#5 (Exodus 20:12) “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.”
I hope filial piety in our society is not completely outmoded. Filial piety simply refers to the reverence that children have for their parents.
Believe it or not, when I was a kid, I remember thinking, wondering if my dad was Jesus. And believe it or not, this is not far from how things are really supposed to be in our life (see Ephesians 5:1). Our parents, up to a certain point in our childhood are to represent God for us. A loving authority figure who is at once our provider and protector. Sounds a lot like God, doesn’t it? One of the ways that God will draw us to Him prior to salvation is by laying the groundwork through a parent/child relationship. I am so grateful to Him for the earthly father that He gave me. It’s really not that big of a deal to show honor to my dad because of the love and respect that he gave to me.
But what if our parent(s) have in some way let us down? My mom, on the other hand, wasn’t so stellar an example of motherhood. The commandment says to honor your parents, though. Paul takes it one step further in Ephesians (6:1) where he says to obey your parents. He qualifies it by saying “in the Lord”. If a parent is telling you to do something you know would conflict with God’s guidance then you’re off the hook, so to speak. Here you see the distinction between obedience and honor. There are many ways that my Mother subtly neglected me and my emotional and spiritual development. Here’s the rub: She was the woman who God ordained to bring me into this world. This fact is unassailable and irreproachable. And if I’m not willing to forgive her for the mistakes that she carried with her into marriage and motherhood then I will make my own version of the same. The Strong’s definition for “honor” implies that we carry the burden of their legacy. This is a loose translation but if you try it on, it fits. We’re either elevated by their selflessness—as evinced by my dad’s influence—or held back and kept down. The good news is that wherever one or both of your parents let you down, God will be that parent in your life to fulfill whatever the maternal- or paternal-specific qualities that are integral and essential to your life as a man or woman of God.
“When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” Psalm 27:10
In closing, the parent/child dynamic is so complex as to warrant an exclusive library. Suffice it to say that I am grateful for whatever gifts I inherited from both parents and I do honor to them as I use those gifts to please God and bless humanity.
And I have forgiven my mother.