Honor Your Father and Your Mother. Right at the beginning of Leviticus 19, a chapter which includes a wide variety of laws, both moral and ritual, the command to revere a holy God is closely bound up with two of the ten commandments: honoring one’s parents and honoring the Sabbath: “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. You shall each revere your mother and father, and you shall keep my sabbaths: I am the LORD your God. This week the discussion focuses in that most basic of all human relationships, the relationship between children and their parents.
- Respect for One’s Elders. Both Testaments contain straightforward commands to honor the aged: Leviticus 19:32 exhorts God’s people “to rise before the aged, and defer to the old.” (NRSV) and 1 Peter 5:5 admonishes believers to “be submissive to those who are older” (NIV). Could one make a good case for respecting one’s elders from a purely secular point of view? If so, how would such a position affect our understanding of the biblical commands?
- Honoring Our Parents. Typically, devout Christian families would see the fifth command (Exod. 20:12) as applying in the first instance to young children. But in our fragmented age, might not the command apply even more forcefully to the need to honor one’s aged parents? How should one relate to the command if one’s parents are leading or have led a dishonorable life?
- Obedience. In both instances when the Apostle Paul lists family responsibilities, he calls for children to “obey” their parents (Eph. 6:1; Col. 3:20) and in his list of people who mark the last days as evil, he identifies those who are “disobedient to their parents”(2 Tim. 3:2) among the culprits. Is there such a thing as “thoughtful” obedience, an obedience which might be distinguished from mere “blind” obedience? Or does using the word “thoughtful”as a qualifier, totally change the meaning of the word obedience? How might the idea of a “thoughtful” and thus potentially selective obedience, relate to the command to obey one’s parents? Is it possible to honor one’s parents without obeying them?
- Prominent Biblical Narratives. What does each of the following narratives teach us about blessings of honoring and obeying one’s parents or the results of failing to do so: