To What Extent Should a Daughter Submit to an Extremely Overprotective Father?

To what extent should a daughter submit to a believing yet extremely overprotective father?

Well, while she's little she should submit entirely. "Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right" (Ephesians 6:1), unless he asks her to sin.

The only thing that a small child should walk away from—and they should do it probably with Mommy's help—is if the father says, "I want to have sex with you," or some other sin. And then the child should run, run to Mommy, run to a neighbor.

So I want to just come down really hard where the Bible comes down and say, The Bible is really clear that we should submit to our parents, honor our parents.

It becomes more complicated, I think, as the child grows and is older. They are becoming their own unit of life. They're not just an organic extension of the parents but increasingly independent as they move out. And then I think they would still have a heart that says, "Daddy, I want to honor you. I want to submit to you. I want to obey you."

In that season, though, you might try to discuss things a little more. Like when a father is being overprotective and says, "You can't go on this tubing retreat with the youth group, because you might drown." Well, I think you're going to have to submit to that. I wouldn't say that a daughter should say, "No! I'm going on this retreat, because I won't drown. And you're unreasonable!" I think she would ask her mom, "Could you help me to persuade Daddy? This seems so wrong!" And I think that would be wrong.

But here's the deal: when God said, "Children, submit to your parents," that was after the Fall. There aren't any perfect parents. All parents are stupid and sinful and inadequate and make mistakes. God knew that when he said, "Children, obey your parents."

More damage would be done in a culture, across the board, if we began to teach, "Every child should decide when Daddy is making a mistake and just ignore Daddy's authority. When Daddy says something wrong or stupid or overprotective, we're just going to ignore that, because we decide." That kind of autonomy is going to utterly destroy culture and family and life.

There is something to be said for just maintaining the structures of children obeying parents, even when parents are overprotective—provided we say that Jesus is Lord, and therefore you can't ask a child to sin and expect them to submit.