Should Young Evangelists Submit to Parents?


Sometimes I get emails with with very good questions. I try to answer them as biblically as possible.

Dear Pastor Steve,

I am 18 years old and living in the United States. I have found your blog encouraging, and really want to be involved with evangelism. My parents are not Christian. I recently ordered some gospel tracts to distribute. If my parents do not want me to hand these out, should I do it anyways? I ask this because I am at an age where I am not sure if I need to obey everything my parents tell me, especially if it is keeping me from sharing the gospel in this important way. I don’t want to disobey God by dishonoring my parents, but I want to share the gospel by distributing tracts. Do you have any advice? Thank you so much for your ministry.


My answer:

Thanks for writing. That is an important question.

I would suggest that you honor your parents on this one. You are living in their house and you want to be an obedient son. The hardest thing for you will be “living out your faith.” One day  they may ask you what is so different about you. That will be the time to share your faith with them. They may even allow you to hand out tracts!

Another option is to ask them if they would mind if you handed out Gospel tracts while away from the home. They’ll appreciate that you are respectfully asking them and that you have put them first before doing something on your own.

Another option, of course,  is to move out of the house, but that may not be practical at this time.

Pray for them, and ask God to allow you to win their favor.

God bless you. The hard part is waiting on God.


Next week  I’ll answer a mom who asked if it is okay for her son to open air preach even though dad doesn’t want him to.


  1. Good advice Pastor Steve!


    I know a little bit about your situation. I no longer live with my parents (married with a two children) but after being saved at 21 (now I’m 29 just two days from turning 30) created much struggle in the home (thankfully my sister who at the time didn’t live at home but was saved just three months before really helped me at that time). I admit that I didn’t obey my parent’s in handing out tracts, doing one-2-ones and then going out open-air preaching. The open-air preaching really set them off and they got really, really angry. At the time I thought this just legitimized what I was doing, now looking back it may have not been the best course of action. They didn’t mind the handing out tracts and speaking to people (though a little over a year ago at a certain function that I was at with my Mom she asked that I wouldn‘t hand those things out [tracts] as she put it), but the open-air my Mom really didn’t like going so far as to say that it should be outlaw in this country to do that! It was a very sad time. Now after not living in the same house with them for almost five years it has helped in being a better witness to them, but I continue to pray. So don’t give up William and keep praying! I believe that Pastor Steve does have some very wise words when it comes to this very delicate but important issue of witnessing, and being a witness to our loved ones! It is not easy but with God all things are possible (Mark 10:27)!

    God bless!

  2. William, first thing’s first critically think about everything I say in this comment.

    Now with that as your frame of mind, you need to figure this contradiction out for yourself. Here is a clear example of where this particular religious book has failed to provide you with a clear moral path. You have found a contradiction in honouring your parents versus promoting your particular belief.

    William, contradictions do not exist. Whenever you find a contradiction you need to check the premises and discover which one is incorrect. So then your premises here are:

    1. Your particular religious book is correct.
    2. You should share your beliefs.
    3. You live in your parent’s house.
    4. You should honour your parents.

    Which of those are incorrect (it is probably more than one) and how can you tell?

    The final thing to note is that there is nothing bad about being wrong, it is an opportunity to learn. It is only bad when you remain ignorant as a choice.

  3. Hi William!

    First, I would like to thank Pastor Steve for having this website and posting your letter for us (Christians) to encourage each other.

    My son and I just became Christians (in that order) almost a year ago.
    When he first became a Christian, I started noticing the zeal that he had for God, to reach the lost, and sharing the gospel with them. His growth and obedience for God at only 12 years of age was far greater that I had ever experienced in my 20 years of being a Christian (I am 40). Through my son God made me realize that I was a false Christian and that I needed to repent and I did. But, my husband hasn’t yet.

    Be strong in the Lord. Keep praying for your parents. You are at the time
    God’s best witness for your parents. [-O<

  4. I am going to disagree with Steve and say that, as a legal adult, something like handing out tracts should be at your discretion. I’d talk about why they object to it. Is it purely a theological disgreement? Or is it because the parents don’t want their offspring practicing Steve’s jerky brand of evangelism?

    I feel an open dialogue works well here. If you are doing nothing illegal or harmful, then I see no reason to forbid it. Yes, you should be polite and agreeable with someone giving you a free place to live. But you shouldn’t be so restricted in what you do.

  5. Welcome back, Garrett.

    I agree with you on this one, too.

    Of course there should be dialogue. My point is that if there is no agreement, then William should submit to his parents or move out.

  6. @Vagon

    There is no contradiction. One’s duty to God always comes first. The commandment is to honor one’s parents. However if honoring one’s parents is in conflict with honoring God the believer should choose to honor God first. After all God is the believer’s Father in Heaven (Matthew 23:9, Luke 11:2).

    For example if a person’s father is in the mafia, a criminal, and it is his will that his son follow in his footsteps, and the child is a Christian (or Jewish) then the child’s duty is to God even if the father feels dishonored.

    There are many opinions on what it means to honor one’s parents. However it seems apparent that we are to love and honor God first (Matthew 22:37-40). Therefore there is no contradiction; rather there is a set of contingencies.

  7. Some proof texts that I think support my position…

    Matthew 22:37-40
    37. Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
    38. This is the first and great commandment.
    39. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
    40. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

    Matthew 10:37-39
    37. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
    38. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
    39. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

    Matthew 10:32-33
    32. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
    33. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

    Luke 11:2
    2. And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

    Matthew 23:9
    9. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.

  8. @ William

    Matthew 6:24-33 (King James Bible)
    24. No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
    25. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
    26. Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
    27. Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
    28. And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
    29. And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
    30. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
    31. Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
    32. (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
    33. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

  9. Garrett says that Pastor Steve has “a jerky brand of evangelism.” I rebuke that. It has an undertone of disrespect. We are here to build up our brothers in the Lord and not tear them down.

  10. @Bro 310

    Thanks for Matthew 10:37-39 that spoke to the issue fairly clearly. You should however note that if we follow your line of reasoning then 3 and 4 are probably the incorrect premises. So then am I to asume you disagree with Steve? Looks like we have another contradiction…

    1. Steve is wrong.
    2. You are wrong
    3. You are both wrong.

    Another thing to think about is that if Steve is wrong and you are right, how many other times has Steve got the scripture wrong. Or perhaps vice versa?

  11. Andy, I am not Steve nor anyone’s brother in the lord.

    I am one of atheist things that has no basis for morality and thinks everything came from nothing. Oh, and I secretly believe in a GOD, but deny it so I can keep sinning.

    There, I saved you the time of making terrible assertions. No need to thank me.

  12. William,

    Luke 2:41-52- When Jesus was 12 He stood in similar position that you are now in. Jesus made a break for God from His family at this jucture. Surely He was led by God in making this decision. Still Jesus managed to remain submissive to His parents while making this break.

    I feel that, through prayer, if God asks you to make a similar stand at this time that it would be your best decision. As I understand it, this means hearing God’s will that He puts on your conscience. I picture your path might be a bumpy one when God leads you to this this point.
    By all means we should honor our parents even through difficult situations like these. I believe that we do bring honor to our parents when we choose God’s will over our parent’s will (only when theirs is in violation of God’s will).
    We should be tender-hearted and humble when siding with God’s will over our parent’s will. I believe that our rebuke should be soft and full of respect.
    That said I did not reach this stage of maturity until three years ago, at age 39. My road, in this regard, is currently rocky and with much pain. However, I am grateful that God is empowering me to choose Him over my family. At last I am free. I feel free and itt feels good.
    Lord be with William as You show him his path and his time that he will make his bold stance in You, in regards to his family. Thank you Jesus and may William hear Your voice. Amen.
    May God bless you in all of your good decisions, and even bad ones that out of these you may grow in wisdom. Praise God.

  13. Vagon wrote:

    1. Steve is wrong.
    2. You are wrong
    3. You are both wrong.

    Me: There’s a #4: You’re wrong.

    I will explain a few atheist myth-perceptions in Tuesday’s post, including yours.

  14. Looking forward to it Steve.

  15. @ Vagon

    Given that Steve and I are fallible human beings it follows that we can get things wrong. I get things wrong sometimes. That is why I wrote “I think”.

    In this particular case, I don’t believe that Steve made any statements about scripture so I’m not sure how he can be wrong about scripture. My comments were in response to your comment, not Steve’s. I was also trying to share some scriptures with William that might help him in making his decision or to deal with his circumstances. Lastly, I do not think that Steve implied that Christians should put obedience to one’s parents before obedience towards God. Therefore, I do not think Steve’s advice to William is wrong or in any way contradictory to the Bible.

    As I stated there are various opinions on what it means to “honor” your mother and father. Life is full of cases where it is unclear what the right thing to do is. For instance, suppose I witnessed my mother scratch my father’s car with her purse. She tells me if my father asks me about it to tell him that the paperboy did it. Who do I honor in this case? Do I disobey my mother? Do I lie to my father? Do I bear false witness against the paperboy? To further complicate matters in my scenario, what if I thought my father would beat my mother for scratching his car? What would I do then? In my opinion, we are to sincerely do what it is that we think is right and that might even be to decide to go with the lesser of two evils or the better of two bad scenarios. Despite one’s best efforts to be right, one can still be wrong. The safest course of action to determine a solution to an ambiguous problem, for a Christian, I think, would be to consider what action would be the most obedient to God’s written Word, the Bible.

  16. @Steve


  17. @Bro I agree wholeheartedly that there are always dilemmas and contradictions. I offered William (if he reads this at all) a logical method for resolving his contradictions.

    How you resolve other contradictions such as scratched cars and domestic violence come down the situation. That said, where force (such as domestic violence) is initiated there is no contradiction (force is always wrong except in self defense) exists and no choice exists (you are being forced).

    I stand by my assertion that there is a contradiction and that in the absence of force (I assume Williams parents don’t beat him) there will be a clear and objective answer. I can’t do his thinking for him, it would do no good at solving the problem which is empowering William to discover the answer himself.

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