Ask Your Preacher
Jesus says in Matt 23:9 not to call anyone “father”. A buddy tells me that since Catholics call their priests “father”, they’re disregarding this verse (not that I care about this because, for me, they can call their clergy any name they want). But I hate to be the one to ask this because this may seem idiotic, but does this also mean that we cannot call our dads “father”?
Honoring My Father
Dear Honoring My Father,
Calling a priest ‘father’ is wrong because it is referring to ‘father’ in a spiritual sense. That is what Christ is condemning in Matt 23:8-10. Christ is rebuking people who elevate themselves above others within the church. Catholic priests place themselves in a position of spiritual superiority and authority above others. That is wrong and exactly what Christ told His disciples never to do.
On the other hand, the term ‘father’ is perfectly fine when used to refer to a physical parent. The Bible itself uses the word ‘father’ almost 1,000 times, and the vast majority of those times refer to fleshly parents. Gen 2:24, Gen 9:22, Lev 20:9, Pr 17:25, Mk 10:29, Lk 11:11 are just a few examples. Our fathers are a blessing from God given to us for a time to guide and discipline us (Heb 12:9-10). They are worthy of honor and the title ‘father’ (Eph 6:2).
Is it a sin to marry or have a relationship with your first cousin?
The Bible never condemns marrying your first cousin. Even in the Old Testament, the prohibition only extended as far as aunts and uncles (Lev 18:12-14). It isn’t a sin to marry your first cousin. In fact, it hasn’t even been culturally taboo for very long. Even two or three generations ago, it was much more common to marry a first cousin. Today, it is an odd thing to see a first cousin marriage, but it isn’t wrong. Cultures change all the time, and this is a cultural issue, not a Biblical one.
My mom was adopted, so we don't know her family history well. What would you do if you found out your boyfriend of twelve years maybe your cousin? We have no children together. He doesn't know we may be cousins... we live together... WHAT DO WE DO FROM HERE?
Dear Regretful Researcher,
The very first thing you need to do is stop living together before you are married. More important than any biological issues your future children may have, you are sinning, and that is much worse than any physical problem. The reason people don’t get married – but instead (outside of marriage) have sex, live together, have children together, and eventually destroy their lives – is because we spend our lives making up the rules as we go. We live our lives by the “what-makes-me-feel-good-right-now” philosophy. We have no real standard to live by other than what we feel at the moment. Like Pilate, we ask, “What is truth?” (Jhn 18:38) because we don’t know where to find the right answers to life. How can we know what is the right thing to do? Only the Creator can give us a rulebook for life that allows us to comfortably say, “I’m making the right choice.” Jesus is the truth, the way, and the life (Jhn 14:6). All the answers to life are found in His Scriptures (2 Pet 1:3). If we want our relationships, our families, our careers, and our lives to work, we have to use the manual.
Biblically, there is nothing wrong with marrying your cousin – people did it quite commonly just a couple generations ago. You would have to consider the medical ramifications of having children, but that is a medical decision – not a moral one. As we said, more importantly than anything else is that you make your lives right with God.
I am a mother of two, and we don't attend church. I tell them as much as I know about God and Jesus and the Bible. I am scared, though, every time I start to think about the end of days… not because I am not saved but because I heard that when the rapture comes, in heaven you will not know anyone. I want to know my kids. I want to watch them grow up and have babies of their own. I think I may be misunderstanding something. Please help me understand what is going to happen and if we are all going to be together and know each other. Please, I get so sad about all of it.
Dear Maternal Instinct,
The Rapture isn’t a biblical teaching, and it won’t actually happen (read our article “Up In The Air” for a detailed explanation of what the Bible teaches about the Rapture). However, you are still left with your concern about what heaven will be like (heaven is still very real! – 1 Pet 1:3-4). In heaven, we have every reason to believe we will know each other. In fact, if the transfiguration is any indication, we will know everyone in heaven, not just those we have known in this life. When Jesus was transfigured on the Mount of Olives, both Moses and Elijah appeared and talked to Christ (Lk 9:30). The remarkable thing is that Peter recognized both of those men even though they had been dead for many centuries (Lk 9:32-33).
Now, if we may, we’d like to address your statement that you don’t go to church. It is a sin to not attend church; the Bible says so (Heb 10:24-25). God uses the church to strengthen each of us individually, and He expects all of us to provide our effort to help strengthen others in His church (Eph 4:16). The church is the pillar and support of the truth (1 Tim 3:15). Every faithful christian of the Bible was commanded to be a member of a congregation because God knew that we shouldn’t stand alone. It is a wonderful thing that you are teaching your children about Jesus and training them up to love Him (Pr 22:6). We would be happy to help you move forward in your service to Christ by putting you in contact with a faithful congregation in your area. E-mail us at email@example.com, and let us help you fill in that piece in the puzzle of your spiritual life.
I am a teen who grew up in the church, and both my parents were converted when they were teenagers. Their marriage is in a pitiful and sad state. If they weren't christians, I have no doubt in my mind they would have divorced long ago. The main problem that I see is simply that my mother has become strongly embittered against my father, and she acts on her emotions; too often in an ungodly way. She yells, slams doors, accuses, lies, and other things. She scrutinizes everything about him and truly defines Solomon's teachings of "a rottenness in his bones" and her contentions "are a continual dripping."
I feel as a fellow heir that I have a responsibility to intervene and help resolve all the sinful behavior. The roles in the house may be upside down, but I still want to honor my parents. How do I balance the two? Is there something I can say or do to help end the misery for everyone?
Dear Troubled Teen,
There is a unique pain that is felt as we watch loved ones struggle through life… but sometimes ‘watch’ is exactly what we have to do. Having personally spent many sleepless nights because of our own parents’ marital struggles – our heart goes out to you. We wish we could tell you that there is an easy solution, and if you step in and get involved, it will change everything, but that isn’t true. Sometimes, getting involved can make things worse. Pr 26:17 says that getting in the middle of someone else’s disagreement is like grabbing a dog’s ears. You’ll get bit every time. Just because you feel you have the solution and see the situation clearer than your parents, doesn’t mean that they would be receptive to hearing it. The most likely scenario is that you would add fuel to an already burning fire.
Another thing to consider is that your advice isn’t likely to be accepted by either parent because you are their child. Jesus said that a prophet has respect except amongst his own family and in his own house (Mk 6:4). Time has not made you equals with your parents, and you aren’t in a position to help them – it just isn’t the way life works. This doesn’t mean you are wrong or that you are seeing things incorrectly – it just means they won’t listen because you are the child and they are the parents. Whether or not you are correct is irrelevant.
But all of this doesn’t mean there isn’t anything you can do. Jesus’ preaching didn’t affect his family, but his lifestyle did. Multiple times in the Bible it says that Mary saw Jesus’ behavior and “treasured these things in her heart” (Lk 2:19, Lk 2:51). Jesus’ example made a lasting impact upon His family. When you see your parents fighting, calmly walk away. If they ask why – tell them it hurts you. When you have a chance to show respect to your father and love to your mother, do it. As parents, we can tell you that mothers and fathers notice these acts of selflessness and maturity in our children more than they ever know. Many parents have become better people because of the example of their children. You can’t preach to them, but you can live a sermon every day. And most of all, remember that regardless of what your parent’s marriage looks like, it isn’t your fault and it isn’t your burden. You are only responsible for you, and someday if you get married, you can apply the lessons you are learning now to change your family tree so that your children don’t need to feel what you are feeling now.