Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12
"Youth today are rebellious and disobedient to their parents!" That statement is one that could be found in a current newspaper or magazine. It could have come from a gray‑haired father now in a home for senior citizens as he thinks about young people today. But actually those words are an inscription found on the side of an Egyptian tomb, chiseled there in stone over 4,000 years ago.
It points up a problem that seems to be contemporary with every generation: Seldom do our offspring measure up to parental expectations! Yet God underlined the importance of showing veneration and respect for an older generation by giving us the fifth commandment, which reads: "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you" (Exodus 20:12).
Is there a need to inject the fifth commandment into the mainstream of family living today? We are living in a day when, by and large, child raising is the raising of parents by the child instead of the raising of children by parents.
The typical youth has not learned much about honoring parents or elderly people. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. Such an exception was underlined by a letter to the editor of the paper, appealing to the parents of the boy scout who crosses the street at the corner of 17th and Clarkson. She requested that the boy scout NOT escort her across the street every day. She reported that she was healthy and perfectly capable of getting across on her own. That's gratitude for you!
When it comes to this fifth commandment and life today, I see two problems: One is the parent whose kids are disrespectful because the parent has failed to teach respect for authority as the child grew up; and the other problem involves Christian young men and women, who find it difficult to honor their parents because they see nothing in the lives of their parents that merits respect and obedience.
Let's consider both problems, beginning with the axiom that God in His Word never makes obedience dependent on another's compliance with the will of God. Suppose you are a Christian young man or young woman and your parents have failed miserably in raising you as they should. In the natural there is not much in the life of such a mom or dad that is worthy of honor. Who bestows honor on a woman who cannot get along without her alcohol, who hides the bottle in the linen closet and drinks Vodka, thinking it cannot be smelled?
For you as a Christian young man or woman, God did not make obedience to His Word conditional on the moral character of your parents. Writing to the Ephesians, Paul said, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right" (Ephesians 6:1). "Stop!" A young man may yell, "That is just the point‑‑my parents are not in the Lord!" But Paul is saying that your obedience is to be in the Lord. That phrase "in the Lord" qualifies the young man or woman who is to honor them.
The second point that I would like to make is that God will bless you as a parent if you raise your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. The blessing is two‑fold: First‑‑God promises the blessing of longevity, and this promise is one of the few times that God promises long life to anyone in respect to obedience to the Word. The second blessing insures that your home will be a happier and healthier place in our world. It's a fact.
Resource Reading: Psalm 119:41-56.