Question:

How do I honor my stepmother and accept her? What are our places now in the family? I am just looking around in all sorts of places for answers, so I hope this is something that is appropriate to ask you.

Recently my family has grown as my dad has remarried. My mother passed away when I was very young. I've been without a mother a major part of my life, although my mother was a big part of my father's life. He met a woman through church whom he shares a lose of a spouse with and other things. They have married. She has daughters who are now my stepsisters. Everything seems to have worked out well. I know that they are very happy, and I like my stepmother. She is friendly, kind, funny and a godly person. But I don't think either of us really knows what our relationship is. Should I treat her as my mother? That seems like a difficult thing to do, and I don't think correct, but what else could it be? She is a part of the family. I can't just treat her casually, and I would like to be closer to her. I don't know what the Bible says about such a dynamic. I guess that as they are married, I must respect and obey her as a parent.

I am having some issues of my own right now. Maybe I'm relying on my own feelings, but I feel like I would like to have her there as someone I could turn to. There are things I don't think my dad is able to help with, though he has tried. I feel like she could be the one to help me if she was more of a parent than she is now. Obviously, I'm not thrilled with the idea of starting to be obedient to her, but if that makes our relationship strong and if that is what God wants, then so be it. Even if that is what is needed, I don't know how I would make it happen. I don't think it's something I can just announce to her. She needs to think the same way, which I hope she does.

I'm sorry about the long message and questions, which are kind of vague and maybe more for a family counselor than for a church! But I do hope there is some guidance I can get.

Answer:

I'm assuming you are still a minor living at home.

Have you considered that every Christian refers to God as his Father?

"For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, 'Abba! Father!'" (Romans 8:15).

"But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ" (Galatians 4:4-7).

In Israel, God was annoyed with the people because they called Him "Father" but did not treat Him like a father. "A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am the Father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is My reverence? says the LORD of hosts" (Malachi 1:6).

A person does not have to be your biological parent to be a parent to you. Just because a man and woman conceive a child, it doesn't follow that they will make good parents for the child. Biology has nothing to do with being a father or a mother, other than that most become fathers and mothers through biology.

Your father worked hard to raise you and for a period of time, he had to do it without a wife to help him. Now he has found a woman he loves. He is willing to be a father to her daughters. She is willing to be a mother to his daughter. Thus, like any child at home, you owe your parents obedience and respect. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother," which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth" (Ephesians 6:1-3). This command is not restricted to biological parents. It is a command to be fulfilled with those who are your parents, even if they are step-parents.

It may be awkward at first, but I would suggest that you call her "mom," and I hope your stepsisters call your father "dad." If it helps, sit down with your new mother sometime and tell her that even though it feels strange, you would like to think of her as your second mother. Let her know that you have problems to talk about some time with her that you don't think dad will understand. Then ask her if she minds you referring to her as "mom." I think you will be surprised by her response.

Question:

Mr Hamilton,

Thank you for your reply. Yes, to answer your question, I am still a minor living at home. What you say makes sense to me and maybe just confirms what I suspected in my heart. I had not thought about it that way, but, yes, a parent doesn't have to be a biological one to be a true parent to someone. I suppose more of a challenge than working that out is making it happen between us.

I had not thought of calling her "mom" and I admit it seems like it would feel strange. Like you suggest I will talk with her and see what she says, and I will try to give her obedience and respect like you should to a parent. That actually worries me a bit, as she sometimes takes a pretty firm line with her little girls and might expect more from me than my dad, but I guess I shouldn't think too much about that.

Can I ask, what is meant by "Abba" in the first two quotations? And in the third, it seems like there is a big difference in how a son treats a father and how a servant treats a master, even though they both give respect. Is there a difference in the way that today we look to God and the way we act between each other?

Thank you again for your advice.

Answer:

"Abba" is the Aramaic word for father or dad. Many of the Jews in Israel at the time of Jesus spoke Aramaic for their daily speech and Hebrew was reserved for formal and religious speech. In the two quotes, the first word is in Aramaic and the second is in Greek and is intended to show that both the Jewish and Gentile people can reach out to God as their Father.

A servant gives respect to his master because the master pays him. A son gives respect to his father because his father raised him. Thus, you are correct, there is a difference. The servant's respect is less than the son's. God raised up a nation from a single man named Abraham. He brought that nation out of Egypt and gave them a land to dwell in. For these things alone you would think Israel should have respected God. But even without them, God gave them laws to obey and He could not even get the respect a master gets from a servant.

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