As finite beings inhabiting time and space, our survival has been dependent on a particular ritual. Animals perform this ritual instinctively, but for other beings with superior cognitive abilities such as humans, we find that we can exercise some choice in the matter. The ritual in questions is none other than the one involving the passing of one’s characteristics, traits and values through to the next generation, parenting. Parenting typically begins with the act of reproduction and continues indefinitely. Much like the lion, who for example, gives birth to cubs, ensure their survival, and teach them the ways of the hunt, so is it for humans vis-à-vis their offspring. It is on this basic principle of survival, and in the case of humans, thriving, that all societies throughout time have observed the staple of “honoring your father and mother.” But what does it mean to honor your parents?
“Parents, in essence, serve as the template by which we perceive and interact with God.”
The dictionary describes Honor as “holding in high respect; or to accept as valid and conform to the request or demands of.” The benefits of honor towards parents are obvious when observing animals in nature. Regardless of their positions in what we call “the food chain”, all children, or newborns, if they are to survive against the various threats of life, must rely on the protection and wisdom of their parents. Those who stray from their parents, much to their detriment, often meet deadly ends. As in nature, human newborns depends entirely on their parents for survival, and when they are of an age where they can provide for their own nourishment, their future survival is often dependent not on food, water and shelter, but on the wisdom on how to navigate through life’s many potential pitfalls. While these concepts may be obvious to most, it is another that I offer on this day. As humans, I believe that the ultimate role of parents, knowingly or otherwise, is to prepare their offspring for living a life in concert with their true Father, God. Parents, in essence, serve as the template by which we perceive and interact with God.
This is an important concept for many reasons. First, if we’re honest, we’ll admit that no matter how old or independent we get, there is always something we require to achieve peace and happiness, that we just cannot provide for ourselves. In essence, we are ALL children to the being that created us. And so, we perpetually need protection and guidance to navigate this life.
Second, If we take a moment to ponder, we will find that our ease or difficulty with establishing or maintaining a relationship with God, has much to do with our own (perceived) interactions with our earthly parents. What I mean is this; our earthly parents are not perfect. In fact much like us, they are children in the eyes of God, constantly growing and learning. Therefore, they are going to mess things up from time to time, and all of those interactions, good or bad, will result in our view of what it means to feel loved, to feel supported, included, to feel safe, physically, emotionally and psychologically. These feelings, or views, are what will determine our outlook on life, and the attributes we readily accept or refuse when it comes to God. For example, if we felt the love and support received by our parents was present, regardless of our actions, we will have an easier time accepting God’s unending, eternal love. So is it for the opposite.
The last reason in understanding the impact of our relationship with our parents comes in the form of a responsibility. In Ephesians 6:2 and 3, God, our ultimate Father, gives us this precept: “Honor your father and mother, so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” In these verses, God reminds us that our parents have their job to do, and we, our own. Theirs is to represent Him and his characteristics to us to the best of their ability. Ours is to hold our parents in the highest respect, and to accept them as valid and conform to their requests or demands regardless of their faults and shortcomings. This duty, like any other, comes with a reward, and it is that things will go well for us, and we will enjoy a long life on the earth.
Although it isn’t obvious, the truth is God provides us this teaching for our protection. For one, it allows us let go of much of what we perceive as negative memories or interactions that comes from our parents, due to their shortcomings. Essentially, it teaching us not to pass judgment. Second, it makes us resilient, keeping us open to new possibilities, people, relationships and experiences. It keeps us being optimistic about life. Lastly and most importantly, it keeps us in the habit of trusting and coming back to Him. Long after we leave our parents, we will have or need a relationship with God. This understanding of honoring our parents or God, even though we may perceive that we are being hurt or punished or neglected or abandoned, will ultimately put us in an advantageous position of love, growth and peace. This is similar to the relationship of an infant with his parents. The infant innately knows that no matter what happens, his happiness, relief, and comfort lies in running into the arms of his parents. So is it true with our heavenly Father.
The relationship between parents and offspring is a vital one. Not only to the immediate survival of mankind but most importantly to the long term growth and development of each and every one of us in regards to our Father and Creator, God. Parents, be sure to love your children, for within that love will you always know just what to do. Children, honor your father and mother, and you will find your life to be one of abundance, love and peace.