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When Parental Obedience Brings Rejection | A Repost

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:  For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy...
1 Tim. 3:1-2

by Hillary McFarland

Have you ever had this Scripture quoted at you? With ominous emphasis on last days and disobedience to parents?  I have.

I often hear from ostracized adult daughters who have made life decisions their parents believe are in disobedience (rebellion) to them and their teachings. Most of these women report that the difficult choices they make are a response to God's calling for them. Parents counter that God wouldn't ask them to do something that contradicts what they have taught and their understanding of Scripture.

Yet these same parents teach their children to obey God first, regardless of the cost, regardless of the suffering and sacrifice, regardless of what other people think. These same parents generally encourage their children to stay in the Word and ask God for wisdom. To grow in the knowledge of Him, take up the cross, and follow.

When these women obediently do so, they are condemned, emotionally (and sometimes physically) severed from their families, and rejected.

Disobedience, Really?

Scripture teaches that children are to honor their parents, but there is a difference between honor and obedience. Honor itself is not always a feeling. This article is not a criticism of parents who want to raise a godly family but it is a pointed look at the highly-confusing message some women (and men) struggle with in their adult life: which is that living life differently, having alternate convictions, or even reaching a different understanding of Scripture is equal to backsliding, rebellion, deception, or rejection of faith. For those who have prayed, studied, and carefully sought the Lord regarding their conclusions, this can be absolutely crushing.

Part of walking with God means to be bare before Him, asking Him to reveal sin in our lives and lead us in the way everlasting. Only the Lord knows the true motivations of our hearts. If there is an adult daughter who is in true rebellion and disobedience, there is still hope! However, honor and obedience notwithstanding, I submit that there is a lot less disobedience happening than some would have us believe.

Did your parents raise you to obey God? Did they teach you to follow Jesus? It's a hard life. Can a parent ever be truly prepared for this? Can we ever be truly prepared for this? Because this is the reality of a cross-bearing life:
Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them,  “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?  Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.  So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:25-33
Did they raise you to seek first the kingdom of God? To be willing to go against the flow, to sacrifice? To take a stand? To question? To test all things and hold fast the good? To love God above all others, even when it hurts?

Encouragement for Living

Transitions are rarely easy, especially when it comes to issues of family and faith, individual (yes, individual) relationships with God, relationships with those we love, and sometimes the simple matter of growing up. It's hard for everyone. For women, especially those who do follow the Lord faithfully despite opposition, may I offer some humble encouragement?
  • Keep your words sweet, like the saying reminds us, because someday you might have to eat them.
  • Seek to be humble in all things.
  • Stay open to correction, because we can learn from everyone despite disagreement.
  • Find safe and trustworthy people with whom to fellowship, even if you meet for coffee once a week.
  • The art of boundaries takes time to develop, but ask the Lord to show you how! And keep firm, but gracious, boundaries.
  • Listen well. Pray without ceasing.
  • As much as depends on you, live peaceably with all. But follow Jesus first.
  • Trust God. Trust His love for you and His love for the ones you love.
  • Remember that parents and others sometimes respond like they do because they are genuinely afraid for you. Honor them and be thankful for their love. Take their fears to the Heavenly Father and ask Him if there is anything He wants to show you through them, and ask Him to comfort them also.
  • Endure.
  • Don't let the rejection you feel cause you to reject others ~ or to even reject yourself. Don't reject your sadness. Don't reject your pain. Don't reject your anger. Let God use these things, and the God-of-all-comfort will bring life in ways you've never expected. 
  • Do not return "evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing."
  • Love.
It can be confusing and deeply hurtful to experience emotional or physical rejection, especially when you have ultimately done what was asked of you. It's hard when you reap 'punishment' for obedience, rather than disobedience.

But take heart that you are not rejected by the One who matters most.


  1. Such encouraging and edifying words! Thanks!

  2. I had to make this choice when I was twenty, and I felt like I was choosing between my family and my emotional, intellectual, and spiritual freedom. I will never forget how hard that decision was, but I will never be sorry I chose to leave. No daughter should have to go through what I went through. Thank you for your encouraging words!

  3. Thank you for the blessing of this post, it encouraged me and blessed me as I am walking with my Lord even though it has me walking away and apart from my family by their own choice. Bright blessings!

  4. Was just wondering this morning where you were. Was hoping things were okay.
    Glad to see you writing again.
    Good message, as always

  5. Wow! This is so encouraging, I'll take these words in my daily life. God Bless!

    Smiles from,

    Andy at wordsandpen.com

  6. This is extremely encouraging. I HAVE been accused of being dishonoring/disrespectful and the case I have in mind, my conscience clears me of any wrongdoing. I was asked for my thoughts on a matter, I prayerfully gave them, with scripture and encouragement, and was thanked. Only a few years later was I told this was "evidence" of my dishonor and disrespectful attitudes. Thankfully by that time I had been out of the mind warp long enough that I could see it for what it was. It doesn't hurt any less, but it doesn't poison everything anymore. The truth really does set you free.

    Ironically, the person who accuses me of disrespect is very big on wives submitting "absolutely" to their husbands, but yet if I submit to mine above his authority, that's ... bad. Right.

    There was no way to "win" or be deemed acceptable. Once you get to the point where you can see that being accepted isn't possible, you can get on with your life and stop waiting for it to happen.

  7. Thank you, Laurie, Libby, Mystic Mom, Mara and Andy! <3<3<3

    Anonymous, those accusations are so difficult and I'm glad this article encouraged you. Perhaps these verses will too:

    1 John 3:19-21

    19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. 20 For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.

  8. It all depends on if these girls are really listening to the Lord or to Satan.... be careful!! How do you truly know you are be called away from your family by the Lord? Is it simply what you want or what God wants?
    Do wise and Godly counselors encourage you on that path? Or do they warn you against it? Never underestimate the fact that there is wisdom in a sea of Godly counselors. If everyone is warning you against what you are doing: LISTEN. Don't ignore the red flags just to do what you want to do...

    1. JRP, you are right, there is wisdom in counselors. However, for many girls whose whole community is made up of people who have been indoctrinated with the belief that grown women must stay at home and serve their fathers rather than following God's leading, NO ONE that they know will be advising them to leave home. Yes, there are whole churches and communities that believe that adult women's purpose in life is to serve her father until she gets married. These girls NEED to leave home and ignore the sea of counselors. They need to find a new community, a new church, and counselors who accurately teach the word of God.


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