The Fifth Commandment
This is my thirteenth post on the Ten Commandments using Buddy Dano’s study: FOR THE LAND OF THE FREE: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF FREEDOM and the only one dealing with the fifth commandment.
In this week’s excerpt Pastor Dano heavily emphasizes authority orientation as the focal point of the fifth commandment which I believe is true. However I would like to add a slightly different emphasis and one that I believe Pastor Dano would agree with. A major reason that we are to told to respect our parents is that they are our primary teachers in life (or maybe I should say teachers for life). In the Mosaic Law fathers were made responsible for teaching the children, this was the way that knowledge and understanding of the Law was to be passed from each generation to the next. Even to this day parents are the child’s primary teachers of right and wrong.
If a child disrespects their parents then they will never learn anything from them. I have read, and listened, to parents whose children have gotten into serious trouble because the children are a law unto themselves.
At the bible.org website there is a good article on the fifth commandment titled “Between Child and Parent – Honoring Father and Mother (Exodus 20:12)” which I also recommend reading. The Author, Bob Deffinbaugh, makes some excellent points but this one in particular caught my eye:
Why is obedience to the Fifth Commandment linked with the blessings attached to the keeping of all the commandments? In addition to the fact that one must keep every commandment to keep all commandments, the Fifth Commandment plays a special role with respect to the rest of the commandments. The laws of God are to be conveyed to subsequent generations of Israelites primarily from the parents to their children. Thus, the emphasis of Deuteronomy on the teaching the Law to children. If children are going to listen to their parents and learn to love the Law, they must first respect and honor their teachers—their fathers and mothers. The honoring of parents is thus a prerequisite to the teaching of the Law from one generation to the next.
If children honor their parents they will heed their instruction. If they heed their instruction, they will keep the whole Law of God. If they keep the Law of God they will not do harm to their fellow-Israelites. Viewed negatively, honoring parents causes the child to be inclined to avoid the evils of murder, adultery, theft, false witness, and coveting. Viewed more positively, honoring parents has a high correlation with honoring others and caring for them.
Here is Pastor Dano:
THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT
‘‘Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.’’
The fifth commandment is contained in a single verse as is true of all the last six principles of the DECALOGUE. In the English we read, ‘‘Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee.’’ The word ‘‘honor’’ is the key to the understanding of this commandment. It refers to respect for authority of your father and your mother. This is not a commandment to love your parents or even respect their person, but it is a commandment to respect their authority.
The capacity to love develops through maturity. The primary responsibility of parents is not to win the love and affection of their children, BUT TO INSTRUCT THEM AND NOT SPARING THE ROD, thereby to establish parental authority.
Although the fifth commandment commands children to respect parental authority, that authority must be exercised justly and fairly. Respectfulness in the home is a part of the general principle of the necessity for the establishment of and the respect for authority. It must be learned early in life. First in the family, so that later it will be applied to the teacher, the coach, the law officer, the drill instructor, etc.
The fifth commandment forms the basis for the whole biblical principle that no one can have freedom and happiness in life without learning respect for authority. Only those who have themselves learned respect for authority are ever qualified to exercise authority.
The principle of authority exists in every facet of life and is designed for the protection of individual and national freedom. When there is general loss of respect for authority on a national scale, disintegration and destruction of that national entity will surely follow. It is a tragedy to launch a person into adult life without a concept of respect for authority. If your parents did not establish their authority when you were young, then you are really behind the eight ball.
God gave everyone the right of protection from the standpoint of anatomy. The real you is in the soul and just as the cranium is the protection casing for the anatomical structures in which the soul functions, so also the gluteus maximus has been provided for the administration of discipline and the establishment of authority. That is where children should be spanked. ‘‘Honor thy father and thy mother’’ commands respect. It therefore implies parental responsibility as well.
Our nation has declined and degenerated in every possible way. One of the most basic of the destructive influences existing in our country today is the concept of permissiveness in rearing children. Furthermore, there are many efforts to encourage young people to reject the authority of their parents. Unless children are taught respect for authority and the principles of freedom it protects, they will destroy their own freedom. This pattern of self-destruction was very evident in Jeremiah’s day, and the same pattern is becoming increasingly evident in our day. The lack of respect for authority, involving different movements with our young people, is a sign of national suicide.
The enemies of our nation are hard at work seeking to destroy all respect for authority. For they know that a generation that does not recognize authority can never resist Communist conquest. In fact, the present generation seems willing to bring it about.
The conspirators, as is so clearly stated in Jeremiah, always have their dupes running about doing their errands. Divine Institution #3, family, is the basic authority, the basic teaching institution in a national entity. There can be no freedom apart form recognition and respect of the various structures of authority. There cannot even be happiness apart from conditions of freedom in which there is respect for authority.
The next word, ‘‘that,’’ introduces a purpose clause. After which follows the word ‘‘days.’’ And ‘‘days’’ are used here to indicate a life span. ‘‘That thy days may be long.’’ In the Hebrew this is a continuous action. It means in general life span in a national entity and the life span is shortened when authority is not respected. But longevity is granted to those who learn respect for authority. First from parents, which is the basic teaching unit of authority. You can therefore shorten your own life by physical things and also in this verse by what you think.
Finally, this verse concludes with ‘‘upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.’’ The verb ‘‘to give’’ in the Hebrew is continuous action and indicates that God is its ultimate source and authority. The verse ends with the Lord giving the land, but it starts with a principle of authority. There is no freedom in the land given by the Lord unless there is enforcement of authority and respect for authority. God has established the mind as the authority of the soul, the Right-Man is the authority in marriage, the parents are the authority in the family, and objectivity in the law as the authority in a nation.
These structures of authority have been designed by God for the preservation of freedom during the course of the unseen conflict. Therefore in summary, the concept being taught by this commandment is that when those in a national entity begin life with concepts of authority, they will live their life in a free nation. When principles of authority are taught and learned early in life, in the family, a pattern is established throughout life that will protect individual and national freedom.
Notice this same principle in 2 Timothy 3. ‘‘This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, DISOBEDIENT TO PARENTS, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: FROM SUCH TURN AWAY.’’