“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).
Here’s a commandment that comes with a promise. Honor brings the reward of life. Recognition and respect for our origins should make sense to us. After all, we possessed no control over how we entered into this world.
The fact that we are alive is a very real testament to the activity of God’s grace in and around us. He controls the issues of life and death. By His design, we were fearfully and wonderfully fashioned in the womb of our mothers (see Psalm 139:14). It is marvelous, unfathomable mystery, Proverbs tells us that it is a untraceable mystery as to how a man even enters into a relationship with a woman (see Proverbs 30:19).
“Honor” is the Hebrew word kabad. It means to bestow glory or give weight to something or someone. Where should we start with honor? The Lord points to our parents with this instruction.
In the Beginning
Notice how the Lord takes us back to the beginning. This commandment goes straight to the heart of human society as established in Genesis; He brings to the forefront here one of His original institutions – the family centered upon one man and one woman.
The Lord made man in His image – male and female did He create them, says Genesis 1:27. Their differences were obvious at once, and they were meant to be paired. This was the intention of God. The design was for man to leave his home and cleave to his wife. The couple was made to come together as a witness of the holiness, communion, and wholeness that exists in the presence of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.
Be fruitful and multiply was God’s first instruction to the man and the woman. “Fill the earth with your offspring,” He told them. The love and sharing they would enjoy emotionally and physically was to be life-making in a tangible and real way. Children are the heritage of the Lord (see Psalm 127). Thereby, the institution of marriage serves to magnify our God-likeness. And the excitement and intensity of our sexuality was and is a gift of grace.
Be fruitful — mutual pleasure and joy is the desired outcome. Oneness develops and manifests itself in spirit and heart through words of life and love. And multiply — oneness then proceeds to its consummation in touching, holding, and having. Hence, come the children.
Those who participate in the creation command are worthy of honor, thus sayeth the Lord. Father and mother – they still matter and always will matter. Despite the advances of science, children only happen through the participation and contributions of both parties.
There is giving. There is receiving.
There is life.
This is the pattern of God and His operation of grace in life. Don’t believe this? Take a look at your belly button when you get a chance.
Mark of Connection
“Our belly buttons keep reminding us that all that we are and all that we have are a gift,” wrote Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon in their book “The Truth About God.” This part of our bodies, a remnant of the umbilical cord that fed our development in the womb, should ever remind us that life began for us with connection. And, while that physical connection ended with labor and delivery, the attachment continues mystically and psychically. There are “someones” whose choices in the will and purpose of God brought about me and you. Try as we might, we cannot detach ourselves from this fact of life.
Do not confuse honor with idolatry. The Lord tells us to honor father and mother, that’s it. To worship them, would be out of order. This commandment and all the others are clear about things. Our God is the God of straight talk. He is simple and direct because He so loves us and refuses to speak in ambiguities. These words are easy to read and simple in their instruction.
Family relationships are, as a rule, sometimes messy and unruly. Sin in the form of selfishness and envy produces dysfunction and division and even violence. We are not naïve to this. But these difficulties are no excuse for the way of the world today in its promotion of a morbid individualism, an affliction that has led some mothers and fathers to vacate their roles of authority and let their offspring “make up their own minds,” even about whether they are sons or daughters.
A Blow to the Enemy
Honor your father and your mother. Give weight to them. Recognize and respect their reality.
In doing so, we not only gain long life, but we also speak to the devil. For Satan must begrudgingly admit that his own existence was a gift to him.
The Bible defines the devil as a being made by God. He did not and could not self-generate as the enemy of God and His people. He was one installed in the creative order as an anointed cherub. He possessed wisdom and talent as an angelic creation. He carried a significant position. He sadly grew to have a heart of pride.
In his ambition, Satan sought to imitate God, to be as the Most High (see Isaiah 14). “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” wrote Charles Caleb Colton, and flattery works ruin (see Proverbs 26:28).Flattery is damning because it is faint praise. It is praise that has no honor in it. Click To Tweet
Flattery is damning because it is faint praise. It is praise that has no honor in it. Flattery is the mouthing of things light and flowery, things that fall like feathers to the street. Such things have no weight to them. The devil and his demons believe in God and tremble at His presence. But they give no honor to the One who made them.
Let us honor the Lord. We show Him honor when we take His commandments to heart.
Honor your father and your mother. Respect them as the lovers that they were in the making of you. Reverence the reality of the life and breath that now exist in you because of that love.
Give honor and enjoy the length of your days.