Saturday, April 13, 2019
Honor your father and mother. . .
How sad it is that this has become a shell of a commandment. For most it means flowers and candy or taking Mom out on Mother's Day or watching Dad unwrap his customary tie or BBQ tool while he grills lunch for the family. It has become a word directed simply to people, to the two people who raised you -- whether they are two moms or two dads or what ever form of parentage happens to pass for mother and father. It is as if God were simply paving the way for Hallmark and American Greetings and the sentimental industry known for producing greeting cards that are long on flowery words to make up for empty actions or forgotten relationships.
The Ten Commandments are never easy to keep and certainly never as easy as looking for a gift at the last minute on the days set aside for moms and dads on the secular calendar. There is, as they say, more here than meets the eye. While the commandment to honor your Father and Mother does certainly refer to your Mom and Dad, it is not simply about them. It is first and foremost the acknowledgement of the order which God has appointed for this thing we call family. It is honoring the family as well as Mom and Dad. It is a call to know God's gracious purpose and saving will through the institution of the family. The commandment proceeds first from this and then to the individuals.
To keep the commandment is not simply about honoring the specific relationship you have with your parents but upholding and preserving the shape of what God has established in the home, of the marriage that is for one man and one woman and endowed with the creative grace of a child, a life long union born not of passion or lust but of sacrificial love and fidelity. This is not about convenience or even about desire but of holiness sustained not by will but by the grace of forgiveness. God has built creation as male and female and the creation of man and woman and the institution of marriage and family were the crown of His creative work. It was not a human choice but the creative work of God from the very beginning. The commandment reaches back into Genesis, male and female He created them, in the image of God he created them, to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and have dominion over all that God had made.
When we dishonor our parents, we are certainly breaking the commandment but when dishonor what God has made and the order of His creation, we dishonor Him. You cannot isolate moms and dads from the context of the whole. You cannot interchange the parts and presume that you are preserving what God has made and honoring that creation. You cannot honor the institution while despising the people whom God has placed within it. It all goes together. Perhaps someday we will remember this again but for now even churches seem to have forgotten that this is not a Hallmark moment but a call to see, esteem, and honor what God has done -- on the grand scheme of things and in the home where you dwell.