“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”
— Exodus 20:12
Do you remember the old slogan from the sixties “Never trust anyone over thirty”? For many in our culture, “authority” has become a dirty word. While all authority figures have been the target of this attitude, it seems particularly directed toward parental authority. But God, who is outside our ever-fluctuating social trends, tells us something quite different. In fact, He commands the opposite. In the Fifth Commandment, He tells us to honor our parents.
Some people suppose that this commandment deals only with children obeying their parents. It is true that when we are children, we must obey our parents, but later we can honor them, show them respect, and care for them. As we grow into adulthood, our relationships with our parents and our responses to their authority will determine our responses to other authority figures. In our egalitarian society, we tend to lose sight of the fact that the world consists of relationships between superiors and subordinates—teacher to student, employer to employee, and God to creature, for example. So the Fifth Commandment addresses an aspect of human nature that extends to every phase of a person’s life.
What do we gain by obeying this commandment? God tells us that if we honor our parents we will have long lives. Although this promise is a general principle and not an unconditional promise, we often see that people who honor their parents live to a ripe old age.
How is your relationship with your parents? Do you honor them? Whether they are living or dead, you can show respect to them. How can you honor your parents today?