From time to time I have counseled some sweet young woman who loves her parents dearly, but is having a hard time staying on the same page with them. For example, once I visited with a young lady whose parents were requiring her to wear dresses exclusively. She had been honoring them in this for some time, but was chafing under the restriction. She asked me what she should do, and I told her it was very simple: just continue to wear a dress cheerfully and pray that God will change their hearts. Most daughters flinch at this. “Are you kidding me? But that’s what I don’t want to do.” I know. That’s what obey your parents means. The command is not followed with when you agree. Obedience is simple when you agree. No one needs help with that. But when you disagree, when you think they are being unreasonable, then it is difficult to be obedient.
This is particularly trying when it comes to courtship. Sometimes a young woman becomes emotionally attached to a young man, but her parents are saying no way, not him. When the young woman obeys her parents and trusts God, He always blesses her. When a daughter persists in going against her parents, whether openly or on the sly, God does not bless it. This is simple. This is the way God tells the story. If you want to be blessed, follow His instructions.
In this I am not speaking of older, unmarried women. I do not think that a thirty-something-year-old woman living on her own across the country is still required to render obedience to her parents. Honor, yes, but it would be weird for parents to continue to require obedience of a grown daughter as though she were still in her teens or young twenties. But she should still care very much about what her parents think and how she can honor them.
Though obeying on some points may be hard for a time (denying yourself always is), it is obviously much better to trust God and honor your parents, by faith. And I always have to add one qualifier to cover the hard cases: if parents were requiring a daughter to do something unlawful or immoral, of course she should disobey them, and get help in doing so. But most of the things daughters have trouble with are not in this category at all. It is usually something as mundane as clothing, music, makeup, movies, or facebook. If parents are unhappy with their daughter’s choice of clothing, I suggest that the daughter open the door of her closet and say to her parents, “Please take out anything that you disapprove of, and I will get rid of it.” The same should go with music CD’s and the same should go with friends. A daughter who takes seriously the command to honor and obey her parents will be a daughter who receives rich blessings from the Lord.
Parents make mistakes too, of course. But an obedient daughter will make room for them to see their own. When a daughter is disobeying, her behavior is taking up all the landscape. And then the atmosphere gets charged with hurt feelings, which just makes it all worse. Parents can feel that a daughter is not just disregarding them, but also being disloyal. Obedience cuts through it all, clears the air, and puts life back in focus. A daughter who asks her parents if they might reconsider their decision, but assures them that she will follow through on whatever they want her to do, is a daughter who will win her parents’ hearts over. They are more likely to think about whether they are being too demanding or unreasonable. And as time goes by, many daughters have seen the wisdom in their parents’ decisions and thanked God for the close calls when they obeyed their parents and didn’t wreck their lives!
But what if the parents are being demanding about it? What if they are not being sweet? (I wonder how sweet the daughter is being.) But she can still please God in the situation. She can obey “as unto the Lord” and pray something like this, “God I am obeying my parents because You are telling me to, even though I think they are wrong. So I am rendering it to you.” This kind of obedience happens all the time in offices, in the military, in schools, in churches, in our neighborhoods. If we limited our obedience to only when it was asked for sweetly, we would not be obeying very often. God has established His authorities in the world, fallen as they are. And one of those authorities is parents over their own children. They will be held accountable. And so will their daughters.