“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. (Exo 20:12)
This fifth commandment is familiar to most, though its counterpart in Deuteronomy is perhaps less well known.
“‘Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. (Deu 5:16)
Notice the additions (I have in bold) that add just a little bit to the original commandment, both the reinforcement of the original command with the authority of the Lord, but also an additional blessing of not only long life but a good long life, conditional upon obedience to this command. The Apostle Paul quotes from this second iteration in his letter to the Ephesians.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” (Eph 6:1-3)
When I started this series, I started with this commandment in mind, thinking that in all of us, there is a need for our parents. In my initial post on the subject, “Source Code” I wrote the following on Bart Millard’s conversion story, “I Can Only Imagine”.
“That moment also got me to thinking about father-son issues, in which this movie traded heavily. Even if our parents, mothers or fathers, treat us horribly, even if we hate every fiber of their being, every breath of their body, there is still a part of us that cares. There is still a part that longs for reconciliation, even if it’s no longer possible. That’s why this moment is so powerful in the movie, because it resonates. Everyone has a father, and everyone desires approval from that father. We all want our fathers to be proud of us because it is built into us to care what our fathers think of us.
“We can’t explain it, because it isn’t part of the intellect. In fact, it defies the intellect. It is part of what I liken to “source code”, or more exactly, that code that a computer has burned in to its motherboard that tells it how to read a hard disk, before it ever loads the first bit of the operating system and everything its ever learned. It’s the BIOS of the human psyche. It is built into us as human beings to have a relationship with our parents. When that relationship isn’t “right” it leads to a host of other problems, “daddy issues”, psychological syndromes and traumas later on. As described in the movie, Bart couldn’t have a close relationship with his girlfriend until he resolved his relationship with his father. How many people labor today in horrible marriages, live-in situations even same-sex relationships because that one aspect of their being was wrong?”
And that’s what’s intriguing about the whole “source code” concept. I counsel a host of people who have trauma issues, family issues and and problems in relationships. I also live in an area where the roles of parents and children are in distress due to the prevalent drug culture. I see grandparents laboring to raise grandchildren, even great-grandchildren even when they are physically unable. I see adults ignoring their responsibilities and children who don’t even know who they are and are desperate to figure it out.
It is as if when children do not know who their parents are, they can’t define themselves either or that task becomes a great deal harder.
While the scriptures counsel us against pursuing “endless genealogies” (1 Tim 1:4) they do tell us to mind our elders, and respect our parents. Let us give respect and honor to those ancestors that we still see alive, rather than pursue the dead. There is some importance to knowing where we came from. For we either align ourselves with the traditions of our ancestors, or we set ourselves intentionally against them, saying, “never again!” The legacy of drug and alcohol abuse is certainly something to resist. The legacy or womanizing, divorce, abuse and the like are other things we might stand and say, “not in my generation!” But legacies of faith, honesty, and leadership, are qualities to be admired. If your grandfather was a minister, or a soldier, or an honest man, those are qualities to emulate. Service never goes out of style. Honesty is always valued. Integrity is respected.
To walk into a place and tell someone your name, and then to be automatically credited with respect, that’s not something to cast aside. The so-called “white privilege” is what those who don’t have this kind of history complain about. If your father or grandfather (or for that matter, your mother or grandmother) were recognized and respected in your community, “white privilege” is afforded to children and grandchildren. The children of the honorable and respectable are automatically extended that same respect (and always have been throughout history). By the same token, the children of the dishonored and infamous are afforded that same level of suspicion.
If your life is to “go well with you” and God promises, then we ought to follow the good choices of our parents and grandparents. Savings ourselves for marriage (to avoid unwanted pregnancies and complicated sexual entanglements), using our finances responsibly, raising our own children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Those who fail to heed the lessons of our parents (some learned the hard way), Will be forced to learn those same lessons. God’s word describes the family as a husband, a wife, and children. That is the core unit of the family. Yes, life happens and interrupts even God’s perfect blueprint. But that doesn’t mean the blueprint is invalid.
I want to encourage you today to take a serious look at your family. What are the good things you remember about your parents? Those are things you want to emulate and give respect to. What were the bad choices they made? Those are things you want to avoid in your own life. How can you improve on what has come before you? Every parent wants their child to be better than they were. To learn from their mistakes and have a good name.
How are you doing?