Defining what godly honoring of parents is and what it is not
To honor your father and mother is the 5th of the Ten Commandments given to Moses for Israel. Like all of the other Commandments, this is a very old-fashioned and worn-out sounding principle. I mean, we all know that we should respect our parents to some degree, but are we supposed to let them run our lives? What exactly is entailed in honoring parents? And what if your parents were not good parents? Maybe they were absent, or worse. Does our present age of overwhelming personal freedom and choice override this ancient law? Can honoring your parents in some circumstances be detrimental to them and you? Fortunately, the Bible does put all of this in order. It provides us with sound reasoning and direction so we can enthusiastically fulfill this Commandment.
When God gave the Ten Commandments, the first four were all about honoring Him as Creator, God and Deliverer. Did you ever wonder why the very next Commandment was about honoring parents? God as their sovereign was guiding them as to how to establish a successful nation. His point was plain. God must ALWAYS be first as He delivered and established them as a nation. Parents must then be honored in a similar fashion, as they were the life givers and providers for every individual in that nation. Often when God reminded Israel that He comes first, he also reminded them to honor their parents as well. According to God, these two Commandments are inseparable.
What about bad parents?
The big question arises when we think about parents who, unfortunately, are not good people. What if they lead evil lives and do ungodly things? Would God really want us to honor them? This seems like it would be contradictory, but it really isn't. According to the Bible, the word for “honor” relating to our parents has to do with prizing or valuing something. When we “prize” something, we care for it. We are not careless with it and we are not impatient or half-hearted in its care. Our honor for parents who have been or are destructive should be this way. It should reflect our determination to do what is ultimately best for them in the eyes of God. This does NOT mean blindly following their evil thoughts or desires!
Check out our January 18, 2021 podcast, “What Does Honoring Your Father and Mother Look Like?” for more. We list several practical examples of what honoring a bad parent looks like and does not look like. For many of us, this is a powerful, eye-opening conversation. We also talk about what honoring parents who are God-honoring themselves looks like. This is so much more than listing out nice things to do for them. Honoring our father and mother is a foundational principle of a high-functioning society. God made it clear that if we lose this generational honor, we eventually lose our ability to hold onto that which is righteous for all. Join us and reclaim the value of the family unit!
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