procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

honour your parents?

at first glance, i would think my parents would be happy with this post.
on second, they might be a little upset by the photos proving a) i wear my beanie better than my dad, and b) my mother has a perpetual fear that the carnations may try to eat her.
on third glance, they would stop reading this, because Oliver O'Donovan* has made me rethink the 5th commandment.
Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land the LORD your God gives you.
Exodus 20:12
up until now, i'd always understood this being as being directed to children (my parents loved to quote this one at my sister), it being about respecting your parents, giving them their due honour.
but as O'Donovan argues, this is actually a commandment directed at parents.
They have a duty, he says, to sustain this act of cultural transmission, as learned by their parents, and their parents before them. The role of children in this society is not then to be obedient, but rather it is the parents' to teach their children what it is to be obedient.

Funny things you learn from your mama,
like the way to throw your head back when your swallowing pills
Funny things you learn from your papa,
like when you're talking you just can't keep your hands still

Ben Harper, Burn to Shine
indeed there are always things we learn from our parents, both good and bad. but, generally speaking, they did their best, to install in us what they felt was important. and this not necessarily for their sake, so they could boast in us, but for our sake, and for continuity's sake.

i am always impressed by the way my parents have worked at obeying this commandment, as they taught, instructed, and modelled to me. i am also impressed at the way they redeemed, where they needed, what was flawed that they learned from their parents.
Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.
Hebrews 12:9-10
as Christians, there is much we learn from our earthly parents, but what we most learn as of most importance, and pass on as of utmost importance, is what we learn from our heavenly father. to pass this on to the next generation, that they may fear the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt, out of slavery to the Lord of this world, and promises them an inheritance that will not rot or waste away, is what every generation needs to know from their parents. and in that, your parents, and God, are honoured.

* in his book, Common Objects of Love

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Blogger Honoria said...

Nice one.

Deut also takes up that phrase "so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord God is giving you" in the 5th Commandment (5:16) and in 6:18. Then, Moses instructs parents to teach their kids when they ask why they keep the law (6:20-25).

Here 'honoring your parents' looks like perpetuating abidance to God - i.e. you need to keep teaching / reminding down the generations! Sounds like the onus is on parents to do this.

Great that your parents were mindful about this =)

Is it too much of a jump to say if parents do not do this job, then your act of abiding in God - which would look like defiance to them - is the best way to honor them?

10:33 pm  
Blogger Hayley said...

The real question is... who wears side burns better you or your dad?


I got that commandment quoted at me a lot too!

BUT I just quoted back Col. 3:21 & Eph. 6:4

7:34 pm  
OpenID nathanjameslee said...

Wow, good stuff - I never knew this!

6:51 pm  
Blogger psychodougie said...

Hon - i do think Hebrews 12 says that. it's also the way i think to understand the tension of leaving houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, lands for Christ's sake (Mark 10:29), yet still honouring your parents.

Hayley - me.
and what fun it is to quote scripture AT one another - it's even more fun when it's completely out of context!

Nath - when you say knew, do please think about it still - i could be making this stuff up. and so could Oli O (tho i'm probably more likely to be to blame than him!)

7:10 pm  

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