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The Ten Commandments Series: The Fifth Commandment

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The Ten Commandments Series

The Fifth Commandment

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“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12 Exodus 20:12Honor your father and your mother: that your days may be long on the land which the LORD your God gives you.
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).

“Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you” (Deuteronomy 5:16 Deuteronomy 5:16Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you; that your days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with you, in the land which the LORD your God gives you.
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).

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are two of the most appropriate and important national holidays in various countries. In addition, God commands us to honor our parents throughout the year.

This commandment applies both to young children and adult children. There are some differences, of course. When the Bible tells “children” to “obey your parents,” it obviously means minor children (Colossians 3:20 Colossians 3:20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing to the Lord.
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). Even young Jesus “was subject to” His parents (Luke 2:51 Luke 2:51And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
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).

Clearly there are many other ways for children of all ages to show respect, deference, care and concern throughout the lives of their parents. To begin with, be kind and courteous and never talk disrespectfully or condescendingly to them or about them.

In the heart of the Ten Commandments, the Fifth serves as a bridge. In Leviticus 19:3 Leviticus 19:3You shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the LORD your God.
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, God says, “Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father. . . ” Children learn to revere God by first revering their parents. And honoring parents is the foundation upon which respect and love for neighbor is built.

This commandment prepares a child for his or her future relationships. By learning respect and submission to authority in the home, the child learns to have respect for rules, laws, leaders and people in general, especially adults. He learns to have special respect for those in positions of leadership and authority—teachers, coaches, police, leaders in government, leaders in the workplace, etc. The following important scriptures emphasize this truth: Romans 13:1-2 Romans 13:1-2 [1] Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. [2] Whoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
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; 1 Peter 2:17-18 1 Peter 2:17-18 [17] Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. [18] Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the fraudulent.
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; Ephesians 6:5-9 Ephesians 6:5-9 [5] Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as to Christ; [6] Not with eye-service, as men pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; [7] With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: [8] Knowing that whatever good thing any man does, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. [9] And, you masters, do the same things to them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.
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; Colossians 3:22-25 Colossians 3:22-25 [22] Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye-service, as men pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God; [23] And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not to men; [24] Knowing that of the Lord you shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for you serve the Lord Christ. [25] But he that does wrong shall receive for the wrong which he has done: and there is no respect of persons.
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; 1 Timothy 5:17 1 Timothy 5:17Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine.
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; 6:1-2; Titus 3:1-2 Titus 3:1-2 [1] Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, [2] To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness to all men.
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; and Hebrews 13:17 Hebrews 13:17Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
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. A child learns leadership by first learning followership.

The Bible also teaches that a person should show special respect toward people who are much older than he is (Leviticus 19:32 Leviticus 19:32You shall rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD.
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; 1 Peter 5:5 1 Peter 5:5Likewise, you younger, submit yourselves to the elder. Yes, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble.
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).

Why doesn’t the commandment say to love your father and mother? The Bible teaches that all positions of authority should be respected whether they are acting with good intentions or not. A very young child can learn to act respectfully, and based on that foundation, can learn true love as he matures. (See the elements of respect in the love chapter—1 Corinthians 13.)

This commandment is not limited to honoring one’s biological parents. “Your father and mother” means the people who have or had guardianship and have acted as your parents. They can be adoptive parents, stepparents, grandparents, foster parents, uncles and aunts, etc. Furthermore, grandparents are deserving of special respect.

Major Disobedience of This Commandment is A Terrible Sin

By authoring the Fifth Commandment, God delegated His parental authority to the parents. Disobeying this commandment is a sin against God (see Deuteronomy 27:16 Deuteronomy 27:16Cursed be he that sets light by his father or his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen.
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; Proverbs 20:20 Proverbs 20:20Whoever curses his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.
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; 30:17).

God prescribed the death penalty for anyone who struck or cursed his father or mother (Exodus 21:15 Exodus 21:15And he that smites his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.
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, 17; Leviticus 20:9 Leviticus 20:9For every one that curses his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he has cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be on him.
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). And the “wayward son” law provided for the possible death penalty for a chronically rebellious and incorrigible child (Deuteronomy 21:18-21 Deuteronomy 21:18-21 [18] If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not listen to them: [19] Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out to the elders of his city, and to the gate of his place; [20] And they shall say to the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. [21] And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shall you put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.
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).

It’s essential to understand that God never permitted a parent to kill one of his children. The elders at the gate of a city served as a court of law and only they could impose the death penalty (Deuteronomy 21:19 Deuteronomy 21:19Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out to the elders of his city, and to the gate of his place;
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). The “wayward son” law required first of all that both the father and mother had to agree to bring the child to the court at the gate of the city for a trial by the “elders .” However, there is no biblical or historical record of any executions that were based on these laws.

Show Your Gratitude to Your Parents!

First of all, you exist because your parents brought you into this world. They accepted a commitment to take care of you for the next 18 years! To begin with, your mother carried you inside of her for nine months.

For the first few years of your life, your parents’ life was give, give, give. Your parents sacrificed to provide everything—safety, protection, healthful living, shelter, food, clothing, first aid, medical care, comfort, guidance, education, coaching, transportation, school supplies, opportunities, encouragement, recreation, entertainment and fun!

So God wants you to understand and remember all of this and regularly express your gratitude in every way possible! And what do your parents primarily want from you? Good attitudes and behavior, especially your gratitude, forgiveness, respect, love, and to see you turning out well. It gives parents great joy to see a child becoming a mature, wise and loving person. “A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is the grief of his mother” (Proverbs 10:1 Proverbs 10:1The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son makes a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.
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; see also 13:1; 15:20; 17:21; 23:15-16, 22-25; 27:11; 29:2; 3 John 1:4 3 John 1:4I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
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If you live a godly life, you will honor your parents by protecting and enhancing your family’s name and reputation. “A good name is better than precious ointment” (Ecclesiastes 7:1 Ecclesiastes 7:1A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth.
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; see also 10:1).

Your parents took care of you when you were young and needy, and they may need your help when they are old and needy. When they have serious health problems, need physical and financial assistance, or just feel lonely, make sure your parents feel very loved and are well taken care of (see 1 Timothy 5:4 1 Timothy 5:4But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to show piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.
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). Jesus severely castigated the Pharisees because they neglected their parents and invented an excuse for that neglect (Matthew 15:4-6 Matthew 15:4-6 [4] For God commanded, saying, Honor your father and mother: and, He that curses father or mother, let him die the death. [5] But you say, Whoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatever you might be profited by me; [6] And honor not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have you made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.
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Should I Honor a Parent Whose Actions Have Not Deserved Honor?

All parents make many mistakes, but when the attitudes and behaviors of a parent have been abusive or terrible in other ways, it is confusing and challenging for a child to know how to honor that parent. To begin with, remember that the Bible tells us to love and be merciful to everyone including our enemies (Matthew 5:44-45 Matthew 5:44-45 [44] But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you; [45] That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
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). The child should still be courteous, pray for the parent and forgive him.

In extreme cases, it might help to counsel with a minister or qualified outside help about how to honor that parent.

A Related and Huge Subject is Godly Parenting

The other side of this subject is godly parenting, an awesome responsibility! This is a huge subject by itself, so this section will only briefly address it. Much instruction on godly child-rearing is contained in two of our booklets, Marriage and Family: The Missing Dimension and Making Life Work.

A child on his own does not naturally honor his parents. He must be taught and respectful behavior must be enforced. Parents must teach the truth of God’s Word and way of life to their children, ideally by doing it every day (Deuteronomy 4:9-10 Deuteronomy 4:9-10 [9] Only take heed to yourself, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life: but teach them your sons, and your sons' sons; [10] Specially the day that you stood before the LORD your God in Horeb, when the LORD said to me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.
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; 6:6-9, 20-25; 11:18-21; Ephesians 6:4 Ephesians 6:4And, you fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
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). Of course, to be effective teachers, parents must be good role models.

To see how essential it is to lovingly discipline children see Proverbs 13:24 Proverbs 13:24He that spares his rod hates his son: but he that loves him chastens him betimes.
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; 19:18; 22:6, 15; 23:13-14; 29:15 and Hebrews 12:5-11 Hebrews 12:5-11 [5] And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to children, My son, despise not you the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked of him: [6] For whom the Lord loves he chastens, and whips every son whom he receives. [7] If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chastens not? [8] But if you be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are you bastards, and not sons. [9] Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live? [10] For they truly for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. [11] Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them which are exercised thereby.
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. Children learn by receiving and responding to discipline.

Western civilization is turning its back on the Bible, the Ten Commandments and Judeo-Christian values. Bible prophecies tell us this would happen: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves. . . blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful. . .  unloving, unforgiving, slanderers. . .  despisers of good. . .  haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-4 2 Timothy 3:1-4 [1] This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. [2] For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, [3] Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, [4] Traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
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; see also Isaiah 3:4-5 Isaiah 3:4-5 [4] And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them. [5] And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbor: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honorable.
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, 8-17). Therefore, parents must work extra hard to keep these evils from influencing and infecting their families.

The One Commandment That Promises A Reward!

Remember God said those who honor their parents will receive the following blessing: “that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you” (Deuteronomy 5:16 Deuteronomy 5:16Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you; that your days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with you, in the land which the LORD your God gives you.
American King James Version×
).

First of all, these rewards tend to be true simply because of the logical laws of cause and effect. A teachable and obedient child who has learned to respect people, submit to authority and have good relationships will generally have a safer, healthier, longer and more successful life.

This promise is also meant to apply to “the land”—the nation. Generally, a nation survives for a long time and thrives as long as it is composed mostly of strong families.

“Honor your father and mother… that it may be well with you.” God said it and meant it so it has to mean very good things! God blesses those who obey His Ten Commandments and God gives special blessings to those who faithfully obey the Fifth Commandment!

To all the moms and dads: thank you!