with the Fifth Commandment, we commence dealing with the last
six of the Ten Commandments. As Jesus Christ characterized them,
it is obvious the "great commandment" is to "love the Eternal thy
God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your soul,
and to love your neighbor as yourself."
the Ten Commandments, Jesus tells us the first four show us
how to love God, and the last six show us how to love
our neighbor - how to love mankind!
six might be characterized as the "family oriented" commandments;
the laws of God that have to do with our interpersonal, familial
and communal relationships.
a cause for every effect! Today we experience the enormous
effects of murder and violence, crime, drug abuse, alcoholism,
wife beating, child abuse, homosexuality, sadism, abandonments,
desertions, divorce, illegitimacy, venereal disease, and an incalculable
amount of human woe and misery - all of which can be traced directly
to the family!
has become "home-icide," for much of the murder of which
you hear in the news occurs in the home, among and between
family members, often between husbands and wives!
A few years
ago, in the church organization with which I was then affiliated,
a young minister intercepted his wife in the corridor outside an
attorney's office where she was attempting to obtain a divorce,
pulled out a pistol and shot his wife, then turned the gun on himself
and committed suicide!
no racial group, no segment of society is immune from the massive
blight of marital unhappiness, and the general decay and disintegration
of the home.
the words of the Fifth Commandment carefully.
human being of whatever age is commanded to honor his
parents! This command is not restricted to children. What
is "honor"? It is "high regard or great respect given, received
One of the
great curses upon our peoples today is that too many parents
do not strive to deserve or to retain the "honor"
appropriately due them from their children!
mistake! Two wrongs do not make a right. Dishonorable parents
- parents who mistreat and abuse their children, who
do not properly provide for them, teach and educate them,
give them the love, attention and affection they need
- are acting dishonorably. Nevertheless, even though the
parents may be breaking God's laws toward their children,
even disreputable conduct does not give the children "license" or
"permission" to dishonor their parents!
"honor" does not connote servile obedience! It does not carry with
it the requirement for children, especially when grown up to adulthood,
to blindly and docily be subject to the authority of their
parents for their entire adult life!
God explains this when He says, "Therefore shall a man leave
his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and
they shall become one flesh."
at the point of marriage Almighty God intended that a new and separate
family unit be established. The head of this new household
is no longer dependent upon his parents; no longer under their tutelage
and instruction; but is now the head of his own household,
and his own family.
though he is not now required to render servile obedience to
every suggestion or desire of his parents, he is under the lifelong
obligation to show them honor!
show one's parents honor even if they are in disagreement?
this in the light of Jesus' prophecy concerning families. "Think
not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace,
but a sword.
"For I am
come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter
against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
"And a man's
foes shall be they of his own household.
loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me:
and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of
Me" (Matthew 10:34-37).
But is Jesus
advocating that such individuals show their parents dishonor?
proves that a son and a father can be completely "at variance,"
and even "against" each other for the sake of the work of Almighty
God and the gospel of Jesus Christ, yet the command to
"honour thy father and thy mother" still remains!
such "variance" would reach into other, more distant family members,
such as "daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."
said, "And everyone that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters,
or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My name's
sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting
that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first" (Matthew
enough, only a few verses earlier in the same chapter, Jesus
repeated the Fifth Commandment to the young man who asked
Him of the key to eternal life.
". . . If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
unto Him, which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, thou shalt
not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false
thy father and thy mother: and, thou shalt love thy neighbour
as thyself" (Matthew 19:16-19).
one may have to forsake brothers and sisters, father or mother,
or even one's own spouse, for the sake of the Kingdom of
God and the gospel, Jesus still says one must honor his
father and mother!
becomes obvious "honor" is seen as distinctly separate from servile
obedience, agreement in all things, or "being in subjection"
for an entire lifetime.
Paul, writing of these family commandments, says, "Children, obey
your parents in the Lord; for this is right.
thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;
may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth" (Ephesians
urges children to obey their parents "in the Lord." An obvious
exception would be when parents are not "in the Lord."
Many young people have had to face this bitter choice. Any number
of young people have been called into the precious knowledge of
God's truth while their parents were not.
a major family conflict occurs. The parents believe the son or daughter
may have taken up with some "strange religion," and use every parental
influence possible to dissuade their youngster from studying
God's Word, coming to "strange," new conclusions which seem to unsettle
and disturb the parents.
of record show parents have attempted to order their children
to quit listening to God's truth, quit reading articles or booklets
published by God's work, and obey the parents by discontinuing
all contact with a church organization the parents feel is wrong.
cases, the admonition of the apostle Peter that we ought to obey
God rather than men" (Acts 5:29) applies. Though the children may
(lamentably) find themselves in disagreement with their own
parents, and be forced into an adversary situation because
of parental insistence they abandon their newfound beliefs,
the children are always required to honor their parents!
then, the requirement to obey the Fifth Commandment; that
each living human being must always HONOR his father and his mother
- honor them throughout his youth, through his adult life, and even
honor their memory after they are gone - does not mean
that every parent is due complete agreement, servile obedience
or slavish acquiescence from the child throughout that child's
life, even up into middle age!
a few extreme cases: Many of the criminals in society are, of course,
parents! What if the murderers of whom you read have families? If
a man who is a parent kills, robs, cheats, lies or steals,
is the child to honor those acts? Of course not!
matter what evil or illegal acts a human being may commit,
God's laws make no provision for the child to dishonor
may act in the most dishonorable manner imaginable, and it is always
the responsibility of the child to honor his father and
his mother! It becomes plain, then, that there are occasions when
a person must show that honor to a parent in spite of
what the parent has done or what the parent stands for, not
necessarily because of parental acts or deeds.
But do the
parents have any responsibility toward their children?
required to be honorable?
they are! However, even if they do not measure up to
God's commands, even if they are acting dishonorably, the
child is still required to show them honor.
"And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring
them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).
God's laws are not suddenly "suspended" because one party or the
other breaks one of the commandments!
Commandment is a multifaceted, multilateral commandment! It embodies
a broad command having to do with the relationship between parents
and children, therefore including a minimum of three parties!
It includes both parents and at least one child! Looking
at the broad principles of God's Word, the spirit of the
Fifth Commandment and not just the letter, we can see that this
commandment, like all the Word of God, is a "two-edged sword." It
is not a command aimed only at children - commanding children
to be in slavish subjection to parents no matter what! It
is a command to all parties; commanding parents to be honorable,
and commanding children to honor their parents.
do not make a right. If parents are not honorable, their children
are nevertheless required to honor them!
refuse to honor their parents, parents have no license to act dishonorably!
what is "wrong" with this Fifth Commandment?
any church organization assume this great law of God is
relationship is the very essence of the Kingdom of God. God
is a family of persons; the Father and the Son, a governing,
ruling family, or KINGDOM, into which we must be born!
Fifth Commandment carries with it the obvious analogy of the requirement
of all of mankind to love their heavenly Father, and to highly honor
what the world would be like if mankind obeyed this commandment!
be no such thing as divorce. Honorable parents, teaching
their children God's ways and God's laws, and in return being honored
by their children, would mean tight-knit family groups, God-defined
family roles, a warm, loving, mutually supportive and firmly grounded
family and home environment in which children could
grow up, be nurtured and taught.
family is the very building block of civilization, the cornerstone
of society, obedience to this commandment would virtually eradicate
a monstrous amount of evil! Divorce, abandonments, desertions,
family feuds and fights, parents murdering their children, children
murdering their parents, husbands and wives engaged in stabbings
and shoot-outs, juvenile delinquency and violence, teenage drug
abuse, venereal disease, illegitimacy, runaways, the incalculable,
multibillion-dollar waste and the tragedy of millions of shattered
lives as a direct result of breaking the Fifth Commandment
would be gone - erased - from the face of our nations!
Commandment, if obeyed, would bring fabulous economic blessings;
a stable, God-fearing, virtually crime-free society, and
incalculable blessings from Almighty God!
breaking of this commandment has virtually destroyed family
life among many peoples.