Friday, February 27, 2009

The Fifth Commandment

In our continuing study of the 10 commandments, here is the 5th commandment.

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you. ( Ex. 20:12)

This is a hard commandment for me to wrap my mind around. I have done a lot of reading on this and I can only share what I have learned. But, I still have a lot of questions that pertain to the act of giving honor to "bad" parents.

If we look at the verse, we are commanded to "Honor" not "Love" our parents. I found this quite interesting. Why would God tell us to honor them but not love them? Then I thought of the verse in 1Peter where wives are told to "Respect" their husbands. We are not told to "Love" them. (Eph. 5:22) This has really made me think about the role husbands play. In the next verses of Ephesians, husbands are told to love your wife as Christ loves the Church. So, if a man loves his wife properly, she will love him. I think that this is what happens with parents and children. If children honor their parents, they can grow to love them. But this still doesn't answer the bad parent question. I found a transcript of a radio show by Rabbi Simon Jacobson, which goes into great detail about this subject. I am not going to delve too deep into it, you can go to his site and read the whole thing if you like.

When you honor your parents, you are also giving honor to God. Your parents had a hand in your creation, but ultimately, you were created by God. So we give honor to our parents because God used them to give us life. We are really giving honor to God when we do this.
The way I understand this is we are not commanded to love our parents because they don't always deserve our love, but we are commanded to honor them because if we don't it isn't the parents that are being dishonored, it is God.

I don't know of anyone who doesn't have some sort of issue with their parents. Either past or present, we all have some kind of problem. I encourage you to give these problems to God and ask for forgiveness for not honoring Him by dishonoring your parents. Then you should go to your parents if at all possible and clear the air with them. This is not always easy and does not always turn out to have a happy ending. Some scars just run too deep to be fixed easily. But if you are willing to let God handle this, He will in a way that will glorify Him and give you a peace about the situation that can only come from Him.

My mother and I did this very thing several years ago. Things I had been holding in for fear of what would happen, I just couldn't hold in anymore. My mother and I were able to forgive one another and we are closer now than we have ever been. I know that my case is different from a lot of people, but I also know that I was glad that I made the effort to clear the air between us. That is what God wants from us. Our obedience to His will. Even if nothing changes between you and your parents, things will change between you and God for the better and that is the goal.


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