I recently sent in a question about “Honoring” your father when he is not acting as a Christian. Please explain to me what the term “Honor” means biblically. 


To start with, the Bible clearly teaches that one of the foundational principles by which we are to be guided is, we should honor our parents. This is stated in both testaments. Exod. 20:12, Eph. 6:1-4.

Before I get to your question, let me also say that parents have a responsibility to children to guide them in a godly manner and to provide for them what they need (not want). Eph. 6:4, 1 Cor. 12:14, Mt. 7:7-12. Rather than abusing them, parents should love their children and do what is best for them. Although this is not always the case, it is the ideal set forth in Scripture.

Now, what does “honor” mean and imply as it is used in regard to our parents? And, are there limits on this “honoring” of parents? To answer this, notice the following:

1. To honor parents means we should obey them when we are under their authority. Exod. 20:12, Eph. 6:1. Without obedience, honor is just an empty concept. Along with proper respect, obedience must follow. Further, this obedience does not depend on whether parents always lead us in the right direction, but it is a matter that parents are entrusted with authority over children. To disobey is not only harmful to individual families, but also contributes to the downfall of society. Rom. 1:28-32.

2. To honor means we must provide for our parents when they can no longer provide for themselves. Although we have come to depend so much on government for this, we must not forget that God holds children, not government, responsible for the care of parents in their old age. Jesus condemned the generation of His day who were mistreating their parents and not giving to them as they should, not honoring their parents as had been commanded. Mark 7:1-13, 1 Tim. 5.

3. Honoring does not mean we should continue to obey our parents even after we have established our own families. We should continue to respect them and in so far as possible, act lovingly toward them. However, each family must learn to act separately from the other as far as how the family is directed. Gen. 2:18-25. We leave parents and cleave (are cemented) to another, beginning a new family unit. Many troubles are caused when grown married “children” seek to wrongfully “honor” parents instead of carrying out responsibleness to their own families.

4. Finally, honoring parents does also not involve sinning or failing to obey the Lord. Although there are many times when children who are very young may not have much of a choice in the matters. Eventually, there comes a time when, there is a conflict between parents and God, we must stand for God rather than parents. Mt. 10:32-39, Acts 5:29-32. However, this should not be used as an excuse to disobey parent under the guise of following God. Jesus Himself was obedient to His parents. Luke 2:40-52.

By Gary Hunt