Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Under What Circumstances Should Children Not Obey Parents?

In the Law given to Moses we have the 10 Commandments telling us (among other things) _

"Honour your father and your mother: that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gave you." Exodus 20:12

In addition to this Paul informs us _

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour your father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise)." Eph 6:1-2

Yet Christ states _

"Don't think that I came to send peace on earth: I didn't come to send peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father, the daughter against her mother... And a man's foes will be those of his own household." Matt 10:34-36

The Old Testament qualifies what honoring parents actually entails. Or at least it qualifies what it isn't. Cursing your parents or being an alcoholic and glutton, against the parents instructions, are cited as disobedience to this commandment. And the penalty for such was death (serious stuff)(Exod 21:17)(Deut 21:18-21).

But this is all that is stated in qualifying how the commandment was intended to be taken.

Paul's statement is a bit more to the point, by using the term "obey." Though he qualifies it by saying that the parents must be "in the Lord." And we may interpret Christ's statement to imply that the "variance" would be more likely to be with non-member parents. Thus they certain couldn't be said to be "in the Lord."

When Lamoni refused to obey his father's command to kill Ammon, Ammon didn't dispute Lamoni's right to disobey his parent's request (Alma 20:14-15).

Abraham chapter 1 implies that Abraham has disobeyed his father by refusing to turn to idol worship.

While these might seem obvious, it demonstrates that the idea of being obedient to parents has a lot of flexability within it; from a spiritual perspective, at least.

While both my mother and step-father are in the church, I wouldn't accept to have them tell me what to do in regard spiritual or temporal things. In fact sometimes they have advised me contrary to what the Spirit has advised. I will listen to their counsel. But then I would turn to the Spirit for understanding of what I should do. And we should be led of the Spirit if we wish to obtain eternal life (D&C 45:57, 42:61, 4th Article of Faith).

It should also be noted that in making his statement Paul uses the term "children." So what was a "child" to Paul?

Historic writings and the Bible seem to point to the age of 12 as the age of becoming an adult. Egyptians at the time of Ankenaten and Tutankamen were marrying at around 13. Such still occurs in many countries now. Christ's experience at the temple at 12 seems to be quoted as some kind of coming of age (though Luke mentioned that Jesus continued to honor the commandment at that point, and not just obey his Father [God])(Luke 2:51).

Moses talked of man being the head of the home in a marriage. Moses then states _

"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife: And they shall be one flesh." (Gen 2:24)

So the woman has left her parent's authority and come under her husband's. And he has left his parents and has to govern his family himself. This seems to legally end the commandment to honor parents (not that there is anything wrong with giving ear to righteous parents thereafter).

We, therefore, would have to conclude that Paul's reference to "children" implied those unmarried. This makes sense when we consider that the word "woman" and the word "wife" are exactly the same word in both the Hebrew and Greek (demonstrating that marriage and womanhood go together).

Yet in our society people aren't marrying until later ages. People often don't get married until 20+. So Paul's advice becomes a little bit difficult, as we have young adults (particularly by Paul's standard of age) still at home with their parents.

Housework requires doing. All living under the same roof must do their share. And as the patriarch in the home this is for the father to delegate. Financial responsibility is placed upon the young person as they receive employment, to assist with living expenses in the home. And consideration should be given, by young people, to parents, to let them know where they are going and when they will be home: This is a common courtesy that even parents would be doing with each other.

But young people must be given freedom of religion and emotional expression, where such doesn't conflict with the rights of others, and those areas mentioned in the paragraph above.

In my experiences I have seen 2 sides to this problem of parents and their children relative to honoring parents. Firstly I have seen where children need holding back. And secondly I have seen where parents suppress their children, using this commandment to authorise their power to suppress.

This latter is where I re-emphasise my statement in the second last paragraph that freedom of religion (including all forms of religious expression) and emotion (including all forms of emotional expression) must be given, where such doesn't conflict with the rights of others.

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