By Kurt Trucksess - CrossWinds Church
Children obeying their parents is a direct command from God. Ephesians 6:1 says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” In this verse, obeying one’s parents can not be separated from honoring one’s parents. Ephesians 6 continues, “Honor your father and mother — which is the first command with a promise — so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on earth.”
“Honor” means children are to have an attitude of respect toward their parents. A child’s obedience to their parents is to be done with an attitude of honor. Obedience with a bad attitude does not conform to the command.
It may be challenging for some children to learn to obey their parents. A strong will certainly makes it harder for some children than others. There is a good reason for this command. Proverbs 13:1 teaches that those who listen to their parents will gain wisdom: “A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not respond to rebukes.” God’s design is for children to learn to honor and obey their parents so when they grow up they will learn to live wisely. As they learn respect at home, they will learn respect for others when they leave the home.
Even Jesus, though he was the Son of God, obeyed his earthly parents and as a result, he grew in wisdom (See Luke 2:51-52). The Bible also says that children who are not disciplined or who fail to learn to obey their parents will be much worse off in life. Proverbs 29:15 reminds us, “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” Proverbs 29:17 also says, “Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.”
As children have a responsibility to obey their parents, parents also have a responsibility to instruct their children without frustrating them, as is shown in Ephesians 6:4: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children…” This means the discipline of a child should not be punitive in nature but corrective. Parents are not to make their children pay but are to discipline them so they learn to succeed. Parents must also ensure that children are clear on why they are being disciplined.
Parents also have a responsibility to bring up their children to know and love Jesus. That is not the job of a youth group or a children’s program. The primary place where a child is to be taught the faith and to be formed in the faith is at home. This is seen in Ephesians 6:4, “…bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
Even if parents are not following God’s commands directed toward them about disciplining a child correctly, children still have a responsibility to honor and obey their parents.
When children leave the home, while they are independent of their parents, as adult children, they still have a responsibility to honor their parents and hear their advice. One of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:12) is “Honor your father and mother, that your days may be long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” This commandment doesn’t just pertain to young children honoring adult parents but it also instructs adult children about their responsibility to honor their aging parents.
As a general rule, the better children learn to honor their earthly father, the better they will learn to honor, respect and obey their Heavenly Father.
The only appropriate reason for young children to disobey their parents is if parents instruct their children to do something that clearly goes against one of God’s commands. In that case, children must obey God rather than man (see Acts 5:29).