Honor Dad and Mom – Identity and the Fifth Commandment

The Holy Family, Giorgione 1500

The Holy Family, Giorgione 1500

 

 Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. – Exodus 20:12

Quite possibly the six hardest words to apply in the entire Bible: honor your father and your mother.

For some this commandment is difficult because father or mother were abusive. For others this is complicated because one parent was absent. And for the rest of us, this is trying because of our self-centered, disobedient nature.

Jesus was sinless, yet grew up honoring his broken image bearing parents. Demonstrating that our brokenness, or our parents’ imperfection, does not invalidate the command to honor father and mother. (click here to easily tweet that)

While the first four commandments are about loving God and provide instruction about where we are to place our identity (see #1, #2, #3, & #4), the next six are about loving people and challenges to an identity rooted in God.

Our father and mother create the family system we live in. The self-centered way we respond to their good or bad parenting helps to shape the lies we believe that we form our identity around. (see The Lie) Honoring means not blaming them for all of our faults and foibles. Not heaping all of our problems on their shoulders – blame is our relational response to shame – but acknowledging our own responsibility for our actions. It is a small leap to then blame God and be angry for the parents we were given.

For some, honor simply means learning to forgive. Forgiving may be the best they can do. The ability to forgive parents, and consider how the family system they grew up in shaped them, is a product of a secure identity, one not looking to the relationship for validation. An identity seeking to be unstuck from the lies of formation.

Father and mother pass their image on to us. They are reflectors, as we all are. Because of this we tend to look to our parent or parents for identity. We define our self and what gives us value by our parents. Maybe they pass on their status or social standing. Or maybe they go through a crisis and it shakes the foundation your world is built on.

Parents make bad idols. They are broken human being and as such make a shaky foundation to build a life on. Honor is respecting parents but not worshiping them.

How do you express honor for your father and mother? In what ways has honoring been made difficult?

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