The fifth commandment states: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12). For children, this commandment is the basis for respect and obedience that is due to parents who were placed in authority over them through life (Romans 13:1–7; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 2:13–18).
The Scripture teaches that obedience of the children to their parents is the right moral thing to do and disobedience to is regarded as a great sin (Romans 1:30; 2 Timothy 3:2). There can be no peace in the life without the submission of children to their guardians. Obedience is very necessary because a child is not able to make the right decisions on his own due to his limited knowledge and experience in life. And disobedience to parents often leads to disobedience to God for the child has failed to experience the discipline necessary in his Christian growth.
Therefore, parents at the home and outside should act in a Christian way that is worthy of the respect and obedience of their children (Ephesians 6:4, 9; Colossians 3:21; 4:1). And on them falls the responsibility for any moral misleading of their children.
But the Bible also teaches, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1). The phrase “in the Lord” means to give the kind of obedience that goes along with God’s will (Ephesians 1:1). Children should only obey the parental commands as long as they are in harmony with the principles and morals of God. Peter taught, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
And when children disobey their parents for good reasons, the latter should respect their children who are following their conscious because only then could obedience be “in the Lord.” The Christian cannot serve two masters (Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:13). Since only one master can receive loyalty, that master must be God.
Christian children should obey God first regardless of the consequences. Love to God and submission to Him are to be the supreme order of life, “the first and great commandment” (Matt. 22:36, 37). Jesus said, “He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37).
In His service,