Quotes on the Authority of Fathers in Giving Away their Daughters in Marriage

These quotes are in addition to the 12 quotes found in Chapter 2 of Travis Fentimans’ The Father’s Authority: Qualified


The Normal Rule

Thomas Boston, Works, 2:221:

“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. 7:3; Jer. 29:6; 1 Cor. 7:37, 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, Ex. 22:16, 17.

(2) The most approved examples of marriage in scripture go this way, Gen. 24:3, 4; 28:1, 2; and 29:19; Judg. 14:2.

(3) 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. 24:57. 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.”


The Exception to the Rule

The Discipline of the Reformed Churches of France – Ch. 13, ‘Of Marriages’, Canons 1-5  1559  in Synodicon in Gallia Reformata, vol. 1, p. xlix


John Calvin

Commentary on Matt 8:21

21. Lord, permit me to go first and bury my father.   …He was prevented from immediately obeying the call of Christ by the weakness of thinking it a hardship to leave his father.  It is probable that his father was in extreme old age: for the mode of expression, Permit me to bury, implies that he had but a short time to live.  Luke says that Christ ordered him to follow; while Matthew says that he was one of his disciples.  But he does not refuse the calling: he only asks leave for a time to discharge a duty which he owes to his father.  The excuse bears that he looked upon himself as at liberty till his father’s death.  From Christ’s reply we learn, that children should discharge their duty to their parents in such a manner that, whenever God calls them to another employment, they should lay this aside, and assign the first place to the command of God.  Whatever duties we owe to men must give way, when God enjoins upon us what is immediately due to Himself.  All ought to consider what God requires from them as individuals, and what is demanded by their particular calling, that earthly parents may not prevent the claims of the highest and only Father of all from remaining entire.


Samuel Bolton:

“(iv) Freedom from Obedience to Men


In the next place we observe that the believer is not only freed from Satan, from sin, and from the law; he is also freed from obedience to men.  We have no lords over us; men are our brethren; and our Lord and Master is in heaven.  We find in Scripture a double charge: do not usurp mastership, do not undergo servitude.  Consider the first, not to usurp mastership.  We read in the Word: ‘Be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. . . . Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.’ (Matt. 23.8-10)


As for the second, not to undergo servitude, we read: ‘Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men’ (1 Cor. 7:23).  The meaning is, that we are not to acknowledge any our supreme master, nor are we to give our faith and consciences, nor enthral our judgments, to the sentences, definitions, or determinations of any man or men upon earth, because this would be to make men masters of our faith, which the apostle so much abhorred: ‘We are not masters of your faith, but helpers of your joy’ (2 Cor. 1:24).  

There are two kinds of masters, masters according to the flesh, and masters according to the spirit.  The first kind you read of in Eph. 6:5-7: ‘Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh’.  The second kind we read of in Matt 23:8-10, as already mentioned.  To our masters according to the flesh we are to be obedient, so far as appertains to the outward man, in all outward things.  But of our souls and consciences, as we have no fathers, so we have no masters upon earth, only our Master and Father which is in Heaven; and in this sense Christ speaks, that we must not absolutely yield up ourselves to be ruled by the will of any, nor enthral our judgments, nor submit our faith and consciences to any power below Christ. It were high usurpation for any to require it; it is to trespass on Christ’s Royal Prerogative, and it were no less iniquity for us to render it.



Related Page

 The Family