Friday, July 25, 2008

Honor Thy Father and Mother

I know that this particular commandment gives lots of victims of abuse pause for doubt and lots of confusion. How do you "honor" someone who has abused you or stood silently by and let it happen? Learning to break free of victimization is tough enough without trying to find resolution with this commandment. I'm sure many get stuck wondering what's right.

For me there was never any question. I guess maybe it's my relationship with God and the Church are two different things. I learned long ago that man in the form of "church" can say and do lots of things that don't make sense. The way many chose to interpret this commandment just happens to be another of those things.

As mentioned in this analysis of the Ten Commandments, the order to honor one's father and mother is not an absolute granted by an unthinking God to enslave children to their abusers. On the contrary, God would never have intended for His law to be perverted the way it has been by some sadistic parents who manipulate it to browbeat children into submission. I doubt that God would ever expect a child to honor parents who don't and didn't honor their children.

I like the Hebrew definition of "honor" which means "heavy." It seems to make much more sense than the "honor" that most parents demand. And it makes sense to me that the Hebrew definition would be the correct one since that's where these commandments came from in the first place.

So what does "heavy" mean in this context? It means to weigh heavily. To give things that extra thought and consideration while deciding what is best. It doesn't mean blanket permission for parents to demand respect when it hasn't been earned. It means to weigh their request against what is real and see if it fits. If it does..........good. If not, then it's ok to walk away. It's as simple as that.

I haven't seen a survivor yet who has just walked away from a family member or parent easily. Or one who has ignored an unreasonable request who didn't first sweat blood and tears making the determination. We already carry the grave burden of "it's family" or "my parent." Deciding to go against their wishes to take better care of ourselves is a heavy, heavy burden that we take seriously.

I think that is all that God asks. That we weigh it fairly and then do what is best for ourselves and our mental health. God doesn't want us to be slaves to parental responsibility to parents who have not lived up to the role a parent is supposed to be in the first place. He wants us to find our own way in this world to true happiness and spirituality. If that means leaving behind sick family rules and all the attachments that go with them.....then so be it.


Enola said...

Our church teaches that "honoring" your parents stops when they fail to act consistent with Biblical standards. So for situations where parents abuse children (or stand by and allow it to happen), there is no obligation to honor.

Kahless said...

Thanks for the post.

I was thinking about this one further last night and came to the conclusion that it was all in the interpretation of what the word "honour" means.

Why did God include this particular commandment though I wonder?

I find the bible very confusing at times. In terms of old testament and some of its archaic seemingly messages, then there are the missing books which the catholic church doesnt recognise but other christain faiths do.

Lynn said...

I'm glad you are not falling into a destructive trap, RR. You are absolutely right. Some parents do not deserve 'honor' in the standard definition. I have issues around certain words and principles around religion and spirituality, but also feel that I don't want to explain them. Hardly anyone wants to listen to such things anyway, and I feel I honor MYSELF by holding to what I know is right without needing to pass it by anyone else first. I frankly don't care anymore what others think of it. I'm glad you are honoring yourself, too.

And Kahless, the missing books rejected by the catholic church are easy to explain, at least to my mind. Coming from a very large family and community of die-hard catholics, it's like this -- anything they don't understand is of evil origin. There is no room for things that don't fit in with what is already accepted, there is no room for any new information and everything is exactly the way they say it is. Catholics are not the only group who do this.

keepers said...



Lily Strange said...

I think that "honor thy father and mother" is often a very misused phrase to be sure.

Marj aka Thriver said...

I'm glad you wrote this post. This is an issue that has weighed heavily on my mind...and soul...for a long time.

ora said...

In Jewish tradition, it says the commandment "honour your father and mother" comes right after "keep Shabbat", so as to tell you: if your parents tell you to desacrate shabat, you should not do it. i.e. The parents are not above the commandments, exactely as you said.

However, I feelt that there is a problem with abuse and honoring (forgiving) issues all the same...