In Ephesians 6, Paul expands on the 5th commandment as he says that children are not only to honour their parents but to obey them.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honour your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”
At 2 years old, a child needs lots of direction and, over time, should be learning to obey his parents. A little child needs to obey for his own safety and growth.
My little nephew was very active and if you didn’t watch him closely, he would run right out into the street. He needed to learn, and he did learn, to stop when his mum or dad yelled for him to stop.
Young kids are often ruled by their instincts. My nephew would see something in the street and just start running – with no thought for safety. Controling their passions is a difficult thing for kids to learn. Our children need lots of reminders and motivation to control themselves. But if they don’t learn to self control now, major problems are coming.
Prisons are full of people who did not learn how to obey authority while growing up. The home is the place where children learn that they are not the king of the world – we all must submit to someone else. If a child doesn’t learn to submit to authority at home, eventually society will force him (or her) to submit. And the lessons taught by society are a lot harder then the lessons taught by a loving mother and father.
Children should obey their parents. But this command is directed to children – an adult child is not biblically commanded to obey his or her parents to the degree that a young child should – there is a transition from complete obedience to personal responsibility as an adult.
We don’t outgrow the command to honour our parents. Our responsibility is to treat our parents with respect even in the way we speak to them or about them. We are called to humbly serve them with dignity, especially as they grow older. In doing so we witness to our parents and others the grace of God which has impacted our lives.
God wants obedience to him first even if it means disobedience to our family members (or others in authority). But this should be a very rare occurrence, and our desire should be to respect and honour our parents even if they make decisions we don’t agree with.
Over time, the honour given to our parents should increase. A young child doesn’t understand honour or respect in the same way that a adult does for honour is much more complex then rote obedience. When we honour our parents, our hearts have to be involved.
We all have seen the kid who says “OK – I’ll wash the dishes” but he looks like he’s about to die. The parent seems to be torturing him with the request. You may see obedience but there is no honour. What we want in our kids is more then strict obedience. Parents should pray for a heart change that enables children to truly honour their parents.
May the Lord give us grace to honour our parents and to raise kids who seek to obey AND honour.