The 5th Commandment: You Shall Obey Your Parents
What does "you shall obey your parents" mean?
You shall obey your parents in the fifth of the 10 Commandments.
Summary: "The transition from duties to God to duties to men is made naturally in the 5th commandment, which inculcates reverence for parents, to whom their children should look up with gratitude, as all men should toward the Divine Father." (IBSE)
Scripture: Exodus 20:12, "Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."
Relationship focus: People and people
The Fifth Commandment
In the Torah, keeping this commandment was associated with individual benefit and with the ability of the nation of Israel to remain in the land to which God was leading them. Dishonouring parents by striking or cursing them was punishable by death. In the Talmud, the commandment to honour one's human parents is compared to honoring God. According to the prophet Malachi, God makes the analogy himself:
"A son honours his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honour due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?" says the LORD Almighty. "It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name. "But you ask, 'How have we shown contempt for your name?'" — Malachi 1:6 (NIV)
In the gospels, Jesus affirmed the importance of honouring one's father and mother. Paul quotes the commandment in his letter to the church in Ephesus. In his letters to the Romans and Timothy, Paul describes disobedience to parents as a serious sin.
The Post-Reformation theologian John Calvin also refers to the sacred origin of the role of human father, and comments that the commandment does not therefore depend on the particular worthiness of the parent.
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