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Question 121

Q: How do you honor parents who are not honorable?

My father is an alcoholic, and my mother was married four times.

Asked by: Misty

A: Misty, my heart goes out to you. I know how difficult it is for children to be in a home where they cannot be proud of their parents.

In fact, I venture to say that you were probably brought up with a tremendous amount of shame in your home.

A couple of things for you: It’s interesting in Matthew 23:2 that Jesus was speaking about the religious leaders, and told the people, “Honor them. Practice what they say, but do not do what they do, because they say and they don’t do what they say.” In other words, they don’t practice what they preach.

So here’s my advice to you: honor your parents as far as possible. When they ask you to do something good, you do it. There may be some things they ask you to do that are wrong, those things you would be best not to do. But for the most part, be obedient to them. Show them respect.

At the same time you have to pity them. I mean just think about how your father must feel as an alcoholic with all of that shame, and your mother knows that she has drastically failed in terms of her marriages. They know all that. And so there’s a sense in which you have to pity them, and the direction that they have taken. And who knows what kind of parenting they had? Because it may well be that because of their background this contributed, at least in some sense, into the brokenness of their lives.

But the bottom line for you is simply this, Misty: God will never hold you accountable for doing a poor job of raising your parents. So there’s a sense in which, as you grow older, you have to put boundaries between yourself and your parents. And you have to walk away emotionally and spiritually from their direction. Continue to stay in touch with them. You can connect with them and respect them, but at the same time, I hope and pray that you are going in a different direction.

And Misty, God knows your circumstances, He knows your heart, He knows your desire to serve Him. He’s going to help you through this. And I know that you are going to live a very different life than your parents did.

Scripture references

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