After my parents got divorced I lived with my mom. Awhile after the divorce my mom would do drugs and was never around. After I was placed in foster care my dad turned down the opportunity to take me and my brother but took my sister. I now live with my grandparents but I talk with both my parents a lot. I’m wondering why I still need to honor my mother and father with all the things that have happened? Is there a time when that you wouldn’t have to honor them? Thanks
Thanks for your important question, which has many worthwhile answers. I will provide you with one, fitted to you in your situation. I hope you will consider it carefully and then pray to your Father in Heaven and ask him about it.
Consider this example. Soldiers in all branches of military service salute their superiors as a token of respect. Even if you dislike or lack respect for the superior officer, you still salute him or her when appropriate. One of the first things a soldier or sailor learns is that you “salute the rank, not the man.” This same idea is sometimes applied in the Church. I have heard Church members state that, despite problems they may have with some Church leader, they nevertheless “respect the office”.
I believe this is a true principle, but I ask you: Is it enough? Are we doing well enough if we simply try to show respect to a leader—or parent—because of his or her position?
Let me ask in a different way. We know that our Father in Heaven loves us. Is it “good enough” if God simply loves us because, you know, he’s God, and that’s what God does? Or do we still want him to know us personally, deeply, intimately, and love us because of our individual traits and despite our many imperfections? Of course we do. We worship a God who loves us beyond our understanding, and not merely because it’s his “job” to love us or because he’s “supposed to”.
We have a great opportunity, you and I and everyone else. We are invited to live forever with our Father in Heaven. He invites us to come unto him. It’s a free gift. All we have to do is to accept his invitation. And to accept it, we obey his commandments as we can, repent constantly, and always seek to do better.
Right now, we can’t live with God. We are not ready. We are not yet made perfect. But that’s where we’re headed. We want to be like him. We seek to be like him. And that means we need to love people without demanding that they measure up to our standards first. We start practicing this within our own family, among our parents and siblings.
I am a father. I have a shameful little secret to tell you: I’m not a perfect father. I did lots of things wrong raising my children. I did good and right things, too, and I hope my children remember those. But I have no doubt they could list lots of stupid or unkind things I did over the years. I am not proud of this, but it’s a condition of mortal life. Better fathers than I am would nevertheless admit to the same thing, bemoaning their own imperfections. We fathers aren’t perfect. We can’t even claim that “we did the best we could”, because we didn’t. We fell well short of that mark. But many of us did give honest effort, and if that was not enough, we count on the Lord to make up for our lack.
So here’s an answer for you, Sierra. It’s not the only answer, but it’s one tailored specifically to your situation:
You need to honor your parents because being someone who honors her parents is the kind of person you need to become.
Just as God loves and cherishes you and me despite our sins and imperfections. Just as God loves your parents, despite their failures to parent you as well as they might have. You, Sierra, need to learn to look past your parents’ imperfections and foolishness, and see the son and daughter of God that they are, people trying to raise children. Maybe they didn’t do so well. Maybe they outright failed in many aspects. Still, they are beloved children of God, and they could use your respect and honoring of them. But however that may be, for your own sake, you need to learn to honor them.
As you learn to honor your parents despite their failures in parenting you and your siblings, you will begin to approach the kind of woman you eventually need to become to live with your Father and inherit glory and joy and happiness literally beyond your comprehension. It’s all there for you and for anyone else who cares to obey the Lord, follow his example, and inherit with him all that the Father has to give.