The 10 Commandments Series : # 5 Honor Your Father & Mother

by Christian Townson

This is part of a 10 Commandment series.
You can find the previous 4 below:
Commandment 1
Commandment 2
Commandment 3
Commandment 4

*"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you." - Exodus 20:12*

Parents play a vital role in our lives, guiding us from infancy to adulthood. Yet, there often seems to be a tumultuous period during the teenage years when conflicts arise. This article explores the significance of the commandment to "Honor your father and mother" and sheds light on its deeper meaning and implications.

Understanding the Commandment:
Among the Ten Commandments, this directive may appear perplexing at first. The preceding four commandments focus on our relationship with God, while the following five deal with actions deemed significant by society—murder, theft, lying, bearing false witness, and coveting. So why does the commandment to honor parents find its place here, and why is it the only one with a specific promise attached?

The command to "honor your father and mother" essentially means showing them the respect they deserve for their roles in your life. Parents have a unique position—they contribute to your existence, echoing God's creation mandate to "be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth" (Genesis 1:28). This relationship parallels the connection between God the Father and God the Son, both equal in quality but with distinct roles. Just as Jesus obeyed God's will, children should honor their parents through deference and defense.

Deference and Defense:
Honoring parents entails two primary aspects:

1. Defer to Them as Authorities:
Within their household, parents serve as spiritual and physical guides. Respecting their advice, even if it means taking it, acknowledges their experience. Even Jesus deferred to His parents, exemplifying this honor by obeying them.

2. Defend Them as They Age:
Just as parents protect their offspring, children must reciprocate as parents grow older and more fragile. This bond activates God-given instincts to defend at all costs, ensuring the family's well-being.

Biblical References:
This command appears repeatedly in the Old and New Testaments, emphasizing its significance:

- Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12

- Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. Deuteronomy 5:16

- Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Proverbs 23:22

- For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother’, and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ Matthew 15:4; Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 19:19

- For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ Mark 7:10

- You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’”Luke 18:20

- Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Ephesians 6:1-3

- Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Colossians 3:20

In the Old Testament, God commands it to help the Israelites practice righteous living as His people. Striking or cursing one’s parents would result in death (Exod. 21:15, 17). God valued the nuclear family. He demanded obedience and honor for His people’s new lives.

In the New Testament, Jesus and Paul underscore its importance, aligning it with the Ten Commandments and the essence of a fruitful parent-child relationship.

The Promise of Long Days:
This commandment uniquely carries a promise—that your days may be long. However, this isn't about extending life like King Hezekiah's in 2 Kings 20. Instead, it signifies a life filled with God's favor and presence. Honoring parents aligns one with the Lord's desires, fostering a rich relationship that mirrors God's relationship with His children.

What It Doesn't Mean:
Honoring parents doesn't entail blind obedience. When Jesus' family sought to take Him away from His ministry, He didn't comply. Instead, He honored them by doing God's will, emphasizing that obedience to God comes first. This applies to situations where parents may lead their children into sin, which should be resisted.

Why God Commands It:
God commands honoring parents not only to ease their lives but to nurture a character reflecting His desires. It prepares us to honor our Heavenly Father, fostering a relationship that lasts for eternity. It also leads to lives filled with God's presence, favor, and joy.

Raising Children to Honor Their Heavenly Father:
By setting the example of honoring our earthly parents, we train our children to embrace this trait, which stands in contrast to a rebellious world. This command bridges the earthly and eternal realms, reminding us that through God, we are "no longer a slave, but a son" (Galatians 4:7).

"Honor your father and mother" serves as a cornerstone of righteous living for the Christian. Embracing this commandment not only enriches our relationships with our parents but also enhances our connection with our Heavenly Father, setting the tone for a life marked by His presence, favor, and joy.

Christian serves as the Director of Mobilization/Missions
as he leads the For the Nations ministry for The Journey Church in Lebanon, TN. He is married to his wife Danyel. 



  • Old Testament,  The 10 Commandments