Greg Laurie is the author of 12 inspirational books, which are available online.
Families … Few things can give us a much pleasure in life as our families! Then again, few things can give us as much pain in life as our families! Children have problems with parents, parents have problems with children, husbands with wives and wives with husbands. Then there are our brothers, sisters, in-laws, and so on.
Yet it is vital we understand that God Himself has established the family unit. He did so before any other structures like government were set in place. Simply put, the family unit is not an option if a society wants to flourish. We disregard it at our own peril.
It has been said a family can survive without a nation, but a nation cannot survive without the family. And that brings us back to the Ten Commandments.
In previous articles, we’ve been looking at God’s “Top Ten list” of all time, the Ten Commandments. Now we are ready to look at the fifth commandment, which marks a transition from the first four (which have to do with our vertical relationship with God) to the following five (which have to do with our horizontal relationship with other people).
Here’s how the fifth commandment reads on God’s list:
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12)
I want you to notice something right away. Before a word is spoken about how you are to relate to other people, God starts with the family. That’s because our very existence as a society depends on the spiritual health and success of the family.
The family is based on the principle of “honoring your father and your mother,” but tragically, in today’s twisted times, mothers and fathers are not even around to honor. Especially fathers.
The traditional family – a man and a woman, married, and faithfully raising their children – is sadly becoming less and less the norm. Currently, 1 million teenagers – 12 percent of all “women” aged 15-19 – become pregnant each year. Of those, 70 percent are unmarried. The New York Times recently reported that unmarried pregnant teenagers are “beginning to be viewed by some of their peers as role models.”
Research has found that a majority of Americans agree that single mothers can raise children as well as married couples.
And 70 percent of Americans between age 18 and 34 think having children outside of marriage is morally acceptable.
In our confused culture, it’s now become “vogue” for Hollywood actresses to have children out of wedlock and to read about homosexual couples adopting kids. This is all out of God’s order – and it’s a symptom of moral chaos.
God says, “Honor your father and mother” – not “honor your father and father,” or “honor your mother and her “live in lover” or “partner.” We are tampering with God’s order at our own peril! We need mothers and fathers raising their children together.
Consider some of the statistics:
- 63 percent of youth suicides are from fatherless homes;
- 70 percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes;
- 90 percent of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
What does it mean to “honor” your father and your mother? The Hebrew word for “honor” comes from a verb (kaved) that means “to be heavy or weighty,” in terms of impressiveness or importance. The same word is used elsewhere in Scripture to refer to our heartfelt attitude toward God Himself. In other words, we are to “give weight” and show respect to our parents:
Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. (Colossians 3:20-21)
Respect for parents is certainly something we have lost sight of in our culture. It is interesting that one of the signs of the last days (the times that will precede the return of Christ to the earth) will be a lack of respect for one’s parents:
For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents. (2 Timothy 3:2)
You might say, “My parents are not Christians. Should I still honor them?” YES! In fact, by doing so you can win them to faith. Often the hardest people to reach are the members of your own family. Even Jesus’ family members did not believe in Him until his resurrection, and who was a better example than He?
“But what if my parents tell me to do something that’s a sin before God?” Like what? Making your bed? Taking the trash out? Doing your homework?
If it was a “clear cut” issue like your parents telling you not to believe in Jesus, then you “must obey God, and not man” (Acts 5:29), but that’s rarely the case. The fact of the matter is most parents, even unbelieving ones, have their children’s best interests at heart. Simply put, most of us wouldn’t be here today if it were not for our parents’ warnings and protection of us, and that surely means we owe them a debt of gratitude.
God intended that the family would picture His relationship with us. Just as He created both man and woman in His image (Genesis 1:27), so children are to respect their parents as divinely ordained and truly significant.
Are you honoring your father and mother?
Are you an honorable father or mother?
Do everything you can to be a contributing part of a strong, vibrant, and yes, godly family.
Your nation will thank you for it!