Honor Dad and Mom – Identity and the Fifth Commandment

Posted on February 24, 2014 | 12 comments

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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  1. Great Thoughts, very inspiring! So glad I’m your neighbor on Unite link-up! <3

  2. I like your idea that honor may mean simply to forgive. This is a different take on honoring. A surrender or soft power approach.

  3. My mom was an alcoholic, but became the worst in the years before she died. I wasn’t speaking to her when she died, but I honored her at her funeral and I honor her life. She was a good mother (as good as she could be) during most of my life and that part of her is what I honor.

    • Thanks for your vulnerability. Your words demonstrate the idea of honoring in difficult circumstances. I’m glad you came by.

  4. A good word here. Honoring may look different in each circumstance but is still commanded in all.

  5. I agree that we need to honor or parents, but just like you mentioned, sometimes that can get a bit complicated. Honoring my biological parents was pretty easy for me. When my dad died and my mom re-married, I have found this command more difficult as a step-child. Especially since it’s having to do with how he treats my mom verbally….but she stands by him whole-heartedly. I may not agree with his behavior, and I will take a stand if he ever shows signs of harming her, but I still try my best to honor him.

  6. Honoring our parents is the first commandment with promise – – that our days may be long upon this earth. Honor and respect go further than just love. We honor them, and may need to forgive them for times they were harsh in their discipline. Thank you for sharing with us here at “Tell Me a Story.”

  7. Honoring our parents… when you become a parent you realize how hard it can be. It’s not right to be abusive. Thanks for sharing at Whatever Wednesday on Thank You Honey! Hope to see you again next week!

  8. Thanks for linking this encouragement up with Recommendation Saturday! Heart Hugs, Shelly <3

  9. Honoring my parents has been one of the most difficult roads I’ve traveled in my life, yet, as a child of God I obey. There has been unexpected grace along the way and I am grateful that I have come to a place of forgiveness, even though I fail to fully understand.

  10. We are all human and make mistakes in life. I realize that now too that I am a mother. I don’t always respond or react the way I should with my daughter just like my parents did with me. I pray for forgivenss and help everyday in raising my daughter. I know my dad had mental illness and he was abusive. I move forward with my daughter in love and want a much more peaceful life for her.

  11. It’s not til you become a parent yourself that you can understand how hard a task it is. Some say worth a medal. Some do it well and it comes harder to others, there is no manual, so mistakes are made. Mine made some mistakes, not biggies and sometimes I never understood them and maybe I was a shit. But to this day I am in awe and respect the honourable job they did.

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