The First Commandment With Promise
Robert Wurtz II
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1-3)
There are passages in the scriptures that invariably draw the ire of someone when they read them. Our passage above is one example. Take a son or a daughter that has been neglected or abused (truly abused and not abused in the frivolous sense); he/she will read this passage and inwardly rebel against it and will feel justified in doing so. Honor your father and mother is anathema to them. A chorus of a thousand reasons will flood the mind in an attempt to dismiss the commandment. Society encourages children to rebel against the authority of their parents. Many things we could say along this line, but I must digress. Nevertheless, their is a specific consequence built in to disobeying this passage.
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” (Ephesians 5:22–25 KJV)
This is another passage that draws the ire of many who read it. Multitudes have been indoctrinated against it – often with similar strategies to those who rebel against Ephesians 6:1-3. The traditional model of the family has been overthrown in society by a systematic misrepresentation of the roles that fathers and mothers are designed to play within the family unit.
In the first half of the 20th Century Hollywood portrayed men typically as masculine and women as feminine. This went on until Rebel Without A Cause came out – depicting the wife as domineering, the father as weak, and the son as rebellious. It was almost prophetic. It demonstrated the chaos that ensues when the historical patterns are revamped.
Connecting The Dots
In 1996 the British Journal of Criminology pubished an article that explored some of the consequences of the modern Western family model. The findings were very insightful:
“Traditional working class patriarchy has been thrown into crisis by the restructuring of the global economy and the expansion of women’s rights. Unable to replicate the rural-based models of masculinity and family structure of their grandfathers’ generation, a growing cohort of marginalized men in the de-industrialized urban economy takes refuge in the drug economy and celebrates a misogynist, predatory street culture that normalizes gang rape, sexual conquest, and paternal abandonment. Marginalized men lash out against the women and children they can no longer support economically nor control patriarchally.” (PHILIPPE BOURGOIS) IN SEARCH OF MASCULINITY: Violence, Respect and Sexuality among Puerto Rican Crack Dealers in East Harlem.
If Rebel Without A Cause demonstrated the chaos that ensues when the historical patterns are revamped, The BJC has shed much light on the breakdown of urban communities in America. Men and women are designed to function in a particular family model; if that model is altered, people will find alternate means of expressing their natural tendencies and instincts. Some may argue that this is an over simplification of the problems that exist within our culture: however, it is very enlightening to ponder just how the breakdown in the Biblical family plays out in the streets.
Honor Thy Father and Mother
For over a hundred years, Christians have struggled to hold back the forces within western culture that are destroying the Biblical family. Hollywood has glorified feminism to the point that June Cleaver is now viewed as a throwback to the days we have courageously forsaken. Fathers and men in general are depicted as incapable idiots in the movies and sitcoms. If I had a dollar for every time a woman was made a sex object or a man was made the but of a joke I could probably retire.
What is more disturbing is how society has shaped the thinking of Christians until many struggle to honor both father and mother without demeaning or degrading the other one. “And” is a big word in Ephesians 6:2. As a conjunction it connects father and mother inseparably. Both are to be honored. Not the one at the expense of the other or the one more than the other. Honor thy father and mother is a call to honor our parents as a unit.
What I mean is, people struggle today to build up one person without in some way putting another person down or in some way marginalizing or mocking them. You cannot honor your mother by dishonoring your father: nevertheless, this is often the modus operandi. Stories are told that seek to exalt moms or dads, but often by relaying negative information about the other parent. We need a moratorium on the practice of slamming one parent to build up the other.
If the British Journal of Criminology has an ounce of truth it is this; when the family was altered, it set up both fathers and mothers for failure. It opened the door to a lot of dishonorable behaviors on both sides. Some men became drug addicts, alcoholics, dead beats or abusive. They ran around on their wives and families causing untold sorrow. It could be a million different awful things. In like manor, some women went into the work place and ended up in affairs. It was all a diabolical strategy. Their guiding light was the soaps they followed for years as stay-at-home moms and then many acted out what they programmed in their minds when their kids got in school and they finally got a job. Husbands working their tail-end off at work while the wife is being seduced into wanting a man like the TV guy. Children felt alienated because they came home from school day after day to empty homes. The list could go on ad infinitum. Let’s get one thing straight, this was all the Devil’s business.
A family can be no greater than the relationship that exists between the husband and the wife. It is foundational. If they dishonor or betray one another or undermine one another the family will suffer. If husbands and wives will rightly honor one another their children are more likely to honor them. I may be a sentimentalist, but I think it is a travesty for husbands and wives to mock one another or to make one another the butt of their laughter and scorn; even if they think it is all in good fun. This is what the world and the devil have created and I have no interest in furthering it or celebrating it. I don’t find it funny. These are things that have the power to completely annihilate the true intimacy that married people enjoy. I think it is awful for a man to think of his wife as the ole’ hag or a woman to roll her eyes contemptuously and condescendingly at her husband. They should never speak evil of one another to others.
Many people find it hard to honor more than one person at a time without making them rivals. They have to make one a winner and the other a loser. Rarely can people honor two or more people together without comparing and contrasting them. This type of comparitive honor may work for professional athletes or music stars, but it can never work when it comes to honoring our parents. They are to be honored together and not at each others expense. So this year I have decided that I will no longer participate in any activity that does not honor parents together and equally according to Ephesians 6:2. Away with how mean your mother was so you honor your father at her expense. Away with how bad dad was, but mom stuck by him, etc. The fact is, none of our parents were perfect and we need to find ways of honoring them without always bringing out the negative or rehashing the past of the other parent. We need to consciously return to the Biblical pattern of the family that allows male and female to follow their instincts in a Biblical way. In this way we can get back to putting the “and” in Honor thy father and mother.