The Consent of Parents

[Note:  I preface this post by saying that I am not endorsing or promoting Thomas Boston as a true Christian when I quote from him.  But I think Boston writes some things that true Christians could benefit from.]

Some interesting historical-theological information from Thomas Boston’s comments on the Westminster Shorter Catechism (Boston is continuing his comments on the duties of children to parents, parents to children, and parental authority):

Following their reasonable advice, and taking along with them the authority of their parents, in order to their calling or marriage. That children ought not to dispose of themselves in marriage without the consent of parents, is the constant doctrine of the Protestant churches. And the reasons are these. (1.) The scripture gives the power of making marriages for children to the parents, Deut. vii. 3. Jer. xxix. 6. 1 Cor. vii. 37, 38. Yea, even after parties have consented, it is left to the parent, whether to give his abused daughter to him that has been guilty with her, Exod. xxii. 16, 17. (2.) The most approved examples of marriage in scripture go this way, Gen. xxiv. 3, 4. xxviii. 1, 2. and xxix. 19. Judg. xiv. 2. Lastly, The reason is plain; for the child cannot give away any thing, that is his parents’ against their will. Now, the child himself is the parents, a part of their self-moving substance, in which they have a most undoubted property. So, when the devil was permitted to fall upon what was Job’s, he fell upon his children, and killed them in the first place. Yet, upon the other hand, no parent can force a child to marry such and such a person; for consent makes marriage, and that which is forced is no consent. The child must be satisfied as well as the parent, Gen. xxiv. 57. So the short of it is, that the consent of both is necessary, and that the parent must neither force the child, nor the child rob the parent.” (Thomas Boston; underlining mine–CD)

The purpose of this post was to present historical-theological information on what certain people believed the Bible to teach concerning the parents’ authoritative, disciplinary, nurturing, and didactic role over their children — specifically, their authoritative involvement in their children’s marriage.  It does not matter what Thomas Boston thought, obviously.  The authoritative Scriptural teaching is what matters.

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