M.I. Scarrott, Christian Author
Honoring One's Parents

Old Testament
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. KJV

Honoring One's Parents: What does that really entail?

Honor should be bestowed upon individuals that are worthy of our respect and esteem usually because they have merited it. Unfortunately, it is often bestowed upon men and women simply because of their title, rank or status.

Professional athletes, movie stars, members of royalty, those of wealth and power and political prominence often garner the respect and admiration of the public regardless of their personal character or integrity.

God, however, calls all people everywhere to honor Him first, and their parents as His representatives on earth. Our parents, biological or adoptive, are a child's primary role models. It is their responsibility and obligation to love and nurture each, and to raise them in the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord.

Children have one obligation to God and their parents: obedience. The biblical admonition to honor one's parents includes, in one sense, both a negative and a positive. Children should refrain from being disrespectful or injurious to their parents, and they should work to assist them as they age when and if a need arises.

This command, although fifth in the list of the Ten Commandments, is the first given with a promise, and is of extreme importance. When God gave Moses the Ten Commandments to deliver to the Israelites, they were preparing to enter the Promised Land. In the fifth commandment, God told the nation that their time in the land was predicated upon their covenant relationship with Him. Therefore, obedience to His commands, and this one in particular, was extremely important.

The family unit was instituted by God for the procreation of humanity. Statistics prove that most children prosper in the traditional family unit, which is composed of a father, a mother, and their offspring, biological or adopted. Since fathers and mothers don't 'parent' in the same manner, children benefit when both genders are present in a loving household. If the traditional family unit is destroyed, the nation will not long survive. Those who honor their parents, honor God; and they will be blessed. The reverse is also true.

NOTE: For statistical information regarding the benefits of raising children in two-parent families, check out the National Center for Health Statistics, at the Center for Disease Control.  While there are benefits to raising children in a traditional family, there are always legitimate circumstances for single parent homes.  Single parents need the support of the church, not its criticism.


Paul the Apostle, in writing his letter to the Ephesians, repeated the biblical command given in the book of Exodus, making the directive to honor one's parents more personal. He admonishes children to obey their parents, and declares that their obedience will garner them longevity; to fathers (parents) he warns that they must not be tyrannical or unreasonable or provoke their children to wrath.

New Testament
Ephesians 6:1-4

1Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
2Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
3That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
4And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. KJV


I don't believe a child's obedience to this command guarantees him or her long life, but rather that it brings God's blessings in another way. Obedience to one's parents may predispose a child to live longer because it can protect him in the days of his innocence and from his own naïveté. Consider the following:

The child that listens and obeys his parent's admonition to avoid alcohol or drugs; the child that listens and obeys his parent's admonition to avoid sexual liaisons; the child that listens and obeys his parent's admonition to avoid involvement in gang activity, may avoid the consequences that would naturally occur if he or she did not heed their warnings.

Unfortunately, not all parents are good parents. When parents are abusive or cruel, children must be protected from them.  It may be necssary to limit contact with these parents until a positive change takes place in their behavior. In this situation, I believe a child may still honor his parents by praying for them.

All of my novels deal with some aspect of this biblical command. In my newest novel, The Doorkeeper, my characters face many of the joys and sorrows of parenting. They must deal with the challenges of being a single parent, the complexities of dealing with children who have disabilities, and the joys and difficulties of foster parenting and adoption.

In my fourth novel, Out of the Miry Clay, I used my characters, and their life situations, to teach about the Ten Commandements, and the necessity to obey them.