Honor Your Father and Your Mother

filial 4

My wife went to the hair-dresser and overheard a conversation that enrages me. Several elderly ladies were sharing how their grown children treated them. One spoke haltingly as she sobbed. She lived with her son and daughter-in-law, who did not treat her well and wanted her to move out. She went to Hong Kong for a month to visit relatives, but upon her return to Toronto found something strange.

She entered her condo apartment and immediately noticed that everything changed. The furniture was different, the drapes were different, even the color of the wall was different. Then a stranger came out of the bedroom and asked who she was and what was she doing here. Surprised, she said “This is my home. I live here! Who are you?” The man said, “No, there must be a mistake! This is my home. I bought this apartment from your son last month. Didn’t he tell you?” The senior lady was stunned and speechless. Her son had not told her anything. He had deserted her and moved, and she didn’t know where to find him.

Another case involved a son and his wife taking his mother to vacation, and disappearing after a few days without a trace. They had abandoned her in a foreign city! What children would do a thing like that? We Chinese pride ourselves as being cultured, doing everything with propriety, and value filial piety above all other virtues (百行孝为先). How then did we degenerate into doing something which even the crude would frown upon?

Perhaps this is a natural consequence when men reject God:
Rom 1:28-31 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;

But this happens also to religious people:
Mt 15:4-6 For God said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,’ and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,” he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. (Also Mk 7:10-13)

Or it could be a sign that we’re entering the end times:
2 Tim 3:1-4 “in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,”

Whatever the reason, the Bible’s assessment is clear:
1 Tim 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Honor your father and your mother. This is the repeated commandment in Scripture (Ex 20:12; Deut 5:16; Mt 15:4, 19:19; Mk 7:10, 10:19; Lk 18:20; Eph 6:2). Beware of religion, because it sets aside the commandment of God. Follow Jesus, not your tradition.

Abused? Divorce?

Q. My unbelieving husband abused me physically and mentally? I would rather die than continue like this. Can I divorce him?

A. I am sorry that your husband is like that. A man who abuses his wife or children is not fit to be a husband or father, but is a coward who vents his inferiority on those physically weaker than he. Death is not a solution to your pain, and the Bible permits divorce only in the case of sexual immorality (Mt 5:32, 19:9; see yesterday’s post), or abandonment (desertion) by an unbelieving spouse:
1 Co 7:15 Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.

Your husband is unbelieving, so if he chooses to leave, let him leave. You are not bound to the abusive marriage. However, if he does not show any inclination to leave, the biblical option is separation. Nowhere in the Bible does it require an abused wife to submit herself to her abusive husband. Her safety and that of her children are paramount. She can extract herself and any small children to a safe shelter, whether to her parents, her friends, or to a government-run shelter.

In fact, abuse is a criminal offense in many jurisdictions, and must be reported to the authorities. And it is not restricted to physical violence either. The abuse could be physical (e.g. hitting), sexual (e.g. subjecting her to his perversions), verbal (e.g. taunts), emotional (e.g. tearing down her self-worth), and mental-psychological torment. If you are afraid, inform your family or close friends and ask the church to help. The police could place restraining orders on the abusive husband, or put him in jail if he poses a threat to you and/or the children’s safety.

The best option of course is for your husband to become a Christian submitted to the Word of God. Pray that the Holy Spirit will convict his heart of sin, righteousness, and judgment (Jn 16:8). Ask your pastor or church leaders to witness to him, and pray for his conversion. If he is truly repentant, reconciliation is possible. Don’t submit in silence. God never intended you to.