Because I Said So
The words Because I said so are sort of the trump card that every parent uses when they don't want to explain all of the ramifications as to why they want their child to do something: "Why can't I eat that bug?" "Because I said so!" In that same vein, the commandment that parents love to quote and children hate to hear is the fifth one: "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). This commandment is the one that gets tested throughout a parent's lifetime by their children--especially in the teenage years. But how does this speak to us as adults, both generally and specifically?
First of all, we need to understand that the Ten Commandments divide all of life into two categories: our relationship with God and our relationship with people. The first four commandments represent the vertical plane; the next six, the horizontal plane. And the fifth commandment takes us right to the very heart of all relationships: the basic parent-child relationship. Why is this first on the list in the second table of the law? Because it applies to everyone. Every person has parents or has had them. The parent-child relationship is the foundation.
The Pharisees once asked Jesus, "What is the greatest commandment?" and He boiled all of life down to two: vertically, love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and horizontally, love your neighbor as yourself (see Matthew 22:34-40). And the first neighbors that you have are your parents. It's a very precious relationship.
But here's the irony of it: family relationships are also very precarious and shaky. Our greatest failures in life are usually in this area of relationships.
Why is this? One reason is unrestrained pressure from our culture. Over the last several decades, our culture has mounted an unrelenting attack on the family and family values. Another reason is untended priorities. People just don't make family relationships an important part of their life. A final reason is unsteady parents. What adds to the rockiness within a home, in many cases, are parents who will not make the right kind of spiritual commitment. It's one thing to say, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6), but you have to walk that way yourself first.
Let's go back to the commandment and see the scope of it specifically. Notice the commandment doesn't say, "Honor your father or your mother--one or the other." The idea is you honor both of them. Not, "I can't honor my mother and father--they're not even believers," or, "They didn't love me, so I don't need to respect them." No--honor your father and your mother. Both should be honored.
And here are a few thoughts to walk away with: first and foremost, relationships are the very precious core of who we are. We were wired for that. But, number two, the family relationship is being attacked by our culture. The world has tried to alter and restructure the meaning of the family, and sadly, the church seems all too willing to accommodate to their whims and value system. So, my message is simply this: fight your culture; be a revolutionary. Break the cycle, and reverse the trends. If you're going to get anything right, get family right. You know the biblical truth: "Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap" (Galatians 6:7).
I'm not sharing this with you so you feel guilty about what you've done in the past. I believe that at whatever point in your life you decide to change, God will honor that. I don't mean everything will be perfect, but nothing gets families together faster and better than the Creator of families.