What does it mean to honor my parents? How do I honor them?

Exodus 20:12 says that we must honor our parents. It goes on to say that if we honor them, we will live long upon the Earth. That promise should tell us how important parents (or legal guardians) really are. Otherwise, why would God give such an important promise to a commandment? But that isn't all we are told to do, we are also commanded to obey our parents (Ephesians 6:1-3), and that's slightly different from honoring them.

Honoring someone is when you have an attitude of esteem for that person. If you study the three Biblical languages (Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic), you'd find that they all agree on the most basic root of honor: respect. When showing honor to a parent, you seriously consider their counsel, emulate their strengths, and treat them respectfully. Obedience means "to follow orders." Can you see how the two meanings are different?

Practicing how to honor and obey our parents as kids helps us learn how to honor and obey God as we grow into adulthood (Psalm 103:17-18). Jesus says in John 14:15, "If you love me, you will obey what I command." Godly parents will teach their children how to honor and obey their Creator too (Deuteronomy 11:19; Proverbs 22:6).

What if I don't feel like honoring or obeying my parents?

There have been times in my life that I have felt my parents don't deserve my honor or obedience. One bad thing about being a teen is a lot of times you find that you're waking up to all your parents' faults. No, they aren't perfect people, and half the time they don't seem to even understand our generation, but that doesn't make them any less intelligent or wise. Here's a real life example that my mom and I laugh about all the time...

My mom and I were driving down the highway, listening to music. She's pretty cool and lets me play rap, rock, and all sorts of songs that I like, as long as they never go against God. I figure that's a really good deal, but on that particular day, I could tell she didn't agree with the song I was playing. She took a deep breath and put on the "I'm ready for battle" face that I'm sure every teen as seen at least once.

She took one last breath and said, "Anna, I've noticed that some of your songs are sexual, and I really don't think you should listen to that type of music."

I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing. You remember that honor thing, right? Well, laughing at your parents isn't exactly honoring them. I finally got myself under control so that I wouldn't start giggling and replied as respectfully as I could muster, "Um… Mom? This is TobyMac, he's a super-very Christian artist." Then I started laughing like crazy.

The two main lessons of that story are: 1) I like coming up with weird phrases like "super-very" and 2) although my mom couldn't understand my song well enough to know it wasn't sexual, she still understood how sexual songs can be a dangerous temptation for Christians.

Just because your parents make mistakes and can't always understand everything about you or what you're doing, that doesn't mean they don't have useful knowledge that could help you in life. After all, they do have quite a few more years of life experience over any teenager. Even if your parents aren't Christian or if they aren't good, moral people for some reason, they can still know a lot about life that we don't.

Is there ever a time when I don't have to obey my parents?

The answer is yes, Acts 5:29 says that we must obey God rather than man. If your parents ever order you to do something that goes against God's law, then not only are you allowed to say no, but God wants you to say no.

All children (including teens!) need to honor and obey their parents. But once a child becomes an adult by age and by moving out of the house, out from under their parents' care, they are no longer required to obey, but they must still honor their parents. Just remember that honoring someone isn't easy either, so don't think you'll be able to wake up someday and never have to do another chore again.

Another thing to take note of is if you have a parent hurting you, getting help and escaping the abusive environment is not dishonoring them. Show your respect to an abusive parent by forgiving them, listening to their good advice, and trying to see their strengths. But by no means does that mean that if you are being harmed you need to let them continue.

I know that there will be times when your parent or guardian will positively annoy you, but remember that they have plenty of experience you don't have. Try to look past all of the old fashioned things they do in life and listen to what they are really trying to say. Proverbs 1:8 says it the best: "Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching."



Honoring someone is having an attitude of esteem and respect for that person. Honoring a parent means seriously considering their counsel, emulating their strengths, and treating them respectfully. Obedience means "to follow orders." When we practice honoring and obeying our parents as kids, we learn how to honor and obey God (Psalm 103:17-18). Jesus says in John 14:15, "If you love me, you will obey what I command." Godly parents will teach their children how to honor and obey their Creator too (Deuteronomy 11:19; Proverbs 22:6).

Writer: Anna

Anna's passions in life are God and writing. She loves reading, hanging out with family and friends, and playing with her adorable dogs. Anna is always excited to travel to new places and will never miss an opportunity to be random. She gets super excited for anything pink and fluffy, and sparkles are always an added bonus!

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