Can parents deny consent to their adult children getting married?


I read this from your site at: Do adults need to honor their parents by obeying them? I have actually read your responses and the whole Question and Answer to the end. My situation with my fiancee's parents are almost similar to the one quoted below.

"You'll be surprised as to how many Asian parents take this to make decisions for their adult children. In Asia filial piety is a huge thing, and, wrong or right, it has entered into the church that sometimes that part of the culture overrides proper biblical concepts."

Let me give you an example. There is a couple who wants to get married. The girl is in her late 20's, the guy in his early 30's. The father simply feels the guy is not good enough for his daughter -- not rich enough. The guy, however, is quite an upstanding man, a youth leader committed to the Lord and is a hard working businessman. The girl desperately wants the approval of the parents and has been waiting for years. It's come to the point now that they feel that they won't get that approval, so they are planning to marry anyway. When I approached the pastor and asked him if he would marry the couple if the father didn't give his consent, the pastor emphatically said, "No!" He said he believes in parental blessing, and so he won't marry them until the couple gets it. I almost fell off my chair. So now these two who grew up in their church and significantly served through the years of their lives and became leaders among the youth can't marry in their home church because of a cultural mind-set. This is what I mean: I feel that sometimes parents use this commandment unrighteously and some church leaders do too because of cultural backgrounds that are rooted very deeply. O well...."

However, my fiancée and I attend the same church. Our church leadership is willing and ready to wed us without parental consent because my fiancee's mother is refusing my proposal because she wants her daughter to marry someone else who is almost 15 years older than her daughter. My fiancée has strongly refused this proposal, and is still refusing. This is the third year now. We have been on this issue for three years now.

It's up to three years because at first they requested for one year, so they could pray to find out if our relationship was God's will. Though it was grievous, we agreed. One year later, they requested for another 6 months. At the end of 6 months they requested another 3 months. Now, they resolved that after the expiration of the 3 months they would allow us go ahead to be married but after the period elapsed, as cunning as they have always been, they came up with many different, unfounded reasons for which to refuse again.

Her mother told her so what if she's an adult already, meaning she doesn't care how old my fiancée is, as long as she refuses to agree to her mother's proposal she - her mother isn't going to support it.

My fiancée is in her thirties. Her father is influenced by his wife. They are both leaders at their church, and we have have gone to talk to one of their pastors about 2 years ago, but nothing came out of that visit.

My question now really is this: Is there any rule, scripturally, that we will be breaking by getting married without her parental consent? I haven't found any literally from the Scriptures. Other than the fact that the parents are 'forcing' their adult daughter against her will which isn't godly.

My question arises from Ecclesiastes 10:8, "... and whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him."

Her mother always brandishes the 'parental consent' weapon in her face.

I will be glad if you can respond soon.


"Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother, and will join with his wife, and they will be one flesh" (Genesis 2:24).

From the beginning there are three basic steps to marriage:

  1. Leaving home and parental authority,
  2. Getting married,
  3. And forming a new family unit.

While having your parents' blessings is nice, God has not made that a requirement.

As I pointed out in Do adults need to honor their parents by obeying them?, the passage deals with the obedience of children to their parents -- not adults. Adult offspring owe their parents respect, but that doesn't mean parents can dictate their children's lives. In fact, doing so violates the law God laid out for marriage. I note that in both cases you cited, the parents did not have a Scriptural reason to object to the marriage. Even if someone mistakenly claims that "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right" (Ephesians 6:1) applies to adults, the phrase "in the Lord" is a critical one. A child owes a parent obedience in the things that are scriptural. "In the Lord" means with the authority of Christ. To deny an adult couple the right to marry when no sin would occur is a violation of Christ's teachings. "But if you marry, you have not sinned. If a virgin marries, she has not sinned" (I Corinthians 7:28).

In both cases, the claim of religion is being used to operate counter to the teachings of Christ. In the first example, the pastor has created a rule where none exists. "Don't you add to his words, lest he reprove you, and you be found a liar" (Proverbs 30:6). The couple can get a civil marriage or have someone else perform the ceremony. There is no requirement in the Bible that a marriage ceremony has to be done by a religious official. In the second case, the parents asked for a delay to seek God's will, but they did not consult their Bible to see what God said about the matter. God doesn't talk to people directly today. "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds" (Hebrews 1:1-2). This is God's choice. "Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away" (I Corinthians 13:8-10). Anyone claiming to receive a modern day revelation from God is lying. And it is easy to prove because in both these cases they are claiming direction that is contrary to the Scriptures. "For God is not a God of confusion, but of peace" (I Corinthians 14:33). His teachings were given and they will abide through the end of this world. "Beloved, while I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I was constrained to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). "Seeing you have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth through the Spirit in sincere brotherly affection, love one another from the heart fervently: having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which lives and remains forever" (I Peter 1:22-23). What both are doing is blaming God for their own decisions.

I know it is counter to your culture, but you are Christians first, culture takes a distant second place. Arrange your marriage. Politely tell your parents that you would like for them to come, but the marriage will take place with or without them. If they choose their pride over their children, then it will be sad to no longer have them in your lives but you still wish them the best. In this case, the "weapon" is imaginary, so it only has power if you go along with the imaginary game.

In regards to "He who digs a pit may fall into it; and whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake" (Ecclesiastes 10:8), Solomon is talking about people who sin. A person who lays a trap will end up getting caught in his own trap. A thief trying to break into a home by going through the wall is likely to get bitten by a snake hiding in that wall. The point is that God sees to it that the wicked don't always get away with their crimes. Unforeseen events just "happen" to go wrong -- like the criminal who robs a bank and doesn't realize he wrote the demand note on the back of his credit card receipt. Marrying the person you love as two consenting adults is not a crime, so this verse does not apply.


Thank you very much for taking the time to read, and respond to my mail. Your reply gives me great encouragement and hope.

Thanks again. God bless.