The Ten Commandments are a pretty good guide for life, even if you’re not a believer. The adultery and coveting things are pretty much ignored these days, but it’s hard to argue that either should be encouraged.
When I was a kid, I thought the fourth commandment (yes, I know that there are two numbering schemes) was aimed at us youngsters. “Honor thy father and thy mother” seemed to say “Do your chores! You’re your bedroom clean! Don’t sass your parents!”
As I’ve gotten older, though I realized there was far more to it. When you read the Ten Commandments, first are the commandments referring to God Himself. The very next one is to honor your parents. How could it be more important than “Thou shalt not steal” and Thou shalt not commit murder”? Those are pretty nasty things, especially murder.
But why such an emphasis on honoring our parents when growing up is pretty much defined as the point at which we move away from our parents?
I’ve come to believe that the commandment is not meant for when we’re in grade school, but for later. Just as God created us, looks after us and loves us, so it is with our parents. Those of us who are parents know how, no matter how old are children are, we still worry, we still advise, we still care. We love them at least as much, if not more, than we did when they were little. This is probably true of all of our parents.
When we were children, we had little choice about respecting our parents. However, once we’re grown that changes. We no longer live under their roof and their rules. We often no longer live in the same region, much less the same town. It may take an effort just to stay in touch with them.
Honoring our parents is an active requirement, not avoidance of a negative.
Do something in that spirit.