Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 15, 1954

Honor Thy Father And Thy Mother

Floyd Embree, Ontario, California

In Matthew 15:3-6, Jesus said, ". . . . why do ye also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God said, Honor thy father and thy mother: and, He that speaketh evil of father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, That wherewith thou mightest have been profited by me is given to God; he shall not honor his father. And ye have made void the word of God because of your tradition."

Upon this passage, J. W. McGarvey says, "In order to sustain his charge, he specifies their tradition in regard to the support of indigent parents. The commandment "Honor thy father and thy mother," requires a son to support his parents when they become dependent. And the statute, "He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death," required the death of any son who would practically curse his aged parents by casting them off into beggary or starvation. But they taught that a son could say of his part of his estate by which his parent might be profited, "It is a gift; that is, a gift to God (Corban, Mark 7:11), and thereby free himself from the obligation. Thus the commandment was made of no effect by freeing from it every ungrateful son who was mean enough to desire such freedom." (Commentary on Matthew and Mark, J. W. McGarvey, p. 134)

In Ephesians 6:2, Paul issues the same commandment when he said, "Honor thy father and mother (which is the first commandment with promise)."

It has been the experience of the writer to see old people who became ill, and having no means of support became destitute and objects of charity. It has also been in the realm of his experience also, when visiting them to hear them pour out a story of bitterness. They had sons and daughters who had jobs — sometimes very well paying jobs — but after finding out that the parents were ill and in need, they no longer wrote to them; or if they did write, they only told of all the financial hardships that they were having to undergo, and that they were oh, so sorry that they could not be of assistance to their parents. It was my experience to visit three such old persons in one afternoon in one congregation a few years past. Some of these sons and daughters were "faithful" members of the church where they lived. Some had tried to get their parents into the "Old Folk's Home."

Paul said, "But if, any widow hath children or grandchildren, let them learn first to show piety towards their own family, and to requite their parents: for this is acceptable in the sight of God .... But if any provide not for his own, and specially his own household, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Tim. 5:4,8).

Should the church — and can the church fellowship unbelievers today? If not, then how can the church fellowship a son or a daughter who will not "honor" father or mother in their old age and affliction? He is WORSE than an unbeliever — worse than the infidel. There should be more teaching on this subject, and more discipline by elders of the church toward those who are guilty of letting father and mother suffer for necessities in their old age and afflictions. There should be more teaching by fathers and mothers of the obligation that God has placed upon children toward their parents.