During the process of giving my little ten year old girl instruction she, out of frustration, asked me the question, "Why is it that parents are able to tell kids what to do?" My first reply was, "Because this is how God said it should be." "And practically you are not capable of living apart from adult supervision." The important point, however, is that this is the way God has ordered the way relationships should function between children and their parents. "Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right" (Eph. 6:1). How much more plain and simple can it be?
Though the directive is plain, it is the "right" thing to do, the obeying part is quite hard for children. There are many children that have no respect at all for their parents and as such an appeal to parental authority is useless.
We have good children but they are subject to fallen nature, as is anybody else. The advantage that a Christian parent has over against unbelieving parents is that we can appeal to God when necessary. To point out the fact that God is really backing us, is pretty weighty on our part!
This commandment for children to obey is also one of promise to children that their lives will be better and even extended, 'Honor your father and mother,' which is the first commandment with promise: 'that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth' (Eph. 6:2,3). Objection: What about children that honored their parents and yet died at an early age? Answer: The promise of happiness and life has to do with the peace that comes from submission of their will to the parent's who is more wise and experienced in living. To rebel against ones parent is to live precariously in a mercy-less world, in effect denying their Christian heritage.
Just look at the quality of life runaways have. They usually wind up involved in drugs, prostitution, illegal activities of all sorts, and eventually they die at an early age. This promise is not proven a lie due to the fact of many obedient children passing on at an early age. This has to do with my second more practical response that I made to my little girl. If you want to live and be happy then do what God has commanded.
Furthermore, the promise of life originally of had reference to the Jews that were inheriting the promised land. God's honor would be reflected in the family model that was to be set up. To break God's command in this was to be at risk of severe (capital) punishment.
In conclusion and practically speaking how can we help our children in the fulfilment of this commandment? Let me note that "Obey" has to do with action while "honor" has more to do with attitude. Sometimes my children will obey but their attitude is far from one that honors. The duties of parents can help children in both of theses areas. (Next post.)