Mar 05, 2014 |
Inside Out 80: Honoring Parents
We know the Ten Commandments---I hope not just because we caught Charlton Heston hoisting stone tablets in the 1956 Paramount classic. All of the Big Ten need our attention (what does it really mean to keep the Sabbath holy?), but Number Five may be coming to mind more and more as the American population ages: “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, NIV).
How do we honor our parents, today, as adults? People are living longer, and in our smaller families there are fewer children to provide needed care. What does it look like to honor the eldest of our elders? How do we relate to our parents as they move into their 80s and 90s---and perhaps into our guest rooms or an assisted living center across town?
I confess that when I think of honoring my parents I regress to my years of Clearasil and a wire retainer. I knew then not to talk back to my mother and to follow through on what I promised. My parents expected me to keep my room neat and not complain so much about my weekly job of scrubbing bathrooms.
But God’s plan for how I should honor Mom and Dad---like all of His commands---has always been about something deeper than personal politeness and household hygiene. The honoring often requires sacrifice. Sometimes we bite our tongues. Sometimes we speak our minds. Even in the best of family relationships we need to acknowledge that this can be difficult. In the worst of family relationships it can feel overwhelming. The principles of honoring those who raised us---and the practical outworking of these principles---are stretching an entire generation as it begins to learn how to parent the parents.
Reminding us that God’s command to honor our parents is packaged with a promise is Mollie Ziegler Hemingway. Mollie is the author of Losing Our Religion and a contributor to GetReligion.com. She also writes a column for “Christianity Today.” Join us for this podcast about sacrifice, balance, and the conversations we can be having now with our folks. For more of what Mollie has to say, follow this link to her 2009 “Throwing Inkwells” column “‘Honor Thy Father and Mother’ for Grownups: Or, How Not to be a Deadbeat Son or Daughter.”