I recently made this enquiry on a list that I am a member of:
I was wondering if I could ask for any wisdom on the issue of whether children should go away from home to university or stay at home. I am particularly interested in biblical principles here. However, I would also value any practical wisdom from people’s experiences
Here is one of the responses to my request. I felt it contained much valuable wisdom and so, with the permission of the contributor, I share it here:
I am not sure that it is possible to draw any hard and fast rule from Scripture on this question, but I wonder whether Genesis 2:24 may have a bearing on the subject. It establishes a divine pattern which is appealed to in the New Testament by both the apostle Paul (Eph 5:31) and the Lord Jesus Christ himself (Matt 19:5).
It is a very rich verse from which many principles may be drawn. It teaches for example, that ‘the bonds [of marriage] are stronger even than those of nature’ (Matthew Henry), and that the most fundamental family relationship is not that between parent and child, but between husband and wife. It also suggests that it is marriage (rather than any other life change or reaching a landmark birthday) which effects a radical change in the relationship between an adult male and his parents. It is when he marries that he truly ‘leaves’ his father and mother and establishes a new household.
Prior to marriage, the son remains under the authority of his parents. After marriage, however, while the son still owes his parents due honour and respect and bears certain responsibilities towards them (Ex 20:12; Mk 7:9-13; 1 Tim 5:4), he is no longer under their authority. It is striking that Gen 2:24 refers to ‘a man’ ( the son) and not to daughters. The difference seems to be that while sons ‘leave’ the authority of the parental home when they marry, daughters are ‘given’ in marriage (e.g. 1 Cor 7:38). When they marry, they pass from the authority, provision and protection of their father to the authority, provision and protection of their husband.
Unlike our culture, Scripture does not envisage a situation in which unmarried sons and daughters live independently of parental authority, whether as students or as young adults living by themselves or sharing accommodation with their peers.
Of course, in a fallen world situations may arise which are not ideal, but the norm would appear to be for children to remain under their parents’ roof until they marry.
One of the primary reasons that God established marriage and the family from the beginning is because, ‘It is not good for man to be alone’ (Gen 2:18). While the Lord desires to set the solitary (i.e. widows and orphans) in families (Ps 68:6), all too often our culture is inclined to take young people who are not orphans away from their families and place them on their own or with their peers. This would appear to be a departure from God’s design.