"Honoring Your Parents" - The Bible Honors Your Cultures

While the fifth commandment is about honoring your parents, the Bible only have a few verses on how to honor them. However, in the Chinese culture, the Chinese Classics cover many details about filial-piety, teaching us about the how's of honoring our parents. It seems that the Bible only give the essential and leave the details to your particular culture. It then shows that the Bible does not despise or reject any culture as long as the foundations are biblical. Our cultures and traditions actually enhances the teaching of the Bible and need us to know them well too. Let's see the details.
Honor Your Parents
This is the fifth commandment of the Ten Commandments.  “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.”. (Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16). Paul especially emphasized this command in Ephesian 6v1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. v2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— v3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.

How do we honor our parents?
As children, it is about obeying our parents as pointed out by Paul in Eph 6v1 above.  Here are more from Solomon:
  • Prov 1:8 ​​​​​​​​Hear, my son, your father's instruction, ​​​​​​​and forsake not your mother's teaching, ​​​
  • Prov 13:1 ​​​​​​​​A wise son hears his father's instruction, ​​​​​​​but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. ​​​
  • Prov 30:17 ​​​​​​​​The eye that mocks a father ​​​​​​​and scorns to obey a mother ​​​​​​​will be picked out by the ravens of the valley ​​​​​​​and eaten by the vultures. ​​​
In other parts of the Bible, we can find the following additional 'how to':
  • Curse Not: Matthew 15:4 For God said, 'Honor your father and mother' and 'Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.'
  • Despise Not: Proverbs 23:22 Listen to your father who begot you, And do not despise your mother when she is old.
  • Assault NotProverbs 19:26 He who assaults his father and drives his mother away Is a shameful and disgraceful son.
We are to respect them even though they discipline us. Hebrews 12:9  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?

Honoring is not Something that our Parents need to earn. In the commandment of honoring our parent, there is no qualification for the parent, such as, good parents. Our parents are accountable to God for bad parenting. As children, we are accountable to God for honoring our parents.

The Teaching of Chinese Classics:
The Chinese have a vast amount of literature on honoring parents. There is even a book dedecated to Filial Piety 孝经 see Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 10 on Filial Piety and Understanding the Bible of Filial Piety (Xiao Jing) in One Minute. Filial Piety is called the root of virtues. Honoring our parents is extended to honoring our God. The matched well with the first 5 commandments of the Ten Commandments with is all about upward respect and worship of God and then of our parents (the fifth). The other 6 commandments are about living with others on the horizontal plane of men to men. Let me reproduced part of the above mention post here:
  •   夫孝,德之本也,教之所由生也。
    Filial Piety is the root of virtue. Education should begin with this.
  •   身体发肤,受之父母,不敢毁伤,孝之始也。
    Body, hair and skin are given by parents, taking good care our body is the starting of Filial Piety.
  •   立身行道,扬名于后世,以显父母,孝之终也。
    Develop our character and have the right conduct, leaving a good reputation, a good legacy, to glorify our parents, is the end of Filial Piety.  (This is what life is all about - leaving a good legacy on the world)
  •   夫孝,始于事亲,忠于事君,终于立身。
    Filial Piety begins with serving our parents, being loyal to our kings (bosses,government, country) and ends with good character ( a good standing). 
The Chinese has basic text book for teaching children called "弟子规" Guides for Students or Disciple. It explains what honoring means --- obey when we are young and caring for them when we have grown up (with our own family). Here are some quotes from the book:

小时要服从 – 父母有教养的责任 
As children, we obey our parents. Parents have the responsibility of feeding and instructing their children.

–弟子規<入则孝>父母呼 应勿缓 父母命 行勿懒 父母教 须敬听 父母责 须顺承…
When parents call us, we must not delay in answering them.
When parents ask us, we must be diligent in carry them out.
When parents teach us, we must listen respectfully.
When parent discipline us, we must follow and adopt the right behavior.....
When we are adults, then we must take care of our parents, and to make sure that they don't commit error and suffer from it.

The key is how do we correct our parent. Here we have the details ...
–弟子規: 亲爱我 孝何难 亲憎我 孝方贤 亲有过 谏使更 怡吾色 柔吾声 谏不入 悦复谏 号泣随 挞无怨 
When parents love us, honoring them is easy.
When parents hate us, honoring them is true virtue.
When parents have wrong doing, must persuade them to change.
Our faces and behavior must be pleasant and nice, our voice gentle.
If they do not accept, we must happily repeat our persuasion,
This is followed by our crying.
Even if we are beaten, we have no anger.

•〈出则弟〉 When we go out to socialize, we must respect others.
–兄道友 弟道恭 兄弟睦 孝在中 财物轻 怨何生 言语忍 忿自泯
Be friendly to our juniors and be respectful to our seniors.
Harmony among brothers are due to respect and love within.
Material things are not valued and so there is no complains.
When we control our tongues, anger will automatically disappear.

So, hope you can see how your own culture helps you to live out the Biblical teachings.

Lim Liat (c) 26 May 2016

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