Question:In the Youth Bible class, one of my students (an 18-yr-old young woman) asked a question I wasn't sure how to respond to. She has a boyfriend, who's never been to the Church of Christ before and whom she's been with for a couple years now, I believe. During that time he's shown an interest in coming to worship and Bible studies with her as his own family no longer attends any denomination (they were originally Baptist, I think). The problem is that recently there's been an increasing rift between his parents and her -- quite frankly they don't want him with her at all. He does not feel the same way and though I believe she's made an effort to be earnest with them, they still refuse to acknowledge her as anything but a phase in his life. Well, the real problem is that this has come to a point where they no longer allow him to come to services with her. From what I'm told, just last week it was time for evening services and though he'd finished everything they'd told him to do, his father did not allow him to go. The exact words were something along the lines of "Where do you think you're going?" This troubles her greatly and she doesn't know what to do about it. The only Bible examples I can think of would be the persistent widow at the beginning of Luke 18 though not toward God but rather the young man's father, but I wanted to ask you for your wisdom and experience of God's word rather than just jump to the first thing I can think of. Please advise.
"If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:26-27).
It is sad when parents stand in the way of a young person's efforts at becoming a better person. You didn't state how old the young man was, but I'm going to assume he is old enough to make his own decisions. He has to decide which is more important to him, becoming a Christian or keeping his father happy because his father won't allow both to happen.
It is a tough choice. I know a fine Christian woman, now the wife of an elder, who when they were young hear the gospel and responded. Her mother was so upset that she left Catholicism that she didn't speak to her daughter for decades thereafter. It wasn't until she was on her death bed that they were able to have a long talk about it. I also knew a fine Christian man, who at the age of fourteen decided to be a Christian. His Baptist mother was so upset she kicked him out of her home. He went and lived with his best friend, the son of an elder and grew up to be outstanding Christian. I met his mother at his wedding, she couldn't figure out how he had so many kind-hearted friends who obviously loved him and he them. He soon started preaching though he was forced eventually to quit because of a brain tumor that eventually took his life. Some of the greatest Christians I know are people who had to make a commitment to Christ that cost them something in this life.
Sit down with this young man and help him sort through the issues in his life. If his father won't let him borrow the family car to go to services, get him rides. If his father locks him out of the house, find him a place to stay. The entire congregation needs to become a more solid family in this man's life than his family will ever be.
Sometimes that is what is needed to prove how serious a person is about being a Christian. I remember my grandfather, a Gospel preacher, tell about a sixteen year old girl who wanted to be baptized. Her father refused, but my grandfather arranged to baptize her in a creek anyway. Her father showed up at the baptism with a shotgun in his hand -- and watched as my grandfather baptized her into Christ. He apologized afterwards, saying now he knew she really meant to be a Christian.
There is no problem that cannot be overcome if a person really wants to live for Christ. "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world -- our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (I John 5:4-5).
When we obey those over us, we understand there is a hierarchy. We give obedience to governing authorities (Romans 13:1) knowing that the government is ruled by the King of Kings. We are obedient to our employers because we are serving our Master through them (Ephesians 6:5-8). We are obedient to our parents knowing they are serving under the Father in heaven (Ephesians 6:1-3). But when those over us are disobedient to the one who is over them, then we must realize that only God is to be obeyed. That is the choice this young man faces. He has not yet given his life to Christ and it has come to the point that he must decide whom he must obey. "But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard"" (Acts 4:19-20).