“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12 (ESV)
This we are commanded to do. It also makes a lot of sense. But do we follow it?
The first thing to realize is that the command isn’t targeted at children. Sure, they are included, but it is targeted at adults! And if I were to rate our society as a whole (Christians included), I’d have to say that we fail miserably. There is little respect for age anymore in our western culture. The older one is, the more one is seen as a ‘burden’ on society and the family. This backwards view of how to treat people as they get older can be shown to be one of the root causes of many of the ills in our society (but I’m not going to do so here.) And these problems start with how we treat our own parents.
We are commanded to ‘honor’ our parents. Interesting that the command isn’t to ‘love’ them. Yeshua (Jesus) made two good illustrations of what it means to honor your parents.
In Matthew 15:4-8, Yeshua (Jesus) shows that honoring includes financial support.
In John 19:26-27, Yeshua (Jesus) made sure that his mother, Mary, would be taken care of after he was gone.
And there is something interesting to learn from the Hebrew word used for ‘honor.’
“We are not commanded to love our parents, or even to like them. The Hebrew” word used is ‘kabed’. “The word ‘kabed’ is an imperative verb, and it is related to the noun kaved, or heavy. There should be some heft to the way we feel about our parents.” “The Grammar of God” by Aviya Kushner, pg. 134.
Here are a couple more verses that are relevant:
“You shall rise up before the gray-headed and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the LORD.” Leveticus 19:32 (ESV)
“…and they [the parents] shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.” Deuteronomy 21:20 (ESV)
To sum up, we should have our parents’ wellbeing in our mind, and be doing what we can for them. We should be listening to their advice, and honoring them and all older folk around us! (Did you notice that the verse in Deuteronomy 21 is talking about a grown son? One wouldn’t be accusing a child of being a drunkard.)
We should take honoring our parents as a serious duty in our lives.
Our lives, and the culture, will be better for it.