We are smarter than past generations. We think they were all idiots for their traditional marriages and corporal punishment. That’s why our divorce rates are so much higher and our children form gangs, because we are so much smarter — not.
Let’s understand how honoring our father and mother is an answer to fixing America.
We will look at honoring parents, mean mothers, dishonoring parents, how Jesus honored his father by obedience, and his command for us to love each other.
Honor Parents, Live Long
Honoring our father and mother was one of the Ten Commandment that came with a promise. The promise was that our days may be long (Exodus 20:12). This is such an important commandment that Paul repeated it in Ephesians 6:1-3, that is may be well with us and we may live long on the earth. What would happen to a society where parents are dishonored, taken for granted, mistreated and spat upon? Would we have a vicious and hateful society much like ours? Jesus introduced us to a relationship with parents that was very different (John 15:9-17). He loved his Father in heaven and obeyed his commandments. Love is something that we normally first experience at home in a mother’s care and in a father’s provision, and if we didn’t, we can still learn it from God.
Mean Mothers are the Best Mothers
Our mother was mean. She fed us healthy food when other kids got to eat junk. We only got soft drinks on birthdays while other kids had it all year. Dad called it sugar water. Mom wanted to know where we were all the time and who our friends were. We had to take regular baths and wear clothes that she had made herself while other kids got to wear brand names from the store. She made us do chores, while other kids could play all day. Though none of us are millionaires, we all grew up to have marriages that lasted and have never spent a night in jail. What do we blame for all this? A mother’s love. Our mother was mean. A mother’s love is pure goodness and mean mothers are the best mothers (Ephesians 6:1-3)
An ancient law made capital punishment the penalty for dishonoring parents (Exodus 21:17, Leviticus 20:9). Historians believe that law may not have been enforced very often, but it was perhaps a good deterrent to bad behavior. How bad is dishonoring parents? Isn’t it rather old fashioned to honor our parents? The Bible teaches us to honor parents, the elderly, the king (national leader) and each other. Why? What good does it do to honor people. Dishonoring parents produces an unsafe society with high crime and in society’s basic building block, great family instability. Jesus set an example by honoring his Father in heaven (John 15:9-17). Those who honor parents gain longevity and contribute to a stable society. If we honor our aged parents, when we are aged, perhaps we will have taught our children to honor us.
Honoring Bad Parents
Must we honor even bad parents? No parent is perfect, but some are really bad. Some verbally or physically abuse their children to such an extent that deep scars remain. What does Jesus require? In John 15:9-17 he taught the general idea that we are to love each other. And for enemies he taught that we should love them too (Matthew 5:43-48). Some of our worst enemies can be family members. Jesus reminded us to pray that God will forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors, and that if we forgive others their trespasses, our heavenly Father will also forgive us (Matthew 6:9-15). As hard as that may be, one way of honoring our parents is to forgive them. Forgiveness also releases us from an emotional prison. Honoring even bad parents is for our good.
A Love that Gives Life
Many of us honor our mothers and fathers who gave so much of their lives for us. It is a sad fact when such giving is spurned in favor of a selfish life where career and money come before the love of children. Children are too often an inconvenience to be farmed out to a babysitter school system and day care. Those things have their place and every parent certainly needs a break. However, when the priorities are for self, our children suffer neglect. Yet the love of an unselfish parent can teach us to love each other, just as the love of our heavenly parent teaches us what selflessness is all about (John 15:9-17). A self-love that takes life from others destroys the taker. A love that gives life is the greatest love of all.
The Love Vine
Jesus taught about abiding in the vine, then abiding in his love (John 15:9-17). The two ideas are connected by the context. How do we abide in his love? If we keep his commandments we remain in his love. What commandments? His commandment is this: that we love one another as he has loved us. Remaining in the love vine makes us able to bear much fruit. It is such an important command that it is repeated: love each other. How is that love defined? What is the supreme example of such love? Laying down one’s life for one’s friends can be applied in many ways. Death is one way to lay down one’s life. So is living a life of self-sacrifice. It is the kind of love that a parent shows when time is given to a child.
Obeying Stupid Rules
Some rules just don’t make sense. Stupid decrees which are a waste of time and resources just incite rebellion and disrespect. It especially makes Christians angry to be judged for ignoring brainless rules made up by bossy control freaks who think they have the right to interfere in private faith. Nobody likes to be shackled by idiotic regulations. Yet there is one rule that makes more sense than any other. If we all obeyed this rule the world would be wonderfully transformed. Those who disobey it are fools because it benefits everyone. That rule is to love each other (John 15:9-17). Sometimes it even makes sense to obey a stupid rule, if by doing so we are showing love to those whose faith is weak and tied to that rule. We show love by not offending a little one.
Philadelphia is known as the city of “brotherly love” but that is not the entire meaning of the Greek work philos. John used the word when he recorded the friendship Jesus has with us. The word philos also means someone dearly loved. For example, in John 15:9-17 Jesus stated that if we keep his commands we remain in his love. The principle command that he issued was to love one another. Then he stated that we are his friends if we do what he commands. Sometimes churches fall into squabbles over silly things, perhaps something to do with buildings or music. When churches fight they do not live up to their Christian ideal. Christianity without the love between brethren that Jesus commanded is hardly Christianity at all. When we love one another, we are dearly beloved friends of Jesus.
Jesus honored his father by obedience. We honor our parents in the same way. We also honor our heavenly father by loving each other.