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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 39 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 2: Honor Your Father and Your Mother *
Introduction: Have you ever had someone compliment you and afterward
you wondered if was a compliment or a criticism? Today, in our
continued study on relationships, we study God's plan for the
relationship between parents and children. God gives a wonderful
promise to children who have the right relationship with their
parents. When we examine that promise we find that it is more than
simply a promise. Is it a promise and a threat? A promise or a
prediction? On the other side of the relationship, what obligations
to parents have to their children? Let's dive into God's Word and
- The Promise of Life and Death
- Read Exodus 20:12. Parents, how many of you think the Ten
Commandments are no longer binding on humans? (I thought
- All of you parents are also children. We see the
advantage for parents in this text. Children, what
advantage do we see for you? (The command says that
honoring your parents allows you a long life.)
- What do you think it means to "honor" your parents? (Read
Ephesians 6:1-3. Paul equates "honor your parents" with
"obey your parents.")
- What promise does Paul see as a result of obeying
your parents? (A long and better life.)
- Is length of life what is actually being promised in
Exodus 20:12? If you say "yes," why does the command
add "in the land the Lord your God is giving you?"
(Ephesians clearly interprets this to mean long
individual life. However, the additional phrase in
Exodus 20:12 seems to link "honoring" parents to the
existence of the nation.)
- What link do you see between honoring parents
and the continued existence of a nation?
- Read Exodus 21:15 & 17. What connection do these
texts have to length of life for children who do not
honor their parents? (This is clearly another reason
why dishonoring parents was tied to a short life.)
- Leviticus 20:9 and Proverbs 20:20 also prescribe
the death penalty for cursing (repudiating the
authority) of parents. Should we have laws like
- If we did, how would society be different?
- Read Deuteronomy 21:18-21. I doubt that parents loved
their children less in those days than they do now. Would
you bring your son to the local elders?
- Did Samson's parents bring him before the
elders? (In Judges 14 we read of what appeared
to be stubborn and rebellious conduct by Samson.
I've got to wonder how many parents really had
their sons stoned. The Bible Knowledge
Commentary states that "no record in the Bible
or in extra-biblical literature has come to
light which indicates that this punishment was
ever carried out.")
- If, as I would guess, parents did not often (or
ever) have their sons stoned, then why do you
think this commandment is in the Bible? (Three
reasons. First, the text tells us that the
command was intended to influence the behavior
of children ("All Israel will hear of it and be
afraid.") Second, the penalty for adults who are
stubborn and rebellious towards God is eternal
death. This is a life lesson. Third, v.21 tells
us that evil influences were to be purged.)
- When we start reviewing these harsh commands, you may be
saying "Whoa, let's run back to the New Testament and see
what Jesus says about this. He would not be so harsh."
Read Matthew 15:4. What penalty does Jesus say should
apply to disobedience for dishonoring parents? (Jesus
links the texts we just looked at: Exodus 20:12 and
- Let's read on to understand Jesus' point. Read
Matthew 15:5-9. What does Jesus include in the
command to "honor" parents? (Financial help to
- How many of you have teenage children? How many of you can
remember when you had teenage children? What practical
connection exists for teenagers between obedience to
parents and a better, longer life? (It was just two days
ago that I suggested that two young people should turn
their important life decisions over to me for the next few
years. Mature parents can see the life-long impact certain
decisions will have on their children. If children accept
the decision-making of their mature Christian parents,
their life will be better.)
- Read Colossians 3:20. Why would it please the Lord for
children to obey their parents?
- Why does the Bible say that children should obey "in
all things?" (It tells us that children are to obey
even when they do not like it.)
- The Obligation of Parents
- Let's revisit Ephesians 6:1. What limit do you find on the
obligation of children to obey their parents? (It says
obey your parents "in the Lord." Thus, it seems to add the
limitation that parents must be following in the ways of
- Parents, what responsibility does this place on you
in giving commands and instructions to your children?
- Read Deuteronomy 6:5-9. What obligations to parents have
to bring God's requirements to the attention of their
- When should this teaching start?
- When should it end? (The text seems to say that this
teaching should go on continuously.)
- If parents do not teach their children to obey God's
requirements, what expectation can parents have that
their children will obey them?
- Read Colossians 3:21. What additional obligation rests on
fathers (and mothers) when it comes to requiring children
to obey? (Don't make them bitter.)
- What, specifically, would you recommend to avoid
making your children bitter? (The first thing is to
evaluate the rules you require your children to obey.
Don't get into disputes with your children about
things that do not matter. Uniformly enforce the
rules that do matter. You should listen to your
children and if they are right about some rule being
arbitrary, then stop trying to enforce that rule.
The second thing is to be kind and loving with your
children - even when you are enforcing the rules.)
- Let's revisit the very harsh sounding directive in
Deuteronomy 21:18-21. Why are parents required to bring
their son to the town elders? Is it just to get a good
group of stone throwers? (The "elders at the gate" were
the judges of legal matters (see Joshua 20:4). From this
we conclude that the position of the parents was also "on
- What does the requirement of going to the town elders
teach parents about dealing with difficult children
today? (It teaches us to seek counsel from wise and
godly counselors. "Town elders" would likely be those
who had raised their own children, who took God's
teachings seriously and who were wise. If your
children say that you are being unfair, or if you
seem to be making your children bitter, this is a
signal to parents to seek counsel from other wise and
- Notice another fact in Deuteronomy 21:19: it requires
both the father and the mother to take the son to the
town elders. What does that teach us about the
obligation of parents in bring up their children?
(Parents are a "check" on each other. Not only is the
other parent a "sounding board" for discipline, but
the parents should agree on how to raise the children
- or at least agree on important matters. In this
case, the child would not be put to death unless both
parents agreed he was hopeless and the town elders
- Friend, do you want to have a long life? Do you want your
children to have long and better lives? Being an obedient
child, and being wise and godly parents is important. God
instructs us to learn His will and teach it to our
children. Will you agree to do that today?
- Next week: Parenthood - Joys and Responsibilities.
* Copr. 2004, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.