Ten Commandments V – “Honor your father and mother, that it may go well with you”
Parents of teenagers point to this commandment often. A father of four teens said, “There’s nothing wrong with teenagers that reasoning with them won’t aggravate.” Another said, “Insanity is contagious. You catch it from your kids.”
The fifth commandment is not directed at teens, but to families and children of every age. This is the first commandment with a promise.
ILLUS: A study once disclosed that if both Mom and Dad attend church regularly, 72 percent of their children remain faithful in attendance. If only Dad attends regularly, 55 percent remain faithful. If only Mom attends regularly, 15 percent remain faithful. If neither attend regularly, and just drop off their kids at church, only 6 percent remain faithful. –
I think it’s interesting that God goes from our relationship with Him, to that with our parents. (Why do you think this is so important? Answer – It affects all other relationships! Our parents, our siblings, our friends, our family members, our co-workers, and our world.)
Look at Romans 1:18-32:
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,
19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.
20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools
23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.
25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.
27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.
29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,
30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;
31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.
32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Think about the cycle of life. When a baby is born into a family, he or she is totally dependent on the parents. (In what ways?) Don’t forget things other than physical.
As a child grows they become increasingly independent, – not necessarily smarter! – until they are ready to leave home and have families of their own. The parents however, take a different path. A path that takes them from the vitality of youth, to the security of middle age, to the vulnerabilities of old age. It is during the latter stages of life that they become more and more dependent upon their children…and the cycle is complete. And so it goes from generation to generation.
What does it mean to honor our parents?
1. Honor our parents by obeying them.
2. Honor our parents by valuing their advice.
“A wise son heeds his father’s instruction…” Proverbs 13:1
3. Honor our parents by showing your appreciation.
4, Honor our parents by helping meet their needs. (Not just in old age.)
Not every home is a happy home, nor a God honoring home, some of us may have parents who: divorced; fought or were abusive; may have even abused you phys-ically; or, they were alcoholics. Some may feel like their parents did not deserve honor, nor forgiveness. But, forgiveness is not a feeling. It is a CHOICE to not hold on to anger that can destroy your lives and continue the cycle.
Over eighty-five percent of child sexual abuse is committed by someone the child knows, loves and trusts. Most often the person who exploits a child is in a legitimate power position over the child. More than fifty per cent of reported cases list parents, parent substitutes and relatives as being responsible for abuse. In most cases, what is labeled sexual abuse is really incest.
Is it possible for a child to honor a dishonorable parent? Millions of children are conceived without love, abused physically, ignored shamefully, and damaged emotionally. How are they to respond to parents who have so mistreated them? Those who join groups like Adult Children of Alcoholics, realize that their tragedies are shared, and that they can support each other in undoing the effects on their lives. They recognize that a necessary first step toward recovery is an honest confirmation that the situation existed. Denial never brings relief.
The most difficult step is to receive and offer forgiveness. As we receive forgiveness from God, we should also forgive those who have sinned against us. Difficult as it is, Paul’s formula is helpful: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
Those with painful childhood memories can work through them with God’s help. Honoring parents, worthy or not, is the most healthy and mature course. Lewis Smedes, a renowned Christian author, offers a valuable perspective: “The commandment to honor parents doesn’t tell children to feel happy about their parents or to enjoy camping with them or even have them over to dinner. It says nothing about happy emotional relationships. All that it commands is “honor”. The commandment is concerned with family structure and the role of parents and teachers and leaders in the family.” Smedes separates love and honor this way: “Love is natural impulse; honor is a moral choice.” Even when love has been absent from a relationship, there is still a place for honor. In the best relationships, however, both should be present.
It is interesting that God addresses this crucial commandment to children rather than to parents. He might have said, “Parents be kind, sensitive, generous, and thoughtful towards your children.” But, I think God wanted to give children the opportunity to “break the chain” so to speak and choose to honor even the dis-honorable. Remember, we choose neither our parents nor the environment in which we grow up. We may be raised in circumstances where respect comes easy, or in extremely difficult settings, but we can choose to honor our parents, and God promises that “it will go well with you.” Oh, and one more thing; neither you nor your parents are ever too old…it is never too late.