Is it a sin for young married people to continue living under the same roof as one spouse’s parents?
This question was asked by an acquaintance, whose daughter, after she got married, continued to live in her parents’ house with her mother. This situation is convenient for both the mother, who is a widow, and the young people, as the house is spacious and in this way they can save money and help each other. The question arose when one of the religious leaders told the mother, based on the text of Genesis 2:24, that it was a sin for the young people to stay in the parental home and they had to separate.
Earlier, I had also heard a young woman from that region say that their leader had taught them that they were not allowed to leave their young child (up to two years old at the time) with unfaithful parents, so they rarely allowed their parents see the grandson and only for about two hours, and only in their presence. Their parents, intellectual people, were very angry with their son and daughter-in-law for such behavior.
This situation prompted me to write this article. Someone else might not have paid attention to these people’s worries, however, as I talked more with these people, I understood the danger of such teachings. Such teachings are not only not biblical, but they are worldly and resemble the beginning of division, that is, separation between people, and God did not call us to this. God wants us to separate ourselves from everything that is sinful in this world, but not from people. God wants us to remain among people and be a light to people. Before leaving for the Father, Jesus prayed for His disciples:
I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word. (John 17:14-20)( NASB)
Such a thought, of which I wrote at the beginning, is not from God, but from the world, from the evil one. Such a thought leads to separation, to division, and God did not call us to this. Such thinking has filled the country with orphanages and nursing homes. Grandmothers used to take care of grandchildren, and then children and grandchildren took care of the elderly. Years ago we started with kindergartens and now we end it with orphanages and nursing homes at best, but most often with social orphans and abandoned elderly people, left to die of cold and hunger, either in their homes almost demolished in villages or on city streets…
But let’s see what God’s Word has to say on this subject. Does God want the separation between parents and children to be as radical as some teach? I want to dwell on the text of Genesis 2:24 and then on a few cases in the Bible in which patriarchs and religious leaders lived with their parents or in-laws and knew how to live well together and be an example to their descendants, but also for us.
Genesis 2:24 about the separation of young married people from their parents
We know well that Genesis 2:24 has in mind that once the marriage covenant is made, the newlyweds form a new team and they are no longer under the authority of their parents.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)( NASB)
With their marriage they make a new team in which the head or the boss is the husband and not the parents of one or the other. Unfortunately, there are many families who live separately from their parents, but their parents control their marriage. But there are also young married people who continue to live with their parents and yet have autonomy in their family decisions. This does not mean that young married people will not follow the rules of the house! On the contrary, living together, young married people must follow the rules of the house, in order to have a harmonious coexistence.
The example of Moses, who lived with his wife in his father-in-law’s house for almost 40 years
When Moses fled from Egypt, he found refuge in the house of Reuel, the priest of Midian, who married one of his seven daughters. Moses chose to stay in Reuel’s house.
Moses was willing to dwell with the man, and he gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses. (Exodus 2:21)(NASB)
Moses lived in his father-in-law’s house and worked for his father-in-law.
Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. (Exodus 3:1)( NASB)
When we live together, everyone needs to know and fulfill their responsibilities and that’s the right thing to do. This does not mean that the owners of the house keep your family in order. The decisions you make about your family are something else.
After God revealed Himself to Moses and told him to go to Egypt and deliver the people of Israel from captivity, Moses respectfully asked his father-in-law’s permission to go to Egypt:
Then Moses departed and returned to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, “Please, let me go, that I may return to my brethren who are in Egypt, and see if they are still alive.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.” (Exodus 4:18)( NASB)
We see a beautiful relationship, of mutual respect. Not that Moses assumed that Jethro would decide for him whether or not to go to Egypt, but it was a nice way to show respect for his father-in-law, especially since in this situation someone had to take over Moses’ responsibilities.
The mutual respect between these two men is also evident when Jethro brings back Moses’s wife, whom Moses had sent home because of the great responsibility he had on his shoulders.
So Moses took his wife and his sons and mounted them on a donkey, and returned to the land of Egypt. (Exodus 4:20)( NASB)
After Moses sent Sephora home with the children, his father-in-law, when he heard that God had brought Israel out of Egypt, took Sephora and their children and came to Moses. We see Jethro seeking to preserve the integrity of Moses’ family.
Now Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for Israel His people, how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took Moses’ wife Zipporah, after he had sent her away, and her two sons, of whom one was named Gershom, for Moses said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.” The other was named Eliezer, for he said, “The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh. Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife to Moses in the wilderness where he was camped, at the mount of God. (Exodus 18:1-5)( NASB)
Moses received his father-in-law Jethro with all due respect:
He sent word to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons with her.” Then Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and he bowed down and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare and went into the tent. Moses told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardship that had befallen them on the journey, and how the Lord had delivered them. Jethro rejoiced over all the goodness which the Lord had done to Israel, in delivering them from the hand of the Egyptians. (Exodus 18:6-9)(NASB)
Next, if we read this chapter, we see how delicately Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, advises Moses on how to delegate his responsibilities so that he has time for his family. Moses listened to his father-in-law’s advice, and as a result, Zipporah and her children stayed with him, and his father-in-law went to his own country.
So we see a beautiful relationship of mutual respect between Moses and his father-in-law, in whose house he lived for many years, namely 40 years, until God called Moses to a special work.
There would be several examples in which young married people continued to live with their parents.
The example of Isaac and Rebekah
Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and he took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her; thus Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. (Genesis 24:67)( NASB)
At that time Sarah was gone to the Lord, but Abraham was still alive. From chapter 25 we learn that Abraham married Cheturah, from whom he had other children, whom he removed, but he made Isaac heir to all that he had.
Esther knew how to be submissive to her husband, remaining obedient to her cousin, who raised her as a child.
The example of the apostle Peter
We find in the Gospels that Peter’s mother-in-law was in Peter’s house (Matthew 8:14, Mark 1:30, Luke 4:38)
According to the text from Mark, we understand that Peter himself lived in his parents’ house, because he writes that he entered Peter and Andrew’s house.
And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they *spoke to Jesus about her. And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them. (Mark 1:29-31)( NASB)
All I have to do is end this article with the words of the wise Solomon, which, I believe, refer specifically to such situations:
I have seen everything during my lifetime of futility; there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his wickedness. Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself? (Ecclesiastes 7:15-16)( NASB)
Translated by Ina Croitoru