While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.” But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:46-50)
an you imagine how Mary might have felt to hear this? I can't answer for everyone who reads this website, but virtually every woman I hear from who has found this blog testifies that she is seeking to obey the will of God as it relates to her life. Because we are blessed to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, within that personal relationship, God will communicate, guide, and direct personally. I realize this might seem elementary, but many well-meaning people continue to teach that when a woman listens to or seeks God herself, or when she is given a calling by Him for her life, that she is being influenced by feminism's alleged focus on independence instead of listening to her parents' interpretation of God's will for her.
However, I contest that instead of promoting independence, when we encourage all others, women included, to seek the voice and will of God, we promote something far greater...God-dependence. This certainly isn't an objective of feminism! And it requires faith. It might seem simpler to rely on those who lay out specific guidelines of belief and behavior, or tell us what we should or shouldn't do, because then we have our lives in black and white. We know exactly what we are to do and what's expected of us. Having someone "hear God for us" makes our spiritual walk easy and broad! When our path is wide, we don't have to worry about falling off the edge. We can see our steps clearly, and see far into the distance. We can place our trust in those who have a vision for our lives. We don't have to weigh the consequences or endure the pain of living. It's not as scary this way, and perhaps we make fewer mistakes. We don't have to search the Scriptures quite so doggedly to determine God's will ~ because those who have set themselves in this position in our lives have already done so. Yet Scripture says:
Who among you fears the LORD?
Who obeys the voice of His Servant?
Who walks in darkness
And has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the LORD
And rely upon his God.
Look, all you who kindle a fire,
Who encircle yourselves with sparks:
Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled—
This you shall have from My hand:
You shall lie down in torment. (Isaiah 50:10-11)
Faith runs through lightness and darkness, the known and unknown, following the letter of the Spirit and clinging to the solid Rock for everything pertaining to life. Faith doesn't fear making mistakes, but trusts the One who justifies the ungodly and who calls us to follow Him on the narrow, difficult way that leads to life.
Sometimes this looks doubtful to parents, who I believe truly love their children and want the absolute best for them. Sometimes parents disapprove of the choices and decisions their children make. Sometimes they make mistakes. Sometimes there might be rebellion in their hearts that God will address. Who is the "they"? Mistakes are a human thing. Rebellion is a human thing. Adult children are not automatic culprits. Nor are parents exempt. This doesn't make light of sin, but rather places it properly. Truth is, a heart can be rebellious even when outward actions completely conform to what others want, and I fully believe the opposite is also true: that a heart can be humble and obedient to God when outward actions might appear to others to be wayward.
Revisiting Honor vs. Obedience
Because I write to adult women, issues of child obedience as it relates to parental authority do not pertain to the scope of this blog. Yet I hear from many who equate obedience with parental honor. I wholeheartedly support, believe in, agree with, encourage, and love the Scriptural command to honor parents. In my humble understanding, honor and obedience are not one and the same. In my article Daughters in Waiting ~ Adult Daughters at Home I give examples of ways parents are honored when it manifests outside the context of obedience.
In a recent comment, I wrote "If our parents are Christians then they are our brothers and sisters in Christ...yes, we should honor, respect, and care for them, but ultimately, [spiritually speaking] they are equal with us before God. Consider if as adults, your own brother or sister asked you to do something. If you did what they asked, would that be you “obeying”? Or simply you doing a favor? Or what if your adult brother or sister commanded you to do something? What if it were a friend of yours? You can give thought and prayer to their demand, seek God’s direction and Scripture, maybe even seek the counsel of others, and decide if it is a healthy or righteous step for you to take. But that still doesn’t mean you’re “obeying” them if you do it or “disobeying” if you’re not. The fact that you even consider their command, suggestion, or request gives them honor."
Although not discussed as often as the others, one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control. We do hear about it in the negative sense ~ controlling sinful habits or the lusts of the flesh. We don't often hear about it in the positive sense ~ which could be exactly what it says! Self-control. As a woman seeks the influence of the Holy Spirit and discerns the will of God, as she learns to walk in the Spirit, self-control is one of the fruits manifested in her life. Yet when others consistently thwart His transforming work in the lives of those who, really, are His children ~ that is a misuse of authority (which is the abuse of authority). When parents try to make adult offspring "obey" them, even through subtle coercion or cognitive dissonance (bounded choice) they are making themselves as God in their child's life when in reality, they need to be stepping out of His way and coming underneath with prayer and faith that God is in control and loves that child.
Being self-controlled certainly doesn't mean that a wise person won't seek the guidance of those close to them. But they will take everything they receive before God for His direction, weighing it according to Scripture with prayerful consideration. Note that the Bible doesn't say when we do the will of others, we are part of the Lord's body, but when we do God's will, we are, as Jesus proclaims, His brothers, sisters, and mother. He embraces us not only among His disciples, but also His family. Seek and obey Him!