A nice Christian girl brought home her fiancé to meet her parents. After dinner, the father invited the young man to join him on the front porch for iced tea. “So what are your plans for my daughter?” he asked the young man.
“I am a Bible scholar,” he replied.
“Admirable, but how will you provide a nice home for my daughter?” the father queried.
“I will study,” the young man responded, “and God will provide.”
“How will you buy my daughter a beautiful engagement ring, one that she deserves?” the father persisted.
“I will concentrate on my studies, and God will provide for us,” the young man answered again.
Still not satisfied, the father asked, “What about children? How will you support children?”
“Don’t worry, sir. God will provide,” the young man insisted once more.
The father asked several more questions, and each time the young man answered the same: “God will provide.”
Going back into the house, the man was met by his wife, who asked, “How did it go?” to which the man answered, “The boy has no job and no plans, but the weird thing is, he thinks I’m God.”
Yes, fathers will do what they must to protect their daughters and help their sons, but Scripture lends better insight into the parent-child relationship and its relevance to our topic. Ephesians 6:1–4 says:
Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.
Verse 1 is obviously a reference to children in the home. The covenant of marriage creates a new home with a new head, so the married couple is not expected to obey their parents as when they were children living at home. However, they are to honor them, and this command spans the realm of childhood and beyond. Interestingly, the word honor in verse 2, which is a quotation of the fifth commandment, literally means “to promote richness.” So, adult children, promote richness with your parents and in-laws, for this is right before God.
Verse 4 addresses the responsibility of the father in his relationship with his children, both those at home and those who have married and left home. Fathers are clearly instructed not to provoke their children to anger. In the Greek, the word translated “provoke” is parogizo, which means “to anger alongside”; the root word implies “by your proximity.” In other words, men, your presence is not meant to create strife and anger in the home of the new family. Your son-in-law is not a “meathead,” and your daughter-in-law is no “bimbo.” As this text reveals, fathers share the same responsibility as do mothers in accepting their children’s spouses and treating them the same as their children by birth.
Fathers, model for your children and their spouses what is right in the Lord. Your example is key to pulling out the best that may lie dormant in that new member of your family. Pay special attention to this final important truth:
No one ever becomes all they can be by only hearing all they are not.
Whether you are dealing with a son or son-in-law, daughter or daughter-in-law, or any other member of your family, never demean. Your responsibility is to honor and love.
Excerpt from “Happily… Even After” now available on Amazon.