The Problem with Honoring our Parents - Matthew 10

Thoughts from today’s reading of Matthew 10…

37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

I think that one of the most challenging aspects of our relationship with our parents has to do with the idea of “honor.” It doesn’t take much to realize that this is actually at the very heart of many of our disputes with our parents. The Bible tells us to honor our mother and father. And though this is something that I believe that most of us genuinely WANT to do, at the same time, there is definitely something “off” about this approach to honor as well. And that’s because there IS something off about our understanding of the Biblical concept of honor.

Part of the tension is cultural. Honor is a core ideology for Asians. The problem is that shame is just as significant. Oftentimes, the motivation behind honoring our parents is the shame that it will bring if we don’t. And if honoring and shaming our parents isn’t overwhelming enough, the honor and shame of our family name and our generations past (our ancestors) are at stake as well! Talk about pressure! Another part of the tension is relational. When brokenness within family isn’t addressed, honoring parents become more like a “business” decision (transactional) rather than a “familial” one (driven by intimacy). Finally, I think the biggest reason for the tension is theological. When we are children, we are to listen and pretty much do whatever it is that our parents tell us to do. This is NOT for the parents’ sake—as a means to maintain power or control because we’re so fearful. It’s for the sake of our children. Honoring their parents protects them. Honoring their parents also give them the means to learn what is right and what is wrong—but with the ultimate purpose of teaching them how to make good choices. This is where the older generations’ concept of honor diverges from what is Biblical and actually robs their children of the power of choice. And this is at the heart of the biggest problem with the older generations’ concept of honor. You see, once we become of age, we are no longer obligated to simply listen and do whatever it is that our parents tell us to do. As adults, we are now given the freedom to listen and then to make our OWN choices. The most profound motivation for this is that even our Heavenly Father gives us the freedom to choose.

I know that this is so counter-cultural and seemingly an impossible thing to experience with our own parents—and it very well may be on this side of Heaven. However, if there is any headway that we can make with them, but even more importantly, if this misperception of honor is to stop with us and the power of choice is taught to our own children, it must start from today’s reading. The most powerful lesson regarding choice that we can learn from Jesus and teach the generations to come is the choice to surrender. We choose to surrender what hundreds and thousands of years of culture have dictated as the rights of parents. And we do so because we love Jesus more than our own parents, our own children, our own selves, and even culture itself. #desiringGo2017

Love, Sam