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What Does the Bible Say About..Mothers in Law?

why are mother -in laws so stereotyped? Mothers in law are not like the caterpillar who turn into the cocoon and then after a while out comes this butterfly, or after she gives her son or daughter out comes this dragon, or monster. why doesn't any man or woman of God help with trying to bring healing in this area?

Answer

I do not know where the stereotype of the bad mother-in-law came from. Probably the same place as the evil stepmother. As with all stereotypes, it probably represents something in our nature. This stereotype crosses cultural boundaries, and can be traced back as early as the Roman empire.

There is precious little psychological/sociological research on the in-law issue. Either therapists are intimidated by the problems with studying the issue, or they are unaware that the issue poses a problem. Obviously it does pose a problem, as evidenced by your comments.

Why donít men or women of God try to bring healing in this area? That is a very good question. It is one I am not sure I can answer. Some of us who have very few problems in interpersonal relationships do not recognize that others are hurting. Others may see the mobility of families in the modern world as a cure, and donít realize that distance does not affect the relationships. Mostly, I think churches have a hard time dealing with any interpersonal relationships. A few have singles ministries or homeless ministries, fewer have ministries to divorced people. Some have marriage ministries, but even those rarely mention in-laws. Very few have ministries for families, extended families, or gender issues. We just seem to have difficulty ministering to relationships, perhaps thinking that anyone who follows Christ knows that they should be kind and loving in their relationships. We forget that not every Christian is in relationships with only Christians, or that some who claim Christianity do not practice it very well.

Should someone speak up on the in-law issue? Probably. But most preachers and churches avoid it because the Bible is silent about the issue. If they deal with it at all it is in the context of the book of Ruth, or possibly mention of Peterís mother-in-law as evidence that he was married. If anyone were to deal with the issue, from a biblical standpoint it would have to be about interpersonal relationships in general, and not mothers-in-law specifically. Most preachers who are not counselors (and I include myself in that group) just donít feel qualified to do counseling in an open forum. If they are counselors they probably feel that it needs to be dealt with in specific cases rather than in general.