Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Family Culture, Part 3: Honor

In 2 Peter the Apostle Peter addresses the redeemed of God, fellow saints. As he goes about instructing them (5-11) and mentioning his approaching death (14-15) he makes an important statement in verses 12-13 :

"Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things,
though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.
Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle,
to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;"

Peter is concerned that he remind he brothers/sisters of things they already know, but need to be continually reminded of. I think sometimes we get this idea in our heads that we 'know' the 'basics' and we are ready to move on to weighteir matters. It is important that we are reminded of these 'basics' and that we continually strive for the mastery of them, though we know that we shall not obtain it in this temporal body.

One such 'basic' is the duty of a child to honor his/her parents. Dishonor and rebellion, are a common part of our culture, parents are even instructed to expect this, especially during the teens years, and to just go with the flow. The message to them: just hold on, you'll survive it and then you can ship them off to college so you don't have to put up with it. The message to us? Rebellion and dishonor are just a part of growing up, it's normal, besides you're just trying to find your identity and assert yourself. No big deal. I'll never forget my graduation banquet in '07; a pastor had been asked to come in and give us a word of encouragement as we finished highschool and prepared to enter the world as adults. I was sorely disappointed in his address, to be honest, I came home and fumed about it in a journal I am keeping for my future husband, and if he can ever read my handwriting from that entry, I'll be blown away :-)

Back to the point of my short narrative, the guest pastor said that our "parents are right more often than not, but, if we don't realize that now, that's okay, we'll figure it out soon." Excuse me?

Granted, there is a wisdom that comes with age which I do not have and to which I must submitt with honor regardless of whether or not I understand the reasoning, but the wordly attitude implied by his comment, demeanor and lack of follow up (i.e. he should have followed that with a quote from Proverbs or something, a little 'Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.") is what grieved and angered me.
The honoring of our parents has multiple aspects, some in the form of positive admonitions, others in the negative form of warnings.
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and thy mother, (which is the first commandment with a promise;) that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth." Eph. 6:1-3
To obey in the Lord is to be obedient so long as the commands are not in direct violation of the Word of God (Acts 4:19), a concept which I think is pretty universally understood in the Christian community. It is interesting to note, however, that the command to honor is not conditional. If we must disobey because a command is in direct violation of scripture, not in opposition to our plans/emotions, we are to disobey while giving our parents the honor they are due, regardless of whether or not we think they are worthy of this honor. God does not take the dishonoring of His apointed authorities lightly. For example take the rebellion of Korah, in Numbers 16. Korah, Dathan and Abiram, along with 250 princes of the assembly rose up against Moses and accused him of arrogantly taking too much upon himself. "We are all God's chosen people," they argued, "so why do you place yourself on some kind of pedestal?" In the end, we all know what happened, the earth swallowed Korah, Dathan, Abiram and their families as well as consuming with fire the 250 that were with them. They rebelled against God's authority and were severly punished. Romans 15:4 tells us that the things written before (the Old Testament) were written for our learning, let's learn from this example and honor our parent's for their God-given authority.
"Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother. And all the people shall say, "Amen"" Deut. 27:16
My understanding of "setting light" is that it is a reference to mockery. A child who mocks their parents, whatever the age of that child and whatever their status in life, is cursed. We must not take the honor of our parents lightly.
"Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you." Hebrews 13:17
I had the priviledge of hearing Doug Phillips speak once on Ephesians 6:1-2 and he brought out a very interesting aspect of honor. We are to defend our parents' honor. Not only are we to respect them, but we are to refrain from dishonoring them by speaking of them in a disrespectful manner/context. Our parents aren't perfect, they have sins and failures, inconsistencies, some of which may be frustrating to us. But, it is not anyone else's business. Those things remain between my parents and the Lord, my job is to pray for my parents and continue to honor them, not vent and complain. If I have a problem, I take it to Christ in prayer, I should not go and tell Susy and Jane all my woes that my parents "cause". If one struggles to honor, it may be good to get an accountability partner who will pray and encourage. However, it would need to be someone who is strong in this area, who would resist the temptation to sulk with you. In sharing the need for prayer/accountability, don't elaborate on what you don't like about your parents or the way they lead the home, rather focus on your need to lovingly honor them.
"My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee." Proverbs. 3:1-2 "Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law." Proverbs 4:1-2 " A fool despises his father's instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent." Proverbs 15:5
Listen and learn from the wisdom of your parents, especially if they are children of the Most High. Learn from their example and guidance. Honor them by learning from them.
How beautiful is obedience to the commands of God! Let us purpose to honor our parents and to obey them in the Lord.
"The way of the Lord is strength to the upright: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity" Proverbs 10:29


Jonathan said...


That simply was a good post, and I found it encouraging to read. Yes, we all need to keep going back to the basics in of our Christian walk.

The part about parents expecting rebellion in their teenagers is, sadly, so true. They think this is just part of the natural growing up process. Sure, when children get older (in their teens) they begin thinking more for themselves and start questioning their parents decisions, and this is fine, if done in a respectful way, but rebellion is not. It is sin.

I also want to reiterate the point about honoring our parents and their counsel, even when it seems so wrong. Young people, God has set up authorities and checks and balances in our lives to help us make the right decisions during this very important stage of life. Parents care for us in a way no one else on the planet does. It is through them, I believe, if we are truly honoring and submitting to them, that God will lead us. Even if our parents have made an unwise decision, God WILL honor our submission to them and bless us for it. And remember, God is working all things together for our good and His glory; and no blessed thing He has meant for our lives will some how be missed out on if we honor our parents.

Leah said...

Well said. It is through a child's obedience and honor of their parents that they give to the Lord the honor and worship He deserves, for He is the one offended by a child not honoring what He has placed over them.