How should the children act when the parents forbid them to attend the church?

These days I have received this question and I come with this article to give an answer according to the Holy Scriptures, adding some practical advice for the children that are in such a situation.

Realize the reason of attending the divine services of the church.

The church is the community of the believers that form the body of Christ. This is the universal church and it is not necessary connected to one place. At the same time, every believer belongs to a certain local church, where he goes to worship God together with other Christians, to study the Holy Scriptures and to grow in the knowledge of God. Simultaneously, we go to church to have fellowship with other believers and together to form a team that works efficiently for spreading the Gospel and the Kingdom of God. That’s why it is important to go to the church. I am sorry to say this, but many people attent the church out of habit and they don’t realize any of the things listed above, or just a few.

Realize the reasons that make your parents forbid you to attend the church.

In our postmodern epoch, and after the atheism was implanted in people’s hearts for 70 years in the communist times, there are many adults that are parents now and they see faith as a threatening for the future of their children. Many forbid their children to attend the church because they object to God and their children’s true faith. But there are also parents that forbid their children to go to church, because their son or daughter finds only an excuse to go to church, so that he/she will be able to run away from the responsabilities and obligations from school or from home. So, some prefer going and implying in all programs of the church to doing their lessons, or their work at home. This is an evil, which is named  undiscipline by the Bible. Apostle Paul said in regarding to such situations:

Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example. For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread (2 Thessalonians 3:6–12)(NASB)

Honor your parents.

This is the first of those 10 commandments that regulate our relation with people and it says:

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you. (Exodus 20:12)(NASB)

To honor your parents means to appreciate their care and support that you receive from them and, showing grattitude, to fulfill all your duties at home and at school. It is not an honor to your mother if you come the first at home and you neither clean the house, nor cook, and you let your mother do it, when she comes home, after a hard working day. And then, if you have just come at home, leave your bag and run qiuckly to church every day, not to omit any program or any other activity, this is not good. Try to fulfill your responsabilities at home, because the Holy Scriptures also says:

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8)(NASB)

In all you say or do, in all your actions, show respect towards your parents, because God wants this and He teaches this all of us. But, don’t confuse worshiping God with honoring your parents and don’t change the prorities.

Obeying God is superior to obeying everyone else in this world.

Once, while crowds of people were walking with Jesus, He said to them:

If anyone comes to Me, and does nothate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. (The Gospel of Luke 14:26)(NASB)

If you hear this verse for the first time, you may be shocked of what you have read and you may not believe that Jesus Christ, who has always taught about love, could say these words. Yes, He said this hyperbole, that is an intended exaggeration, through which He shows that between the love for parents, or for children, or for the partner of marriage and the love for Jesus, it is expected to be a distance as that existing between hate and love. Other time, the Lord Jesus told the same truth, saying:

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. (The Gospel of Matthew 10:37)(NASB)

Before saying the above phrase, the Lord Jesus said:

Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD. (Matthew 10:32–36)(NASB)

Jesus Christ speaks of such situations, when the parents impede the children to believe and follow Him up, or inversely, when the children impede their parents. I know such a case, when an old woman was sent away from home by her children, and she lived on the street because of her faith in Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus asks us to be strong in our testifying and to listen to Him, not to those that ask us to deny our faith, whoever they may be.

Don’t behave arrogantly even when your parents are not right.

You can be obedient to God, act according to His Word, but at the same time you can show respect and not arrogance to your parents. Here is an example from the life of the prophet Daniel. When he was a teenager, he was taken as a prisoner along with three friends of his and they were sent to learn in the Babilonian school. There, they were ordered to eat from the food that was layed on the table of the king every day. Knowing that on the king’s table was used meat, that was qualified as “unclean” by the Holy Scriptures, Daniel decided not to defile himself with the king’s choice food, but he acted wisely, respectfully and without arrogance. Here is how the Bible relates to us how he acted:

But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself. Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials, and the commander of the officials said to Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has appointed your food and your drink; for why should he see your faces looking more haggard than the youths who are your own age? Then you would make me forfeit my head to the king.” But Daniel said to the overseer whom the commander of the officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, ”Please test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be observed in your presence and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king’s choice food; and deal with your servants according to what you see.” So he listened to them in this matter and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days their appearance seemed better and they were fatter than all the youths who had been eating the king’s choice food. So the overseer continued to withhold their choice food and the wine they were to drink, and kept giving them vegetables. (Daniel 1:8–16)(NASB)

Daniel and his friends’ situation was very difficult, but because they acted wisely and respectfully with those who could become their persecuters, they had victory in their actions and God blessed their plans and actions. Be wise and don’t behave arrogantly, but show respect for all people and for those who persecute your faith in Jesus Christ.

Be ready to suffer for your faith in Christ.

When the Lord Jesus said that he who loves father or mother more than Him is not worthy of Him, He said:

And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it. (The Gospel of Matthew 10:38–39)(NASB)

Today, some people think that taking the cross means to carry a little cross around the neck only. Those who heard that phrase then, understood what the Lord Jesus meant, because the cross was an execution implement, and the one who had been condemned to death, was taking it on his back and was carrying it to the place where he was crucified. This was the case of Jesus Christ. So, taking your cross and coming after Jesus means to die for yourself, to be ready to go to death and not to love for you anymore, to be ready for any suffering that can be met in your life, inclusively the physical death. One of these sufferings could be that your parents send you away from home for your faith. This happens seldom, but it does. I myself know a Christian from Pakistan who, at the age of 14, being the eldest son of a very rich and famous man from the country, had a miraculous meeting with Jesus Christ and he believed in Him from all his heart. The whole family were Muslims and then, his father, after he had tried hardly to bring him back to Islam, decided to send him away from home. So, the teenager had to shelter himself in the sewerage, on the streets, to suffer from hunger and cold, all these for his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Later, he was found in a sewerage by a Christian missionary. This was this Christian’s cross and he was ready to carry it, because he died for himself when he believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. Be ready to suffer and know that this suffering can come from your dear ones, as Jesus Christ said, it is possible “that a man’s enemies will be the members of his household”.

Do your utmost to study the Holy Scriptures in obedience to God.

If you find yourself in certain circumstances when you can not attend the divine services of the church, study the Holy Scriptures by yourself and live in obedience to Him and worship Him. The prophet Daniel and his friends were in such circumstances that they couldn’t ever go to Jerusalem to enter the Lord’s House. Nevertheless, they always worshipped the Most High and they lived in a full obedience to Him.

Use the posibilities that are offered by Internet to study the Word of God.

When I created the portal Moldova Creștină I thought to serve those who find themselves in such circumstances and they can not attend the divine services of the church. Some are lying ill in bed, others are in hospitals, maybe some are in prison, or maybe in a country or in a locality that has no church. I want to serve you by teaching you the Word of God. You can always write the questions that you have or the situations that you are in and that you want to find out the answer from the Scriptures.

Translated by Djugostran Felicia