Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Letter #2 about the role of parents as the child grows:

Despite my concerns with some of your teaching it does not mean much unless there is a alternate understanding that makes equal or better sense with Scripture. I want to start by quoting what is probably the pivotal passage on this topic, Gen 2:18-24:

18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.


The directive of God in v.24 is proceeded with a "therefore" obviously referring to the previous Scripture. In examining the chapter up to this point with regard to the man's divine commission upon the earth, God places Adam where He wants him, and then gives the directives to keep the garden and to avoid the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. After that, God calls upon Adam to name the animals.
The issue of like partnership for the man Adam does not appear until v.18. What is interesting here is that at this point in Gen 2 it appears that even Adam is not yet aware of his need for companionship, perhaps assuming that one or another of the animals can provide it. Adam is forced to realize in v.20 that none of the animals would do.
God then places him in a deep sleep for the purpose of creating a "help meet" for him- or rather, companion fit to Adam's needs. God does this by taking out of Adam. He then brings His creation to the man, and they become one in v.23.
The "therefore" than signifies that the reason for the directive of v.24 is several fold:
1. Man needs companionship(v18).
2. God has created woman to meet this need(v22).
3. God desires that man find his need for like companionship met in the woman He created(v18).
One important thing to note is that, Adam had no human parents. The important idea of v.24 then, is not transferral of authority, but the change in commitment from one relationship to another. The point is not that the bride(groom) has stayed with their parents until the wedding day(which might be an impossible, impractical, or unwise state of affairs in any case), but that the marital relationship takes precedance over the parental relationship once the vows have been exchanged.
In OT Jewish culture the concept of tribe was very important and families often lived close together. For this reason, young men and women often did not leave their parents house until marriage. This does not mean that they never left before marriage. Samson, Jacob, Elisha, and David are just a few of the Biblical examples of this. Understanding the commandment of Gen 2:24 within this cultural context (as Moses would have expected the nation of Israel to understand it), Gen 2:24 basically tells the newlywed, that if you have not set up your own house by now, you are to do it.
Carrying your teaching (that children are to stay under their parents all the way to the marriage altar) to its logical extreme results in very odd situations a few of which I mentioned in my previous email. Another is that you have no consistant, Biblical basis for exempting the widowed or legitimately divorced individual from coming back under the full rule and authority of their parents. By making this exemption you implictly allow for the freedom of any unmarried child so long as they maintain their own home. (Which freedom I believe the Scripture allows for in any case.)
By teaching that parental authority continues until the altar, you must also acknowledge that it ends at the altar, and provide a technical "out" for any person to declare a complete end to all allegiance to their parents at marriage(with the possible exception of material support).
A few more points I will stop and wait for you to say something, I promise!
Your teaching:
1. Makes it doubly hard for the parent to let go because they will probably feel like they need to maintain a certain level of authority until the wedding day. The parent cannot "fade" out of the picture.
2. Makes marriage an "out" and a necessary evil to young people who would like to move on with their lives.
3. Creates a huge probability that the child will "snap" away from the parents at marriage and feel resentment for being held on to.
4. Ensures that the child will probably harm their children by allowing them too much freedom in an over-reaction to what they felt was undue control by their parents.

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