Trivium Pursuit

Duties of Children by William Gouge, Part 2

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. — John 10:1

The following is a modernization and updating of a selection from:

Of Domestical Duties, Fifth Treatise, Duties of Children, by William Gouge, London, 1622.

Just Reasons why Offspring should have Their Parents’ Consent to Their Marriage

1. By marriage, offspring are put away from their parents:

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. — Genesis 2:24

Does not reason dictate that those from whom offspring have their human existence, and by whom they have been cared for and trained up, should be honored with notice and consent of their marriage and leaving them?

2. By the marriage of his offspring, a parents’ power is passed over to the husband or wife of the offspring. Shall such a power be taken away without the advice and consent of the parent?

3. Offspring are more impetuous and hasty from lack of experience, and are more prone to seek to satisfy their present fleshly desire than to provide a good and lasting companion for themselves; but parents by the instinct of nature love their offspring as well as the offspring love themselves, and due to much experience have a better understanding of what a suitable companion would be, and are better able to discern in this case because it is not their own case and yet it is the case of someone whom they love as themselves, and to whom they wish as much good as they wish for themselves. For the offspring’s good, is it not right that the parent should have effective power in a matter of such important consequence as marriage?

Regarding the Sin of Offspring Marrying without their Parents’ Consent

Offspring of a contrary mind and practice are those who lightly esteem their parents’ jurisdiction, who take matches of their own choice, and who sometimes do so privately without giving any notice at all to their parents, and who sometimes do so most rebelliously against their parents’ intentions and orders.

This is not much unlike those who in the old world before the flood were condemned for taking wives for themselves of all whom they chose.

…that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. 3 And the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” 5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. — Genesis 6:2-3, 5-6

This practice was one branch of that wickedness for which the world was drowned.

This is rather like Esau who took such wives as proved to be a grief to his parents.

When Esau was forty years old, he took as wives Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35 And they were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah. — Genesis 26:34

What blessing can be expected to fall upon such marriages? Or rather what curse may not be feared to follow them?

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you. — Exodus 20:12

Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you. — Deuteronomy 5:16

Cursed is the one who treats his father or his mother with contempt. ’And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’ — Deuteronomy 27:16

Whoever curses his father or his mother, His lamp will be put out in deep darkness. — Proverbs 20:20

Happy is the man who is always reverent, But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity. — Proverbs 28:14

There is a generation that curses its father, And does not bless its mother. — Proverbs 30:11

The eye that mocks his father, And scorns obedience to his mother, The ravens of the valley will pick it out, And the young eagles will eat it. — Proverbs 30:17

You know the commandments … ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ — Mark 10:19

[Speaking of adults] God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. — Romans 1:28-32

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” — Ephesians 6:1-3

Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. — Colossians 3:20

But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God. — 1 Timothy 5:4

[Speaking of adults] For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! — 2 Timothy 3:2-5

By this type of behavior, God’s law is transgressed; God’s image in parents is despised; what is more proper to them than any goods – namely, their child – is fraudulently or violently taken from them; their souls are grieved; and they are often justly provoked to cast off their offspring and to curse their offspring’s marriages. God’s curse often follows the just curse of a parent. [With some crimes – such as common theft or simple lying – repentance and a restoration may repair most damages. Yet with other crimes – such as murder and rape – something precious is taken which can never be restored regardless of repentance. Marriage without parental consent is a kidnapping and a rape, a betrayal and in principle a murder, a theft of inheritance and a breach upon social order, bringing a measure of irreparable damage to parents, to the sinning couple, to the following generation, and to society as a whole.]

An Objection favoring Offspring Marrying without Parents’ Consent

Objection: Offspring marry for themselves and not for their parents, why then should the parents’ consent be so much depended upon?

Answer 1: Though offspring do not marry for their parents, yet they do marry from their parents, that is, by marriage they are freed from the jurisdiction of their parents. (See the second reason above, under Just Reasons why Offspring should have Their Parents’ Consent to Their Marriage)

Answer 2: Offspring are not their own; they are the inheritance from the Lord (Psalm 127:3): the Lord has given them to parents as an inheritance, therefore an offspring may no more marry for himself without consent of parents than take his parents’ goods for himself. [The offspring’s marriage serves as the parents’ happiness and security in old age.]

And he who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. 16 He who kidnaps a man [person] and sells him, or if he [or she] is found in his hand [as a slave or a wife], shall surely be put to death. 17 And he who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. [Compare 1 Timothy 1:9-10 below.] — Exodus 21:15-17

For everyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother. His blood shall be upon him.” — Leviticus 20:9

If a man is found kidnapping any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and mistreats him or sells him, then that kidnapper shall die; and you shall put away the evil from among you. — Deuteronomy 24:7

He who mistreats his father and chases away his mother is a son who causes shame and brings reproach. — Proverbs 19:26

Whoever curses his father or his mother, His lamp will be put out in deep darkness. — Proverbs 20:20

Whoever robs his father or his mother, And says, “It is no transgression,” The same is companion to a destroyer. — Proverbs 28:24

There is a generation that curses its father, And does not bless its mother. — Proverbs 30:11

For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 5 But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God” — 6 then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. — Matthew 15:4-6

He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban”‘ — (that is, a gift to God), 12 then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, 13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” — Mark 7:9-13

… the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers [person-stealers], for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine. [Compare Exodus 21:15-16 above.] — 1 Timothy 1:9-10

But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God. — 1 Timothy 5:4

Regarding Stealing Offspring from Parents for the sake of Marriage

Anyone who fraudulently allures or who forcefully takes away offspring to have them marry in any way other than what their parents would desire makes himself an accessory to the sin of offspring marrying without their parents’ consent, and thereby makes himself an object of the just vengeance lawfully pursued by the parents. This is a worse kind of felony than stealing away the goods of a man. Offspring much more properly belong to a man than do his own goods, and are dearer to him than any goods can be, and are ever so much more highly to be esteemed because they are his personal relations not mere objects. Our statute law [back in 1622] expressly condemns this, and imposes a severe punishment on whoever should offend in this way. And such offenders justly do deserve to be severely punished, both in regard to the heinousness – the shockingly wickedness – of the sin, and also in regard to the many ill and injurious consequences which follow upon it, such as the alienation of parents’ affection from their offspring, the disinheriting of heirs, the enmity between the friends of each party of those who are married in this way, the contentious suits at law, the ruin of families, and, if the persons whose offspring are married without their parents’ consent are distinguished and honorable, the disturbance of whole towns, cities, and nations. Take for instance the destruction of the Shechemites (Gen 34). This same sin is said to have been the cause for the ten years’ war between the Greeks and Trojans and the ruin of Troy.

Regarding the Sin of Ministers Who Marry Offspring without Parents’ Consent

Whether through carelessness – by not taking due account of whether the parties whom they marry have their parents’ consent – or through bribery – by being hired for some reward to marry offspring which they know do not have their parents’ consent – such ministers who do this make themselves accomplices in a high degree to the sin of marrying without parents’ consent. Their deed is as evil as the deed of the principal parties themselves. Their solemnization of such marriages embolden the parties in this sin who have been married in this way, and also embolden all the persons in this sin who were present at the marriage. As the representative of the person of God, these ministers highly dishonor God’s holy ordinance by saying of such persons as God has explicitly forbidden to be so joined together, that those whom God has joined together no man may separate. If ministers had no hand in such unlawful marriages, such marriages could not be made, for our Church approves of no marriage unless it has been solemnized by a minister. For this reason, whenever any offspring is married without the consent of their parents, then some minister is guilty of this sin of the soul. Therefore it is good that our church, in order to prevent this sin, expressly forbids ministers to marry anyone without parents’ consent, and it inflicts a severe censure on those who offend in this matter.

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