I have a vested interest in public education. My wife, son, daughter, and son in law are all public school teachers. In recent years, the amount and degree of disrespect and disobedience has increased exponentially. Every day, my wife deals with pre-teen children telling her what she can and cannot do or make them do. Refusing to accept or respect authority is the order of the day every day.
Had I done any of the things that I hear of most every day, I would not be writing this blog. Because I would be DEAD. My folks would have beaten me without mercy, and rightfully so.
You see, my parents demanded respect from my sister and me at home. “Yes sir” and “No ma’am” were not suggestions, they were demands. I still recall when I would try to get away with just a “Yes” or “No” if I was angry with them. What do you think I heard in return? “Yes WHAT?” And I grudgingly obliged. I am thankful my folks held my feet to the fire!
In the Decalogue accounts (Ex 20, Deut 5), there are promises attached to the command to “Honor your father and your mother,” specifically, long life and prosperity. But how should we understand these promises?
First, there is the matter of God’s unqualified demand to respect our elders: “You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of the old man” (Lev 19:32). And from Peter: “Likewise, you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders” (1 Pet 5:5).
Second, there is the matter of long life. Until the very recent past, there were no homes where people could entrust the care of their parents to others. Folks took care of their own, regardless of how bad the situation was. If a father or mother were loving and mindful of their children’s well-being, they could expect to receive the very best of care when they became too old to care for themselves. Thus, their lives were eased and lengthened through the care of children.
I believe there is another angle to this as well. When children saw their parents caring for their own aged parents, they learned by observation. When I care for my parents, it teaches my children how to care for me. Thank God for parents who teach their children well!