Structural Lie #5: Springing the Parental Honor Trap
Updated: Feb 19
God wants to uncover wrong beliefs, structural lies, which will compromise the integrity of our spiritual house. These lies must be identified, repaired through repentance, and replaced with truth. This is the sixth post in a series on UNCOVERING THE TOP TEN STRUCTURAL LIES.
I vilified my Mother. I idolized my Father.
Both of my behaviors were wrong, very wrong.
Don’t misunderstand me. I loved them both but family dynamics can get thorny.
Writing about honoring our parents has been one of the hardest posts I’ve ever written. I’ve struggled with a lack of emotional connection to this topic and resisted looking at my own heart. Writing about keeping this commandment has had as much appeal as a root canal. I’ve written and rewritten a clinical discussion of how this commandment to honor our parents is more about honoring proper authorities than about our parents.
And I’ve been corrected.
I was wrong.
The commandment to honor our father and our mother means exactly that – honor your father and your mother. “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12
This is hard because I haven’t always honored well. I regret that and have had to release my failure to God.
Honor is under assault in our culture. And honor begins in the family, the very structure God designed to teach and promote honor. The family is under siege, perverted and twisted, by a real enemy who understands the holy power of honor.
We must grasp the holy power of honoring.
Danny Silk, author of Culture of Honor: Sustaining a Supernatural Environment, says: “Life flows through honor. The fruit of establishing a culture of honor is that the resurrection life of God begins to flow into people’s lives, homes and communities, bringing healing, restoration, blessing, joy, hope and wholeness.”
Why is honoring our parents in God’s big Top Ten?
What makes breaking it so damaging and what is the structural lie we are believing that could severely harm our spiritual house? The first four commandments deal with our relationship with God. The last six address the way we interact with our fellow human beings…starting with our very first connection:
There is a reason this commandment comes first in the list of commands dealing with our daily interactions with other people. Learning to honor our parents positions us to obey the rest of God’s commands about how we treat others.
In Matthew 15, Jesus dresses down the Pharisees for twisting God’s intent about honoring their mothers and fathers. The Pharisees were dedicating the money they would have used to assist their aging parents to God and justifying their neglect. Jesus called them hypocrites! (Read verses 1-9.)
The devastating lie strikes at the heart of God’s command:
Structural Lie #5:
I can honor God, and NOT honor my parents.
To refute this lie, let’s answer three basic questions about honoring:
What does it mean to honor?
Who do I honor if I have parents, birth parents, stepparents, foster parents, guardians, or grandparents who raised me?
Why is learning to honor so important?
What Does it Mean to Honor?
Ephesians 6:1-3 tells us this is the first commandment with a promise. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise — “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
Honoring our parents means “it will go well for us.” Also, we won’t just experience long life, but ENJOY our long lives. There is a lot of incentive there!
Merriam Webster says honor means 1) to regard or treat someone with admiration and respect; 2) to live up to or fulfill the terms of; 3) to salute with a bow in square dancing. (I think we can disregard that last one, except bowing is a great example of our proper heart attitude when honoring.)
So what does honoring look like?
Honor is an attitude of the heart, a position of respect and love, that leads to willing obedience (if you are still living under their care.) Jesus said in John 14:23, “All who love me will do what I say.” Children living under their parents’ roof or supported primarily by their parents, like college students, should follow their parents’ guidelines. For adult children, honor looks like respect, kindness, and even financial help, if necessary.
Honoring our parents is a life-long commitment.
We do not stop honoring when we leave home. We honor in their middle age, their old age, and their twilight years. We make sure their needs are met and they receive proper care and attention throughout their days. We even honor them after they pass on as a generational legacy for those who follow.
What if they don’t deserve our honor?
Here’s the hard part: We still must honor our parents. Unlike Old Testament times, when legal adherence to the Law was strictly outward, now, under the New Covenant, we must honor from our hearts. Forgiveness, which God can help us do, is often necessary. Our parents don’t always do it right, but neither do we.
Even when our rightful leaders are not worthy of honor – parents, governmental/legal authorities, employers – we still should honor their authority. UNLESS, and this is a big unless, unless we are being asked or forced to commit a sin against God’s moral law or our land’s legal laws. Each of us must ask God to show us how to respond in these situations. Seek the guidance of other trusted authorities, like a pastor, teacher, counselor, or a mature Christian friend.
Honoring must sometimes be from a distance and doesn’t necessarily mean restoration of relationship.
Who Do I Honor?
Your family may be traditional, with one father and one mother, but the face of families has morphed into a complex structure for many in our culture. This includes single parents, stepparents, foster parents, adopted parents, and some children are raised by grandparents. You might have more than one home, more than one set of parents, and birth parents in addition to adopted parents. So complex!
Especially for a child. Or the child within us all.
Regardless, honor begins in the home.
The family is God’s designated vehicle to nurture and train children to become honoring and loving adults, obedient to God. A healthy family culture is critical for developing a child’s total persona – their minds, their spirits, their bodies. How a child relates to the world and to God is dramatically influenced by his or her mother and father, or whomever is raising them.
Those who “took us to raise,” as the Southern saying goes, whether related by blood or not, are worthy of receiving honor.
Who do I honor? I honor those who are or have raised me. In the case of birth parents, whom you may or may not know, honor them because they gave you life.
Why is Learning to Honor So Important?
Honor is a heart issue, and from our hearts flow all the matters of life. Proverbs 4:23 says: “So above all, guard the affections of your heart, for they affect all that you are. Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being, for from there flows the wellspring of life.” (The Passion Translation)
Honor teaches submission to Father God, love from the heart, and consequently, obedience.
It’s not enough to honor in deed; we must honor in spirit and deed. Sometimes this requires heart surgery. And God is the surgeon.
Writing this has required surgery on my own heart. I have asked God to forgive me for not honoring my mother well, and for idolizing my father – no one can come before God. (Even if our parents have passed on, like mine, we should take this step to bring our hearts in line.) Only God can heal our capacity to love, honor, and ultimately serve.
Replace the lie that we can honor God, and not honor our parents, with Truth:
I honor God by honoring my parents.
This is complex subject with many variables. This post may stir troubling emotions in you. If you need help working through issues involving your parents, we recommend seeking out a Christian counselor or pastor. Leave us a note below or message us and we will be praying for you.
To read the STRUCTURAL LIES series: first post, “Inspect Your Life for Structural Lies,” click here. For the second post, “Uncovering Structural Lie #1 and Replacing it with God’s Truth,” click here, the third, “Digging Up Structural Lie #2 and Worshiping God in Spirit and Truth,” click here. For the fourth post, “Structural Lie #3: Recognizing the Creative Power of Our Words,” click here, and fifth post, “Countering Structural Lie #4: What Does Keeping the Sabbath really Mean?, click here.
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