Youths, Do You Respect Your Parents?
“Honor your father and your mother.”—Eph. 6:2.
1. What can young Christians be expected to prove inside their home?
IS IT not reasonable to expect young persons who prove themselves to be Christ’s disciples outside their home to prove it also inside their home? Being his disciples is a way of life that is reflected by speech and actions at all times. It does not end when a young Christian enters his home and is questioned by his parents about his activities or is denied permission to do something he wants to do.
2. How do many worldly youths react to the authority of their parents, and how does this fulfill prophecy?
2 Many young people of the world react rebelliously and abusively when their parents forbid them to do something or correct them. Some have even run away to live as they please. Such children show lack of respect for their parents and lack of natural affection. They may talk about love, but how much love do they show their parents when they run away, causing their parents to worry until sick about them? They think only of their own selfish desires. Is this showing gratitude for what their parents have done for them? Is this showing respect for them? What we see here is what was foretold at 2 Timothy 3:1-4, where it says that youths in “the last days” would be “disobedient to parents,” “unthankful,” and have “no natural affection.” Young people who want to prove themselves Christ’s disciples will show more respect for their parents than this.
3. Why is it better to obey parents than to insist on your own way?
3 It is only natural for you young people to find your parents forbidding you to do something from time to time. Although you may not see why your parents say No, is it not better for you to respect the mature decision of your parents than to insist on your own way? From the time when you were infants your parents have been protecting you from yourselves by forbidding you to play with knives, to put your finger in the light socket, to run into the street without looking both ways and to associate with bad companions. Since they were right in forbidding such things because they could see dangers you could not see, is it not possible that they are right about things they forbid you to do now that you are a youth? Is it not possible that they can see things now by which you can hurt yourself that you cannot see?
4. What example can we consider that shows the wisdom of respecting the wishes of parents?
4 A young girl, for example, may become infatuated with a boyfriend and want to marry him, but her parents say No. She believes that she is madly in love with him and cannot understand why her parents will not permit her to get married. She feels indignant at their refusal and may even think rebelliously of eloping. She fails to realize that her parents have a clearer understanding of marriage and its problems than she does. They want her to be happily married, but they know that this requires a maturity she does not as yet have. They are well aware that the possibility of a happy marriage for her is much greater when she is a few years older. Statistics show that marriages of persons who are twenty years old and younger are four times as likely to end in divorce as marriages of those over twenty-one.
5. What is God’s will for youths?
5 Although this young girl may feel disappointed and fail to understand why her parents refused permission for her to get married, she will show respect for their decision if she wants to prove herself one of Christ’s disciples. It is God’s will for youths to obey their parents even when they disagree with a parental decision. “You children, be obedient to your parents in everything, for this is well-pleasing in the Lord.” (Col. 3:20) When she is older she may be grateful that she did and may realize then that once again her loving parents protected her from seriously hurting herself.
6, 7. How might a boy of legal age be faced with parental wishes to curtail certain activities and be obligated to obey those wishes?
6 As another example, consider a boy who has reached the age of twenty-one and has become engaged, but he still lives at home. Although he contributes financially toward the expenses of the house, his father provides the home and most of his needs. His father objects to his repeatedly staying out late at night with his fiancée. The boy cannot see why he cannot see his fiancée as often as he wants and to stay out as late as he wants, because he is of legal age. Knowing the physical dangers to his son’s health from keeping late hours, not to mention moral dangers, his father thinks it is best to put limitations on his son for his own good. The girl will not love the boy less for respecting the wishes of his father but should respect him more.
7 But since the boy is of legal age, is he obligated to obey his father? The Bible sets no legal age when a son can stop listening to the discipline of his father while living in his father’s house. It says: “Listen, O sons, to the discipline of a father and pay attention, so as to know understanding.” (Prov. 4:1) Since the boy is in his father’s house, he is Scripturally required to respect his father’s wishes even though he is of legal age.
8. Who is the Scriptural head of a family, and how might this headship be illustrated?
8 Jehovah has made it clear in his written Word that the father is the head of a family. (Eph. 5:23) This is necessary for the family to function peacefully and unitedly. The one who is second in charge of the family is, of course, the mother. We might compare a family with a ship. The father is like the captain, whom everyone in the ship is obligated to obey. The captain is responsible to maintain order and keep the ship on course and running. So is a father in a family. The mother is like the first mate, who is second in command. As these officers of a ship are obeyed and honored by the crew, so parents are to be obeyed and honored by their children. (Eph. 6:1) The function of the family can be endangered by rebellious children just as the function of a ship can be endangered by a rebellious crew.
9, 10. (a) What good advice does the Bible give youths, and how does Abraham’s family illustrate parental headship? (b) How did Jesus show that sons and daughters should honor their parents?
9 So under God’s arrangement children are required to honor and obey their father and mother. “Observe, O my son, the commandment of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother.” (Prov. 6:20) Isaac did this while he was in the house of his father. Although he was about forty years of age at the time he was married, he respected his father’s headship and submitted to his father’s choice of a wife for him. Since Abraham had the right to select a wife for Isaac, who was of legal age but living in his father’s house, does not a father today have the right to put restrictions on a son living in his house who is of legal age? As head of the house he most certainly does.
10 In Bible times the authority of the parents, particularly of the father, was broad in scope. As long as the father was alive and able to manage the household his sons and daughters were subject to him. If a son set up an independent household, then he became the head of his own household. Although he was no longer under the authority of his father, he was still required to honor his parents. Jesus condemned the religious leaders of his day for claiming that they did not have to honor their father and mother by giving them financial support when they needed it if they gave the money to the temple. He said they “made the word of God invalid” because of traditions such as this.—Matt. 15:3-9.
11. Why would Christian youths today want to respect the headship of their father, and how should a father exercise his headship?
11 Youths today who want to be Christians will respect the headship of their father in the family and will be obedient to him. From Biblical examples they see that this is how God wants it, and it is their desire to do God’s will. (Col. 3:20) In a Christian home, of course, the father will endeavor to avoid misusing his authority and exasperating his children. (Col. 3:21) By not disciplining with understanding and love he could break their spirit, causing them to become exasperated and downhearted. He can gain their confidence and respect by being fair-minded, firm for Scriptural principles and loving in his treatment of them.
12. Why should believing children respect an unbelieving father?
12 But suppose the mother and children are dedicated Christians but the father is not. Are the children obligated to respect him and obey him? Even though he is not a servant of Jehovah God, he is still head of the family and entitled to honor and obedience. Just as a believing wife is Scripturally required to be subject to an unbelieving husband, so Christian children are required to be subject to an unbelieving father. “You wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as it is becoming in the Lord.”—Col. 3:18.
13. If a Christian youth wants to enter the full-time ministry but his unbelieving father wants him to go on to college, what will he do?
13 If it is the father’s wish that his son go to college but the son would rather spend his time in the Christian ministry, what should he do? He can explain his desire to his father, and it may be that his father will give consent for him to spend all his time in the ministry. If not, he is obliged to submit to the wishes of his father until he reaches the legal age and as long as he is living in his father’s house. His father has the right to decide on his education. But while in college the son will want to keep his faith strong so that his spirituality will not be damaged by the atheistic thinking he finds there.
14, 15. Why would believing children be concerned if their unbelieving father made them go to a church of Babylon the Great, and what would they do?
14 Now, what will believing children do when their unbelieving father insists that they attend religious services at one of the churches of Babylon the Great? This touches upon a very serious matter that involves their loyalty to Jehovah God. They know that a true Christian will not disloyally worship a false god or participate in a false religious service. They know that the Scriptures command Christians to “flee from idolatry” and to “get out” of Babylon the Great. (1 Cor. 10:14; Rev. 18:4) So what will they do?
15 They will be obedient to their father and go to the church, but once they are there, a personal decision will have to be made by them as to whether they will engage in the religious service or not. They have reached the point where there is a direct conflict between the commands of God and the commands of their father. Their father has pushed them to the point where they are compelled either to disobey him or to disobey God. When the apostle Peter was faced with a somewhat similar decision because of having been commanded by the legal authorities in Jerusalem to stop talking about Jesus Christ, he said: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) He was willing to take whatever punishment they might give him for obeying the Supreme Sovereign.
16. How can a youth view punishment he receives from an unbelieving parent because he refused to disobey God?
16 A Christian youth who obediently goes as far as is Scripturally possible in obeying his unbelieving father may be punished by his father for refusing to engage in an act of false worship. Although it is unpleasant, he can find comfort in the fact that he is suffering for doing what is right in the eyes of God. “For if someone, because of conscience toward God, bears up under grievous things and suffers unjustly, this is an agreeable thing. For what merit is there in it if, when you are sinning and being slapped, you endure it? But if, when you are doing good and you suffer, you endure it, this is a thing agreeable with God.”—1 Pet. 2:19, 20.
17. Why would a young Christian refuse to speak disrespectfully of this parents when with other youths?
17 It is a common practice among young people in the world to speak disrespectfully of their parents when in the company of other young people. How could a Christian youth do this and still be obeying the Scriptural command to honor his father and mother? As he speaks respectfully of them in their presence, should he not also do so when not in their presence? Since he came from them, would he not be dishonoring himself if he dishonors them? Should he allow his respect for them to decline just because he is in the presence of youths who lack respect for their parents?
18. Why would a Christian youth never curse his parents?
18 Some worldly youths are so rebellious and disrespectful of their parents that they curse them to their face. How could a youth who does this regard himself as a Christian? God’s Word does not teach young people to treat their parents in this manner regardless of how angry they may become over something. Love is not shown by screaming and abusive speech. Note the counsel the Bible gives in this respect: “Let all malicious bitterness and anger and wrath and screaming and abusive speech be taken away from you along with all injuriousness.” (Eph. 4:31) Since screaming and abusive speech have no place in the Christian way of life, how can they be used by a Christian youth at any time, much less toward his parents?
19, 20. (a) How does God view disrespect of parents? (b) What does a youth actually request if he curses his father or mother?
19 Jehovah’s law to the nation of Israel shows that he considers disrespectful speech to one’s parents a serious matter. His law states: “One who strikes his father and his mother is to be put to death without fail. And one who calls down evil upon his father and his mother is to be put to death without fail.” (Ex. 21:15, 17) God does not require such punishment under the Christian arrangement of things, but the fact that he did under the Mosaic law makes it evident that he is not pleased with such gross disrespect.
20 When a young person curses his father or mother and asks God to damn them, is he not calling down evil upon them? He is asking God to condemn them to everlasting punishment. What ingratitude for their care of him! What rebellion against divinely constituted authority! How can a youth who does this imagine that God uses him for anything? He by no means is following the example of Jesus, who had the deepest respect for his Father and obediently did his will.—John 5:30.
21. How will a Christian youth react when abused by an unbelieving father, and what can help him maintain a respectful attitude?
21 A youth who wants to be a follower of Jesus Christ will respect his parents, giving them proper honor. Even if they may not be dedicated servants of Jehovah, he will speak respectfully of them at all times. If his unbelieving father speaks abusively to him, would he be showing a Christian spirit by answering in like manner? By exercising self-control he will wisely refrain from saying anything bad. His good conduct might win his father to become one of Jehovah’s servants, just as the good conduct of a Christian wife can win her husband. (1 Pet. 3:1, 2) Remembering what the apostle Paul said can help him maintain a respectful attitude: “When being reviled, we bless; when being persecuted, we bear up; when being defamed, we entreat.” (1 Cor. 4:12, 13) At Romans 12:17 he also said: “Return evil for evil to no one.”
22. Why is it especially important for a Christian youth to show respect for this parents?
22 If you are a Christian youth, it may not be easy for you always to show respect for your parents and to give them the honor due them. All around you are young people who are rebelling against their parents, and it is difficult to combat their spirit of rebellion. But how can you be one of Christ’s disciples and receive the benefits of his Kingdom rule if you reject God’s arrangement for law and order within the family? If you disrespect it now, are you not likely to disrespect Jehovah’s arrangement for law and order under his kingdom? You can prove to Jehovah that you will be an obedient subject of his Kingdom rule after Armageddon by showing obedience to parental rule now, before Armageddon.
23. Rather than becoming upset when one’s parents hold a different view, what can a Christian youth consider?
23 Because of your being of a different generation than your parents it is only natural that you may not think the same as they do on everything. You may think they are narrow in their views, but did you ever consider that you are likely to be narrow in yours because of lack of maturity and experience in life? Is not a person who has lived twice as long as you, or more, more likely to have a balanced view of things and be better able to perceive the problems that a certain course of action may encounter? Young people tend to be more rash in their decisions because of lacking the balanced thinking that maturity in years brings. A good example of this is young King Rehoboam shortly after he ascended the throne. The older men who counseled his father gave him sound, mature advice, but he rejected it for the rash counsel of the young men who had grown up with him. The result was disaster for his kingdom. Ten tribes broke away and set up a separate kingdom.—1 Ki. 12:6-8.
24. How can a youth benefit from listening to his parents?
24 It is with good reason that God’s Word says to you: “Listen, my son, to the discipline of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother.” (Prov. 1:8) You can benefit from their maturity and greater experience in life. They may not know as much as you do about scientific things that you have learned in school, but they know more about living and its problems. If you are blessed with parents who respect the laws and counsel of Jehovah, the guidance and counsel they can give is especially beneficial.
25. Give an example that shows why youths need the counsel and guidance of their parents.
25 When you are young your physical desires are very strong, and those desires can overcome your ability to think and reason clearly. So the counsel of your parents and their decisions can prevent you from making foolish mistakes that can ruin your life. For example, when they tell you not to “pet” someone of the opposite sex, they know why it is dangerous for you. They know that God designed your body so that when you are caressed by someone of the opposite sex your sexual desires are aroused, preparing you for sexual relations. Not being married you do not have the right to engage in such relations. So when you permit someone to arouse your sexual desires in this manner, there is a strong likelihood that you may commit the sin of fornication. (1 Cor. 6:9, 10) If you do not go that far, you may be left frustrated and emotionally upset. Is it not reasonable, then, to listen to your parents and postpone lovemaking until you are older and married?
26. What are Christian youths admonished to do?
26 In view of what we have considered, it is the wise course for youths to heed the counsel of God’s Word: “Be obedient to your parents in union with the Lord.” (Eph. 6:1) Do not permit the rebellious attitude of worldly youths to influence your attitude toward your father and mother. Recognize the love your parents have for you and their concern for your welfare. Respect their maturity and more balanced thinking. Be submissive to their headship. Heed the Scriptural command: “‘Honor your father and your mother’; which is the first command with a promise: ‘That it may go well with you and you may endure a long time on the earth.’”—Eph. 6:2, 3.