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Must we always honor our parents?

Submitted: 9/13/2005
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Question: Are we to honor our parents, no matter what their relationship is with Jesus? What does honor your parents mean?

Answer: The commandment to honor our parents is not contingent on our parents being Christians or being honorable. To honor means to treat with esteem. It means to treat them as though they have great value. We can do this even when our parents mistreat us severely. It may not always be easy, but we can do it.

To honor your parents does not mean you must do everything your parents say. Of course, young children are expected to obey their parents (Colossians 3:20). But adult children are responsible for their choices and are not required to obey their parents if it means compromising their faith or harming their own family.

A good description of what it means to honor your parents can be found in a book titled 'The Ten Commandments' by Dr. Laura Schlesinger. In it she says that we should never intentionally embarrass our parents in public. This is in our power to do, even if our parents are not treating us well. This is one example of what it means to honor your parents.