Throughout the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ we find many parables which He used to teach His disciples. One of the more recited ones is the story of the prodigal son. We all know the story; the father had two sons, and one of which rebelled and followed the ways of the world. While he was out partying and squandering his inheritance his father was at home longing for his return. When the young man realizes his foolish ways, he plans on going home to beg his father to just let him be a servant in his house. The father however was not angry or bitter, but instead was overcome with joy, thus the prodigal son and his fathers relationship restored. This parable is one that allows us to get a picture of how God longs for the return of His children, and rejoices rather than chastising when they do. Most of us have read this parable many many times since we were a child, however have you ever asked the question, “am I a prodigal son or daughter?”
At first glance we say yes if we were rebellious, and chose the life of the world, and no if we followed what the Word says (in other words we were pretty good). That however is not the question I am asking. In order to answer the question I am asking one must look back to Genesis for the answer. Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Gen 2:24)
So if one is to answer whether or not they are a prodigal son or daughter they need not look just at whether or not they rebelled against God and parents, but did they leave home before it was time. One may ask how is it that one can know if they have left too early. If we follow culture, or the world one would say that age 18 is the proper time. I would ask though where in scripture is the magic age of 18 found? Search long and hard, but I assure you that is not there. Yes at 18 you are a legal adult, but according to the scripture you are still under the authority of your father. The Bible shows us that only when a man and woman take one another as husband and wife are they permitted to leave their father and mother.
We have bought into this lie that at 18 we are free. Leaving home is not the issue; the issue is leaving the authority of our father before it is time. One can live in the same home as the father but rebuke his authority because he feels he is a man. At the same time one can attend school, or even hit the mission field, all the while remaining fully under his father’s authority. Sons and young men you may feel as if though you are a man and free of your father’s authority. Scripturally you are not.
Culture says that daughters should move out, get an apartment, maybe a room mate, and as good of a job as possible until marriage comes along. The Bible however unpopular as it might be says that you are to remain home and under the authority of your father until you cleave unto your husband. Your father is your protector until he hands this duty over to your groom at the alter. Unfortunately feminism has killed the ideas that daughters are to help their fathers and mothers until time to marry. If my daughters choose to further their education, that will be fine. However if the choose not to, that as well will be fine. I am not training my daughters to be CEOs that take the world by storm, but to be first and foremost wives and mothers. ( Yes God could call them differently, but that is not the norm, and He will guide us there if need be.) Trained to be a wife and mother does not mean they lack education. It is my goal that by the time they are married my daughters will not only be educated in the maths, histories, and sciences, but also strong masters of English, Latin, and Greek, law, and logic. Far from the barefoot and pregnant picture many paint.
Culture says that our sons should at 18 begin to move on to their own life, and that they are now men, and make their own decisions. Son’s just like daughters are not free to roam at age 18, as they too are still under the authority of their father until they cleave and start their own family. Our boys as sons are being trained on being Godly husbands and fathers. They as well may chose to further educate themselves, or they may chose to enter a life of entrepreneurialism. Either way they are being taught that one day they too will be the protector, and provider of their own family. Our goal as is mentioned in scripture is for them to go and prepare a place that they may take their bride and raise a family. Not take a bride have some kids and then say “now what.”
When the time is right, my sons will leave and cleave to their wives. They will then properly enter their role of husbands, protector, priest, and God willing as fathers. Our daughters at the right time will likewise properly leave and cleave with their husbands and enter their role as wife, helpmeet, and hopefully mother.
When we leave in terms other than this, we are being this prodigal son. We are denying our parents the honor they are due. Again one does not have to even physically move out in order to rebuke and leave the authority of their parents. I know personally both Dana and I left the authority of my parent’s years before we were joined as one. That was just as dishonoring to our parents as living the life of rebellion in a different land. At least the Prodigal son had the decency to go to a distant land before doing so.
So whether you are 14 or 50, a parent or not, divorced, or single. If you are not married, yet have left the authority of your parents, you are a prodigal son or daughter.
The great news though is that we know the redeeming story of the prodigal son. While consequences followed him, he was never to far gone to return to the father. Thankfully neither are we; earthly or heavenly.