Sunday, August 11, 2013

Honor Thy Father & Mother?

Hi Huldah

I'm having a problem with my father-in-law. He recently retired and ever since he has picked up drinking quite a bit. He lives next door to us and he's been wandering over after his binges. We have young kids and a few weeks ago they watched him tangle himself in their swing set. Just last week he passed out on our living room floor where the kids were playing. All of this is causing a lot of tension between myself and my wife. I want to say something to him, but he helped us out with money recently when I was laid off. I know that the bible tells us to honor parents but I'm not sure where to draw the line. What can I do ?



Dear Mannie,

The Bible does indeed tell us to honor our parents, but things can get confusing when our parents do not behave honorably, especially in the presence of our own children. That is when priorities need to be set. Our first priority is to the Lord and following His instruction. The second is our children, of whom God commands us to instruct.

Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

If your father-in-law is allowed to continue this behavior in front of them, ultimately he will be doing the instructing, and your silence will be seen as condoning his behavior.

There are ways of dealing with him honorably. I'm not sure what your arrangement is with the money, but you could start off by thanking him for all his help and perhaps go so far as to say that someday you plan to pay him back.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

As the spiritual leader of your home, it is your duty to protect your family. You wouldn't let someone come in and harm your children physically no matter who they are. It is no different when it comes to mental or spiritual damage. I suggest you pray and ask God for the courage and the right words to tell your father-in-law that this has to stop.

If your message is not well received or he refuses to listen, then unfortunately, we sometimes have to choose between the Lord's way or family. Jesus Himself said:
"Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN'S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me." Matt. 10:34-38
Christians are often prompted by the Lord to separate from unsaved family so that they can not only keep peace in their own households, but also to train up their children in the Lord without interference.

This is an unpopular view with the world that is continually trying to force us to believe that we must tolerate those around us, no matter how offensive their behavior.

Hope this helps.

Maidservant Huldah

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