Honoring Your Father and Mother

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Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee~ Exodus 20:12

The Ten Commandments:

  1. You shall have no other gods before God
  2. You shall not worship idols
  3. You shall not use the Lord’s name in vain
  4. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy
  5. Honor your father and mother
  6. You shall not kill
  7. You shall not commit adultery
  8. You shall not steal
  9. You shall not lie
  10. You shall not covet

Today I’m going to do my best to explain to you what that fifth commandment really means. You probably think you understand what that means- to honor your father and mother- like I did, but what God is saying goes a lot deeper than just obeying your parents. I’ve learned what it truly means to honor your parents recently.

From basically the beginning of time until recently, a son or daughter would highly respect their parents. They would obey, serve, and love their parents almost as if their whole lives depended on it. They would usually reply to their father “yes, sir!” when told to do something, and call him “Papa” and “Father” at most other times. When “Papa” said something, his word was law. The mother was just that- “mother” and all of her children would obey her just as they would their father- without complaint.

That’s changed recently. I cannot tell you the last time I heard a child in a restaurant or a store treat their parents with respect or obey without complaining, and it’s usually expected that older tweens and teens are going to be disrespectful toward their parents. When talking to teenagers, I usually find that they think that their parents don’t know anything and are forbidding anything that the son or daughter thinks is fun. 

Now today I’m not going to focus on why this change has come about, but on how to fix this change in ourselves! To begin with, why would God tell us to honor our parents in the first place? Well, look again at the verse that I put at the top of this post- Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. This isn’t saying that if we listen to our parents our lives will be long and perfect, but it is saying that since our parents have more experience with the world it’s a good idea to learn about the world from them. That and it makes life a lot easier for the parents. 🙂

My question for you to think about is this: can somebody obey their parent and yet not honor them? My answer is yes, they can. Check out dictionary.com’s definitions of obey as a verb: “to comply with or follow the commands, restrictions, wishes, or instructions of.” And then honor as a verb: (1) to hold in honor or high respect; revere, (2) to confer honor or distinction upon, (3) to worship (the Supreme Being), (4) to show a courteous regard for.

So, according to dictionary.com, obeying is not the same as honoring. You’re now probably asking: do you think that God meant for us to do all that (to hold in honor or high respect; to confer honor or distinction upon; to worship; to show a courteous regard for)? I do, excepting the one about worshiping. That would be breaking the second commandment! 😉

Now, how does somebody apply all that I have said about honoring your parents? To start, maybe next time your parents ask you to do something, or tell you not to do something, instead of just obeying them while all the time thinking about how you would rather be doing something else (or be doing that thing that you’re not allowed to do), reply “Yes, sir!” or “Yes, ma’am!”. It’ll make you feel better about obeying, and you’ll be obeying God! Another way to honor your parents is to remember a little saying that my parents would tell me when I was really small: obey immediately, completely, and joyfully.
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2 comments

  1. Lauren says:

    Thank you Olivia! I totally agree, and you know what? My parents would tell us the same thing! All the way, right away, and with a happy heart! By the way, sorry I haven’t been responding lately. I’ve been pretty busy! any way thanks for taking the time to write that. Hope you have a good rest of the week!

    • Olivia says:

      Oh, that’s good! I was afraid not many people would agree with what I had to say! We’ve been pretty busy too, what with my mom being able to go into labor any time now, and preparing for the next school year! I hope you have a great week, too!

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