If you’re a Christian parent, you are well aware there are a couple of verses in the Bible about children obeying their parents. You may have even used them from time to time to remind your kids to obey you.
As your kids get older, the obedience part becomes more natural (hopefully!). The part that causes them issues at times is the part we forget is in the verse. Here’s the entire passage found in Ephesians 6:1-3, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother” (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life on the earth.”
Notice that command to “honor” after the part about obeying? In today’s world, young people are often encouraged to be disrespectful to their parents. A few episodes of almost any show featuring young people will quickly reveal the characters often find their parents to be idiots or worse. By constant exposure to the attitude of “don’t trust anyone over thirty – especially your parents”, even kids who are generally respectful, can begin losing that respect over time.
But honor is just more than showing respect to parents. Honor is showing a respect so great that these children look up to their parents. They admire them. They hold them in high esteem. They even defer to them. (It’s in the official dictionary definition!)
It’s interesting the only thing God mentions about the appearance, education, life view, hobbies or habits of the parents to be honored is found in verse four – a favorite of any child who knows much scripture. It starts with the part kids like “Fathers do not exasperate your children (some versions say provoke to anger).”
Notice the next part though. What does it say fathers should do instead? “Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” That verse is another blog post, but notice it doesn’t say “or your kids don’t need to respect and honor you”.
It appears, to God, that Christian parents who have remained present and active in the lives of their kids are to be honored even if their kids don’t agree with everything the parent thinks, says or does. That’s a hard pill for even those of us who are parents to swallow.
Your parents may not have been admirable people you want to admire and respect – especially honor. It’s important to remember though, this book is written to Christians. It’s about how we should live our lives and raise our children as Christians.
Do ungodly parents deserve respect? That’s a much deeper Bible study than this post can cover. What I do know from these verses is that if you are Christian parenting to the best of your ability, it is absolutely biblical to expect your kids to treat you with respect and honor.
In fact, the earlier you begin working with them on this heart issue (that is often revealed in speech and actions), the more likely your teen and adult children will treat you with respect and honor – in spite of a constant drum beat from the world that they shouldn’t. It’s worth your time and effort, because your life experience as a Christian can help your teen and even adult children – but only if they will hear it respectfully when you share it with them.