Friday, July 11, 2008

Honoring Parents 2

In the first post concerning this issue, we looked at how the 5th commandment was, if you will, a "bridge" commandment between the first four and the last five (which are usually considered our responsibility toward God and man, respectively). You see, in many ways, our relationship to/with God (Yahweh) is affected by our relationship to people. For Example, in 1 Peter husbands are told to dwell with their wives with understanding, giving honor to them, that their (the husbands) prayers would not be hindered (cf. 1 Pet. 3:7). So apparently a husbands prayers can actually be hindered (the Greek word here for "hindered" is 'ekkopto' and can be rendered "frustrate" - lit. it means "cut down"), if his relationship with his wife is not right. Jesus said in Matt. 5:23,24 that if one were to bring his "gift" before the alter (the alter in the Temple in Jerusalem, an act of worship and fellowship with God), and then remember that his neighbor had "aught against [him]" (a "problem" with him), he was to go to his neighbor and reconcile first, and then he could bring his gift before the alter (ie. come to worship God). There are many examples of this in the bible, and it is important that we understand that if we think we can have continual fellowship with God unhindered while maintaining a belligerent or hostile attitude toward another, we are fooling ourselves. And this includes our relationship/attitude toward our parents, regardless of our age.

In Matthew ch. 7, we read of an interesting situation, in which Yeshua (Jesus) rebukes some of the Pharisees (a certain sect of 1st century Judaism, in which there were actually 7 different sects even within the sect of Pharisees!) for "making the word of God of none effect" by a tradition they had developed, that essentially allowed them to abrogate their responsibility to care for their aging parents. I'll give the verses below, and then explain what is going on. I think this example is important because it shows that even when one becomes an adult, the commandment to honor ones parents is still alive and well.

"And he [Jesus] said unto them [the Pharisees], Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered." - Matt. 7:9-13

In classical Judaism, one aspect of the command to honor Father and Mother was that when they had aged, one was responsible to make sure their needs were met (primarily via providing for them physically and financially). The "tradition" that Yeshua rebukes them for here was that they had come up with a way to negate their responsibility to care for their parents financial needs by allowing someone to take that money, and instead, designate it "Korban" (a "gift") to the LORD, and offer it instead to the Temple treasury. Yeshua accuses them of negating the 5th commandment by this practice. In other words, part of honoring parents is to take care of them in their latter years. This could potentially be time and money exhaustive, and the temptation would be to come up with an alternative use for the money that could be used to care for them, and instead appoint it to something else (most probably something that would benefit ourselves!).

This lack of care and concern for parents has far reaching affects, not only for the individuals, but for society itself. It's no secret that the lack of respect for elders among our younger generations is becoming epidemic. The rude, disobedient, disrespectful attitude that is displayed by so many kids and teenagers today is all around us. Just take a walk through any grocery store today for ample evidence of this. Notice how many teenagers don't look at older people in the eyes when they speak to them. Notice how when an elderly person walks into a waiting room full of people, it is a rare sight to see someone younger get up and offer them their seat - and when it does happen, it is usually by someone in their 30's-50's! You can bet that if someone does not respect their elders in general, they probably do not truly honor their Father and Mother. Conversely, if one does not honor their parents, they will probably (not always, but often enough) not be very respectful to their elders in general. I have come across many younger children who do not honor and respect their parents (they back talk them, are disrespectful, rude, whiny, etc.), and their behavior to me is as if they were my peer! They call me by my first name, don't look at me when I talk to them, etc. Even 50-60 years ago this would have been virtually unheard of (for the most part). Today it is so commonplace that it is hardly noticed anymore, and if it is, all that is a done is a sad shake of the head, and a sigh, and a "tsk tsk."

Paul said that this would be proliferate in the last days (cf. 2 Tim. 3:1-5), and it certainly is. But I don't want to leave this issue here. In the next post, I will try to give more examples of what honoring our parents entails, and some practical steps of how to begin to turn things around, at least with ourselves, and those within our circle of influence (B.T.W. - some of the children I mentioned that call me by my first name, and don't look at me when I speak to them, etc, - I don't let them get away with it. If they call me by my name, I correct them - "call me Mr. McKellips." If they don't look at me when I speak to them, I ask them to do so when I talk to them, and I don't let it go until they do, et al ;) ).

Until next time, be respectful. We need someone to combat the trends!


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