The Family Command: Children

William C. Brownson

READ : Ephesians 6:1-3

Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long. (Ex. 20:12)

“Children, obey your parents . . .” urges the apostle Paul, echoing the fifth commandment. This is how a child also learns to be obedient to teachers, to authorities, and supremely, to God. Obey them, Paul says, “in the Lord.” For children to submit to parental authority is part of their allegiance to the Lord. Finally, Paul adds, “for this is right.” It represents walking in God’s ways, living as every child is meant to live.

Children are to honor father and mother apart from personal worthiness. All of us are imperfect parents at best. Parental failures are wounding to children, but they do not justify disrespect. Rare indeed are the parents in whom there is nothing to honor, nothing for which children can be grateful. As we grow older and establish homes of our own, the call to obedience recedes. But the obligation to honor parents never ends. When they have long departed this life, we can still pay them tribute in thankful memory and upright living.

When this commandment is ignored or defied, family life disintegrates. In a land where parents do not lovingly train children, and where children no longer obey, a culture of death arises. But where God’s all-gracious, all-wise family counsel is heeded, we will “live long” upon the earth.


Father, help us to honor our parents as long as we live!