Question:

Hello, sir,

First off I would like to say that your web site has been extremely helpful to me as a growing Christian. It has made a tremendous impact on my perspective of the world and has been a source of encouragement to me in times of difficulty. If you could give me some advice on this matter, I would truly appreciate it.

My sister and I have been trying for some time to get into college. She is two years older than I am. Due to the skyrocketing costs of secondary education, we decided we would only attend if we could get a scholarship somehow. Well, this spring we have both been offered a scholarship (full tuition, room and board, books, meal plan, etc.) to an out-of-state university. The school that is offering the scholarship is on other side of the country, but distance is only a minor issue. The major issue is that our father, who does not approve of us living on campus, has told us to reject the scholarship and move on with his other plans for us. For me this would include staying at home to complete a study program that would get me a remote job (this remote job is the job my sister is currently doing and he wants me to do it, too).

I don't personally object to working from home, but our main problem with this arrangement is the confinements our father has placed on us as young women that makes us not want to live at home. He believes that women should not drive (even my mom), so either he drives us everywhere or we just don't get to go places if he's not in the mood. He also overprotects us to a point where I feel like a little child instead of a young adult. We are not allowed to go outside for a simple walk around the neighborhood or to sit on the porch without either he or my brother (my brother is one year younger than me) watching over. Also, we do not attend any formal worship services with other Christians, so the whole family is pretty much at home the whole time unless we go grocery shopping or something like that. Because of this whole setup, my sister and I don't really have any friends, for example other young women, besides each other.

My dad believes college is not as important for young women as for men. I understand why he says this. It's because men should support their families. I am not looking to take over the role of my future husband, only to grow a little and learn in the degree field I am interested in. Once I got my degree, I would work a little and then when the time came to get married and have children, I would readily quit my job and focus on my role as my wife and mother if need be. I would feel uncomfortable just jumping straight into marriage from living at home, at least with the arrangements that are currently at my house.

I understand the why living on campus is a risky situation for one's spiritual health, but for us, who's always been so close to the nest, we see it as opportunity to not only prepare more for the real world, but also to strengthen our faith and character. We have the option to room together, so this way we could be each other's support group and give each other reminders if we have some lapse in character. Our father has instilled some important values in us, and I see this as an opportunity to show him that we can and will do the right thing with our lives. He is always saying "It is not you I don't trust, but other people in the world." I don't know how to respond to that because it seems that simply because the world if full of temptations we must confine our lives to the extremes. My mom thinks he over shelters us, too. and wants us to go to college. She trusts to retain our values and put God and Jesus's example first in our lives.

I would like to hear your take on the matter, primarily if you think God would not be pleased with us going against our father's wishes. My father would be extremely angry at us for disobeying him (most likely he would not talk to us and shun us indefinitely), but I would also be mad at myself if just let this opportunity go. At the same time, I realize I have to be willing to make sacrifices for the other people in my life, and this may be one of them.

Thanks in advance.


Answer:

A preparatory step to marriage is separating yourself from your parents. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). Some people are able to do this without the need to physically leave home. Others though need some distance in order to start making their own decisions.

While your dad has good intentions, he is doing his family a disservice. I can illustrate this with the eldership in a church. Elders aren't perfect Christians, but they have demonstrated living a life that Christians ought to live. A qualification for an elder is "one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence" (I Timothy 3:4). So an elder's requirements illustrate how Christian fathers should be running their households. The word "rule" translates the Greek word proistemi. It doesn't mean a dictator or an authoritarian. It means to stand before, to lead, to maintain, and to take care of. In other words, leading by going first and showing the way. The type of rule your father is using is authoritarian, which is not approved of in the Scriptures.

Where you attend college is your decision and your sister's decision. If your father doesn't approve, he may choose not to support you, but he cannot legally or morally prevent you two from going. Yes, he might stop talking for while, but my guess is that he'll get over it. He can't run his children's lives.

You and your sister need to get your license so you can drive. It would be far better for both of you if you room together. I'm going to assume that this college has more modern arrangements and doesn't have shared showers with both sexes. If it does, then you need to make other living arrangements.

When you get there, you need to make contact with a good, sound church and become members. The fact that your family didn't join with brethren is another indication that your dad wasn't doing things God's way. People need brethren to help them grow and to encourage each other (Hebrews 10:23-25).

Let me know how things go.

Thank you so much for the encouragement. Leaving home for the first time will be both a scary and exciting event for us, but I think with the advice you have given us and our faith in the Lord we will be able to pull through. Perhaps my dad will get over it sooner than I think, and hopefully within the next few years before we graduate or get married, so he won't have any bad feelings against our husbands or his grandkids. In the meantime, I know he will view us as worldly and lost, but I can't think of any way to help that without doing things his way.

We're not too worried about the housing arrangements. This school has separate bathrooms for separate dorms for boys and girls, so I don't think we'll have any problems in that area. I think we will have trouble finding a church, though. I've never really been to a church and my family doesn't seek them out so I don't know what to look for and what to be on guard against as much as I should. If you could give us some tips, that would be nice. Thanks.

The most important thing in selecting a church is whether they follow the Bible or follow the teachings of men. If you let me know where you will be going to school, I'll try to find the nearest congregation that I think teaches sound doctrine. You can then visit it and see what you think about it.