“Learning To Leave Your Parents!”
(Relating to them as an adult.)
It can really be a challenging to successfully forge ahead into mature adulthood where I become a peer to my parents and sense a destiny apart from them.
From past newsletters, we learned that this is called “differentiation”.
To become a fully distinct individual, is called “individuation”.
While the words cannot be found in the Bible, these concepts are far from psychobabble, they are distinctly taught in the scriptures as well as modeled in the life of Jesus Christ.
Let’s do a quick review and learn more from the Savior about His growth into autonomous adulthood.
Key Biblical Text:
“Have you not read… For this cause man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh.” “Consequently they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate (Matthew 19:5-6 & Genesis 2:24).”
The world “leave” carries the idea of “to depart or separate away from the influence of another.”
The word “cleave” means to glue, weld, or bond together.
Thus, Jesus Christ said that we need to leave our parents and cleave to our spouse.
This is the leaving of one family unit and the formulation of a new independent unit that is accountable to God directly (I Corinthians 11:1-3).
Both young adults and their parents need to learn to let their grown children move on to this new position before God.
The new relationship to parent then becomes an elective choice as an adult peer…learning to relate at the same level, with independence emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
If there is still a strong emotional dependency on either side, then there will be unhealthy dependence and discord as well as a failure to reach one’s highest potential as a human being as well as a servant of God.
Let’s learn more from the life of Christ and His journey into adulthood!
Matthew 12:46-50 see also Matt 13:1, John 3:31-36, Luke 8:19-21: In these passages, Jesus indicated that His family identity was with his followers, and not with His family of origin.
It appears that they were trying to get His attention or call Him away from His ministry responsibilities.
He never did come to them at their request when it interfered with His plans and purposes.
He said that His followers were His new family (Mother, brothers and sisters).
John 17: In the High Priestly Prayer of Christ, Jesus said to the Father, that He
had accomplished or finished the “work” that the Father had given Him to accomplish in His public ministry on earth.
He could not have accomplished this work, had His life’s actions and agenda been dictated by family harmony and approval.
Luke 22: The night before He was crucified and died at the Passover meal (The Last Supper), He was not with His mother, brothers and sisters sorrowfully saying His goodbyes.
Rather, He is with His twelve disciples, the new group of Church leaders (except Judas) who would become Apostles who would lead the church in His absence, establish verbal authority by attesting miracles and ultimately pen the New Testament under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
John 19:25-27 Jesus does not abandon His true responsibility to His family as He
tenderly cares for His mother’s future provision has He hung of the cross.
In this encounter, He tells Mary that John shall be her son (provider) and that she shall be his mother.
True maturity and adult independence never negates God given “commands” or “directives.”
As we shall see in a later section, the Christian does have a responsibility to provide and care for aging parents.
It is interesting to note that although Jesus’ brothers and sisters were still alive, His trust and deep friendship with the Apostle John moved Him to ask John to care for His mother after He died.
Acts 1:14 Ultimately at the end of His life, we see Jesus’ mother Mary, brothers and sisters (presumably) becoming believers and viewed Him as Israel’s long awaited Savior and Messiah who died for their sins and provided eternal salvation to them.
We note that many of them were involved in the early church and the finished work of Christ on the cross, could only have been accomplished because they as His family of origin were forced to accommodate to Christ’s life goals and not He to theirs.
What do we learn from the example of Jesus Christ with respect to Him differentiating and individuating from His family of origin?
- While Jesus remained unmarried as an adult and didn’t “leave and cleave” to a spouse per se, He didleave his family of origin to become an independent, mature adult.
- He was free from the gravitational field of His family as to be able to pursue His own life’s goals and ministry.
- Yet, he also voluntarily associated with His Mother, brothers and sisters (Matthew 13:56, Mark 6:3) for the purpose of fulfilling family responsibility and fellowship as He desired or determined as necessary.
- His adult ministry was driven by a divine destiny and intimate relationship with His Heavenly Father as they (along with the Holy Spirit) carried out the Kingdom plan that was determined before the foundation of the world and revealed through the Old Testament prophets.
Do you remember the question from a reader that I shared in last week’s newsletter?
“I’m an adult married male in my 40’s and anytime I disagree with my Mother and don’t do it her way, she always throws ‘Honor your Father and Mother’ in my face.
Doesn’t leaving and cleaving contradict honoring them?”
This a great question and unfortunately this concept is highly misunderstood.
It would be easier if we could all read Greek, which was the language in which the New Testament was written.
In Colossians 3:20 and Ephesians 6:1-3, the instruction to “obey” and “honor” your parents is directed tochildren.
It is the Greek word teknon that means a little child.
And of course, that makes sense… “Obey your parents!” Our 40 year old asking the question is certainly not a child, so the passage does not apply to him and his mother is incorrectly interpreting the text.
Leaving and cleaving therefore necessitates that we no longer following the commands and instruction of parents.
…to be continued.
Love, thanks and blessings,
Milan and Kay