“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12
Of all the Ten Commandments, none spark more passionate debate than this one. The others may trigger with intellectual discussion, but the fifth commandment ignites stronger feelings than any other.
- Who should I honor?
- What does it mean to honor them?
- Why should I honor them?
- What if they weren’t honorable?
In yesterday’s preaching, Pastor Paolo Punzalan masterfully answered these questions and more with the appropriate sensitivity and conviction for such a personal topic. I highly recommend listening to his message here or here.
He brought up the concept of Saluting the Rank. Quoting Pastor Dennis Isleta, a retired Philippine Army colonel and pastor at Victory Fort, he explained how cadets are taught to salute the rank of the officer regardless of their personal feelings for or against the individual embodying the rank.
He connected the idea with honoring our father and mother. God commands us to “salute the rank” of fatherhood and motherhood, even though our parents as individuals don’t always deserve it. (I found it was easy to expect perfection from my parents until I became a father myself.) When we honor our father and mother, we’re not denying any mistakes that they might have done. But we are saying that the office of fatherhood and motherhood is an honorable one, and we give it honor.
Ultimately, the rank we salute isn’t just our father and mother, but God himself. When we refuse to honor our parents, we’re saying their dysfunction or our unforgiveness is more weighty than God Himself. But when we choose to honor them despite our issues against them, we’re saying God’s commands are more important than our issues.
In other words, we honor our parents because we’re honoring God. The great part about this is God rewards us for honoring Him. I think God directly attaches a promise to this command because it’s a question of whether or not we will really trust Him or rely on our own emotions. Our parents may not be perfect, but God is. They may not always deserve it, but God does. And He will reward us for obeying.
Salute the rank. Honor your father and mother. Honor God.