Ephesians 6:1-4 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” 4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
Honor of God and honor of parents are varieties of the same species. Those who do not genuinely honor one will be found not to genuinely honor the other also. Those who balk at obeying one will balk at obeying the other also. Balking is approaching with a questioning and disrespectful attitude, “Do I have to do this?” Obeying is approaching with a faithful and respectful attitude, “What is the best understanding of this and how do I perform it in a way which is pleasing to God and my parents and is just to everyone concerned.”
Because we must always honor our parents who brought us into the world and raised us, it is only right that we obey our parents with this one restriction: “in the Lord.” As we grow older, more mature and independently accountable, things about which we would be required to obey our parents “in the Lord” become fewer, but the obligation never ceases. If parents seem to be going beyond acceptable limits in what they require and how they judge, responsible parties can be called in to negotiate a remedy to the situation. By our early twenties, we should be fully accountable to the Lord for our actions, including our actions regarding obeying our parents – and our parents would be out of order to require things which violate our conscience, responsibilities, and accountability to God and others.
I am struggling with this now as I take care of my father who is in poor health. He is living with us and our seven children. He does not believe much of what we believe about God and it is a difficult situation. I know I must honor my father and I know it is right that I take care of him, but I don’t know how to do this without compromising my beliefs and allowing poor influence on my children.