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Should Grown Children Continue to Honor Their Parents?

The Bible teaches, "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). Since the relationship of parent to child endures until death, so does the honor due parents from children.

Jesus condemned the Pharisees for breaking this commandment. They did so by saying to their parents, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban," which means dedicated to God (Mark 7:11). They did not give the money to God; they merely dedicated it to the temple for a future time and thereby avoided their obligation to their parents. People today need to understand that grown children owe their parents the duty of material financial support as a part of honor and respect. The apostle Paul said that if a believer will not take care of his own, "He has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (I Timothy 5:8).

The Bible also teaches that in marriage "a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh" (Matthew 19:5). At that point the husband and wife are responsible before God for the conduct of their marriage. Despite their position in life or their marital responsibilities, they still owe honor and respect to their respective parents.

The Bedouins of Saudi Arabia in 1925 bore some resemblance to the early Hebrew nomads of the Bible. To illustrate true honor for parents on the part of these people, we have only to consider the late King Abdul al-Aziz ibn Saud who so honored his father that, even after he had conquered most of what is now Saudi Arabia, he knelt on the ground before his father so that the old man could dismount from his horse or camel by stepping on his son's back. It is a wise parent, however, who avoids presenting a grown child with a conflict between marital responsibilities and the honor due the parent. That should not occur if the relationship between parent and child is right.

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