I’m looking for “chapter and verse” from the Bible on girls and young women staying at home, under their father’s protection and authority, until marriage. It was an easy concept until we have to back it up!
Our daughter lives at home with us, has been homeschooled since birth, and graduates this year. She has developed an excellent godly relationship with a young man who appears, by God’s grace, to be the one she will marry. Our daughter really has no desire to move out, and is perfectly willing to remain at home until such time as she marries. But the issue still arises from time to time, because her boyfriend is away at school, and the long-distance relationship is a struggle for both of them.
As the oldest in a large family, I felt empathy for your mother heart! I can also see why your daughter would be feeling a lot of pressure and wistfulness. It’s a challenging situation, but you’re right: there are answers in the Bible. Let’s have a look.
I imagine that most Christians would accept the existence of a broad biblical principle of staying under the protection of various authorities — something that applies to every single believer, regardless of age or gender. (See, for instance, Psalm 91:1, Matthew 23:37; Proverbs 14:12; II Cor. 11:3; Romans 13; 1 Peter 2:13–15; 1 Timothy 2:1–2; 1 Timothy 3:5; Ephesians 6:2–3;1 Timothy 2:1–4) In addition, many feel the Bible indicates that women are especially spiritually sensitive, and thus in need of specific protection — from deception, for instance, and from their own enthusiastic promises, which might later turn into burdens. (I Timothy 2:9-15; Numbers 30)
I think the real question here is how. How do these verses look in real life application? How are they carried out? With what attitude? And to what degree of detail?
I do not have children of my own, but I have observed my own parents, and my Heavenly Father in action. There is a place to demand obedience, yes, but God seems to expend a lot of energy on winning our hearts and showing Himself worthy of trust. (Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21) I am so grateful for parents who did that for me. As I grew older, they encouraged me to do my own spiritual homework (pray, study, seek God’s direction), while coming to them for advice or course-correction as needed. Now that I’m an adult, they treat me as a daughter, and also a sister in the Lord. Sometimes they speak to me strongly on matters of integrity: areas where I am not living out the Bible. But they are also genuinely interested in my opinions and convictions, and will occasionally seek my help in sensing God’s leading for our family.
At this point, I’m a thirty-something single woman who still considers herself under her parents’ protection. Mostly by following their example, I have a heart to support our home, and to have my own home someday. (Titus 2) But the main focus of my parents’ verbal exhortation is that I will “seek first the kingdom,” however God assigns me to do so. (Matt. 6:33, I Cor. 7:33) I’ve spent several years living at home, an integral part of my parents’ calling. I have also spent several years of my life volunteering with homeschooling moms or with our church, caring for the elderly, mentoring younger siblings and young women, and developing and using my writing and editing skills. At times this has meant living across the country — or even the world — from my parents, but always in a situation where I was surrounded with other believers, and willingly maintaining regular contact with home, whether for a shoulder to cry on, for advice, or for prayer.
Has it always been easy? No. Our family has experienced many bumps in the road, and my parents have had to fall flat on their faces (figuratively speaking) before the Lord, calling out to Him for wisdom to meet the needs of individual children with unique personalities and struggles. But by the grace of God, there is a strong bond of trust and love between my parents and me. And oh, I hope this letter encourages you and your daughter! He is so able to sort out the knots and bring our families into unity! I believe that’s His heart for us. (John 17:23, Mal. 4:6)