Honor Your Father and Mother - Challenging Authority

Honor Your Father and Mother

The Fourth Commandment is something we learn at a very early age. But have we really heard what God expects out of us? Sure everyone knows that we should honor our father and mother, but what application does this have in our everyday life? Does it apply to more than just our mothers and fathers?

To start let’s take a look at what Dr. Luther says in his small catechism:

Honor your father and your mother.

What does this mean?

We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.

Without a doubt you have seen the trend in modern society to “challenge authority”. We can see it in politics, civil government, and even in our own homes. Even young children find ways to defy their parents by throwing temper tantrums or downright disobedience. In the family application the use of the Fourth Commandment seems obvious. This is not only so they learn good discipline, but also for their safety.

But is this really a Godly or right attitude to have towards our civil government or law enforcement officers? The Bible tells us that all earthly authority is established and ordained by God. In John 19, Jesus had been arrested and brought before Pontius Pilate. Jesus, despite all his power, obeys the Father and submits himself the authority of Pilate. Pilate at one point, sensing that Jesus is an innocent man and not defending himself, tells Jesus that he has the power to preserve his life or kill him. Jesus rightly informs Pilate that he would not have authority if the Father had not given it to him. Obeying and respecting our governing authorities is also giving honor to God who established these earthly positions. God, in His love for us, has established all earthly authority. Our civil authorities are God’s servants, whose vocation is one of governance. They are not only God’s servants to rule us, and maintain good order, but also protect us, and punish wrongdoers (Rom. 13:5-7, Titus 3:1, and 1 Peter 2:13-14).

Sin stalks us relentlessly and the old Adam wants to defy authority. We unfortunately, no matter how hard we try, cannot keep this commandment or any other. Often we are overcome with feelings of disrespect to our boss, teacher, or parent, or we are tempted to disobey them. We want to do what we want to do! God has even attached a promise that we may live long and good lives to the command to honor our father and mother (Ephesians 6:2-3). But how can we avail ourselves of this promise when this commandment is so hard to keep?

Jesus, who was the perfect child, honored his earthly mother and father. Jesus also honored His Heavenly Father and went to the cross for you and for me, including the times we did not honor our parents or other authorities. It is because of Christ Jesus; who obeyed his Heavenly Father, and subjected Himself to earthly authority, who was unjustly crucified on the cross for your sins, that you may have eternal life! We may falter in keeping the law that God has given us to honor, love and cherish our parents and authorities, but God has forgiven these sins because of the crucified Jesus who fulfilled the law for us.

Paul Norris worked for 10 years as a police officer in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex. He now works as the administrative assistant at Faith Lutheran Church in Plano, Texas.

Created: May 25th, 2017