Can Children Honor Their Parents and Still Report Abuse?

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Suppose a parent abuses a child. If honoring our father and mother is literal, how can children keep the command and still report the abuse? Did God antici­pate that parents would molest their young? Maybe the fifth commandment means how we live, not what we say about them.

Your questions are fair ones, and your solution is good, too. We honor parents by living honorably, though they might not. Showing good conduct when we’re unable to speak affirming words: This falls within the “spirit of the law.”

Another solution: Honor their position (they are your parents; they gave you life) when you can’t honor their behavior. In this way we respect some kings or presidents whose lifestyles we don’t respect (1 Peter 2:17).

Yes, God knew from the start that some dads and moms would abuse their children, that there would be no perfect parents. Even the best parents pass some “junk” on to their kids.

God does not expect children to be silent under any and all forms of abuse. Reporting an abusive parent to proper authorities can be a redemptive form of honor and may bring healing in the long run.

The commandment to honor Father and Mother is always God’s will. Our challenge is to learn to honor them best (most) under every circumstance. That may not always be with pleasing words, as you said.

 – Elder Calvin Burrell

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    Calvin Burrell
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    Calvin Burrell is former editor of the Bible Advocate and former director of G. C. Missions. He retired in 2015 and lives with his wife, Barb, in Stayton, OR. They attend church in Marion, OR.