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Miranda Writes: To Honor and Obey

by Omar Miranda

Here’s another post I came across on the discussion board at

“What does it really mean to honor your parents? Does it really mean doing what they tell you, with the exception that what they are telling you is wrong to do? It’s always been just my mom, and I feel like I have to be grateful to her and honor her because she’s done so much for me, but now I feel like I can’t oppose her. I want to go into art when I go to college, but she wants me to do something else. So what is it to honor your parent?—LovingDaughter.”

I’m so glad someone chose to ask this very important question. Actually, several very important questions have been asked. Let me see if I understand what they are before I answer them:

1. What does it mean to “honor” your parents?
2. Is honoring your parents the same thing as obeying your parents?
3. Are there ever any exceptions to honoring and obeying your parents?

I’d like to throw in another important question that a lot of teens have asked me. Here it is: Why should a child obey their parents? What gives them the right to order their kids around and tell them what to do?

Well, I’d actually like to answer the last question first. I think it’s the most important one. Here’s the bottom line: If I can’t show you why your parents are in charge and why it’s important to listen to them, then the other three questions about honoring and obeying them are really worthless, right?

In Exodus 20:12 we read: “Regard (treat with honor, due obedience, and courtesy) your father and mother, that your days may be long in the land the Lord your God gives you” (Amplified).¹

This is the first commandment of the 10 that has to do with relating to humans, not God. In fact, this commandment serves as a crucial connection between the first four, which are all about relating to God, and the rest. You see, honoring your parents lays an important foundation for respecting all human beings, and out of it follow all the other commandments having to do with human-to-human relations. The family is the most basic and important unit in society. A child’s respect of all authority—and rules—will come out of what is taught and caught from the parents! If parents respect each other and their children, then most likely their children will learn to respect them—and everyone else.

So why should teens respect and obey their parents? Because God told them to. God put parents in charge. Why? Because they’ve been alive longer. They’ve got more experience and know more stuff. They’ve made more mistakes—and hopefully learned from them.

Now, to honor your parents is not the same thing as obeying them. There can be no real obedience without first having respect. When a child respects their parents, it shows the attitude of obedience, and what follows logically will be obedience, the act of obeying them. I’ve known lots of teens who have “obeyed” their parents, but not really respected them. Sadly, those teens are usually angry, bitter, disrespectful, and mean to their parents—and others—and they’ve got a long, hard, lonely life ahead of them.

Let’s look at another passage of Scripture to see what else the Bible says about respect and obedience:

Ephesians 6:1-3: “Children, you belong to the Lord, and you do the right thing when you obey your parents. The first commandment with a promise says, ‘Obey your father and your mother, and you will have a long and happy life.’ Parents, don’t be hard on your children. Raise them properly. Teach them and instruct them about the Lord” (CEV).²

It’s a parent’s job to treat their kids with respect, love, and kindness, and to teach their kids to first respect God and then to respect them. In doing this, kids learn God’s prescription for a long and happy life. The unspoken truth that God is trying to get across is this: In respecting and obeying your parents, you are respecting and obeying God, and when you disrespect and disobey your parents, you’re dissing God. How? Because this whole parents-in-charge thing was God’s idea.

The last question asked is also important: Does honoring and obeying a parent mean that a teen must always obey what their parents tell them to do about . . . everything? Not so. In this case, “LovingDaughter” wants to major in art in college, and her mother doesn’t want her to. This is an area of preference, not a spiritual or a safety issue.

 The Bible also has something to say about this issue. Jesus had been resurrected and had returned to heaven. Before leaving, He’d told His disciples to spread the good news of salvation, and they’d been doing just that, but not everybody liked it. In fact, they’d previously been warned by the religious leaders to stop preaching about Jesus, or else. Peter and John were caught preaching and considered what they’d been told, and respectfully declined to obey the religious leaders. They said, “Do you think God wants us to obey you or to obey him? We cannot keep quiet about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19, 20, CEV). Here’s the principle: You should always seek to obey your parents as long as what they ask you to do is in agreement with what Jesus says. The moment it isn’t, then you have no choice but to obey God rather than your parents. But you don’t have to be rude or disrespectful about it.

Well, I hope I’ve cleared things up about why it’s important to honor and respect your parents and what those terms mean. After reading this, you might want to give your parents a hug and a kiss and thank them for all their hard work in making you the successful, happy, and godly teen that you are . . . OK, maybe I went too far with the whole hugging and kissing thing.

Until next time, remember these things: God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Put God first in your life, and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes, at; or you can check me out or send me a message at my Web site,; or you can reach me via snail mail (slow!) at the address printed below.

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, certified Christian counselor
Abundant Life Ministries
155 Earl Street
Plainville, GA 30733
Phone: 1-770-354-2912

¹Bible texts credited to Amplified are from The Amplified Bible, Old Testament copyright © 1965, 1987 by Zondervan Corporation. The Amplified New Testament copyright © 1958, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by ²Scripture quotations identified CEV are from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright © American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission.

Omar Miranda is a Christian counselor with 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes.


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