Mat 10:34-39 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. (35) For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. (36) And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. (37) Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (38) And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. (39) Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Families are meant for our good. Husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, sister, brother – and extended family as well – grandparents, aunts and uncles, and so on. A home is a family, parents and their children – who love and care for one another. But there comes a time in our lives when we are to “leave father and mother” and cleave to a husband or wife and begin still another family.
I want to talk to you here about this matter of leaving and how, in a sinful and fallen world, the enemy and his servants often twist that which God intended for our good into an enslaving “Egypt” that the Lord set Israel free from.
On several occasions over the years, I have, as I have written about before, experienced both patriarchal and matriarchal kingdoms which demand to possess power and control over family members. A father, for example, demanding that his wife and children serve him – forever. Or a mother who twists love for children into an ownership which refuses to let them leave and be the person the Lord would have them be. And woe to anyone who encourages the target of this thing to leave.
I have probably shared with you before a striking example of this I experienced, but here it is again. A young man, still living at home, asked if he could meet with me and talk about his future. What he should do with his life. What career he should choose. I gladly met with him and in the course of our conversation I threw some ideas out for him to think about. One of those suggestions was that he look into joining the coast guard. He had shown interest in first responder type careers and we live in a place where the coast guard is one of those very vital agencies. He responded positively and thank me for the idea.
A few days later I learned that his father had thrown an angry fit when the son mentioned the coast guard idea. In fact, he was so angry that he set out to do damage to me and the ministry here. He went to other church members and told them it was terrible that I dared to suggest such a thing to his son. Why do you think he was so enraged? I can tell you. He was a father who demanded a lifetime of power and control. His children, no matter their age, were his property with the mission of serving him, and he would punish any step toward freedom they might evidence.
In another case, a parent exploded in anger over the Scripture verses quoted above. Though a professing Christian, she “owned” her children and they were never to leave “the family.” She pressured them and guilted and shamed them if they showed any sign of independence. Of course, her actions merely served to drive them away, but nevertheless the children still had to struggle with the sense of bondage that was instilled in them by her.
These scenarios are certain signs of familial abuse. God, in His design for our lives, has told us:
Gen 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Unless children, as they grow up, are allowed to “spread their wings” over time and eventually leave father and mother in order to pursue their own life and goals and relationships, God’s design is not being followed and no good will come of it. A parent who demands perpetual power and control over their sons and daughters, that power and control even extending to the next generation – the grandchildren and even great grandchildren – may disguise this lust as “love,” but it is anything but love. It is a selfish demand for self-glory at terrible expense to those enslaved by it.
These abusive family systems are often encouraged and enabled by “christian” individuals and entities. The family is promoted in such a way that it becomes an idol. The father, in a patriarchal system, is to be served by all and the dynamic is very similar in a matriarchal kingdom. Such families are promoted and put forward to us as models for us to emulate, being supposedly God’s design and will. But that is a lie.
I know many survivors of these abusive families who have been freed from this tyrrany. They all relate how it took a very long time for them to clearly see what an abusive father or mother was doing to them. In most cases the end result is a no-contact “relationship.” Once they drew firm boundaries, they became familial black sheep cast out of the flock. But they will tell you something else – the freedom is absolutely worth it.