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Catechism Class H/C LD39A Father & Mother


LD39A. Honour Your Parents

Read Ephesians 5:22 – 6:4

Q104. What does God require in the fifth commandment? 

A. That I show all honour, love, and faithfulness to my father and mother and to all those in authority over me, submit myself with due obedience to their good instruction and discipline, and also have patience with their weaknesses and shortcomings, since it is God’s will to govern us by their hand.

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To break the commandments is sin, and yet how can we keep the fifth commandment, if we have ben deliberately deprived of the means to keep it, to have both a father and another?  There would be no dispute about that whatsoever in biblical times, or even in the days of our catechism instructor.  A family consists of a man and a woman, and children, if the Lord blesses us with offspring.  This is the pattern decreed by Almighty God in the garden of Eden, 

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Genesis 2: 21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. 23 And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

It was confirmed by Jesus, in Matthew 19:4-6

Matthew 19:4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

and by Paul, in Ephesians, when he uses human marriage as an illustration of the unbreakable relationship between Christ and his church.

Ephesians 5:30-32 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

So, when our instructor reminds us that we are to honour our father and mother, he is of course simply restating God’s plan for humanity.  A child should have a mummy and a daddy, role models for behaviour, a household where parents compliment each other, and where the marriage bond reflects the love between Christ and his elect.  So Paul tells us what this marriage bond will look like…

Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.

Anything other than God’s standard is a falling short, and is therefore sinful, a demonstration of our rebellion against the God who created us and who demands our undivided allegiance.  We sin, because we are by nature sinners.  Paul reminds us in Romans 6:23, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, The modern societal experiments that have taken place over the last few decades, same-sex parents, marriages with more than two partners, couples living together outside of a committed married, covenant relationship; all of these fall outside God’s will for families.  The effect of such arrangements on the children may well be detrimental to their mental and even physical wellbeing.  When a father or a mother is absent, one of the essential pillars of the child’s emotional and developmental supports has been denied to him/her.  One of the most serious problems in modern society is absentee fathers.  When Paul addresses children in Ephesians 6, he specifically mentions  fathers, and their role in the upbringing of children…

Ephesians 6: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honour your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” 4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

This is the father’s role, his responsibility in the family unit is to be the family’s pastor, to train them in Godliness and the fear of the Lord, and it is a responsibility that cannot be shirked, and, I would argue, cannot be the role of a woman, for pastoral responsibility, whether in the family or in the church, is a role confined to men.

And what of single parentage?  To be sure, there are single parents who bring up children on their own, and do so well, and do so, not by choice, but only because a partner, a husband or a wife has died or because of a divorce situation. (One might argue with some justification that when a parent has died, that the influence that the now deceased parent had upon their children can be memorialised, and remembered and their memory honoured among the family).

In the case of unintended single parenthood it may well fall to other members of the family to provide that rounded upbringing that children need, perhaps grandparents, uncle or aunties, supplying the love or discipline that is deficient because of the missing parent.  It is good for parents raising children alone to include such role models in their family activities and devotions, and not to neglect the input of the wider Christian family also.

Yet there has been a reckless tendency among young women to see single parenthood as a career option, especially in societies where there is a social security fallback.  To have a baby in her teens can give a young mother access to benefits, a house, and spare her from having to carve out a job pathway in a difficult or tedious occupation.  Deliberately depriving a child of a father in those circumstances is not God’s way, and anyone whom has succumbed to such a temptation should repent, and seek the Lord for forgiveness.  The same biblical censure would apply to reckless fathers; men who will impregnate various women, in pursuit of their lust, depriving children of the safety, security and stability of a loving two-parent family with a mum and dad who love them, keep them safe and act as their example.

So our first lesson in this Lord’s Day is that we are to honour our FATHER and MOTHER, and that statement itself presupposes that we will agree with God, that his way, the way of marriage for many millennia, is always the right way. So, what does it MEAN to honour our father and mother? In our next lesson, we will see what ‘OBEDIENCE’ to our parents will look like.

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