Daily Devotional

In-laws or Out-laws?

Monday, April 19, 2021

Scripture: 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 26:34-35 NKJV)
Observation:  Esau … took to wife—If the pious feelings of Abraham recoiled from the idea of Isaac forming a matrimonial connection with a Canaanitish woman [Ge 24:3], that devout patriarch himself would be equally opposed to such a union on the part of his children; and we may easily imagine how much his pious heart was wounded, and the family peace destroyed, when his favorite but wayward son brought no less than two idolatrous wives among them—an additional proof that Esau neither desired the blessing nor dreaded the curse of God. These wives never gained the affections of his parents, and this estrangement was overruled by God for keeping the chosen family aloof from the dangers of heathen influence. [Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Ge 26:34). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.]
Which were a grief of mind. These two women, as the Hebrew clearly indicates, became literally, “a bitterness of spirit” to Esau’s parents. Their perverse and evil ways, their idolatrous religion, and their unspiritual and frivolous disposition brought heartache to Isaac and Rebekah. This sad world knows no greater grief than that which children can bring. [The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 1. 1978 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (374). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]
Application: Parents often have conflict with their children over their potential mate, particularly if it’s one whose beliefs and lifestyle are contrary to the way they brought their children.  Shakespeare immortalized this conflict it in Romeo and Juliet.  This drama is one of the major themes in the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof. 
Fortunately, there are less drastic solutions than the romantic death scene in Romeo and Juliet. Like Tevye in Fiddler or Robert in Downton Abbey, there are parents who eventually accept their adult children’s choices and even give their blessing. But it takes work and willingness. It doesn’t happen by magic or by argument. Articles in PsychCentral.com provides several suggestions to help you negotiate through these troubled waters:
  1. Don’t meet criticism with criticism but instead, be compassionate and understanding.
  2. Don’t meet parental disapproval with defensiveness and argument; instead, respond to their concerns with respect and clarity.
  3. Don’t keep your relationship a secret. Instead, make sure both of you agree about compromises in order to be together.
  4. Don’t use your partner to make a political point, to educate your parents, or to give yourself an ally. Instead, be clear about your own motives.
  5. Don’t take a side – your potential mate or your mother’s.  Instead, do your best to negotiate compromises, understanding, or at least respectful disagreement.
Parents don’t want to lose you any more than you want to lose them.  They are afraid of not just breaking the relationship they have with you but that you will break your relationship with God.  I’m sure that was part of what brought grief to the heart of Isaac and Rebekah.
A Prayer You May Say:  Father, bless our children that them may choose a mate who has the same principles, values, and beliefs in which we have brought them up, and bless us that we may always have a close, positive relationship with them and their chosen spouse.

Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.