THIS is one of those issues that causes strife in families. It is when a young adult tells his parents that there is a lady he wants to marry but the parents are opposed to that lady.
They do not like her. They do not want their son to marry that lady. A third world war starts!
This gives rise to the question, “Should my parents approve my spouse-to-be? I am the one who will live with that person for the rest of my life. It is none of their business who I decide to marry, isn’t it? After all, they chose who to marry without asking for my opinion.”
One reason this dispute becomes so messy is because marriage is the most important event in the life of a human being.
The parents realise this and so do not want their child to mess it up. The person marrying realises this and so wants his own choice of a spouse.
Someone who was of this opinion in the Bible was the famous Samson. The Bible says that he went to his father and mother and told them about the Philistine woman he wanted to marry.
In fact, he asked them to go and begin marriage negotiations immediately.
The Bible says that Samson’s parents protested. “Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” (Judges 14:3). They did not approve of his choice of a wife.
Samson did not accept their reservations. We read that he responded by saying, “Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes.”
That is exactly how many young adults respond to their parents when they express reservations about the person they want to marry.
Why should parents approve your spouse-to-be? The reason is that they have love for you and wisdom that they have garnered over the years because they have been married.
They now know the dangers ahead of you and, out of love, they want to spare you troubles.
This is usually the case when the parents already know the man or woman that their child wants to get married to.
They may know that the person is quarrelsome or selfish or lazy or even a terrible hypocrite. They know that getting married to such a person is a disaster.
Sometimes, it is when the parents know other people who know that person.
Those people would have already warned them that the person hanging around their child is “bad news”.
So, at the very first opportunity, the parents express their strongest reservations.
There are times when a child of a divorced parent will say, “But why are you trying to correct me when you failed in your marriage?”
In fact, it is for that very reason that the parent wants to intervene. He does not want his child to make the same mistake that he had made.
What parents need to know, however, is that their child is no longer a child. He or she is an adult. Perhaps a young adult, but an adult nonetheless.
Therefore, the expression of approval or disapproval is not meant to be authoritative even if it is a very strong disapproval.
An adult can only be advised. It is a great honour when a child goes to his parents and seeks their approval for the person he wants to marry. If he does not do that he can still marry but he must know he is going ahead without the safeguards that God has given us in parents.
Often at this stage if the value system of the parents has not become the value system of the child who is getting married, it is too late for arguments on right or wrong spouses to prevail.
Arguments only win where there is a common foundation or worldview.
Granted, there are times when the reservations of parents are based on unjustifiable grounds.
This is the case when it is based on tribalism. There are parents who really believe that some tribes comprise bad people.
The moment they know your surname, you are bad.
In such cases, yes, you are entitled to agree to disagree with your parents.
After all, their approval or disapproval is not authoritative. It is an expression of their opinion, as weighty as it might be.
You are now an adult and should stand on your own two feet!
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