"Honour thy father and thy mother; in order that thy days may be prolonged upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."

The Fifth Commandment--or if you are Catholic or a member of certain Protestant bodies, the Fourth--as spoken by God to Moses on Mount Sinai in Exodus 20. Of all the Commandments, this one seems to grate on moderns the most. Is it that parents have somehow become worse since then? Or has it become socially acceptable, maybe even approved, to dishonor your ancestors? (Assuming the concept of "honor" itself hasn't become a complete joke. I never hear it mentioned except in a tongue-in-cheek way, or as something that's been irrevocably lost.)

Our relationship with our parents is a difficult one under the best of circumstances, and these are particularly trying times for families. Increasing mobility means we aren't stuck with our biological families anymore. We can flee home and perhaps form our own, hand-picked family we're more comfortable with.

But our relationship with God is more like the one we have with our families more than it is with the friends we pick and choose. Honoring your father and mother in spite of their mistakes and even their abuses requires great strength of character. It means you have to find it in yourself to love people you don't necessarily like, just because they exist. As the children of the men and women who brought us into the world, we have a duty to them. As children of the God who made us, we have a duty to Him. This prepares us for the realization that we have a duty to all those who share the same Father in Heaven; because although we may not like a lot of them, they too are family. See The parable of the Good Samaritan for more on this idea.

Start small, before you tackle the job of treating all of humanity as your family. Treat your own family well first, or if they inflicted unbearable pain on you, at least not badly. Then work your way outward.

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