Read Exodus 20:12
Honour your father and your mother,so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. (NRSV)
Like the other commandments,this one looks simple enough on the surface. Being disrespectful or hateful to one’s parents is universally frowned upon. But like the other commandments,specific application can be more challenging.
Young children are to respect their parents in the form of obedience: they need to recognise parental authority. Though even then the parents have obligations as well. As these children grow up they will rightly come to a degree of independence. Honouring in such cases may not involve obedience as they seek to shape their own lives and destinies.
And then those parents who were so strong and wise in earlier years are now becoming frail and dependent. Honouring takes another different form. It may take the form of caring sacrificially for those who once similarly cared for us. It may take the uncomfortable form of insisting they move out of home and enter some aged-care facility.
We need the wise counsel of the Spirit if we are to understand what ‘honour’ means at various stages of life. We need the power of that same Spirit if we are to actually do the appropriate honouring.