possible while still maintaining healthy death, we would be unable to live up to God’s impossible calling. We boundaries with our parents, it’s possible to do both. would not be able to live righteous lives in God’s sight when it comes 10 to these two apparently competing claims. Apart from Christ’s death, all the wisdom, grace and resources of God for this high, holy and difficult calling would be beyond our grasp. We’ve proved we’re incapable of reaching God’s moral law in our own strength throughout history. Men have a history of ruling their wives harshly. We want others to make life easy for us; we naturally want to command and have others serve us. We want to avoid dealing with overbearing parents or tend toward laziness in honoring them. Yet if we have Christ within us, we now have access to God to desperately cry out to God for His help and strength to leave our fathers and mothers; be united to our wives while honoring our fathers and mothers. So to Him we come now to call out for His help.