Honoring our Parents? Three Reasons Why this Command Should NOT be Ignored

“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)

Some cultures around the world (like Asia) have upheld the value of honoring parental and elderly figures better than others. In America for example, the concept is basically null and void besides the one-day celebrations known as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

But we are instructed to ‘honor your father and your mother’ in the Ten Commandments. It isn’t a choice we make or something we do when we feel like it. It is a direct command from God. Scripture gives weighty importance in both the Old and New Testament to this matter (Ephesians 6:2-3, John 8:29, 49; 17:4), so we better listen up!

Here are three compelling reasons why we should value this command of honoring our parents and incorporate it back into our lives:

Honor our Parents…because it honors God. The Hebrew word for honor in Exodus 20:20 is ‘kabed,’ which derives from a root word meaning “weighty” (in terms of importance) and is often used to refer to the ‘glory of God’. The meaning of kabed in this context derives from the first four commandments, which center on honoring God Himself. So what God seems to be saying through this command is, “As you honor your father and mother… You honor Me.”

Even if we don’t feel like honoring our parents, keeping in mind that it pleases God, can help give us the motivation we need to keep doing it. It’s cool to think that as we show simple gestures of love and respect to our parents by helping them around the house, paying them a compliment or telling them how much we appreciate them, we are serving and glorifying God!

Honor our Parents…because they deserve it. You might be tempted to say, “Well, my parents didn’t do a very good job of raising me, so they do not deserve my respect.” Granted, honoring parents can be very difficult if your father is a drunk or your mother neglected you as a child. But God does not say, “Honor your mother and father only if they are honorable.” Their actions may sometimes be dishonorable, but because they are our parents, God says that is reason enough to be respected. There are no loopholes.

One Christian website I found put it this way:

“Our parents resemble the Creator, since they were God’s partners in creation of the child. They also represent God in the life of the small child, functioning as primary caregiver and teacher. A person should recognize that his parents are the cause of his life in the world and it is therefore proper to love and respect them. (http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Scripture/Torah/Ten_Cmds/Fifth_Cmd/fifth_cmd.html)

Gosh, as I read this, I realize how short I have fallen in the way of showing honor to my parents. How common it is to give respect based on whether we think it is deserved! But this is faulty thinking. Honor to our parents is unmerited, just as God’s grace is to us. Wow. I don’t know about you, but I have some confessing and repenting to do… Lord, help us change our ways!

Honor our Parents…because it leads to blessing. If we look closely, the command given to honor our parents isn’t a stand alone command, but is linked to a very special promise: “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). I always pay attention to any ‘so thats’ in Scripture because they usually point to a promise of blessing, benefit or reward. In this case, God says that honoring our parents will result in the blessing of a longer life and that all may go well in our life (Deut 5:16). Our obedience in honoring our parents is directly linked to God’s honoring us. How awesome is that?

These insights remind us of not only of how important honoring our parents is to God, but how valuable it is to the success and satisfaction of our own lives. Therefore, we should really take some time to reflect on how we are doing in the honoring department. Ask yourselves the following questions:

  1. What is my view of honor? Have I been living with a proper understanding of the Fifth Commandment stated in Exodus 20:12?
  2. Do I have any bitterness or unforgiveness towards my mom and/or dad that might be keeping me from honoring them properly? If so, ask God or a friend to help you walk through steps of forgiveness.
  3. When was the last time I really honored my father and/or mother? In what ways can I practice honoring them on a more regular basis?

Since Mother’s Day is approaching (May 8th!), I will be posting “Five Simple Ways to Honor Mom.” Check back tomorrow, right here!


5 Comments on “Honoring our Parents? Three Reasons Why this Command Should NOT be Ignored

  1. I totally agree that honoring your parents is important because God commands it but we have to come to a place in our walk with God that we realize honoring our parents doesn’t mean dictating our life to their plans for us. I love my parents and I try to honor them every day but they have nothing to do with my salvation and I can’t based my connection to God on what they think that connection should be or look like

    • Hi Korpo,

      Thank you for your comment. I totally agree with you…there are boundaries we need to draw with our parents. It is not always easy, at least in my own experience. But I have found as I stay connected to God, He has helped guide me with His wisdom and words in honoring them, while still staying true to our own faith experience.

      Thanks again for writing!


  2. What if your parents aren’t Christians and don’t have Christian values? The things they want me to do aren’t honoring to God but if you don’t honor your parents then it wouldn’t be honoring to God either. This is all just really confusing. Something I need to work on but don’t know how. Plus, teenagers and parents dont get along anyways.

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