Dan Popp
Parents
Written in stone: Thoughts on the Ten Commandments
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By Dan Popp
October 9, 2012

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you. (Exodus 20:12, NASB)

The first four Commandments — Have no other gods, Make no images, Don't take God's name in vain, and Sanctify the Sabbath — deal with our relationship with God. With the Fifth Commandment God begins His instructions for our relationships with people. And the "second tablet" of the Law starts with the fundamental building block of society; the family. In the list of charges against mankind in Romans 1, God includes disobedience to parents right alongside murder and depravity.

Perhaps a negative example would be an interesting place to start our thinking about honoring parents.
    Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard. And he drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were turned away, so that they did not see their father's nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him. So he said, "Cursed be Canaan...." (Genesis 9:20-25a)
The moral is, "Don't be a Ham." When he saw his father in an embarrassing situation, Ham went and sniggered about it to his brothers. Their response was the right one. We've read that love "covers" sin; well, here's a literal illustration. When our parents stumble, we may have the opportunity to broadcast their shame, or to keep it under wraps. Honor your father and mother.

Satan often tempts us to nurse resentment against our parents. After all, we were once very vulnerable to their mistakes and shortcomings. Drop it. The Holy Spirit tells us bluntly, "The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now." (1 John 2:9) "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." (Romans 12:18) How much better should we treat parents than mere "brothers" or "all men." No, harmony isn't always going to be possible, but you know in your heart whether you've done all you can to restore those relationships.

Notice that God doesn't say, Honor your father and mother if and as they deserve it. We're to honor them for His sake, because of the love He has put in us.

One of the ways that Christians honor parents is by supporting them financially. "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." (1 Timothy 5:8) Jesus railed against the religionists who violated the Fifth Commandment for what they thought was a good cause.
    And he said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, 'Honour your father and your mother,' and, 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban' (that is, a gift devoted to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that." (Mark 7:9-13 NIV)
I've written about this passage in another article. I'll just say here that the state church of America is in direct conflict with Christianity on the matter of our duty to parents. My religion obligates me to provide for my family members. The government religion takes money I could have used to support my parents, and gives it to other people's parents.

I said in my previous essay that every day is the Sabbath. For the Christian, every day should be Mother's Day and Father's Day, too. Let's resolve to be both a covering and a support for them. To the extent possible, in ordinary ways and creative ways, let's honor them.



Previous articles in this series: God, Images, Name, Rest.

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© Dan Popp

 

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