Deuteronomy 5:16a - “Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee;”
While obedience to the fifth commandment involves honour, love and fidelity, honour is first. That is because authority has to do with a God-appointed office, and not merely with a person. Our first concern must not be the person of father and mother or authority figure, but rather their particular office. God appointed father and mother to be office bearers in the home! God appointed school teachers to stand before our children as office bearers in that area. God appointed elders, ministers and deacons as office bearers in the Church. God appointed our government officials, judges, police officers, and so on, as office bearers in society. The same holds true with our employers, our bosses. That is why God tells us to honour them.
We are called to love them too, insofar as that is possible. That may seem somewhat easy for parents who themselves love us, care for us and provide for our every need. But love is not a mere feeling. Love is the exercise of the will and a spiritual activity. That is why love expresses itself by obedience. Jesus Himself said it (John 14:15): “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” There are those who, for Christ’s sake, must forsake father and mother, who must disobey unbelieving parents in order to be faithful in their obedience to Christ. Even in such cases, we have the calling to obey the fifth commandment. That includes being respectful to unbelieving parents, explaining why we cannot obey them in a particular matter, showing humility toward them, and living as peaceably as possible with them. We must also show faithfulness toward them, especially when they become old and infirm, or in need of help. And if, due to various infirmities, they must receive special care by others, in faithfulness we will brighten their day by our regular visits or calls.
Nor is half-heartedness acceptable with God when it comes to this fifth commandment. He requires that we show all honor, love and fidelity, to our father and mother.
On the other hand, if unbelieving parents cast us off, we are not in bondage in such cases. Rather, God has given us a more beautiful expression of those relationships in His own family, the church.