“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12, ESV)
This commandment is much like a bridge point between the first three and the final 6 commandments. And FYI, it’s not meant just for kids and teenagers to obey their parents.
First of all, what does the term “honor” mean? Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines honor in several ways: to revere, to respect, to reverence, to dignify, to glorify, and to treat with due civility and respect in the ordinary movement of life (Webster, 1828).
When this commandment is read, what is the first thing that comes to mind? God had nine awesome adult dos and don’ts and then decided to stick kids in the mix about parents. This is not the case, but what exactly do we mean when by honor your father and mother?
Albert Mohler states in his book “Words from the Fire”:
“We think we are familiar with this commandment because it has the ring of the familiar. Most of us have heard it like this since we were children: ‘Honor your father and your mother’ equals ‘Obey Dad and Mom.’ That is the depth of our understanding of the commandment, and it is a correct understanding, though woefully incomplete” (Mohler, 2009).
This command is not directed at children alone, but directed toward all of God’s people.
Mohler states again:
“It is not as if we have nine grown-up, adult commandments—dealing with things like adultery, murder, idolatry, and taking the Lord’s name in vain—and then all of a sudden a commandment that is addressed to the children. God was not looking for a way to involve the children in this tenfold moral code. Obeying father and mother is certainly part of this commandment, but that is not the completeness of what this commandment means.”
So, how do the first four commandments and the last five connect?
It is often said and it is so clearly true that our relationship with our parents in terms of the most formative period of our lives will to a great degree indicate our relationship with God. We either come under the authority of our parents willingly, or we respond to that authority with a spirit of rebellion. Our response to our parents indicates how we will respond to our Creator.
So, the way we treat our parents rather in obedience or disobedience will indicate the way we view and obey the commandments and authority of the LORD.
The responsibility of our parents is to point us to honoring and glorifying the LORD God.
Mohler gives us an understanding of the responsibility of the parents.
“Just as no child in Israel was to be ignorant of the story of the Exodus and God’s covenant with His people, so also our children must be deeply immersed in the Christian narrative. We want them to know the Bible’s story of how “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). They must know the story of God’s creation of a people through the blood of His Son, for the glory of His own name—a people who can defy death and will live forever with Him. This is to be their inheritance from the Word of God.”
The children of the Israelites were taught over and over again the first five books of the Bible. Genesis-Deuteronomy (the Torah) – In hearing this over and over again, the children moved from a legalistic worship of God to a desire to live in active obedience to God the Father. –
Not only does the this command tell us to honor the authority of our parents but it also reminds us of the need to honor those in authority rather in local, state, or federal law.
What if my parents are not believers?
Christian Answers gives an insight to this question:
As a Christian, you understand you have a higher authority than your parents. That authority is God. And you are to obey your parents unless they command you to do something that clearly disobeys God, such as stealing, lying or not worshipping God. When and if that happens, at that point you should choose to disobey your parents in order to obey God.
When we become parents ourselves, we need to keep our focus on God alone and not let anything interfere with that focus and understanding.
We must always remember that in all we do as parents, as children, we must give God all the glory and honor.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. It has been an awesome journey through the Ten Commandments and I look forward to finishing this series soon.