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Catechism Class, LD39B. What does it Mean to Honour Your Parents?


Catechism Class

LD39B. What does it Mean to Honour Your Parents?

Read Ephesians 5:22 – 6:4 especially Ephesians 6:1-9  

Q104. What does God require in the fifth commandment? 

A. That I show all honour, love, and faithfulness to myfather 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.

In our last lesson, we began our examination of Lord’s Day 39 by establishing the fundamental biblical teaching on human sexuality, – that God created us as men and women, male and female, and that children born as the result of a relationship between a man and a woman require a mummy and a daddy, – so now we can go on to look at the relationships and interactions that should pertain within the family.   

To listen to this lesson as a PODCAST click this link:

1 The Parameters of the Commandmentto myfather and mother and to all those in authority over me,

So the first thing that we must note is that the catechist expands the 5th commandment to include both our immediate parents and other who have authority over us!  This is common throughout the reformed catechisms and confessions, So who might we consider to be ‘in authority over us?

  • Our parents, obviously. Exodus 21:17   
  • Our employers.  Ephesians 6:5-8  
  • Our overlords in government.  Romans 13:1-2  

All of these are placed in authority over us by divine sovereignty, and the catechist acknowledges this. it is God’s will to govern us by their hand.  All of them have the authority to order our lives. 

  • Our Saviour.  Paul acknowledges this in our reading, when he addresses ‘bosses.’ Ephesians 6:9  

2 The Practice of the Commandment.

The catechist lists for us, several ways in which we must obey our parents, and those who have the rule over us.  These are attitudes that we all must seek to cultivate…

  • Honour.  To honour someone is to treat them with the respect they deserve.  We should show respect for every person, every life.  Similarly, when we meet our rulers, – event if we have little regard for them personally, or we disagree with their morality or their beliefs, we are to respect the office that they hold.  So 1 Peter 2:17 teaches us Show respect for all people [treat them honourably], love the brotherhood [of believers], fear God, honour the king. (Amp)
  • Love.  We are to love our parents.  Of course, we find our example of love in Jesus, as we always do, for he loved us, and gave himself for us, in giving his own life for us.   Ephesians 5:2. That would be a good family principle, not just for husband / wife relationships.  Our family love is not just the product of a biological bond, but a determination to love each other that is practically demonstrated, in giving ourselves for each other.
  • Faithfulness.  Faithfulness springs from love and respect.     Families should stay together, and the best way to achieve that is to love each other and give each other the honour that is due.  
  • Submission and Obedience.  We are to obey those who are set over us.  Of course there are lots of questions about this.  We know that small children need to be taught obedience, to their parents, teachers, to the law,  We say to them, “Do as you are told…” At some point, the child’s simple obedience will become ‘I value your opinion, but…’ And the parent will at times have to learn to hold his/her tongue!

There is one moral dilemma we need to explore a little.  What if our parents order us to do something that is sinful in the eyes of God?  Are we to obey?  In fact, are we ever to obey UNQUESTIONINGLY?   Remember that there is one supreme authority over all others, before whom we all will give answer, parents and children alike. Acts 5:29  

3 The Patience of the Commandment.

Now, finally, you might be asking the question, “What right have you got to be lecturing us on parenting?”  It’s a legitimate question. Thankfully, the catechist knows that none of us are perfect.  Parents are sinners, and so are children.  So he shows us what we should be aspiring to, and urges our children to be patient with us when we fail in our parent-craft, as we surely will.  

  • The aspiration.  Submit to their good instruction and discipline.   Proverbs 1:8   Now, there is something for parents to aspire to, the wisdom to properly apply the law to our children, to teach them the Scriptures, and the ways of the Lord.  Bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  That’s the Law of the Lord. Deuteronomy 6:4 -8   We are to assess our parenting too, in the light of God’s word, do an audit!   Paul advises, in Ephesians 6:4  
  • The actuality.  and also have patience with their weaknesses and shortcomings. The reality is that we will fail as parents, some of us more often than others.  The catechist urges our children to be patient with us!  Of course that’s going to be difficult to explain to little children, but this commandment applies to adult children, with elderly parents, as well as to small children.  

So, we have seen that a child needs (ideally) to have a mummy and a daddy, and within that family structure, there exists (ideally) a two-way communication of discipline, parents instructing and disciplining their children within the parameters of the word of God, teaching them the scriptures, recognising our own shortcomings, having patience with each other, loving each other as Christ loved the church – a covenant relationship.  

© Bob McEvoy

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