Hello, Ernest. I am a believer and I have a question. We are taught to honour our parents. But what if one’s parents are not worthy of honour? What is the point of the fifth commandment?
The fifth commandment in the decalogue (Exodus 20:12) states “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” (NLT)
The command to give honour to your parents is not contingent on the honourable nature of your parents. It stands as God’s command not for 5-star parents but for all, even if they were unrepentant druglords and prostitutes. This means that our eyes are on God and not on our mothers and fathers. Parents did not create that command; God did. The best motivation for a believer to obey God is the cross of Jesus Christ- we see God pouring out His love for us and we are compelled to obey Him in response to that love. As far as the point of the command is concerned, we can infer from it the importance of parental honour.
1. Honouring parents gives natural recognition to the human vessels that were used to grant you life. This translates into honouring God, the Author of Life. If we are grateful to be alive, we can as well thank the Author of Life by honouring the source of that life. This also removes all the insecurities about the legitimacy of our births. That we are alive and that God has purpose for us liberates us from the false notion of being “second-rate” human beings who did not come from “proper” families.
2. This honour also extends grace and compassion to parents that feel they have failed. Everyone needs a dose of unconditional grace in order to recover from guilt, shame and condemnation. Giving honour to parents grants an opportunity for those that feel frail and fallen to see that they are not defined by their failures.
3. Honouring parents helps you heal wounds that you incurred from childhood. It is as though when you express love to those that hurt you, your inner man unclenches its fists. And from the open hands that were once clenched fists fall off bitterness, anger, vengeance, rejection and a myriad of other burdens that clog the free flow of your perception of life and relationships. This helps you in turn become, not only a healthy future parent, but also a healthy future spouse.
4. Honouring parents helps us honour leaders in our lives. If God requires honouring parents unconditionally, you can be sure His commands in the New Testament to honour leaders are also unconditional. Home is training ground for life. Many of our dishonourable troubles outside our homes of origin stem from improper honour to our parents. To honour is simply to accord respect- at the very least because the other person is made in the image of God. God sees true honour as the posture of our hearts and not necessarily always as the outward expression of our habits. Our habits can comply but our hearts distanced from honour- like the elder brother in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15).
When the LORD says in Exodus 20:12 “…then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you” you can see that the scriptures are true. Honour your parents.