Deep Dive into Jesus' Prodigal Story Part 7: Why Do Prodigals Choose Pig Pens?

a mothers love for her adult kids begging in prayer parenting prodigals pride prodigal story Sep 30, 2023

There are lots of different prodigal stories but all of them have 1 thing in common. At some point, along the way, the prodigal hits rock bottom.

For the younger son in Jesus' parable, a famine created a crisis that landed him in a pig pen.

When you're the parent of a prodigal, the pig pen seems ludicrous. "Why, on God's green earth, would a son or daughter of mine choose to be there rather than here with me?!"

Let me propose a few reasons why your prodigal chooses the pig pen over you:

1. Their path to "freedom" (a.k.a. independence from what was expected of them) was paved with self-reliance. So when faced with a crisis, they do what seems right in their own eyes.

2. To go back home--to even consider going back home--they would have to humble themselves. 

3. To return is to admit failure. 

4. They are out of their senses.

What lies have deceived them?

Lie #1: There's something better "somewhere out there" that you're missing if you stay here.

Lie #2: You've got the power and the fortitude in your SELF to do life on your own.

Lie #3: True freedom is doing life on your own terms.

Lie #4: People are going to mock you if you go back.

What drives these lies? 


“Pride is your greatest enemy, humility is your greatest friend.” said John R.W. Stott. 

"Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began." said C.S. Lewis.

Pride plunged the human experience into sin when the serpent confronted Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). 

The C.S. Lewis institute presents a great article on this subject titled, Pride and Humility, in it we read this: 

"The desire to lift up and exalt ourselves beyond our place as God’s creature lies at the heart of pride. As Eve in her now confused and deceived state of mind considered the possibilities, her desire to become Godlike grew stronger. She began to look at the forbidden fruit in a new light, as something attractive to the eyes and pleasant to the touch. Desire increased, giving rise to rationalization and a corresponding erosion of the will to resist and say no.

Finally, weakened by unbelief, enticed by pride, and ensnared by self-deception, she opted for autonomy and disobeyed God’s command. In just a few deft moves, the devil was able to use pride to bring about Eve’s downfall and plunge the human race into spiritual ruin. This ancient but all-too-familiar process confronts each of us daily: “Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:14–15)." 

Pride's fruit is death.

Humility's fruit is life.

It takes a stronger, more courageous person to admit their mistakes and leave the pig pen. than it does to stay. But God has ways of making the pain of staying so unpleasant that eventually even a reluctant prodigal can see the benefit of going home.

Tom (my husband) used to say, "When the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain to change, they will change." 

God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.

If your prodigal is still in the pig pen; pray that they will come to their senses. And don't forget that they are more likely to do so the less you alleviate their suffering. 

Prodigals choose pig pens because they are blinded by pride. 


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