Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

5.5 The Fourth Commandment

Honor your mother and your father, so that you may live long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. 

5.5.1 Introduction 

The Fifth Commandment is not simply a rule for good behavior among children, telling them to listen to their parents. Of course, it assumes this. It primarily points to the intergenerational contract and thus includes the promise (for the offspring) to live long upon the earth. Children must honor their elderly parents, of which caring and providing for them in their old age is a part. 

From the idea that parents are partners in God’s creative work (see above), Neumann concludes that, in relation to their children, parents hold a position which somewhat reflects God’s relationship to mankind. They are a representative of God on earth (!). Can it get better than that? Following this is a fine observation: children don’t always have to love their parents, but they must always honor them. This would reflect reality: the ambivalence in the parent-child relationship includes room for fights between them. 


5.5.2 Source

Exodus 20

Luther’s Small Catechism


5.5.3 Application/Discussion

At least in many European countries, as well as the US, the intergenerational contractual demands made by this commandment are largely fulfilled by state pension plans. However, the demand for “honoring” ones elders has become a far more relevant topic today than in ancient Israel. 

Question: Are parents really representatives of God on earth?