Isn’t it funny how some things that seem only mildly important to some people are essentials for living to others? For example, to my little sister getting her dress dirty is a crisis equal to the apocalypse. To my little brother, blue jeans and napkins are practically synonyms.
Sometimes, we have similar differences of emphasis with God. Lately,I’ve been studying the issue of honoring parents and I’ve realized something; this is a really big deal to God. Under Old Testament law, the dishonoring of parents in the severest of cases was a capital offense. Translation: they took this issue so seriously that if you didn’t stop disrespecting your parents the authorities would kill you. Pretty intense, no?
Before you dismiss this as out-dated, Old Covenant precautions, bare in mind that twice Paul, once in Romans 1 and again in II Timothy 3, listed disobedience to parents along side idolatry, fornication, homosexuality, pride and some of the vilest sins imaginable.
I looked at that and thought to myself, “What’s the big deal?” I mean, I understand that obeying my parents is important and that we should do it. But punishable by death? On equal terms with paganism? Seriously?
I knew there had to be a reason. After all, God’s ways are higher than our ways (thankfully!). Our Father doesn’t just make up a bunch of rules for the fun of it. Therefore, I began to dig a bit deeper. Well, upon doing some study I think that there are several reason why God puts such an emphasis on this issue throughout the Scriptures. But there’s one in particular that I want to zero in on.
In both Romans 1 and II Timothy 3, Paul is describing the symptoms of a corrupt, godless society that he knew would emerge in what he called the Last Days. In the II Timothy passage, he ends his list of abominations - which includes disobedience to parents - with the phrase, “For of this sort are they which creep into houses…” He then goes on to describe how false teachers were winning over idle women and corrupting homes.
Almost at the beginning of humanity itself, God established the institution of the family. And since his fall, our adversary the devil has been trying to undermine this most vital of God-ordained establishments. In the Garden of Eden, he got Eve to challenge her husband’s position. Only a few generations into humanity, polygamy was introduced. Then we have infamous showdown at Sodom and Gomorrah, which some historians believe outdates the pyramids. So, attacks on the family have been around for centuries and haven't gotten any better.
We’re all familiar with at least the first part of Exodus 20:12. “Honor thy father and thy mother.” But then it goes on to say, “That thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” This is the first commandment with a promise. There are benefits, not only the next life but in this one, for honoring our parents.
The family is the cornerstone of society. So how can we have a godly society if we don’t have godly families? Our culture will never be God honoring unless it has a Biblical view of the family. When we dishonor parents, not only are we challenging a direct command from God Almighty, we are undermining the very basis for society itself. We are distorting the institution of the family and thereby defiling society as a whole. That's the big deal.