“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12)
“Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 5:16)
At MoSt Church this coming Sunday morning, Apr. 17, most of our adult Bible classes will study the fifth of the Ten Commandments (“honor your father and mother”). Following are seventeen questions to help you think about this commandment and to assist in your personal preparation for class Sunday morning.
1. The first four of the Ten Commandments deal directly with respect for God while the last six deal with showing respect to people. How is the placement of this commandment (honor your parents) significant as the first of the commandments dealing with respect for people?
2. Under the Law, the sternest of penalties were threatened against anyone who broke this commandment. “Everyone who curses their mother or father will be put to death.” (Lev. 20:9; Ex. 21:17). This is the same penalty as blasphemy against God (Lev. 24:15-16). Why do you suppose this commandment has such stern penalties attached to it whereas others, such as stealing, do not?
3. What are the two promises connected with this commandment? How are we to correctly interpret these promises? Is the text saying that if a parent dies early then it was a sure sign they were not a good parent? Is it saying that if we are not successful then it’s because we dishonored our parents? How is it exactly that honoring one’s parents helps make life longer or better for a person?
4. We usually hear this commandment discussed in the context of children still living at home respecting their parents as they grow up and are yet to be out on their own. However, this commandment extends throughout our life and is by no means limited to our pre-adult years. How does this reminder affect the way you hear this commandment?
5. What instances of disrespect from children toward their parents do you recall are recorded in Scripture?
6. Where is this commandment referenced in the New Testament? What is the context there?
7. How has your relationship, or lack of one, with your parents affected your relationship with your heavenly Father?
8. What is your emotional reaction when you hear a child (no matter their age) being disrespectful to, or of, their parents? Would you say children are most often disrespectful because they lack honor or because their parents do not require honor from them?
9. How does a parent lay the foundation for the respect they are to receive from their children by their showing respect to their children?
10. It is easy to honor an “honorable” parent but how can a child honor a “dishonorable” parent, a parent that behaves badly toward them?
11. While our culture worships youth, Scripture extols the praise of those who are older. Where do you see evidence of the tension between these two differing world views? What are some (perhaps conflicting) ways our culture views “seniors” today? “A wise child heeds a parent’s instructions” (Proverbs 13:1). What trends and events in society have caused us to ignore this good advice?
12. Ageism is as sinful as racism. Give some examples of ageism that you detect in our society today, within, or without, of the church. Do you see increasing age as an plus, as a minus, or as something completely neutral to you in life today?
13. It is quite possible to take this commandment to honor our parents to a harmful extreme. “If we never defied the people who parented us, either we never really grew up or they never really allowed it. ‘Parents,’ Peter Ustinov wrote, ‘are the bones on which children sharpen their teeth.'” (Joan Chittister) And so, where is the boundary line where the “keeping” of this commandment crosses over into something dishonorable to the parents and/or the child? Under what circumstances should a child ever disobey a parent?
14. What responsibilities of honoring your parents continue after they are deceased?
15. If you have a living parent, what are three specific, practical ways you can express your loving commitment of respect and honor to them? If you do not have a living parent, how can you express such to senior members of our church family?
16. Imagine what could be if the church today took the same sort of collective responsibility for children that the Israelites did in the time of Moses. What problems might we see reduced? What hurdles can you imagine being in the way of implementation of such and how might we clear them?
17. What creative possibilities for affirming older folks and helping them preserve their dignity exist in our church family? What additional ones might be worth exploring?