Tucked in the middle of the Ten Commandments is a command that has proved troubling for adults with divorced parents. Honor your father and mother. Having heard and read a variety of parental horror stories, it’s easy to see why this can be such a challenge. How do you a honor a parent who beat your mom, or left the family to run off with another man? Does God really expect you to honor parents who used you as a weapon against the other? Surely this doesn’t apply to parents that you hold responsible for the mess your brother or sister is in today?
What does honor mean anyway?
Webster’s definition of honor is to respect greatly, regard highly, or esteem, and/or to treat with deference and courtesy. The Biblical definition implies to give weight or value to something—to revere.1
Today we live in a culture of dishonor. Everywhere you turn and in virtually every TV show or movie parents are dishonored. With this, combined with the behavior of their parents during and after the divorce many ACD believe they have totally justifiable reasons why they shouldn’t honor their parent(s). God’s perspective, however, is totally different.
How does God feel about us honoring our parents?
It made the ten commandments so that makes it very important to God. Its importance is also mentioned conversely in the following list of bad traits.
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful.”2
When is the last time you saw envy, murder, haters of God, and disobedient to parents in the same sentence? God is serious about honoring parents. In fact, He says it is the only commandment with a promise, “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”3
The first step is to confess that you aren’t honoring your parent(s) and ask for God’s forgiveness. The next step is to realize that there is a difference between honoring actions and honoring the person. You can honor the person without giving honor to their actions.
For example, there are those who didn’t vote for President Obama and disagree with some of his positions. That is acceptable though should he walk into our office or classroom tomorrow, we would all stand and give him the honor that is due his position as President of the United States. Likewise, our mom or dad may have done things that are dishonorable, but God is very specific that they, as our parents, are to be honored.
I need help with this
Heeding God’s command to honor your parents is not a choice. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, it is a command. But as a Christ-follower you have God’s word, the power of His Holy Spirit, and resources that can heal your heart from the damage that is standing in the way of obeying God by honoring your parents. We have to trust that God’s ways are best even if they aren’t always easy. Pray today for God to bring healing to your heart and mind in this area. And check out the resources that are available to help you.
1Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft
2Romans 1:28-31 [NKJV]
3Ephesians 6:3 [NIV]
Kent Darcie – Adult Children of Divorce Ministries Sept 2013