You Don’t Agree? I Hate You!

Inspirational

I have been deeply saddened by recent viral online posts and comments I have seen relating to a recent shutdown of a big television network. The posts were people who seem to be disowning or shaming parents because they have opposing views with each other. Many agreed that there is nothing wrong with this, while some others disagreed.

There were those who spoke with tact and there were those who resorted to vulgar words and hateful speech which, in turn, encouraged many to voice out their own unpleasant remarks in the comment section. There were even some who tried to discredit opinions by calling the ones giving the opinion “too traditional,” “boomer-minded,” “privileged,” or something similar.

Reading those hateful words and comments stirred up a desire within me to address questions relating to the heart of this issue, though not directly related to the post and comments. It is my hope and prayer that this could be a source of reminder and encouragement to all Christians, not just the young ones.

The core question goes like this:

CORE QUESTION: Should we shame our parents or sever our relationships with people in the name of the noble act of standing firm on one’s convictions?

I thought that the best way to answer this is by addressing three (3) related sub-questions before arriving at the final answer.

Before we begin, I would like to bring up something important. It is known that Filipinos generally have good family ties and are naturally family-oriented, though not all. However, this article is not about values as Filipinos but our views as Christians. As we answer the questions, we will realize that the point of the article goes beyond obeying or honoring parents but touches on something bigger and greater. So, read until the end.


THE TRUTH ABOUT THE BIBLE

In times like this, I thank God that we have a Moral Authority outside of ourselves and our selfish biases and raging emotions to which we can always turn to – God. As Christians, we believe that whatever God teaches through the Bible is truth (2 Timothy 3:16; Romans 7:12; Psalm 19:7) and it will always be right no matter what we feel is right and no matter what millennium it is.

Which means, truth is not based on any one’s feelings, preference, or status in life. The person who heeds God’s Word may sadly be labeled as “too traditional,” “boomer-minded,” or “privileged”, but this in no way undermines the rightness of the Bible.

So, what does the Bible say? Or more importantly, what is the Truth?


THE TRUTH ABOUT HONORING PARENTS

Q1: How should we treat our parents?

There are countless passages in the Bible which explicitly and implicitly teach us how we ought to treat our parents:

  • We see them commanded all over the Bible, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament:
    • God Himself commanded it through the 10 Commandments – Exodus 20:12
    • Solomon/Proverbs taught it – Proverbs 6:20; Proverbs 13:1
    • Paul taught it – Ephesians 6:1-3; Colossians 3:20
    • Jesus taught it – Matthew 15:4
    • Jesus not only taught it; He also lived it – Luke 2:51

NOTE: This was when Jesus seemed to be already aware that He was the Son of God (Luke 2:49). If the  Son of God submitted to His earthly parents and was them, why shouldn’t we?

  • The Bible is also clear on the gravity of this command as seen in the consequences of not doing so
    • Great punishment was to be given – Exodus 21:15,17; Deuteronomy 27:16
    • May result to a life of darkness and death – Proverbs 20:20; Proverbs 30:17
  • In 2 Timothy 3:2, Paul even places “disobedience to parents” as part of the wickedness during the Last Days

Q1 Answer: The Bible is clear on the topic and minces no words in emphasizing its importance. We must honor and obey our parents not because they paid for our tuition or have given us food to eat. It is never a sumbatan game. We do not obey them for they have the right, but we obey them for it is right. Period.

Which brings us to the next question…


THE TRUTH ABOUT HONORING GOD

Q2: Is it “right” to obey our parents or follow in their steps at all times?

The short answer is no. To completely answer the question, we must take a look at what the Bible says.

  • In the Bible, we find that parents have a God-given responsibility to raise their children up in God’s ways.
    • Ephesians 6:4“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”
    • Deuteronomy 6:6-7“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
    • Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
    • Proverbs 19:18 – Discipline your children, for in that there is hope…”
    • Proverbs 23:14 – “Punish them with the rod and save them from death.”

This God-given responsibility involves two aspects: Action and Direction.

The Action is for the parents to raise their children up. This includes raising them up with love. Sadly, some parents do just the opposite.

The Direction is the purpose of the action. It’s the end to the means. As we have seen in the verses above, the main goal of parents is to raise their children up to be God-fearing people by teaching them God’s Word and training them to live it out.

Both Action and Direction are deeply rooted in God. By obeying our parents, we acknowledge God’s divine order of family, and thus, honoring God in the process.

Another way to look at it is this through Ephesians 6:1. The complete verse says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for it is right”. The phrase “in the Lord” is so important. It does not mean that we should only obey Christian parents. The phrase is essentially the same as “as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22; 6:7) or “as to Christ” (Ephesians 6:5).

In other words, we ought to obey our parents as though we are obeying God. In essence, obeying our parents is obeying and honoring God in the process.

In summary, the basis which makes obeying our parents right is the fact that we honor God by doing so. This makes obedience to God the “righter thing” to do, or as the subject of Ethics puts it, the “greater good.” This means that if obeying our parents meant disobeying God, obeying our parents will no longer be right.

God was clear when He spoke in Ezekiel 20:18-19:

I said to their children in the wilderness, “Do not follow the statutes of your parents or keep their laws or defile yourselves with their idols. I am the Lord your God; follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws

We see the same principle echoed in Acts 5:29 (ESV):

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Q2 Answer: Indeed, obeying our parents is part of honoring them, which is why we must obey. However, we should also remember that we are children of God above all else. So as children of God, we must honor God above all else, even if it means disobeying our parents’ ungodly instructions or following in their ungodly acts.

Here is our last sub-question


THE TRUTH ABOUT LOVE

Q3: If our parents are not aligned with God, should we still honor them?

We live in a harsh reality where there exist parents who take their children for granted or will even harm and abuse their children. This is evident not only in the hateful remarks I’ve read in recent online comments, but also from people I have talked with. The Action is either missing or incomplete while the Direction is ungodly, thus, going against God’s divine order and command.

So, should a parent’s failure to be a parent be a good enough reason for us NOT to honor them, i.e. not show them respect? The short answer is no.

Personally, I think the parents should be held accountable for such action or non-action. Unfavorable economic or emotional family status provides no excuse for them not to be good parents. I am blessed to be a part of a family with good and godly parents, so I will in no way be able to completely understand what children in complicated families go through. Which is why I turn to the Bible for guidance and not my status or feelings. What does it say?

Thousands of years after God gave the Ten Commandments and the Law, Jesus came and caught the Jewish and Gentile world by storm. He set the record straight by summarizing all of the great commands and great teachings of the prophets into two greatest commands:

Matthew 20:37-40
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Jesus zeroed in on the heart of the commands and not the legalistic following of them. Take note that the command to honor our father and mother is part of the “Law and the Prophets” bracket (Exodus 20:12). Since love is the bedrock of this particular command, love must be the foundation of our answer to the Q3 question.

It is true that we should not obey our parents if doing so disobeys God. But that does not grant us the right to shame them or disrespect them. Obeying our parents is merely one aspect of honoring them, therefore we still have to honor them even without obeying them our following in their steps. And now that love is in the picture, the command is elevated to a whole new level!

Jesus said in Matthew 5:44 to “love your enemies.” Who are our enemies? They can be those who have harmed us, they can be those who have never really loved us, or they can be those who have opposing views as us. If we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute and hate us, all the more we should love family, particularly our parents.

Q3 Answer: It is difficult to love parents who abused us or hurt us. It is difficult to breathe the same air as them who abandoned us and shamed us. It is also difficult to respect parents who have different passionate convictions as us. This is extremely difficult to do and probably almost impossible to do. Yet, we are commanded to honor them, respect them, and more importantly, love them.

As we can see, this does not only apply to parents. It applies to EVERYONE, no matter who, no matter where, no matter what situation. We are to love them as we love ourselves.

It is time to answer the main question of this article. Probably mid-way through the article (or even before that), you might have already figured out the answer. So instead of answering the question, I’ll just share with you a beautiful example that you already know.


THE TRUTH ABOUT GOD

CORE QUESTION: Should we shame our parents or sever our relationships with people in the name of the noble act of standing firm on one’s convictions?

Romans 8:5
“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires.

As sinners, our minds have already been made up. Our stance, our convictions, our thoughts, and our actions as human beings are completely against God. We have dishonored God and rebelled against Him countless times. We not only had different convictions, we had opposing convictions. We chose our limited, human views instead of His perfect views. Simply put, we were enemies of God (first part of Romans 5:10).

Romans 5:10 (1st part):
“For if, while we were God’s enemies…”

After choosing to sin against Him, God had all the more reason to disown us and keep the once perfect relationship severed forever (Isaiah 59:2). He could have left us all to die and suffer the grave consequences of sin. But instead of us receiving God’s righteous judgment, He took it upon Himself.

Romans 5:10 (2nd part):
“…we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”

His Perfect Love caused the greatest outrage in all of history, God died for us. Jesus came and took the full load of righteous punishment and rose again in victory so we can be reconciled back to Him (second part of Romans 5:10). Take note of the word reconciled – restored, reconnected, accepted.

This did not flow from a simple form of respect, honoring, or acceptance of His enemy. This was His Perfect love in action.

Romans 5:8:
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

His love and grace brought about a change in our hearts and our minds through His Spirit. Repentance (metanoia; from the Greek μετάνοια) literally means a changing of mind. This change and renewal of the mind involves action (Romans 12:1-2). Therefore, learning this beautiful truth about God is not enough. As Christians and children of God, it must be our duty to strive to imitate the best example of love, God (Ephesians 5:1). And if we are to be imitators of God, we must:

  • Continuously seek reconciliation through forgiveness – Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13
  • Walk in the way of love – Ephesians 5:2
  • Pursue holiness and righteousness – Ephesians 5:3-5; 1 Peter1:16

 
CONCLUSION

My fellow believers, I leave it up to you to answer the last question. I started the article by saying that this goes beyond obeying and respecting our parents but touches on something even greater. Although we learned about it, the main point is not about obedience to earthly authority.

The main point is about submission and obedience to the Ultimate Moral Authority. It reveals that our ultimate pursuit must not just be the standing up for noble earthly causes, but to imitate God above all else.

Let us ponder on this: Whether in our household, our school, our workplace, our social media platforms, or our relationships – we must strive to be like Him, though imperfectly yet continuously and faithfully.

 
 

Author: Keith Lizardo

Keith is one of the key leaders of the Youth Ministry of Word for the World Christian Fellowship of which he is also a minister in training. He is currently working with a major multinational bank based in the U.S. He is a contributing writer at Pondering Faith.

Share this article or follow us via social media and email. Click:     

Categories