Do I have to support my father, who refuses to work and smokes marijuana?

Question:

Hello,

First of all, I love your site. I have spent many hours happily reading the archives of the questions asked, which has helped me. That's why I'm coming to you with this.

Because he doesn't "feel like it," my father has not worked for fifteen years; instead, relying on my mother to support him. He is nearing retirement age, and they have no savings whatsoever. I approached them with a suggestion to start saving through my mother's 401(k) program at work. While she was amenable, my father became upset, saying it is biblical for children to support their parents in their old age, and, therefore, they should save up nothing.

Is he right? Is there a financial obligation to my parents, specifically my father? He also has a pot addiction that I find morally repugnant and do not wish to finance.

Thank you for your guidance in this matter.


Answer:

"For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread" (II Thessalonians 4:10-12).

"But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation" (I Thessalonians 4:4-8).

The command is to honor your parents (Ephesians 6:2-3). Honor can include seeing to their care when they are no longer able to care for themselves, but that is not the situation here. Nothing in this command indicates that a person is to support a person in their sin. Check up on him once in a while. Make sure he is receiving aid if he needs it. But you should not encourage sin by financing his sinful life.

Suggest that your mother save up for retirement, but place it in an account that your father cannot tap. This will be for her old age. Let your father know that you'll be willing to help him once he gives up his drug addiction and works for a living. If he won't live by God's rules, then he can't quote God about your responsibilities.

Dear Jeffrey,

Thank you so much for your kind and concise answer. It has certainly given me a lot to think about. I will have to confront my father soon.

Thanks again, and please keep me in your prayers.