The Honouring of Parents
NCW 69: August 2000 - January 2001
Q. I am trying to understand the commandment, "Thou shalt honour thy parents." What exactly does this mean? Does this mean that I must unconditionally obey them? What when I'm married?
A. The best example of this in scripture that I know of concerns not so much a parent-child relationship but that of a subject to his king. We are to obey our parents in all things, to speak well of them, and to show love, kindness and respect towards them. But what if they are evil or follow pagan ways? Then the difficulties start. My answer is therefore always to "honour your parents in the Lord". That means we do all the things I have said but say "no" when they would that we should disobey the Lord. The question then is: how do we disobey them in a respectful, loving and honourable way? It is far too easy to fall into sin ourselves when abused by allowing resentment and anger consume us.
The best example in the Bible I can think of is the relationship of the fugitive David to his king, Saul. Read 1 Samuel, chapters 16-31 - it's a lot to read but well worth it.
Finally, when a woman becomes married she comes under the authority of her husband so that if there is a clash if interests she must follow her husband before her parents. And if she has problems with an unrighteous husband, she must follow the Lord, imitating David's example in her treatment of him. We are never to follow anyone down to hell and sometimes we must break lesser commandments (like honouring parents or a husband) in order to obey higher ones, but when we do, we must be very, very careful that our motives are pure. The only unconditional obedience we are to give is to the Lord.
This page was created on 19 January 2001
Last updated on 19 January 2001
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