2001-08-22 - Obey Your Parents
Summer Questions :11
Exodus 20:12 Honor your father and mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.
Today's question: "I will make my question short and to the point. Paul says, in Colossians 3:20 (NIV),:"Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord." But what when you feel your parents are wrong that they are leading you down the wrong path? Do you obey them anyway? God gave us parents to guide us, but they are only human, just like their children. I want to please the Lord, so the answer seems obvious from my own proof, but what about my conscience?"
The Bible is fairly adamant on the topic of obeying parents. Not only do we have the two passages already cited, but Ephesians 6:1-3 says almost the same thing as the Colossians passage and even expands upon it. So we cannot ignore these passages. Nor would we want to ignore these or any passages of Scripture. We must take Scripture as a whole and not pick and choose which verses or teachings we like and don't like.
On the positive side, the command to honor our father and mother is the only one of the 10 commandments which has a promise attached to it. Honoring our parents, and Paul repeats this promise, leads to a long life. It leads to things going well with us (Ephesians 6:3). This ought to encourage us to fulfill this duty.
To obey your parents is to follow what God has called you to do. In other words, to obey your parents is to obey God. And I wish to make a clarification here and make it very simple. As children or adults, our first duty is to obey God. As children our second duty is to obey our parents. We obey God by obeying our parents. We obey our parents because we wish to obey God.
But in reading your question, I think you already know this. Your question is, "I think that my parents are leading me in a direction that is against God's will. Do I still obey them?" There is no easy answer, because your question is so open-ended. It would be completely irresponsible for me to say, "by all means, if you think your parents are wrong, don't obey them." Your parents are a gift from God to you to lead you, protect you, and care for you.
If you are going to go against your parents wishes, I think you need to first do some serious soul searching. You need to remind yourself of the positive promises of obeying your parents. You need to also remember that the standard rule of Biblical interpretation is that the positive implies the negative. So the positive promises for obeying imply negative curses for not obeying. To not obey means things may not go well with you.
However, you are right when you say the parents are human and make mistakes. This is why I made sure that I said above that your first duty is to obey God. If your dad brings home a household idol, sets it in the middle of the family room and announces, "at 6 a.m.and 6 p. m. every day, we will all gather in this room and pray to this object," I would suggest that you do not obey him. This is a clear violation of God's law. You can't obey them here because your first duty is to obey God. You are going to have to make the distinctions yourself, as to when you can't obey your parents, but I suggest that you be very careful in this and only disobey when there is a clear conflict between your duty to obey God first and your duty to obey your parents. An 11p.m. curfew is within their rights as parents and does not transgress God's law.
Lastly, let me give you some positive reasons to obey your parents. Obedience adorns the Gospel (Titus 2:9, 10), is evidence of a changed life (2 Corinthian 5:17), encourages believers and testifies to the truth of your faith (Matthew 5:17), leads to prosperity (Psalm 25:12, 13), leads to peace of conscience (Acts 24:16), and is a forerunner to eternal life (Romans 6:22). There are many reasons to obey. These are just a few of them.
I understand obedience can be really difficult, and I admit I failed many times when I was young. I have found the old saying to be true, "when I was young I couldn't believe how foolish my parents were and yet a few years later, when I was in my early 20's, I couldn't believe how smart they had become." The point is that my parents never changed; I did And upon reflection, I found that almost all the time when I had disagreed with them when I was young, they were right and I was wrong.
Soli Deo Gloria,