How much control does a father have?



I'd first like to thank you for this site. The question and answer format is really very good, being able to see the application of biblical principles in terms of case-studies, so to speak. I have enjoyed reading many of them! My question is kind of two-fold in nature, touching on both the topics of divorce, remarriage and parents. 

I am a middle-aged woman. I am a believer, as are my family. My problem with regards to the family issue mainly centers on my father. He treats my brothers much differently than me (or my mother!), they are essentially given the freedom to have friends, go on social outings, marry, etc (i.e. have a life), whereas I am not. My father is very controlling with regards to my mother also. She is not allowed out of the house without his permission. Instances when she is permitted to go out (not for anything 'dodgy' by the way, she's artistic and likes to go to stores to buy craft supplies, etc.), when she returns, she gets all these pointed questions from him about where she went, who she saw, who she spoke to, etc. and no matter what she says, he immediately disbelieves her. (His personal motto is "Don't trust anybody, not even family.")

This is the same sort of attitude I get from him, and how he treats me. I have not had a real-life friend in years. I am so desperately lonely. He has told me on a number of occasions, that I am doing "the right thing" by not getting married, living at home. It is not through choice, I'm not allowed to move out. He says that if he could have his time over, he would have done this. It feels like he's trying to live through me by keeping me imprisoned. I know it sounds like a harsh word, but I truly feel so hopeless. I can't think of a word more appropriate. He states that the Bible says that children must obey their parents, and since children are always the children of their parents, no matter of age, they must always obey. He even says his married kids must obey him, but does this not violate the whole leave and cleave thing? He is keen on disowning his children that don't do what he says. He has in the past urged me and other siblings to do something that is sinful (cheating and lying) and said that we must do it because he said to as the father, and God will hold him responsible if it's wrong. I really believe this is rubbish. We answer for what we ourselves have done, is that right?

I just don't know what to do. I'm getting older and doing nothing. I really do wonder why on earth I am even alive if this is what 'life' is. I must be honest, I have had suicidal thoughts at times. I just feel like there is no hope. I know God says there is, but as long as I must obey, I know I will remain unfulfilled and alone. I have such desire to marry and have kids, which seems everyone else is allowed to do, but not me. I know there's nothing sinful in my desires.

The other issue: I met a good Christian man online over a year ago. I never get the opportunity to meet people in real life. I was not actually looking for a mate, but the friendship became closer as time went on. He lives in another country. We both asked very pointed questions of one another to ascertain the others spiritual standing. After all anyone can say they're 'saved.' We seem to be a very good match and desired to marry.

I'm going to give you some background information as to his divorce, and then tie both these topics (divorce and family) together. He married a woman who claimed she was a believer. She had already been married and divorced. She has never actually explained the cause of this divorce, although she says he was abusive (yet she also said the same of her second husband, who was not abusive. She does play the victim. He was relatively young in the faith, so was somewhat 'unwise' in this decision, although he said he felt conviction that the marriage should not have gone ahead. He felt that all the doors had been opening in front of him. He now sees the silliness of this assumption. But he was determined to make the most of the situation, considering he had made the vows. It soon became very apparent she didn't care at all about the vows she had made. The abuse of alcohol and drugs were part of it. Complete contempt for him was another, telling him how much she hated him and wanted nothing to do with him. She booted him out of the house on several occasions. These were not short periods of separation. An average of a year per instance. The final one was well over a year. In each of these instances, the guy had reason to think she was cheating on him with other men. After the first reconciliation, she told him she had indeed committed adultery, but a few days later when he questioned the paternity of the children she was pregnant with, she quickly took it back and denied it. A divorce was cancelled due to the reconciliation, but it proved to be rubbish; she only wanted money and sex and then booted him out again later. She did admit to kissing several men during the marriage, one of which her husband witnessed with his own eyes.

When he told me of this, I added his ex-wife on Facebook in order to check her out for myself. Looking back through her wall, I noticed comments on her own profile and also those she had written on the profiles of other men, which strongly (if not more definite!) indicate sexual activity with multiple men over the past few years, during the separations, and prior to the divorce. At the point of the final separation, she filed for divorce (no-fault). So, she divorced him, although she was the one guilty of adultery and not him. I know some people get all pedantic and insist that the innocent partner must be the one to file, but that seems like turning Jesus' words on their head to me. His remarriage focus is on the innocent party, is it not? Anyhow, she is now in a live-in relationship with a bisexual man, who is also a cross-dresser. She has also decided she is bisexual. She glorifies her new lifestyle of sexual immorality, perversion and violence. She knows she's living in sin but doesn't care. She is now rid of the man who 'held her back.' She sleeps with whomever she wants, mostly the cross-dresser, but if someone else takes her fancy, she goes to them too. 

OK, so obviously, I'd like to hear your thoughts on this man's situation. Am I allowed in God's eyes to marry this man? I do not want to sin; I want to be pleasing to Him and not allow Satan the opportunity to take a hold of me through any part of my life. Please feel free to ask any other questions regarding this scenario as you may need.

This ties-in to the family stuff. This man flew all the way to visit me in person last August. My family were OK with it at first. My brothers even invited the both of us to come around for dinner with them, so they could get to know him. At the very last minute my dad changed his mind. I had asked him a bunch of times prior to telling him about this man, about his thoughts on what the Bible teaches on the topic of divorce and remarriage, and he agreed with me. But, I believe his desire for me to remain under him took over, and he has now convinced himself, my mother and my brothers that all divorce is sin and all remarriage is adultery, even if the marriage was never supposed to be due to her unscriptural first divorce -- he must still never ever marry as a result. So, in essence, my dad has done a great job in scriptural interpretation, making no possible way for me to be with this man without it equalling 'adultery' in his eyes. He has said that if I marry this man, they will disown me. I will never hear from any of them again and I will go to hell.

I am so confused as to what to do. Like I said, I don't want to sin, I don't want to grieve God. My family don't even know him. They refuse to meet him. I was scheduled to pick him up from the airport and take him to his hotel. I was not to stay with him. Don't worry, we're dedicated to pleasing God -- the both of us. My dad, literally ten minutes before I was due to leave for the airport, told me I was not to go. I was to call the airport to page him that I was not coming. He knew nobody else in the country. After about an hour of me bawling and stressing how hateful and nasty it was to just leave the guy in the lurch like that, he permitted me to go to the airport, but I had to take my mum so I didn't do anything 'shameful' -- as though I would. Then he proceeded to beat me over the head for ages with how I was putting my own mother's life at risk by taking her to the airport, because the guy might be a serial killer when he told me I had to take her! (My dad suffers from severe paranoia.)

I'm going to stop writing. I'm getting really upset just thinking on it to explain it, but again, if you want to ask anything, please feel free to do so. I don't know what to do. 

If you've gotten this far, thank you for your time in reading what I have written. I know people have lives, things to do, so I do truly appreciate it!


Let's start by talking a bit about authority. "But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God" (I Corinthians 11:3). All authority rests with God, the Father. He delegated that authority to Jesus. "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth"" (Matthew 28:18). Just because authority is delegate, it does not mean that Jesus is now over the Father. It is just the opposite. Because it was the Father who gave it, the Father remains the head. "For "He has put all things under His feet." But when He says "all things are put under Him," it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted" (I Corinthians 15:28).

In giving authority, the one who is above is still in control. "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me" (John 6:38). Jesus could not and would not do whatever he desired. He is holding the Father's authority in order to do the Father's will.

Delegated authority doesn't typical come in whole -- most delegations of authority are limited. Governments are given authority by God. "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil" (Romans 13:1-4). Governments exist to promote goodness and punish evil. But that doesn't mean they have the right to define what is good or evil. That authority remains with God. Nor does a government have religious authority. Its authority is limited to the role God appointed them to fulfill.

If a government moves against God, going beyond the limits of its authority, then Christians remain loyal to God. We don't obey governments in the things which go against its ruler. "But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: "We ought to obey God rather than men"" (Acts 5:29).

The same is true for parental authority. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right" (Ephesians 6:1). Notice the phrase "in the Lord;" it means in the boundary of the authority of the Lord. So when your dad told you to sin, he lied. He was exceeding what he had the right to do. Your duty is to obey the Father who is the source of authority over your earthly father, who only has delegated authority, when your father doesn't obey God. Also a parent's authority is limited to their children. As you noted, there has to be a time when children grow up and are responsible for their own decisions. Typically that happens just before marriage, but not everyone marries. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24).

A good example of this was Rebekah's family. Abraham's servant came to negotiate a marriage, but when it came to the choice, it was Rebekah's decision. "Then they called Rebekah and said to her, "Will you go with this man?" And she said, "I will go"" (Genesis 24:58). She still lived at home for the time being, but she was an adult who made her own choices.

By today's standards and in every country that I know of, you are considered an adult. You are responsible for your own decisions. That includes your decision to turn over your decisions to your father and allow him to dominate and terrorize your life. Don't you think it is about time to grow up?

Yes, he threaten to disinherit you. So? Since when should promises or denials of future money factor into your decisions of what is right or wrong? If he disowns you, he will be missing out on seeing his grandchildren and I suspect even your mother will give him grief about that.

So what if he claims you won't make it to heaven? He is not the Judge. He has no authority in that realm -- never did. If Michael, the Archangel, refused to condemn Satan, then where do people think they have the right to determine where anyone is going in the world to come? "Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"" (Jude 9). Your spirit is in the hands of God, not your father. "But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed. "And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled"" (I Peter 3:14). "So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"" (Hebrews 13:6).

Your dad cannot hold you against your will without running into the government's authority and being arrested. If he doesn't like you making your own choices and throws you out of the house, then be prepared to have somewhere to go. It is about time you had your own place anyway. But what I suspect that your dad is more talk than action. When he objects about something that you know is safe, just tell him, "That is really sweet that you care. I appreciate it, but in this case you're wrong." Always treat your parents will love and respect. Seek out advice from them. But ultimately all decisions are your own.

Now concerning this man. It sounds like you done some good research, but you still know very little about him because it is all from the Internet. Even "friending" his ex-wife can be a spoof since people can make multiple pages. So while it probably isn't the case, I want you to go a bit further. You know what church he says he attends, so look up the preacher there or one of the elders and talk to them directly. Ask them what they think about the man and would they recommend him as a husband. Then you will have a better certainty that the man is real and his situation is real.

If you do decide to marry him, I want you to spend at least six months living near where he lives so you can see him often. I want both of you to know who you are marrying instead rushing into this because you both are escaping bad situations. Don't fall into the trap of making excuses if you learn something is not right. You are better off calling it off than marrying because you feel desperate. It means a lot of work for you because you are going to have to support yourself for a while -- but it will be worth it in the long run.