From the Archives: But What About Stepdads?this month.
We hope you're making plans to bless your dad this coming Sunday, but we recognize that for some of you, Father's Day is ... complicated. That's because you have a stepdad (I like to call mine my bonus dad!). As you'll read in this post, I know from experience that having stepparents can be tough. But we pulled this post from the archives, because it's important to honor your stepdad, too. Here's why.
Being a member of a blended family can be challenging. Divorce is heartbreaking. Adding a stepparent to the equation can often feel like having salt rubbed in the wounds. As a result, relationships between stepparents and their stepchildren are notoriously conflictual. Much of the time those relationships are filled with anger, bitterness, conflict, and frustration.
If you're locked in a battle with your stepparent, you might feel like I'm preaching to the choir. You likely already know, all too well, that relationships with stepparents are difficult to navigate. You need to know what to do about it.
As always, the answers are found in God's Word. Let's dig in together.
Know that a broken family was not God's plan for you.
Malachi 2:16 says it plainly: "‘I hate divorce,' says the LORD God of Israel."
Divorce is not God's best for your family. If you're the child in the family, you likely didn't have much choice in whether or not your parents' stayed married, but that didn't immunize you from experiencing the consequences. Understanding God's plan for marriage can help you understand why dealing with divorced parents and then becoming a part of a blended family is so very difficult.
This hit home for me on my wedding day. I couldn't decide who should walk me down the aisle. My parents divorced when I was ten, and my stepdad had been a big part of my life for most of my teenage years. He and my mom thought that meant he should walk me down the aisle. But my dad was still very much a part of my life. He and my stepmom thought that meant he should walk me down the aisle. The conflict that ensued got ugly. In the end both men walked me down the aisle, and all four parents gave me away at the altar. That conflict helped me realize the divorce that happened in my family eleven years earlier would always have an impact.
The consequences of divorce are ugly. I find great comfort knowing that a broken home breaks God's heart, too.
Even so, God calls you to respect and submit to your stepparents.
First Peter 2:17 says, "Show proper respect to everyone."
Romans 13:7 says, "Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor."
The idea that respect must be earned isn't biblical. God calls us to demonstrate respect to the people around us, especially those who have been placed in authority over us. Because of your circumstances, you may feel like your stepparent doesn't deserve your respect, but you are called to offer it to them because of your relationship with Christ.
Ephesians 5:21 says, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."
The idea that we should only submit to people we like or agree with is bunk. God calls us to voluntarily cooperate with others out of our love and respect for Him. Obviously you aren't called to submit to your stepparents to the point that you compromise your relationship with God, but you should look for every opportunity to humbly cooperate out of reverence for Christ.
You are clearly called to honor your father and mother.
I know how we can twist God's Word when we don't necessarily like what it says. It's true—we are never expressly commanded to honor our stepfather and stepmother. The Bible says to honor your father and mother, so the rule doesn't apply to our stepparents, right?
Remember, I've been where you are now. I've used every excuse in the book not to treat my stepparents with honor and respect. Trust me, it doesn't work.
If you won't love your stepparents out of love for them, do it to honor your biological parents.
Honoring your father and mother is part of the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:12). Jesus repeated the law in Matthew 15:4: "For God said, 'Honor your father and mother' and 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.'" Ephesians 6:2 says, "‘Honor your father and mother'—which is the first commandment with a promise."
The Bible clearly tells us to honor our father and mother. Does it honor them to disrespect the spouse they have chosen? Does it honor them to ask them to choose between their children and their mate (either by your words or your actions)?
A great way to honor your parents is to respect their new husband or wife, and one way you can do that this week is by finding a way to express love and gratitude to your stepdad, even if he isn't your only dad.
I know that these aren't easy truths to digest. That is often true of God's Word. But you can trust that God's statutes are written with your best interest in mind.
Psalm 19:7 says, "The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple."
For more thoughts on dealing with stepparents, check out this other post from the archives.