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"Honour thy father and thy mother"
by Wayne Blank
The Fifth Commandment
The first four of the Ten Commandments instruct how to recognize, worship and obey the only true God. The next six Commandments instruct how to live in peace with our fellow humans - beginning with parents (birth parents, adopted parents, or legal guardians - as it has been through all of human history), the first humans that we learn to be "people" with.
Violation of the Fifth Commandment was a capital offense:
"If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you" (Deuteronomy 21:18-21 KJV)
Honoring parents is not however a "one way street" - parents have a responsibility to conduct themselves so as to be worthy of honor:
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." (Ephesians 6:1-4 KJV)
Even as He was in agony on the cross, Jesus Christ obeyed the Fifth Commandment by seeing to the care of His mother:
"Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing by, whom He loved, He saith unto His mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith He to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home." (John 19:25-27 KJV) (see also Aunt Mary?)
The Fifth Commandment, which deals with those who gave us physical life, also applies ultimately to how we may be born into spiritual life (see Born Again, How and When?), in which God is the Father, the Holy Spirit of God is the means of "spiritual conception," and the Church (as an entity, composed of potential, as yet unborn Children Of God - see People or Place?) is the mother:
"Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name" (Matthew 6:9 KJV)
Fact Finder: Is Jesus Christ "the first-born among many brethren"?