FIFTH COMMANDMENT: Honor and Be Honorable

By COGwriter

The Fifth Commandment is about honor and dishonor.

The fifth commandment, from the Book of Exodus, states:

12 “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)

Most read this as laying out a proper relationship between parents and their dependent children.

And that is true.

But, it involves more than just the relationship between young children and their parents.

Parents should rule their households honorably.

The fifth commandment has applications for children and adults.

Here is a link to a related sermon: Honor Your Parents and Rule Honorably.

Adam and Eve Dishonored their Father

In the New Testament Adam is called the “son of God” (Luke 3:38, NKJV throughout unless otherwise noted).

This is because God created him. Adam was the son of God by a direct creation. Adam was not God’s son by regular human begettal or birth. Eve, was fashioned by God out of Adam’s rib (Genesis 2:21-23), and hence was not born the usual way.

When Adam and Eve sinned, they also dishonored their only parent.

Adam not only dishonored God, but he also broke the tenth commandment. There was also lust when the woman felt the forbidden fruit was good for food and desired to make one wise; vanity, egotism and pride entered into her heart (Genesis 3:6) which would violate the ninth commandment. She put the word of the serpent over the word of God and hence violated the first commandment. She made an idol out of worldly wisdom (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:19) and thus violated the second commandment.

God says:

30 ... those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed. (1 Samuel 2:30)

Adam and Eve did not honor God.

Lust is what usually causes a person to have an inordinate desire to have something that is not to be theirs. Lust can cause some to steal, and Adam and Eve broke the eighth commandment by stealing what was not theirs to take.

At least six of the Ten Commandments were broken when Eve partook of the forbidden fruit.

And in other ways every one of the Ten Commandments was actually broken in that first human sin. Improperly disobeying parents can lead to many problems.

The Longer Version

The version of the fifth commandment in Deuteronomy is a bit longer than the Exodus version:

16 ‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you. (Deuteronomy 5:16)

Deuteronomy means ‘second law’ and all the Ten Commandments are repeated in the 5th chapter of Deuteronomy.

If children would honor their parents and parents were honorable, it would go well in the physical land.

Their are tangible benefits to keeping God's commandments.

A disobedient child is a frustrated child as that child’s mind is often plagued with feelings of guilt and rebellion. Children who love, honor, and obey their parents are blessed.

In modern times, it is also realized that those who come from more stable families are less likely to be involved in crime.

Children are to Be Taught and Corrected

Children do not naturally know how to do right and they need to be taught.

One of the biggest ‘secrets’ of being a successful parent is to spend time with your child(ren). Do things you both find to be fun. Help them have positive memories of you being there for them, providing for them, and having fun with them.

Children will learn many things from your example, good or bad.

Those that follow what the Bible also realize that it teaches parents are to intentionally teach their children. Notice what the Bible shows God said right after Moses reiterated the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy:

6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6).

Children who learn God’s words and commands will learn about what is right.

When children have proper boundaries and are taught right from wrong as the Bible teaches, they can avoid many pitfalls in the world. They also will tend to be happier (cf. Psalm 144:15; Proverbs 28:14).

The Bible also teaches:

3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. 4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. 5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, But shall speak with their enemies in the gate. (Psalm 127:3-5)

Parents should properly correct their children. The Bible teaches:

13 Don’t fail to discipline your children. They won’t die if you spank them. (Proverbs 23:13, New Living Translation, NLT)

10 Harsh discipline is for him who forsakes the way, And he who hates correction will die. (Proverbs 15:10)

Most children should not need much in the way of “harsh” discipline. And in modern society, be cautious about the wisdom of spanking (legally it is not allowed in various countries). But children should have rules and boundaries and be subject to discipline if they violate those rules and boundaries.

There are many ways to provide discipline to your children. Talking with them, removing or restricting privileges, as well as my favorite, giving children additional work to do. Having children pull weeds was one of this author’s favorite forms of disciplinary punishment. Also, as they get older, properly raised children normally will respond to simply expressing your disappointment in them as sufficient discipline.

While children may think that their parents "get away with everything," that is not the case. Parents are to be teachers of their children and the New Testament advises all that "teachers ... shall receive a stricter judgment" (James 3:1).

All adults, parents or otherwise, need to be careful about their behavior:

1 Dead flies putrefy the perfumer's ointment,
And cause it to give off a foul odor;
So does a little folly to one respected for wisdom and honor. (Ecclesiastes 10:1)

Yes, even you are wise and honored, understand that you can lose respect for some behavior of folly.

Consider also that the Bible teaches, “And the hope of the hypocrite shall perish” (Job 8:13)--if you hope that your children will turn out well, then try not to live as a hypocrite. Not being a hypocrite goes a long way in helping parents to be honorable.

Parental hypocrisy is perhaps one of the biggest reasons that children supposedly raised in the Church of God do not embrace it.

If children see that their parents only "play church" and do not strive to live as the church and Bible teach, they tend to leave the faith as soon as they are able.

In some families, only one parent in converted and the unconverted one may not teach God's ways.

That being said, does the fifth commandment mean that children must obey their mother or father if they are told to violate God’s law?

No. “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

But honorable parents will not tell their children to disobey God’s laws.

Are children to obey dishonorable parents in other ways? That depends, but overall children are to honor their parents, whether they are honorable or not. Parents are to act honorably whether their children honor them or not.

Teaching Children Helps Them

The Book of Proverbs repeatedly mentions that it is good for children to listen to their parents:

8 My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother; 9 For they will be a graceful ornament on your head, And chains about your neck.  (Proverbs 1:8-9)

1 Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, And give attention to know understanding;  2 For I give you good doctrine: Do not forsake my law. 3 When I was my father’s son, Tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, 4 He also taught me, and said to me: “Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live. (Proverbs 4:1-4)

20 My son, keep your father’s command, And do not forsake the law of your mother. 21 Bind them continually upon your heart; Tie them around your neck. 22 When you roam, they will lead you; When you sleep, they will keep you; And when you awake, they will speak with you. 23 For the commandment is a lamp, And the law a light; Reproofs of instruction are the way of life, 24 To keep you from the evil woman, From the flattering tongue of a seductress. (Proverbs 6:20-24)

The Bible teaches that children should listen to good advice from their parents. Notice also:

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. (Ephesians 6:1)

Children are not to obey if parents tell them to violate God’s law.

The Book of Malachi prophecies:

4 "Remember the Law of Moses, My servant,
Which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel,
With the statutes and judgments.
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
6 And he will turn
The hearts of the fathers to the children,
And the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse." (Malachi 4:4-6)

While the final one to come in the spirit and power of Elijah will be an individual, from the 20th century on, it has been believed that the many in the church would be involved in doing this (for some historical references, check out the article:The Elijah Heresies).

Notice that teaching God's law is something God's people are told to do.

In the Continuing Church of God, we have sermons, animations, youth Bible lessons (, youth camps, and other ways to assist parents teach their children, which tends to turn the hearts of the children to their parents and the hearts of the parents to their children.

Applies to Teens as Well

Honoring ones parents does not only apply to small children.

The old Worldwide Church of God had the following in a Bible Study for teenagers:

How would you describe your relationship with your parents? Do you get along well? Or do you find yourself frequently involved in misunderstandings, hurt feelings and arguments - maybe even shouting matches? A good relationship with our parents is vital to success and happiness in life. ... God wants human family life to be happy, pleasant and fulfilling. To help ensure strong, stable families, He commands all people to honor their parents. To honor means to esteem or to hold in high regard, to prize or to reverence. Included in its meaning is respect mingled with love and devotion. Though many of us do not live in an ideal family situation, we should still try our best to honor and respect our parents (or guardians), considering the many things they have likely done for us over the years. God wants us to honor them despite their faults or whether we feel they deserve it, and, as we'll see, promises to bless us if we do. Most parents truly care for their children. They want to see them do well, be happy and have a better life than they had. We can be grateful for this.

2. Was Christ, who set an example for us to follow (I Peter 2:21), an obedient child? (Sedliacik R. Teen Bible Study: "Honor My Parents - Are You Kidding?" Youth 85, February 1985)

Here is an answer:

42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. 43 When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; ...

51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. (Luke 2:42-43,51-52)

Furthermore, Jesus did not start dishonoring His parents when He was thirteen the next year (cf. Hebrews 4:15).

When we were born, we knew absolutely nothing. It is the God-given duty of parents to teach and guide their children, as well as discipline them, while they are growing up:

6 Train up a child in the way he should go, (Proverbs 22:6)

And such training includes correction:

15 The rod and rebuke give wisdom,
But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. ...

17 Correct your son, and he will give you rest;
Yes, he will give delight to your soul. (Proverbs 29:15,17)

12 For whom the Lord loves He corrects,
Just as a father the son in whom he delights. (Proverbs 3:12)

Correction, in love, is one way parents rule well over their households.

Notice the following about handling correction?

5 A fool despises his father's instruction,
But he who receives correction is prudent. (Proverbs 15:5)

Being prudent is helpful throughout life.

As children become teens, they know more than they knew earlier. They question more. And while that is natural, it does not always lead to the right way of life. The old Radio Church of God noted:

Men continue to disregard the counsel of their elders. It is natural for them to do so! The results have been far-reaching. Disobedience and disrespect for the views, the wisdom, the advice, the love and the concern of their parents is a growing "right" among even the educated, learned leaders of the world — and among people of God's own Church. Adam and Eve began the fatal trend of following the dictates of an evil and deceitful heart. Disrespect for parents has been an abiding principle of man through the ages. It is popular! (Hegvold S. How DO You HONOR Your PARENTS? Good News, August 1963)

Even though it is popular, we are not to do something just because it may be popular:

2 You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; (Exodus 23:2)

Wise children, including teens, will normally heed his or her parents' advice and instruction:

8 My son, hear the instruction of your father,
And do not forsake the law of your mother;
9 For they will be a graceful ornament on your head,
And chains about your neck. (Proverbs 1:8-9)

20 My son, keep your father's command,
And do not forsake the law of your mother.
21 Bind them continually upon your heart;
Tie them around your neck.
22 When you roam, they will lead you;
When you sleep, they will keep you;
And when you awake, they will speak with you.
23 For the commandment is a lamp,
And the law a light;
Reproofs of instruction are the way of life, (Proverbs 6:20-23)

1 A wise son heeds his father's instruction,
But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. (Proverbs 13:1)

20 Listen to counsel and receive instruction,
That you may be wise in your latter days. (Proverbs 19:20)

Notice the following:

1 My son, do not forget my law,
But let your heart keep my commands;
2 For length of days and long life
And peace they will add to you. (Proverbs 3:1-2)

The above is certainly consistent with the promise of days being prolonged for those who honor their parents.

The old Worldwide Church of God taught teens the following:

Our parents have had valuable experiences and learned lessons from their mistakes. They desire to pass this information on to us so we will not make the same mistakes. Their instruction will give us a solid foundation on which to build a happy and successful life! ...

Honoring your parents also means to obey them to the best of your ability with in the circumstances you find yourself. It means respecting their wishes and doing what they say, even though you may think your way is better.

Enthusiastically comply with their requests, and do what they ask you right away. Volunteer to do more than asked of you.

Think of additional ways to please your parents. And be sure to observe family rules cheerfully.

By doing what your parents want with a good attitude, you will be helping to build positive and strong family ties. And your cooperative spirit will tend to spread to other family members as well. (Sedliacik R. Teen Bible Study: "Honor My Parents - Are You Kidding?" Youth 85, February 1985)

Yes, teens benefit from honoring their parents.

That does not mean that they have to like everything their parents do or not have their own interests, but parents and teens both benefit if the parents are being honorable and the children providing honor.

Ruling Well

The Apostle Paul wrote the following:

2 "Honor your father and mother," which is the first commandment with promise: 3 "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth."

4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:2-4)

We see a repeat of Deuteronomy 5:16, but also something else. While parents have authority over their children, they are to be careful how they exercise it.

The Apostle Paul also wrote:

12 Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. (1 Timothy 3:12)

It is not just deacons, but all husbands who should rule their children and households well. All wives should rule over their children and household matters well.

Each husband has certain authority and responsibility over his wife, any household servants, and children Each wife has certain authority and responsibility over her household, any possible household servants and her children.

The late evangelist Dr. Herman Hoeh wrote:

Jesus said of those who perish:

“Cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 25:30).

What made this man unprofitable?

Why did Christ refuse him admission into the Kingdom of God ? Wherein had he failed?

The answer is found in verses 21 and 23. To those who are to receive salvation, who will inherit the Kingdom of God, Jesus said:

“Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”

Do you grasp it? Do you see the difference? The unprofitable servant was not faithful in carrying out the few duties given him in this life! He had not learned to master his time, he had not learned to master his human nature, he had not learned to rule his family -or, if a woman – to rule her children. He hadn’t improved his mind or put his income to work-even though he knew better! All he could say to his Lord was –

“I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: and I was afraid, and went and hid my talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine” (verses 24 – 25).

He buried his talent. He was careless about life’s responsibilities. He didn’t call upon God for the help he needed. He lacked faith, which is a gift of the Spirit of God. He had not overcome. His Judge condemned him:

“Thou wicked and slothful servant , . . ” (v. 26) .

Too many members in God’s Church today are like the unprofitable servant. An AWFUL fate awaits them unless they wake up! They are failing the ONE CONDITION Jesus Christ set for every church member: “To him that OVERCOMETH.”

To overcome means, in this context, to change and do things God's way, with His priorities. If you have not been spending proper time with your children, or vice versa, change. If you are not teaching, ruling in love, while being willing to sacrifice, change.

As far as priorities go, the late evangelist Dibar Apartian wrote:

If you put first things first, God will always take care of your needs. This doesn't mean you should neglect your part and stop taking care of your household. It simply means that you are to put first things first -- be filled with God and His Work. You must endeavor to please Him with your attitude and growth. (Apartian D. What are Your Priorities? Good News, March 1981)

Yes, we are to serve God as well as our families, but in that order in case of any conflict.

We are to provide for our households:

3 Honor widows who are really widows. 4 But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God. 5 Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day. 6 But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives. 7 And these things command, that they may be blameless. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:3-8)

But ruling well is more than just providing for physical sustenance.

As far as ruling well, spending time with your children and spouse is one key. This would tend to include one or more meals per day, attending church services together (if they are in the church or at least open to it), spending leisure activities together.

We Christians are in training to be literal Kings in the coming Kingdom of God.

Part of that training includes guiding, protecting and, in great love, ruling over our own children and families.

The old Radio Church of God taught:

The fact is that each family is like a miniature kingdom. It should be ruled over -- not by screaming, rebellious children — but by a father and a mother who truly LOVE each other and work together to set the right attitudes and patterns of behavior in their home.

The father should play the part of a strong, wise, masculine, yet protective and beneficent King. The mother is his Queen — set over the household affairs and exercising her responsibilities with love and wisdom, and in complete accord with her husband's wishes.

The children are taught, trained, nurtured and disciplined for THEIR GOOD. Family duties and chores are allotted to each member of the household. Family play and recreation is something to which everyone looks forward. There is order, harmony, and discipline in this miniature kingdom. There is JOY. And there is PEACE.

A beautiful description of this type of family "kingdom" is extended to the man who obeys God: "Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table" (Ps. 28:3).

In anticipation of your ultimate GOAL, go to work and build this area of your life. Understand God's purpose in it — and be BLESSED. (Meredith R. Prepare Now to be a King! Plain Truth, October 1966)

We are to rule in love. While, yes, a husband has the top responsibility for the family before God, this does not mean that a married man is granted the power to be a selfish dictator. He needs to love his wife and children and do without various things he may want for there good.

Rule as we would want to be ruled over. Remember that Jesus said:

31 And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. (Luke 6:31)

Yet, many, once they become parents ignore that principle. While parents have the 'freedom' to make mistakes, they should not use that liberty to oppress. Or as the Apostle Paul put it:

13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Galatians 5:13-14)

Abusing authority, including "outbursts of wrath" can be a lust of the flesh (cf. Galatians 5:16-21).

Consider the following:

24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition (2 Timothy 2:24-25)

Parents, and all adult Christians, are to be servants of the Lord. Many who consider themselves to be Christian, however seem to like to correct, but not gently or paciently--gentleness and patience is needed for those who truly want to rule well. And not just for this age, but also for the kingdom to come.

Notice the gifts of the Spirit that the Apostle Paul listed:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Christian parents are to strive to demonstrate those gifts in how the run their households.

We need to do things God's loving way.

Paul wrote that husbands and wives are to submit to each other:

17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. ... 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God. (Ephesians 5:17, 21)

Yes, that means there are times a a man can and should submit to his wife. Not to do something wrong, but to try to work matters out when there are conflicts. The submission of either should be to what it is understood the will of the Lord is. And the husband should consider that sometimes his wife might understand the Lord's will better than he. The wife should also realize that the husband, instead, may understand the will of the Lord better than she.

Continuing in Ephesians, Paul wrote:

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:22-24)

The above does not mean that the husband is always right, but that God has a structure in place for how conflicts are to be handled.

Paul continued with the following:

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:25-33)

Husbands are to love their wives and give themselves for them. Both husbands and wives should be living sacrifices:

1 ... present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)

In the world, it is all about "ME, ME, ME," yet Christian leaders of households need to be willing to forsake their wants, and sometimes real needs, at times.

Wives are to love their husbands (Titus 2:4), properly submit to them (Ephesians 5:22), and respect them (Ephesians 5:33). That includes giving them honor.

Hopefully, BEFORE you marry, you have known enough about your potential spouse that you will be able to honor them after you are married.

Husbands are to honor their wives:

7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)

Not only are husbands to have understanding with their wives, parents should have understanding when raising their children--especially since parents were all children once themselves.

As far as honor goes, consider that the Apostle Paul also wrote:

17 Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. (1 Timothy 5:17)

All men should rule their households well, whether or not they are elders.

Those who rule well should be honored. While the passage in 1 Timothy 5 is also later pointing to financial honor, it also should include actual honor. Yes, the ministry should be honored. But again, all ought to obey God rather than men.

Even if you live alone, you should strive to rule your household well--even if it does not seem like much.

Jesus taught:

15 "And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. 16 Then came the first, saying, 'Master, your mina has earned ten minas.' 17 And he said to him, 'Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.' 18 And the second came, saying, 'Master, your mina has earned five minas.' 19 Likewise he said to him, 'You also be over five cities.' (Luke 19:15-19)

In that parable, one received more than even double honor. You can too!

Adult Children

What about if you are an adult?

One is not to stop giving honor to parents, even after becoming an adult.

That being said after becoming an adult and getting married, children do not need to obey to the degree they needed to do when younger.

Adult children should strive to be polite to their parents, when possible, whether or not they are particularly honorable.

Proverbs teaches:

26 He who mistreats his father and chases away his mother Is a son who causes shame and brings reproach.  (Proverbs 19:26)

22 Listen to your father who begot you, And do not despise your mother when she is old. (Proverbs 23:22)

It is normally advisable for adults to attempt to maintain at least some contact with parents--though this does not mean compromising on holy days or the world’s holidays.

In biblical times, adult children were also expected to financially support their parents when they were elderly.

The Pharisees tried to reason around this, but notice what Jesus taught:

9 He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban” — ‘ (that is, a gift to God), 12 then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, 13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” (Mark 7:9-13)

What about today?

Do adult children have any financial obligations to support their parents?

Yes (cf. 1 Timothy 5:8).

However, in the case of many Western societies, it often is unnecessary. Yet, if it is necessary, adult children still have that obligation.

But what about enabling destructive behavior?

If a parent is a drug-addict, an alcoholic, pornography addict, purposely deceitful, or otherwise is participating in harmful behaviors, should adult children enable this?

No (cf. Galatians 6:1-2; Proverbs 23:20-21; 30:15; 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12; Matthew 18:6). Consider also:

11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. (Ephesians 5:11)

Hence, while food, clothing, and lodging may need to be provided by adult children, ‘cash-money’ to a parent who would tend to improperly spend on bad behaviors is not something anyone should give.

Furthermore, while you are to honor your parents, understand that Jesus taught against putting family considerations/traditions above following Him (Matthew 10:37; 15:3-9).

Honorable Scriptures for Adults

The Bible tells about others who should be honored:

32 'You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:32)

God says to honor an old man--whether or not he is your or anyone else's father.

We are also to honor government authorities:

1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience' sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. (Romans 13:1-7)

But, that does not mean we are to obey them above God. Scripture is clear:

25 So one came and told them, saying, "Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!"

26 Then the captain went with the officers and brought them without violence, for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned. 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, 28 saying, "Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man's blood on us!"

29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: "We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:25-30)

So, we are to honor authorities, but not when they want us to disobey God.

Both the Old and New Testament teach God's people should be gracious:

12 The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious, (Ecclesiastes 10:12)

6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. (Colossians 4:6)

The Bible also ties aspects of that in with honor. Notice some verses related to honor for women:

16 A gracious woman retains honor, (Proverbs 11:16)

10 Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies. ...

25 Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, (Proverbs 31:10, 25-26)

Christians, parents or not, should be gracious and lead honorable lives.

Impact of Less than Honorable Parents

Having less than honorable parents has long been a factor in children becoming criminals.

But also on the spiritual level, people have been affected.

The old Radio Church of God published the following

To many of the brethren in God's Church there is one of the commandments that still remains an enigma. Failure to understand and to observe the fifth commandment has blocked many from fervent, heartfelt prayer to God. Are yon one of them? Don't say, no, too quickly -- you may never have REALIZED this as your problem!

One person -- and she speaks for many of you -- wrote, "Every time I prayed to God, the words, 'Our Father,' were only phonetic sounds!" The very first words out of her mouth were meaningless, empty. This fact has brought many to the brink of despair. Let's understand and rejoice in the answers God has for you -- the answers on how to obey the commandment to "honor your father and your mother."

A Tragic Situation Exists

   "I prayed, I cried, 'My father in Heaven!' But I didn't have the sincerity in the word; I couldn't understand! I wanted to speak to Him, as a Father, but found it impossible! I strained my ears during every sermon about prayer, and the advice from them was, 'If you want to know God, go to Him as a Father!' THIS I WANTED TO DO!"
   DO HER WORDS APPLY TO YOU? Have you lost the knowledge of how to honor your parents -- how to keep the fifth commandment? Ours is an upside-down society -- a world gone mad -- leaving hideous scars on our personalities.
   Let's understand the problem through the experience of this newly enlightened woman.
   She continued, "I cried and cried over this, but it seemed to no avail -- now I know why! And since I know WHY, I can finally say, after much mental anguish, 'My Father,' and REALLY, TRULY mean it!
   "My mother and father were divorced when I was about six years old -- I saw him only two or three days out of a month. Though I loved him very much, it was impossible for a normal father-child relationship to exist between us.
   "My mother remarried -- not because she loved this man -- she needed his help. He treated her very badly -- I could never look to him as someone to go to for 'help in time of need,' although I truly had love for him."

The Crux of the Problem

   The core of the problem stemmed straight out of abnormal childhood induced under an abnormal family relationship, and deadly to spiritual growth unless recognized in time, and corrected.
   Many of you, as in the case of this woman, were under similar strained pressure in childhood -- "fatherless."
   "So you see," she writes, "although I had TWO FATHERS, I really had NONE AT ALL! So how could I approach God and think of Him as my Father when I didn't even know what a father was?
   "But, now, rejoice with me, the BARRIER IS GONE! I was forced by trials to seek Him out, not only as the Almighty and Powerful Being that He is, but as a FATHER, someone to whom I 'can go in time of need,' someone on whom I can 'cast all MY burdens, because He cares for me' -- as a FATHER!
   "Now my prayer life is improving because I have more to talk with Him about. I don't have to keep everything to myself all the time."
   Here is the kind of contact you have desired to have with your Heavenly Father! You should be having that loving contact day in and day out! But ARE YOU?
   She exclaims joyfully, "He gave me strength to bear what I would not have been able to do alone! I just want to keep saying, 'Father' now that I know WHAT IT MEANS! I was always worried I was taking His name in vain! I feel like I've had a cool drink of water in a hot desert now that this is off my mind!
   "I'm SURE that I am not the only one who felt this way. I know there are others who will be just as happy as I am when they really LEARN to look upon Him as a warm and loving Father, and not just as our Creator and Supreme Ruler!"
   A wretched home life for a long time deterred this woman from having heartfelt and fervent communication with God!
   Could this be the reason behind your ineffective prayer life? But notice! She, through all her trials, had deep love and concern for her father, her stepfather and her mother. Because of her love and concern, her solution was made easier. This is not true of some of you! In all too many cases, there is disrespect, even hatred, toward one or both of your parents because of imaginary or REAL abuses suffered as a child. It is in your power to correct this feeling -- God expects you to do so — most have failed this most important step. The way is open.
   Don't make it necessary for God to bring upon you severe trials to bring you to the realization of what you should do. You can take positive steps NOW! (Hegvold S. How DO You HONOR Your PARENTS? Good News, August 1963)

Before going further, let me state that even if you have no serious issues with your father or mother, you may be one who is ignoring other aspects of your spiritual life and that is a reason that you face many severe trials.

Furthermore, it is true that not all of the blame for strained coolness between a parent and his child falls upon the parents.

That being said, God wants ALL to take positive steps now.

And regarding prayer, we have a free booklet: Prayer: What Does the Bible Teach? 

Unbelieving Parents

Decades ago, the old WCG asked a question about honoring unbelieving parents and providing an answer:

How should a Christian honor unbelieving parents? How can one honor and respect parents who are not following God's ways? Can we look to them for leadership and example when they are doing things that are not really right in God's eyes?

God clearly commands us to honor our parents. He does not say "Honor your parents only if they deserve honoring" or "Honor your parents if they please you." God says, "Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee" (Ex. 20:12).

God condemns those who do not honor and respect their parents.

"For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death" (Matt. 15:4).

However, in Ephesians 6:1, God says, through Paul,

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right."

Notice Paul says "in the Lord"; that is, as long as obeying your parents does not cause you to disobey God's laws. God does not tell us to follow the things our parents do if those things are not right in God's sight (Acts 5:29).

But understand this point: Obedience to God is not an excuse for dishonoring parents. Nor does God hold us responsible for their actions.

"Now, lo, if he [a father] beget a son, that seeth all his father's sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not such like... he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live.... When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live" (Ezek. 18:14-19).

God does not say to look down your nose at and disrespect your parents and the office He has given them. Just because they are not perfect does not allow you -- who also are not perfect -- to disobey them. Remember that even a truly converted Christian is not perfect.

Respect, love and honor your parents and the office of authority God has given them. Have genuine humility. Obey them as much as possible. Do not overlook the good in your folks. Don't forget how much your parents have fed, clothed, housed and educated you.

If you are at home, go out of your way to be on good terms with your father and mother. Help with the chores. Be with your family on outings together, so your parents can enjoy their children as long as they can.

Never offend them or try to cram your beliefs or religion down their throats.

Be a success for your parents in school or on the job.

Write to them if you are away from home.

God feels strongly about this. He is our spiritual father and we owe Him awe and respect. He wants us to obey Him and His perfect way of living. God will not tolerate a rebellious individual who will not respect Him or earthly parents. Remember what God says about your physical parents:

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth" (Eph. 6:1-3).

If we properly honor our parents, God will bless us not only with long life and physical blessings, but also with spiritual blessings and everlasting life. (Questions and Answers. Good News magazine, July 1982)

Many of us have parents that are not in the Church of God, but we still need to strive to honor them.

All of us make mistakes--and that includes parents.

Jesus taught:

14 "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15)

One step for many to consider is to forgive their parents for past actions and/or statements, which then would make it easier to honor them.

And yes, that may not be easy, depending upon what your parents did or said.

Fifth Commandment Before Sinai, from Jesus, and After Jesus’ Death

The Bible shows the fifth commandment was in place before Mt. Sinai:

“Adam, the son of God” (Luke 3:38), “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat it of it”: Cursed is the ground for your sake” (Genesis 3:17). “Now therefore, my son, obey my voice” (Genesis 27:43). “Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother” (Genesis 28:7). Notice that later a blessing of land is promised for those who obey this commandment (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16).

Jesus taught and expanded the understanding the fifth commandment:

“For God commanded saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’ and ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death’” (Matthew 15:4). “Honor your father and your mother” (Matthew 19:19). “Honor your father and your mother” (Mark 7:10). “Honor your father and your mother” (Mark 10:19). “You know the commandments: ... Honor your father and your mother” (Luke 18:20).

After Jesus was resurrected, the New Testament taught the fifth commandment:

“being filled with all unrighteousness ... disobedient to parents” (Romans 1:29,30). “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’, which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:1-3). “the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience” (Colossians 3:6). “Children obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord” (Colossians 3:20). “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be...disobedient to parents” (2 Timothy 3:1,2). “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, … as obedient children” (1 Peter 1:13-14). “They have a heart trained in covetous practices and are accursed children” (2 Peter 2:14). “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1).

The world would be a much nicer place if children would honor their parents and the parents made themselves more honorable.

Parents should lead honorable lives and teach their children.

Parents should run their households in love.

Children should honor and obey when they can.

Understand that if you cannot honor your parents, you probably are not truly able to honor God.

The Apostle John wrote:

20 If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. (1 John 4:20-21)

God is truly our Father and the commandments to love and honor apply to Him. And in this age, we all start out with human parents that we should at least honor.

Christians, whether parents or not should lead honorable lives--and give honor where it is due.

And that includes the fact that we all need to honor, God our Father.

Here is a link to a related sermon: Honor Your Parents and Rule Honorably.

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Thiel B. FIFTH COMMANDMENT: Honor and Be Honorable. COGwriter (c) 2022 0212