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QUESTION: The Word of God tells us to honor our parents. What if they are not honorable?
 
ANSWER: The fifth of the Ten Commandments reads, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” (Exodus 20:12) This command begins the section dealing with our relationship to society. It is the first commandment with an accompanying promise of wellness and long life for those obedient to it.
 
The Hebrew Word for honor is in the imperative tense. That means (1) it is a command and (2) it is to be continuously obeyed. So what about our question? What if parents are not ‘honorable’? Why didn’t God use this opportunity to command parents to be honorable instead of telling us to treat them that way?  I don’t know. But I do know that God commanded you and me to honor our parents.
 
Having said that, you have noticed by now that “to honor” someone and “to be honorable” are two different things. Many bosses, employers, and presidents have not been honorable – but they all were given honors accorded to their position. Honor can be earned or honor can be mandated by law. Military law requires the salute. To salute is to acknowledge or “honor” the rank of the one being saluted regardless of the character of the person. When a person has earned respect, it is a privilege to acknowledge it. Sometimes, however, the salute comes only because military law demands it. In either case, personal integrity to the law (obedience) honors the law, if not the person.
 
Because we believe that God is Sovereign (Daniel 4:25, 35; Romans 9:15-23; 1 Timothy 6:15; Rev 4:11) and all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). We ought to believe God chose our parents with the foreknowledge of the kind of parents they would be. God gave us the parents He wanted us to have so that we might grow and learn and glorify God to their credit (because of them) or to their shame (in spite of them). To honor the Law of God by honoring your parents demonstrates your integrity to the Law – it is not a vote stating your parents deserve this, although hopefully they do.
 
So, if a parent does not earn honor they still deserve it. They may only deserve it because God’s Law requires it (based on God’s sovereign choice to make them your parent), but they deserve it none the less. For you to refuse to give honor to your parents is to rebel against God-ordained circumstances and that means you are rebelling against God. You can only glorify God by obeying Him – you have no other choice. A Christian cannot base his obedience solely on the behavior of everybody else.
 
It is also important to remember that God does not give an exception to this command. No matter what sin a parent has committed, honor is still to be given – you are not commanded to like what they do but to honor the place God gave them in your life. If you are having trouble with anger, read the instructions Jesus gave in Luke 6:27-28. It won’t be easy, but if following Christ was easy, we wouldn’t need the Holy Spirit of God to do it.
 
 
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