Honour is basic to the longevity of any society. In the 5th Commandment, we are taught to recognise the God-ordained authority of parents as an aspect of honouring the Lord. The reward for those who honour those who give us life, is life.
God is the Father of all mankind and He is the Giver of Life. And so, the blessings of life are tied to those God appoints as His representatives – our parents.
To honour the giver of temporal life is to honour the God and Father who gives eternal life.
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)
The Family is Central to Society
The family and its government under God is the next basic institution in society after the self-government of the individual man or woman. Evolution, by contrast, sees procreation as basic and the family as incidental.
While this might seem simplistic, the implications are enormous. If the family is not the basic institution, then the state will sooner or later step in to fill the void.
Once the family is no longer central (which, under an evolutionary world view it isn’t), then the state will, sooner or later, gladly step in to provide the discipline, education, vocation and religion we all seek. As a “father” the state will also govern family economics and distribute family wealth.
By contrast, God sets the family, and in this case parents, as central to prosperity. In a land where other cultures were prone to send their elderly and helpless parents out into the wilderness to become the victims of wild beasts and die of exposure1, God called on children to stand, honour and provide for their ageing parents.
Honour and Obedience
While strict obedience was expected of dependent children, honour was the general principle to be applied to children of all ages. As a principle, honour was to be given to all those who are older than us.
The nature of that obedience is expressed in Paul’s words to children in Ephesians 6:11. Obedience is to be rendered, “In the Lord”. In other words, their obedience is to arise from a conviction that obedience to parents is God’s will and so it is something we do to honour God.
The honour is not rendered because of parental kindness or goodness but is right simply because they are parents. As parents, they represent God’s law-order (in principle, even if not always in practice).
The honour is also due to parents because they hold the inheritance of the past which will finance the children’s future. IN other words, the resources under their feet are provided by generations past. This is to be acknowledged by honouring those who have given us our foundation.
One of the indicators that parents are no longer honoured is the sheer number of children who must start out in young adult life with no assistance from parents.
Instead, parents have decided to spend the inheritance on themselves, thus, in principle, robbing their children of their means of existence. Rather than build generational wealth, as the richest families in the world have done, and which is exemplified in the expanse of Abrahams’ family, the modern family must build from nothing in each generation.
The lack of future grace imparted by parents dishonours the parents, and so they are dishonoured. And those who dishonour them become godless in the process.
In a culture like this, the young then have little regard for the welfare of ageing parents. And so, the state is invited to take up the responsibility for aged care. The end of which will be to put our elderly to death.
Whoever robs his father or his mother and says, “That is no transgression,” is a companion to a man who destroys. (Proverbs 28:24)
Such a breakdown in the family is not a mark of social decay, it is social decay, one which ends with death rather than life.
And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. (Mark 13:12)
So serious was this command to honour our parents that a rebellious son who refused to give honour and who constantly and consistently rebelled against parental authority could lose his life as punishment (Leviticus 20:9; Deuteronomy 21:18-21).
The Faithful Son
Where Adam and Israel had failed as God’s Son (Luke 3:38) Jesus is the faithful Son who honours His Father and Mother (John 19:26-27) and thus receives His inheritance.
We honour God when we give honour (in the Greek, the word means ‘to pay’ and so, Mark 7:9-13) to the aged, and, as dependent children, are obedient to our parents. This willingness to acknowledge true, God-ordained authority is a mark of holiness that is blessed through Christ with life.
In the Gospel, Jesus takes on the sin of rebellious sons and daughters and dies their death. He makes a way, not only for mercy on rebellious sons, but a way for us to imitate and inculturate honour for our parents in our daily lives.
1 Rushdoony, R.J. The Institutes of Biblical Law, Volume I, (p165)