Honour your father and mother so that your days on earth may be long – Exodus 20:12 has been a verse in the bible that most parents have used to keep their children obedient.
I also tell my children the importance of honouring me and their dad as parents because it is tied to having a long life. I am sure to threaten and coerce children into obedience was not the reason God gave this commandment.
In a devotional I read recently, it said the commandment was first given to adult children. I agree with this statement because the ten commandments were issued to the Israelites. There was nowhere it specifically states, it was for young children. No matter how old you are, you are still a child to someone, to your parent you will always be a child. Therefore, to apply this verse as a tool to enforce obedience or coerce children to honour was not God’s intention.
To honour is not only about respect and obedience, to honour means to hold in high regard. The dictionary meaning of honour is “high respect; great esteem.” It means you understand because your father and mother are your parents, they’ve forever brought you into this world. That you couldn’t have brought yourself into this world, is a good enough reason to hold your parents in high esteem. It is very easy to honour fathers and mothers who go beyond just bringing us into this world, but also cared for and nurtured us. If you are very lucky to have a father or mother that sacrificed their time, money and other resources. They loved you sacrificially, supported your growth to become the person you are today, to honour them will not be a difficult task. Honouring our parents become a problem when we feel, they do not deserve to be held in high esteem. It is rightfully so when someone does not behave respectably, their value and respect diminish. Value and respect are linked to how we honour people. But here the bible expressly commands us to honour our parents, without any condition attached.
Therefore, I am going to implore you if you are finding it difficult to honour your father or mother. Because of what they may or may haven’t done, please find it in your heart to forgive them. Choose to obey God’s commandment so that you may lay hold of the blessings of a long life. Now it is not out of fear but out of reverence to God that you honour that abusive father or an absent mother or whatever trouble they may have inflicted on you and others. Jesus turned down requests from his mother Mary because He had to obey His Father in heaven. Matthew 12:46-50, Jesus did not dishonour his mother, He knew the priority at the time was the work of His father. I grew up in with a polygamous father, but I love my dad so much, when I am talking about him to my children, they wonder how I am still able to find good memories and stories to tell about him. I let them realise the love of having him as my father, is not based on what he did or did not do. I just chose to keep the good memories alive and destroy the ones that were not so good. This has helped me to honour my dad, even when so many people who know him would think, he does not deserve to be loved. I love him, honour him and celebrate him on Father’s Day and every day.
You may be asking how would I show my father or mother honour or hold them in high regard?
- Acknowledge without them, you will not be on earth, talk less of growing and becoming who you are today.
- If they are still alive, forgive them of all their errors, after all, you are not perfect too, if you are asking God to forgive you and allow you into His heaven.
- Take care of their needs as best as you can, make sure you show and love them despite their shortcomings.
- Call them and speak to them regularly, never let them feel alone.
As you do this, your heavenly father is the one who can give you a long life, he will fulfil that promise because you have obeyed Him.
“You are not going to have a long life because you obeyed your parents. You are going to have a long life because you obey God”.
Does this bring me to how should we honour our parents in marriage?
Honouring parents in marriage have been twisted to obeying their wishes. Instead of receiving the blessings God promised, honouring parents’ wishes in marriage have contributed to many miseries in marriage.
God commanded a man, to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, that means physical leaving and emotional leaving. It means you have to reprioritise who is important in your life. As a husband, you can no longer rely on your parent for your needs, you have to transfer those support you seek from them to your wife. This is where many men have gotten it wrong. They cling to the person they have known since the day of their birth. Their parents have been guiding and caring for them, suddenly once they are married, they are now required to transfer their trust and look to their wife to meet those emotional needs. What causes the issue is the feeling that they are abandoning their known and most trusted ally, for a stranger who has now come into their lives to take over. Therefore, some men will not fully commit to their wife.
Some cannot even bear to leave their parents’ physical house. If they move out, they find an opportunity to move their parent in, still making sure they are not feeling isolated from the love they have grown to know. This is especially difficult for men who love their parents. It is also vice versa for women, but God expressly gave this commandment to the men. As we can see in our society, in-laws on the men side are often the most feared and are seen as a terror to a marriage. The mother in law lay claim to statements like, “this is my son’s house”. “You are coming to take over my son’s life” and so they become very defensive of their son. What ignorance for a man that allows that and destruction they bring into their marriage? You need to understand and let your parents know you honour and respect them, but as a married man, your wife is your priority. You must ensure that you are not abandoning them, but you must obey God and cleave to your wife. When you get this wisdom and priority right, your marriage will be right. Some people would easily leave their parents and cleave to their spouse physically and emotionally, especially when they is loving and caring, other may not.
Some women would cleave to their husband if he is available but the temptation of returning to parent starts with an unavailable husband. Therefore, the woman goes back to where she knows she will be safe if her husband is abusive and where would she seek counsel? If not from her trusted parent. Again, this needs to be corrected on the women’s side, seek wise counsel from mentors as parents can be biased.
Therefore as a man, I will encourage you to honour you parents but when you become a married man, do not let the commandment and fear to honour your parents make you disobey Gods commandment on loving your wife as Christ loved the church. Do not allow yourself to feel guilty. Some parents are very good at that, they will make you feel guilty, but you are not to succumb to such manipulations. You should assure them; you love them and will take care of them. Once they realise you have made up your mind, they usually take the position you allow them to take. In marriage, husbands and wives should honour both of their parents. Do not abandon them, look after them, if you both agree to live with any of the parents, do so knowing and letting them know, they have no control over your marriage affair. It is even better if you can afford it to leave physically because that will give you and your wife space to bond without any intrusion from them intentionally or unintentionally.
For you as a parent to your children and for those of you married couples who are still trusting God for the fruit, I pray you will become a parent soon. The way you honour your parents will show your children how to honour you. Make sure your children see you talk to your parents with respect, make sure you all call them on their birthdays and special days such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day. Get your children to buy their grandparents’ cards and presents at Christmas and other festivities. Visit them regularly if they live close to you, if not plan holidays so they can see how you cherish your parent. If you have had to forgive your parents because they were not so caring, let your children know and show them how forgiveness works through your actions. They will, in turn, forgive your own mistakes, of which you and I will do, but they would have learnt how to forgive through to your actions. If you do not forgive your parents, you are indirectly teaching your children unforgiveness and that will affect every area of their lives. Let me shock you, “children do as I do” but, “parents say do as I say”. That is why your children will become a version of you if they do not meet Christ.
I hope we can see how to honour our parents in marriage, the world and traditions have twisted it and made it difficult for many marriages to thrive because of family and parents’ intrusion. Keep your home in order, it is never too late to let your parents know you honour them, but they cannot be making decisions in your marriage. If you are too emotionally dependent on your parent, act now, transfer that emotional need to your partner and see your marriage intimacy skyrocket. The peace you have been looking for will suddenly appear and you will enter into your inheritance on earth. A godly and peaceful home is heaven on earth. Most Christians who are going to heaven are supposed to have a taste of heaven on earth, but they are missing it due to lack of knowledge, disobedience and lack of desire to even believe it.
Your marriage can be blissful if only you will be resolute to apply God’s word, leave traditions behind and do not care what the world would say if you choose to follow God.