The Bible requires us to submit to our parents, but does this mean they are always right?
There's no way around it—as Christians we are called to submit to our parents. But does this mean they're always right?
"That's the thing about submission," Nancy and Dannah write in Lies Young Women Believe. "Sometimes your parents, teachers, pastor, or government leaders will be wrong. They are human, after all. You can expect that sometimes they will make bad decisions. Even then, your act of submission will be a form of protection" (Lies Young Women Believe, 113).
Believing the lie that because you submit to your parents they should always make the right decisions can lead to a heap of heartache. Expecting them to never falter, never fail, never lose their cool, never make a decision on impulse, or never choose poorly isn't realistic. Becoming resentful or rebellious when your parents mess up and make mistakes isn't part of God's plan for your relationship with them.
Here's a reminder that I need from time to time—your parents are sinners as much in need of God's grace as you are. Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned. That includes our parents. We may not like it when our parents make mistakes, especially when those mistakes directly impact us, but that doesn't give us the right to judge them or to decide they are no longer qualified to make decisions for us. It certainly doesn't mean that they are no longer worthy of our respect and submission. Choosing to disregard God's commandments to honor your parents and do as they say is rooted in the unholy belief that God's words on this issue must not apply to you (because of who your parents are) or that it's okay for you to hold your parents to an impossible standard of perfection.
2 Timothy 3:1 tells us, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness."
The passages about honoring your parents and submitting to authority weren't included by accident. They are God-breathed and apply to you even when your parents make mistakes.
Luke 6:37 says, "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."
Don't hold your parents to a standard that isn't fair. More specifically, don't hold them to a standard that you don't want them to hold you to. And when they mess up, forgive them. The stakes are high when you don't.
I know that this is easier said than done. Like you, I grew up in a home with imperfect parents. They made mistakes. Some were bigger than others, and a few of those mistakes have had lasting and painful consequences in my life.
I've never had the power to change my parents or any other authority. But I do have the power to choose how I respond. So do you. As always, I am praying that you will choose to walk in God's truth.
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother'—which is the first commandment with a promise— ‘that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth'" (Ephesians 6:1–3).