Should we still honor our parents even when they are morally wrong?

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Honor our Parents

The apostle Paul in answer to this question teaches, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1). In this verse, Paul exhorts children to obey their parents. For this is the first commandment with a promise of long life. 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).

But the apostle adds the phrase “in the Lord” which means that obedience should be rendered as far as the parents’ commandments agree with those of God, and no further. No parent can have a right to ask his child to break God’s commandments for example steal, lie, commit adultery, support in an act of murder, or in any evil act. No parent has a right to prohibit a child from studying his Bible, praying to God, not attending services in church or not taking part in religious activities such as evangelism and so on.

No one can serve two masters

The obligations and rights of children in these cases are similar to those of wives. Paul taught, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). Our supreme loyalty is first to the Lord. Jesus said, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). Therefore, man’s supreme loyalty should be to the Lord.

Obey God rather than men

Likewise, we need to remember the admonition of the apostle Peter when he said, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). The Christian cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13). Since only one master can receive ultimate loyalty, that master must be God.

In addition, to “obey in the Lord” is to give the kind of obedience that stems from being “in Christ” (Ephesians 1:1). Parental requirements should be in line with the will of God. Parents must take upon themselves the responsibility for any moral misdirection of the child. The developing conscience of the child must be respected by the parents; only thus could obedience be “in the Lord.”

When parents ask their children to break God’s command in order to honor their word, children must firmly decline without feeling guilty. This is what the great Protestant reformer Luther declared to the Catholic Church that demanded his blind allegiance. For he declared, “My conscience has been taken captive by the word of God, and I am neither able nor willing to recant, since it is neither safe nor right to act against conscience. God help me. Amen” (quoted in E. G. Schwiebert, Luther and His Times, p. 505).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

This answer is also available in: العربية हिन्दी

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