Teaching Respect And Honor For Parents
by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 18 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, How To Rear Children)
It is very interesting to note the importance that God places on children respecting and honoring parents. The fifth through the tenth of the Ten Commandments deal with man's relationship to his fellowman. The first of these says, "Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." (Exodus 20:12) This same commandment is repeated in the New Testament in Ephesians 6:1-3, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth."
Under the Old Testament law the son who was rebellious against his parents was stoned for this rebellion. Deuteronomy 21:18-21, "If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that when they have chastened him, will not harken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shall thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear."
This is not to say that same thing should be done in this dispensation. It is, however, important to stress the fact that God is opposed to rebellion and disobedience toward one's parents. Notice again in Exodus 20:12 the last portion says, "that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." God promises a long life to the individual who is obedient to his father and mother. No doubt this is because the kind of life which is a life of obedience will involve self-discipline and restraint that would enable one to have a long life and good health. Then too, there is the simple promise from God that He will give us longer life if we will obey our parents. Hence, the mother and father who teach the child strict obedience and respect are not only giving him a happier life but a longer life. It is then imperative, for a child to have the fullest life possible, he should be taught form infancy to respect and honor his mother and father. How can this be done?
1. Require strict obedience. This obedience should always be immediate, instant, without question or argument. What the father says do, the son does. He does it well, he does it immediately, and he does it without argument. The parents allow no exceptions to the rule. Hence, obedience is the law of the land and the child should not deem it necessary to have an explanation for the orders he has received from his parents. Many unconverted psychologists say that the parents should always take time to explain to the child why he should do certain things and that parents should never command a child to do something without the child knowing the reason. Nothing could be further from the truth! The parents should not have to convince the child the logic behind their orders. This same thing transferred into adult life will bring anarchy to a society. The Scriptures are very plain concerning obedience. Colossians 3:20, "Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord." Ephesians 6:1, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right." Obedience is the foundation for all character. It is the foundation for the home. It is the foundation for a school. It is the foundation for a country. It is the foundation for a society. It is absolutely necessary for law and order to prevail.
2. Proper respect for parents includes their being addressed properly. The modern idea of calling fathers and mothers by their first names certainly is promoting a familiarity that will not lead to respect, obedience, or honor. Many have the idea that the father should be just a big brother or a buddy to the child and that the mother should act as a pal or big sister to the girl. The offices of mother and father should demand more respect than that! My father was not a Christian, in fact, he was a drunkard. My home was broken; yet I always called him "Daddy." I would never have spoken to him as "Willis" or "Athey." This same holds true in any position of authority. The pastor should not be called by his first name. Many youth workers are unwise in allowing teenagers to call them by their first names. This, of course, is done many times with proper motives and it is caused by sincere, genuine humility on the part of the worker, but it does not teach the child proper respect for authority.
The other day I was walking down the alley behind our church. A little boy about six years of age said, "Hi, Jack." I turned, picked him up by the collar, held him up to where our noses touched, and I said, "What did you call me?"
He said, "Br-br-br-br-other Hyles."
I said, "Let it always be so."
Now Brother Hyles is nobody, but the job of Pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond is something and the position should be respected. Likewise, the titles parent, mother, and father are important ones and the children should always address their parents with proper titles. Some children call their father "Dad.," while other say, "Daddy," "Papa," or "Father." These are all acceptable. My children have all called me "Dad." The title given to the mother should be "Mom," "Mama," Mother," or "Mommy." All of these are likewise acceptable.
3. In order for the child to respect his parents properly he should never see them unclothed. He should respect the person of mother and father. Leviticus 18:7, "The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness."
The awful sin that Ham committed was that of seeing his father unclothed. Genesis 9:20- 27, "And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant." Noah, his father was drunk. Ham saw his nakedness and a curse was placed upon his son, Canaan, for this.
Hence, parents should be clothed properly in the presence of their children. This tends to create reverence for the person of the parent. Modern psychologists and counselors in using the wisdom of man presents their unscriptural ideas about preparing the child for adulthood by allowing him to see the nude bodies of his parents.
4. Children should always address their parents with "Yes, sir," "No, sir," "Yes, ma'am," and "No, ma'am." This is not because a child is a slave and the mother and dad are tyrants. It is because the mother and dad represent God and fill an important office. This is the reason the enlisted man in the army says, "Yes, sir" to the officer. It is not because he fills a position of authority. This position should be respected by the use of "Yes, sir." It is wise for this "Yes, sir." "No, sir," "Yes, ma'am," and "No, ma'am" to be transferred to every area of authority and to all adults.
5. The child should show respect for his parents by preferring them. When going through the door the child should step back and allow the parent to go first. Dad should have the best seat; Mom should have the most comfortable place on the sofa, and the children should always prefer the mother and father. This is teaching the child respect for age, authority, position, and also consideration for others. Of course, this should not be done so the parent can have "the biggest end of the stick." It is not done because of the selfishness of the parent; it is done because of the wisdom of the parent who wants to teach the child to be unselfish. If unselfishness is developed in early childhood, it must be done toward the parents and other children since the young child has so few contact outside his own home. The child who is selfish as home will not suddenly develop unselfishness outside the home. If he is to be unselfish when he goes to school, when he plays, etc., he must be unselfish during his early years while he is most of the time confined with his parents.
6. The child should be taught that proper respect for his parents includes caring for them and providing them financial support when they are older. As is pointed out in other chapters children should be trained during their early years to support their mom and dad during their latter years. It is alarming how many parents are dumped on the government by ungrateful children who were reared in the homes of unwise parents.
The parents who teach their children to respect and honor them are not being selfish. They are guaranteeing their child longer life, a richer and fuller life, and a life that is built around the needs of others. They are also guaranteeing themselves a happier and more prosperous old age.
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