The admonition to honor father and mother is one of the toughest to apply in these “progressive” times. Parents are not always right. In fact many of them are consistently very, very wrong. Too many are listening to liberal philosophies of men and ignoring what God says for living and raising kids. We (especially older “we’s”) can point fingers at the younger generation’s growing refusal to honor their elders, but not without the proverbial three fingers pointing back at us. The parents are the ones that produced the younger generation. If they have shortcomings it’s obvious that we are the ones who made them that way. We don’t follow God’s ways ourselves, but then wonder why our children turn out to be so lawless.
That doesn’t let the youngsters off the hook, though. Sooner or later they grow up, and make their own choices. Frequently they take the hard work and sacrifice of parents and squander it on selfish decisions (like the prodigal son). There are other role models than parents they can look to, and many biblical helps available if they used their “free will” to choose them. God tells us that in the last days the love of many will wax cold (that means get colder and colder for you modern graduates of the public school system).
And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. (Matthew 24:12, AV)
“Iniquity” is none other than lawlessness. Living without the Law. The church leads the way in this department with many many excuses for why they don’t follow parts or the whole of the Law. So not only do parents share the blame for the fecklessness of the younger generation, but churches are bearing a chunk of the blame too.
The primary meaning of “honor” is to take care of your parents when they need it. This includes financial help, or help with living arrangements, or legal assistance.
For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban” ’ (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” (Mark 7:10–13, ESV)
It also means to respect your elders for the good things they do and forgive them for the bad things. Parents can make it tough to be honored. Sometimes they refuse help. Other times they just aren’t deserving of help. Honoring parents does not mean you agree with everything they do or say. Sometimes too, we cannot honor our fathers and mothers because they are far from the faith. In that case perhaps the best you can do is to just be ready to honor them, avoid bad attitudes, and forgive.
I try to honor my adoptive mother (father’s gone now) but she really makes it tough. She has wandered from the faith and has hard feelings towards me. She sort of booted me out of her life a year ago and “adopted” another son (a son of a friend) to take care of her end of life issues. I still honor her in prayer and attitude though, and if I get a chance I will honor her as she needs in other ways too.
I can’t properly communicate how pleased I am that my kids honor their parents. Mostly. 🙂 They have financially helped us quite a bit in these tough economic times. My daughter and son-in-law in particular give their tithe to us. This will redound to their heavenly bank account in multiples. I’m not taking any of that away from them with public praise because they are not doing it for that reason. They are doing it because they are honoring God and honoring their parents. But it doesn’t hurt to give them some praise anyway because they’ll be picking our nursing home too!
Righteous judgment begins in the individual with self-analysis and application. Honoring parents is a part of it. Not as a take-it-or-leave-it suggestion, but as bedrock for any other blessings God wants to give us.
“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” (Ephesians 6:2–3, ESV)