No time, age limit for ‘honor thy father, mother’

The fifth commandment says, “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)

Be sure to notice, there is no time limit or age limit on this command. It doesn’t say anything about young children or teenage children. It just says children. Since we all have parents, this commandment applies to all of us.

Every parent has their own set of weaknesses and faults. Parents are sometimes inconsistent. Even the best parents mess up on occasion. We all make mistakes. We all know that there are no perfect parents, which also means none of us had perfect parents.

Whenever we talk about honoring our parents, the topic always seems to turn to parents who are unworthy of honor. What about parents who are abusive, manipulative or neglectful? What does God say about situations like these? Are we supposed to honor dysfunctional or abusive parents?

It helps to understand that God is pointing out a principle that we would all do well to obey. He is commanding us to honor the position of parenthood.

There are primarily three sources of authority in life — the home, the church and the government. Each of these sources of authority form the basis for an orderly society, and they all have roles to play in our lives. God wants us to honor the position of parenthood, regardless of the personality behind it.

Respect for authority begins at home. This is a critical lesson that every child must learn. It determines how well you’re going to do at school, in your career and in relationships.

The child who grows up saying, “Nobody tells me what to do” is going to have a hard time with authority. They may end up in jail. In all likelihood, they will have a hard time keeping a job, and they will probably have a hard time overall in life.

How we relate to our parents will affect almost every other relationship in life. That’s because our style of relating to other people is developed at home.

Even as adults, when you act or react in ways you don’t understand or can’t figure out, that often is because your behavior has been influenced by your relationship with your parents. Any counselor will tell you that.

It is a very serious situation when your behavior today is so heavily influenced by an unhealthy relationship with your parents when you were growing up. More next time…

You may read Steve Greene’s blog at or you can email him at