“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.
As we address this area, then let each of us ask these questions:
- Have I learned to leave my parents and cleave to my spouse?
- Do I have a healthy adult relationship with my parents and family?
- Have I let go of my grown children?
In our study, we will see that learning to “leave” our parents as well as “cleave” to our spouses is both seen in the life of Christ with his own family as well as His teaching about family in His adult ministry.
John 2:12-17: In this passage, Jesus is still traveling, associating and living with His family for a few days.
It is interesting to note that He also has His own disciples along with Him, which would indicate that He thus viewed Himself clearly as a Rabbi/ Teacher.
Historically, these Rabbis would have bands of followers who would trail them wherever they would go.
Evidently, not only He viewed himself as their teacher, but they did also.
This band of followers we shall note later becomes a point of taunting for His unbelieving and unsupportive brothers.
After the presumed rest and visit with His family, He and His disciples went up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover Feast.
While it is quite possible that He could have traveled with His family over the seventy mile distance, in that it was common for people to travel in large caravans, it become quite clear that He was pursuing His own agenda (Father and Spirit inspired) when He walked into the Temple area.
With no thought of His earthly family’s opinion or approval, He “cleanses the temple” by making a scourge of leather thongs and driving out moneychangers along with all of the animals.
“Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a house of merchandise.”
The text goes on to comment that His disciples remembered the Old Testament prophecy “Zeal for Thy House will consume Me.”
After voluntarily “associating” with His family on His terms, He abruptly differentiates and individuates from them to return to His divine adult agenda and purpose for living to which God had called Him.
John 7:1-9: Having returned back to Galilee, due to death threats in Jerusalem,
another feast was coming up, which would require the attendance the devout Jew in Jerusalem.
It was the feast of Booths, which was a commemoration of the provision of God as they remembered their ancestors living in tents in the wilderness for forty years.
Realizing the conflict that the threat of death and required attendance would evoke, Jesus’ unbelieving and unsupportive brothers seized the opportunity and began to taunt and heckle their sibling. The text reads as follows:
“His brothers therefore said to Him, ‘Depart from here, and go into Judea that Your disciples also may behold Your works which You are doing. For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.’
For not even His brothers were believing in Him.
Jesus therefore said to them, ‘My time is not yet at hand; but your time is always opportune. The world cannot hate you; but it hates Me, because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil. Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go to this feast because My time has not yet fully come.’
And having said these things to them, He stayed in Galilee. But when His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He Himself also went up. Not publicly, but as it were, in secret.”
Thus, “sibling rivalry” was even present in the life of Jesus by His brothers.
Here we see several interesting points in the development of Jesus “leaving” of His family.
First, He was willing to confront His brothers in a rather abrupt and yet truthful way.
He was willing to “speak truth, each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another (Ephesians 4:25).”
The second thing we note is that He was willing to separate and thus initiated distance between Himself and His brothers for the purpose of fulfilling His own plans and divinely inspired calendar.
Lastly, it is significant to observe that He was willing to break coveted “family tradition” by not traveling with the family caravan, and subsequently traveling without family under secret cover.
We can clearly see then, that Jesus remained undaunted with respect to approval, acceptance, and family harmony, when it came to purposes, which He knew God wanted Him to accomplish.
The powerful will of the family, which we all find so hard to resist, did not prevail in the life of Christ.
He did not waver and determined that family pressure would not be allowed to supersede divine goals.
Practically speaking however, and in defense of the brothers and sisters, how would you like to have your brother stand up in a crowd and say, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.”
Eventually they all came around, yet at the beginning of Jesus public ministry, they were skeptics as I’m sure we might all be.
Question from a reader:
“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 we will give you the Biblical answer next week!
…to be continued.
Thanks and Love,
Milan and Kay