Rebellion: Our Parents, Our Love Life with Stephen Ernst


Rebellion: Our Parents, Our Love Life with Stephen Ernst

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[Most names used in stories have been changed to protect identities]

Ray and Elena’s story

Let me relay a true story to you about Ray and Elena, – a middle aged couple with two kids, – Kim and Susan:

Ray and Elena met at a youth group many years ago. Ray was ‘the bomb’, – handsome, outgoing and charismatic. He was the all round ‘nice guy’ and the girls were lined up for him. He had the choice of almost any girl because of his good looks and hearty character.

Elena’s childhood was not easy… She clashed a great deal with her father. Her dad was an alcoholic and she resented it and rebelled.

Perhaps when Elena left home she said what I have heard before: “Now that I have left home my dad and I get along much better.”

Ray and Elena decided to get married. They both loved God and wanted to serve Him with their life.

Even though Ray and Elena wanted to serve God with their lives, Elena did not deal with the deep issues of the heart she thought she had left back home. The issues began to bubble up… Once the romance had faded, Elena started to treat Ray badly. She had trained her mind to think badly about her father all those years. Ray now became ‘that’ man in her life. He wasn’t an alcoholic, but the pattern of thinking she had developed through her rebellious years about her father started to emerge… All this because she had not dealt with the deep issues of the heart. She had allowed the past to stunt the growth of her Godly womanhood, – her true femininity that God intended for her.

Current situation – Elena and Ray are still married… but only just… Elena gets annoyed with Ray and constantly wishes she could leave him. Her sour attitude towards her husband has now been ingrained into her kids, Kim and Susan – they despise him too. Instead of dealing with the hurts of the heart… Instead of disciplining herself to selflessly love her father, Elena has influenced another generation to dishonour and despise the men in their lives.

Dr James Dobson of Focus on the Family:

“I have also observed that a woman’s respect for her husband is significantly influenced by the way she perceived her father. If he was overbearing, uncaring or capricious during her developmental years, she may disrespect her husband and question his judgment. But if Dad blended love and leadership in a way that conveyed strength, she will be more likely to live harmoniously with him.” [1]

Leslie Ludy tells a story of her husband in their book, ‘Teaching True Love to a Sex-at-13 Generation’:

“When Eric was growing up, his mom used to tell him, “Son, the way you treat me is the way you are going to treat your wife someday.” “I’m going to treat her better than that Eric countered confidently. Like many in the younger generation today, Eric didn’t see the correlation between the way he was treating his current family and the way he would treat his future family. He knew he was often insensitive and disrespectful toward his mom. But he reasoned that once he got married, those flaws would somehow melt away, and the tenderness and respect for his wife would come naturally. Anyone who is married knows that logic doesn’t stand! Marriage doesn’t naturally bring out our selfless servant hearted side. In fact it brings out our very worst! Today’s Christian marriages are often full of selfishness and pride rather than serving and giving.”  [31]

Lets deal harshly with our attitudes. We cannot let our difficult past with parents, our rebellion, or invisible wounds to determine our future. Lets allow God teach us to love and cherish our parents, to revolutionize our mindsets, so that we can experience the fullness of relationships that God placed in our lives.

God wants to heal us now – before we get married, so that our children one day will love and cherish those soul mates that God will one day bring into their lives.

It was their fault… It was my fault… It hurt… I don’t know whose fault, but something was wrong…

In relaying our own experience with your past we may say:

“My mom or dad treated me really badly and I was a rebellious child.” …or perhaps I didn’t act rebellious, – I was just wounded deeply by somebody close to me and it affected me…

Maybe we grew up in a wonderful, loving and accepting family but just went through a rebellious, selfish stage in our lives which formed our mindsets.

… or maybe we didn’t even go through a rebellious stage but just grew distant from our parents… Perhaps we lost our parents at an early age and missed their love and direction in our life.

It doesn’t matter what exactly happened, only two things matter:

– Did you miss out on the parental input in your life that is critical to your development as a ‘whole’ man or woman?
– Were you a hurt, rebellious or selfish child – allowing you to develop wrong thinking and mindsets about those in authority and those that you were close to?

Satan will use whatever he can to ruin you – the beautiful, loving person God created. He will try to build up wrong thinking about love and life in your mind with every intention of destroying your future.

Remember this…

Whatever those people close to you did… you have a decision to make!

You can’t change the past… you can’t change them as a person… you can’t make them feel sorry for what they did… but you can change your thinking about them.

With God’s help you can choose to love them. You can choose to forgive. You can choose to selflessly give to them. This is one way you change your thinking, your mindsets, and attitudes. Making a choice to love and allowing the Holy Spirit work in you, – growing your ability to love, your patience and commitment.

What you did…

You can’t change your rebellious and selfish past if you had one, you cannot change yourself… but you can admit where you were wrong, and allow God to make the change in you!

I feel as if I can’t love or commit like I should

In relating to my young single friends I have quizzed many of them on their relationships with their parents, – specifically their relationship with their father. My findings were sad and shocking. I found out that many of my friends had experienced a difficult relationship with their father in their growing up years. Nearly every one of these same people also had, – or are currently having issues in romantic relationships – dating, courting or marriage.

My friends would tell me about their relationships using statements like:

  • “I would never tell my girlfriends I loved them”
  • “I would not allow them into my life – I felt as though they were nosey”
  • “I am not sure which girl to choose, I enjoy being with them both”

God had created these precious people to love their soul mate that he had brought across their path. They were unable to fall in love properly – to wholeheartedly commit to and love the opposite sex – and sadly they often didn’t realise why.

If they were male, they were unable to lead and love like they should. If they were female, they were unable to trust and be cared for, following the man in their life. Both sexes showed an internal difficulty to commit – in different ways.

The common factor? In nearly all cases it seemed to be their relationship with their father! They had been rebellious to their father, he had been absent in their lives, or he had wounded them in some way.

How these people valued their father was affecting all their other relationships. The most saddening part was that they were often blinded to one fact: Their relationship with their dad was drastically affecting their relationships with the opposite sex.

Issues with their father whilst growing up had allowed wrong mindsets to be built up. These very mindsets were blocking them from enjoying all the sizzling and carefree romance with the soul mate that God may have made cross their path.

AWARENESS ZINGER: If we allow these wrong mindsets to stick around, satan has every intention of using them with full force to sap the love, joy and potential out of our romantic relationships.

Today, somebody I know well – Jim, related to me a past experience he had on a date with a girl that had been adopted. She had a really bad attitude to guys. On the date, she shared with Jim that men were only good for one thing – sperm donors. When Jim asked about her adoptive father, she said that he was nice, but took the view that women do everything.

While most hurting Princesses and Princes may not be as outspoken about their hurtful feelings toward the opposite sex, maybe you have noticed a girl who get annoyed when men invade their territory, or a guy who neglects the woman in His life.

Jim was quick not to organise another date with the girl. I find it heartbreaking that many allow true love to slip from their grip, because of bitterness or rebellion they had growing up with their father or mother. I am not as quick to write people (like Jim’s date) off. My heart aches for them. I see these people lovely creations that God created. Because of the wrong mindsets they allow to be built up in their mind, they will often sabotage every good relationship that God tries to brings them. Jim could not try change her his date, – even Jesus himself can not change her – unless she allows Him.

“Because of a mistake her father made, a friend of mine has a distorted view of men. She’s constantly complaining about them and is annoyed by them. She mistrusts most men. They better not make a mistake, for every mistake is magnified. She meets them with a furrowed or raised brow or a pinched lip. Despite her desire for marriage, she truly believes there are no good men. My heart hurts for her.”   -Longing for Daddy by Monique Robinson [23]

You have probably heard it said by your single friends: “Now that I have left home, my parents and I get along much better”

These days so many kids don’t get along with their parents and move out of home, thinking it will solve everything. Unfortunately whether we realise it or not, the issues with our parents follow us wherever we try to escape to – like elastic bands drawing us back to the same problems. We think we are leaving our problems at home, but are carrying them along with us…in our heads… in the mindsets we have developed over the years. We need to un-attach from our problems properly, – not just try to walk away from them. With the help of the holy spirit and determination, we can!

Bear with me… there is hope and healing. Things that are totally impossible with man, – healing the deep hurts of the heart… are dead-easy with God! He takes every aspect of our old lives… nails them to the cross… – if we allow Him – and He gives us a brand new life.

Christ gave us the power to transform our thinking – to throw away old mindsets and ways of thinking, – and to renew our minds to God’s higher ways. Satan has tried to make you a prisoner to your past, to that thinking that has developed over the years of rebellion or hurt. Jesus came to earth so that he could free you from your chains of wrong thinking. I know a miracle worker that came to to perform a miracle in your life – if you allow Him to.

In the old testament, Jeremiah sent a letter with encouragement to people who have been made captive by a foreign land. I believe God would send this same encouragement to you today:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity.” Jeremiah 29:11-14

Filling the void of masculine love from the wrong places

I am involved in a large, very lively church packed with youth. Often a whole group of us would go to the local restaurants in the city – to an area renown for its gay bars. It touches my heart to see such amazing people, trapped in their lifestyle… hopeless to change themselves… not realizing that there is so much better – healing – in store for them.

Often, – but not always people look for masculine love in a gay relationship.

Here is a true story about two people I knew whom will nickname Adam and Rob:

Adam’s dad died at an early age. Growing up he lacked a fatherly influence and became involved in the gay lifestyle. Many years later he met Rob who also lacked a fathers influence. Adam and Rob lived together as partners for many years. During that time Rob started going to a church, genuinely seeking God in his life. He put himself in a position to hear from God, and God started working on his heart. Recently we heard the good news – Rob had left Adam and started dating a girl.

Sometime back I was speaking to a middle-aged friend of mine. (We will nickname him Fred). Fred had been previously had been living in the gay lifestyle. He is now married to a lovely wife and is following God. You can guess the question I was keen to ask him! I asked Fred about his relationship with His father! He relayed an incredibly sad story to me. His father had been a gambler and he was hurt by his parents always fighting. Fred had been terribly bitter with his father… I could hear the emotion in his voice as he relayed to me the sad story. I am thankful that my he allowed God to start healing his heart – he had made a choice to drastically change and can now look forward to a hopeful future with God and his wife.

In The Datetalk Audio Series, Wolfi Eckleben says:

“Listen. there’s some things that a man is, there’s something that a woman is – and the truth is that what God made you to be – a man or woman …Wholeness comes when you accept that for yourself.” [11]

“Now the interesting thing is the bible says that God created them male and female, – but it says that it was the man who left his father and his mother and was joined to his wife. So he was born a male … he was only ready to be joined once he was a man. Now being a male and a female is a matter of birth, but being a man and a woman – ready to for relationship is a matter of choice, a matter of maturity. It’s not just the plumbing that makes us different. Its about maturity. – Have you accepted your manhood, your womanhood?” [11]

When we miss the father input – the masculine input in our lives, – we place ourselves at risk filling the void of masculine love from the wrong places.

In ‘Wild at Heart’, John Eldridge writes: “What’s fascinating to note is that homosexuals are actually more clear on this point. They know what is missing in their hearts is masculine love. The problem is that they’ve sexualized it.” [12]

Asked in a TV interview by Larry King why people choose a gay orientation, Joyce Meyer replied:

“I think a lot of different reasons. I believe a lot of people that are gay, had even had problems like I had in the past. I think they’ve been hurt by somebody from the opposite sex, and they don’t know how to function right in those relationships.

When you’re hurt very badly in your childhood, the area that it has the greatest effect on is relationships. Once you feel like you can’t trust people, once you feel like that they don’t care about you, that they’re really not going to take care of you, it gets very difficult in relationships. And you know, I’ve been so mistreated by male authority in my life that I had a terrible time in my marriage trying to be a submissive wife, you know. I mean, I wanted to rule the roost in everything. And it wasn’t even really that I was rebellious; I was afraid of being hurt. And I think that a lot of people that choose these alternative lifestyles, I think it’s because they’ve been hurt somewhere along the line very badly.”

Wolfi Eckleben says: “…Resisting … your sexuality, resisting your gender is a form of rebellion … against God your maker. And I want to encourage you there is healing. There is wholeness. There is restoration. I am fully confident that God made them male and female, and nothing in between. The anything that comes in between, or that marrs or changes, that is … not what the maker did, but what society has put on you or the choices that you’ve have made. And it may not be your fault, but it is your responsibility … This is my life to live and I’ve got to make the choices to change. I might not have control of my past, but I do have control of my future in every area of my life.” [11]

We learn how to commit and love by practicing with our family

If you are a guy, your mother may have said: “Johnny, be sure to look out for a girl that relates well to her dad, because that’s how she will treat you one day if you marry her.”

If you are a girl, she may have said: “Suzy, marry a boy who treats his mom like gold. That is the way he will treat you one day.”

Time and time again, I have seen examples of people who do not place value one or more of their parents. They will generally find it difficult to place value on those that they have relationships with, – people who represent those parents. On the other hand there are examples of people who cherish their parents, – and they in turn cherish and go overboard for those people (who represent their parents) in future relationships.

For example if a guy takes care of his mom, when he meets that special soul mate, he will take care of her. If a girl highly prizes her father, she will generally prize the man that God brings into her life.

If we got annoyed quickly with our parents we should not be surprised at all when we get annoyed with that man or woman that we asked God to put into our life. If we had no time for our parents, considered them a nuisance, or were rebellious to them, lets not fool ourselves in thinking we will act any different to our future soul mate.

Family is special nest created by God. It exists to nurture us, comfort us and to challenge us to greatness. I am convinced that as a rule, if a boy grows up as ‘mommies boy’ or a girl grows up as ‘daddies girl’, that is the way they will try to treat their future mate. As a backup, God often places older brothers and sisters in our lives who can, – to an extent, take the place of a mother or father in our lives if our parents are absent.

Dr David Stoop says of the teen years:

“The parent will affirm them in their own developing manliness and womanliness and will show them how to relate to other people of the opposite sex.” [30]

BE ENCOURAGED! BE INSPIRED! If you were never ‘mommies boy’, or ‘daddies girl’, be encouraged! Christ has the best in store for you, waiting for you to take hold of the best years of your life. Love, intimacy, companionship, commitment and romance are all in reach if we will allow Jesus into those walled gardens of our life.

Let’s face it – no family is perfect. In fact most parents (and kids) are pretty dysfunctional in one way or another, but that is the way God gives us the opportunities to love the unlovable, to respect the un-respectable, to be patient with those who test our patience, to defy common culture and to do good to those that wound us.

They just can’t love?!: The myth and the reality

  • I have heard it said before that some people don’t know how to love their soul mate.
  • I have also heard it said that some people just go a lot deeper than others.

The first statement is true – some people do not ‘know’ how to love deeply. The second is false – God made everyone with emotions to love that go deep down. God intended us to selflessly love, commit and sell themselves out for their soul mate. He wants people to throw everything to the wind and pursue a whirlwind romance that He has for them.

The reason why some people do not know how to love is because there is a devil in this world that tries to take that perfect love that God intended and warp it through our background and our thinking. He has been around a lot time and knows how to use mistakes of our parents, or our own selfishness and rebellion, – to wreck closeness in relationships that God intended.

Mental walls that block our soul mate out

When we have been wounded, selfish or rebellious, we can build mindsets, – walls in our thinking that we consider normal, walls that are hidden to us, – walls that block us from receiving and giving love in the way God designed. We don’t allow our soul mate to cross these walls, – they block out the perfection of romantic, selfless love that God designed for us to enjoy.

How we think today is a result of the way we have trained our minds to think over many years. If the devil can continue to make us think wrongly, he will cause us to sabotage every meaningful relationship that God brings across our path.

We cannot let our past rebellion, selfishness, or the father and mother wounds in our lives stop us from experiencing all the blessing of love and romance that Jesus died to give us.

Remember that we are God’s prized possessions – extra special to Him. Satan will use parents mistakes or our own rebellious and selfish actions to block us from experiencing the promised land that God has for us.

Take hold of the promise

If we have given our life over to Jesus, just like the Israelites in the bible we have been ‘brought out of Egypt’, but Satan will try to make us ‘die in the wilderness’, – instead of entering in and experiencing the ‘promised land’ that God intended.

That promised land is truly a land of milk and honey – the very best that God life could dream up for us… a life of light hearted romance, joy, – and productivity for God’s kingdom alongside our soul mate…

The only thing stopping us… is us!

You or those you are close to may think that you don’t know how to love. I know a Jesus that came to heal, restore and make you totally new and fresh. God can teach you to love selflessly and without reservation. You can be totally generous, crazy, and sold out for your future mate, but God requires something from you to work with – your faith, resolve and action.

The words resound in my mind: Honour (value) your father and mother so that it may be well with you.

It is never too late to start honoring our parents. We can’t change our past, but we can change the future with some simple actions. And with what Jesus did for us, – we can be a totally new person – and start life with a clean slate, not hindered by the past. Let’s take advantage of it!

Back to school: Learning to love

I can remember my exam days in school and university – just a few years back. I was never the academic kid of the family – that was my brothers spotlight. For me – exams existed to be passed, and I generally did what was necessary to get over them shortly and quickly. The aim was not so much in gaining the knowledge, but rather to get the qualification at the end.

Often I would work out when the exam was and leave the intense studying as close to that date as possible. Still cramming a few minutes before the exam actually was a regular occurrence. Most study was there to be endured, before moving on to the more enjoyable aspects of life.

Too often, that’s how we treat our relationships with our parents – something to be endured, for as little time as possible before we move out of home. But regardless of whether our parents were good parents or not, God put our both our of them in our lives for the long haul – people who God would teach us to love. They may not have been great role models, but that’s the beauty of it. We learn to value our parents even if they mess up.

When we value our parents, its not only for their benefit, but ours! Our characters are formed. We learn priceless lessons about treating our friends, the person we are courting, and future husband or wife. We learn to be patient with our parents when they mess up. We learn to give when we don’t feel they deserve it. We choose to love a person who can sometimes be unlovable.

We learn to quickly forgive when they mess up. We learn that they are imperfect humans, so we are not shocked when God brings a fellow human (our soul mate) to build our life with who is not perfect. In honoring our parents, we learn invaluable lessons and build characteristics that will be useful in our future romantic relationship with our husband or wife. The greatest lessons we learn are:

  • to die to self
  • to love, be patient with and value imperfect people

These days people travel to the other side of the world to educate themselves, – to build a future. Isn’t it sad that we don’t realise that the best future we can build is in our home town. It’s in that 20-or-so meters of confinement that surrounds us and keeps us warm at night, – our very home.

I know a lot of people who have come to the country I live in to learn English, study a vocation or find a better life. They descend from every corner of the globe – India, Poland, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Brazil… the list goes on. It’s amazing and awesome to meet and have friends from every area of the globe.

In searching for the amazing life God has promised us, sometimes it seems easier to go find an answer on the other side of the world, but we fail to realise that answer may be waiting for us back at home where we left it. Parents and home are often the ‘unwelcome’ packages that God places in our lives to learn from. Too often we find it hard to receive from them, give to them and love them, – so we discard them.

These important qualifications are not found at Harvard, Princeton, Oxford or Cambridge University. Instead its found at a much higher calibre school – called ‘Parents University’. This university can sometimes be a lot more challenging than any other educational establishment, but the benefits are priceless in comparison.

“If you honor your father and mother, things will go well for you…”

You may be still living at home and still have time left to value your parents. Now is that time to take advantage and make this quality time, honoring both your parents.

You may say to me: “I get along well with one parent, – but because of some reason my relationship with my other parent isn’t a great… its good but not great…” Now is the time – with God’s help – to build that relationship!

What happens if you have left home? It’s simple common sense: When you get lost, retrace your steps and go back to where you went wrong. Then carry on.

In the story of the Prodigal son, Jesus tells us of a rebellious son returning back home, saying “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.” As long as there is no risk of physical abuse, – maybe its about time to return home to serve, love and honor your parents (even if it is thousands of miles away).

The time spent learning now, – practising selflessness with our parents can save years of heartache in future courting and marriage relationships.

If your parents aren’t alive anymore, pray for God to send parental replacements into your life that you can learn to love and honour – as if they were your parents. Maybe they are an older, mature couple at church, or your boyfriend/girlfriends parents.

It’s never too late to start valuing our parents!

It doesn’t matter how old we are. Regardless of whether we are 5, 16, 28 or 50 years old we can learn to value our parents and it can do us the world of good.

‘Neuro development’ says that movements of a baby help develop the neural pathways of the brain – from the time that the baby is inside the womb, – to exercises like crawling and walking outside the womb.

A person may be under-developed in coordination or other ways if that miss out on these ‘baby excercises’. The truly phenomenal observation is that a person can actually still develop their brain if they carry out the same exercises when they get older.

Remember: It is never, ever too late to start honoring our parents. God said in Joel 2:25:

“And I will restore or replace for you the years that the locust has eaten…”

Love is a choice. Just like with studying, we know what we need to do, but we need to take action – to get out our books and start cramming. In this case we just need to take action in honoring and valuing our parents. If we have in the past have devalued our father or mother – for whatever reason – we need to learn to love them. Just like any other discipline in life, – we have to ‘work at it’, – not in our own strength, but through the power of God’s Holy Spirit living in us.

That way, – when God brings that perfect Prince or Princess into our life, – we will choose to prize them like we should.

The bible promises that if we allow God to renew our minds we can experience God’s perfect will for our lives – WOW!:

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2 (NLV)

Because of what Jesus did for us, we have so much benefit to take hold of. The choice is ours, now. Make the most of now!


[This article is part of the ‘Honor Parents, Value Soul Mate’ series. View other parts of this series and references here.]

[Most names used in stories have been changed to protect identities]

Feel free to republish this article text in full with proper attribution, linking back to this

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Non-quoted text is copyright Stephen Ernst, and generously licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.

[1] –
[2] –
[3] –
[4] –
[5] –
[6] –
[7] –
[8] – Love Means Sacrifice, Not Selfishness:
[9] – ‘Always Daddy’s Girl’ H. Norman Wright (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1989) p. 208
[10] – Two Are Better than One:
[11] – The Datetalk Audio Series with Wolfi Eckleben:
[12] – Wild at Heart by John Eldridge P95,P95
[13] – ‘Captivating’ by Staci and John Eldridge pg 52
[14] – Derek Prince – Husbands and Fathers audio
[15] –
[16] –
[17] –
[18] –
[19] – Eight Specific Reasons Why Christians Suffer:
[20] – God uses nobodies:
[21] – 1 Kings 12
[22] –
[23] – Longing for daddy by Monique Robinson p.37
[24] – ‘Making peace with your father’ by Dr David Stoop p.15
[25] – ‘Making peace with your father’ by Dr David Stoop p.27
[26] – ‘Making peace with your father’ by Dr David Stoop p.35
[27] – ‘Making peace with your father’ by Dr David Stoop p.39
[28] – ‘Making peace with your father’ by Dr David Stoop p.46
[29] – ‘Making peace with your father’ by Dr David Stoop p.33
[30] – ‘Making peace with your father’ by Dr David Stoop p.41
[31] – Teaching True Love to a Sex-at-13 Generation by Eric and Leslie Ludy p.145, 146

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  1. Jennifer Praveen on

    Thanks for this enriching lesson of LOVE & HONOUR 2WARDS DEFAULTING PARENTS that God is constantly & patiently teaching me!

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