Ready for another layer? Although not fatalistic, the biggest human influence on our marriages is usually the time we had with our parents. It may be better now (or not), but those were our formative years. They shaped our view of marriage, men and women, order and meaning (or lack thereof), conflict resolution, sex, money, parenting, even God Himself. Whether they were our biological, adoptive, step-parent or a parent-figure, absent or hovering, passive or micro-manager, lazy or perfectionistic, empowering or selfish, encouraging or abusive, conversational or quiet, expressing a full range of emotion or stoic, working outside or inside the home, married or single, faithful or playing the field, God gave the primary responsibility of caring for and training us to our parents.
This week, we’re considering applications of the Fifth Commandment on Christian marriage (in which at least one spouse wants to honor God through His Son, Jesus). Notice how the Lord seems to highlight this command in Exodus 20:12 and Deuteronomy 5:16 to “Honor your father and mother”.
First, we see that, although there are certainly implications for parenting, the command addresses all of us toward our parents, not only marriages with children. It doesn’t even assume we have or ever will have children. As I explain in the video hyper-linked below, the command implies some basics
about a much broader relational topic: discipleship, which should extend beyond biological families.
Second, it’s the only one stated solely positively. The Fourth Commandment starts that way but includes a specific prohibition of work. The Fifth is a notably bright Commandment among the Ten.
Third, it is also the only one that includes a promise. In Ephesians 6:2, the Apostle Paul describes it as “the first command with a promise”. Given that God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses for Israel immediately after He had freed them from Egypt’s hold and followed the Ten with many other commands that reflected His holy character and good will for them, “the first command” alludes to those many other laws. Still, it was the first time He expressed His heart to His followers collectively.
In fact, the Fifth Commandment is so unusual, some theologians consider it to belong as much or more with the first four Commandments on loving God than to the latter ones on loving our neighbors.
Consider the following discussion prompts before you watch the video below.
- Without blaming or excusing, talk with your spouse or fiancé about your parents’ shaping influence.
- Note that God’s blessing for Israel to “live long in the land” is relayed 7
times in Deuteronomy (4:26, 5:33, 11:9, 12:19, 30:18, 31:13, and 32:47). It
was a powerful hope and warning, given that only two of their parents’
generation entered the Promise Land (Numbers 32:11-13). Read the
passages in context. How and why were they to receive God’s blessing?
- How might a person go about forgiving and discipling their parent(s)?
You can see other articles and the embedded videos in this series here.