Honor your Father and Mother…Another misused piece of scripture…

Exodus 20:12 NIV

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

If you have been around me very much then you know that one of my pet peeves is when scripture is used in a wrong way. By that I mean when a passage is quoted out of context or when someone just outright credits the bible with something that it doesn’t say.

On Sunday Ramon Torres was our guest preacher and he mentioned this verse about honoring your mother and father. Then he made a statement about this verse not being written to little children.

Let me stop right here and ask you, have you ever made a statement to your young children, to a Sunday school class of children or in relation to little children in any what that they are to honor their mother and father? Chances are, if you have, you have made the statement out of context.

This passage of scripture, one of the 10 Commandments wasn’t spoken to little children but to grown adults. Now, there are many places in the Bible that tell little children to obey their parents and to be respectful, etc, etc, etc… But this passage is not one of them. Matter of fact, I believe we have lost the true meaning of this passage in most instances and we have let some people off the hook in their responsibilities to their parents.

I have done some research and found what it means in the Jewish context of which this was written to Honor your Father and Mother.

First of all, this is not a commandment to love your father and mother. This may come as a shock to you but even in marriage we are not commanded in the marital covenant to be in-love but do the right thing concerning others. I am not saying we are not commanded to love, we are, but not in this context of scripture. You might argue that it is all done in a matter of love, I would argue differently. The matter at hand is Honoring your mother and father.

What does it mean to honor someone? A good example would be the President of the United States. When the President of the United States enters a room people stand in honor of that persons office, not because they agree with or like the person holding that office. This passage is speaking of something similar, we are to honor the office of mother and father, no matter the relationship you have currently with them. In many instances today parents and children don’t even speak to each other, much less honor another.

In this scriptural mandate, we are commanded to behave in a certain way, whether we feel like it or not.

No doubt someone is saying, but my parents were abusive to me and I am sorry if that is the case for you. Remember, this is not a situation where you are commanded to even like the person you are honoring, it is a case of behaving in a way that scripture commands. If we start to put stipulations on the command then we alter scripture, of which we have no ability to do.

(This next section is taken from jewishjournal.com)

What does “honor” mean? The Hebrew word for “honor” (ka-bed) consists of the same letters as the Hebrew word for “heavy” (ka-ved). The only difference is a dot in the second letter.

In other words, “honor” means treating one’s parents with the gravity that their position demands. In one of many examples of the genius of Torah Hebrew, the opposite of “honor” is “kalel.” The word is always translated as “to curse,” but its literal meaning is to make light of (from the Hebrew “kal,” light). One curses one’s parents not only if one directs curses at them, but if one treats them lightly.

One honors one’s parents through speech and actions. We do not speak to our parents with the same abandon we do to our peers — no “dude” and no use of expletives are two examples. Actions would include getting up to greet a parent, offering them one’s seat, and maintaining regular contact with one’s parent(s) — such as calling them every week.

Honor does not mean blind obedience. In another great Torah lesson, one learns from Abraham, who disagreed and even argued with God, his Father in Heaven, that one can argue and disagree with one’s father on earth. But one also learns from the way in which Abraham did it how to differ with one’s parent respectfully.

Throughout the scripture we see situations where people took care of their aging members. It was a way to honor the people who had given birth to us and a way to return the courtesy or responsibility if you will of making sure the aged were cared for just as we were cared for as infants. As an infant, we were unable to feed ourselves, we were unable to bathe ourselves, we were totally dependent on our mother and father to tend to our needs.

Now it is our turn, Honor your father and mother… I am not going to prescribe to you my understanding of exactly how we are to carry this command out. I have my own opinion but it is just that, an opinion. I will honor my father and mother the way I believe is best for them and not what is necessarily best for me. We have to think about them and not what is convenient. It is not about us being comfortable and unburdened. It is about Honor. You decide, you struggle with the scripture, you struggle with what it is you have to do to carry out this command.

Part 2

Exodus 20:12 NIV

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

The second part of this command that is so often taken out of context is this verse states if we do this right we will live a long time. Problem is, we have gotten this wrong also.

This is not a promise that I will live to be 100 years old, this is a promise that as a society if we follow this command of which God, the creator of the universe has given us, we will live long as a society. In other words a society who ignores this command will not last for very long.

There is so much richness in scripture, it seems this is a silly statement. Of course there is richness, it is our Love Letter from God. He created us, he created the world in which we live, he knows what is best for us. Lets’ study the Words he has given to us and lets remember to study them in context.

God Word is AWESOME!


2 comments on “Honor your Father and Mother…Another misused piece of scripture…

  1. September 21, 2012 Ramon Torresa

    I love it!

  2. September 21, 2012 Ramon Torres

    Thank you, Ronnie, for posting this.
    When we study the cultural context in which God’s Word was originally given, it often times speaks volumes more than we ever knew.


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