July-August Article


From Pastor Esposito, Associate Pastor


Fourth Commandment:  Children, Parents, Authority and Honor

 Now we move into the second table of the Ten Commandments.  We have looked at our relationship with God and now we look at how we should relate to one another.  The fourth commandment is “Honor your father and mother”.  This commandment is key to Luther’s theology and understanding of not just household life, but government and life in the community.  For Luther, parenthood is a position of honor that is higher than any other walk of life.  We are commanded not just to love them but to honor them.  Honoring is holding one in high esteem, high regard, it is being humble towards, speaking kindly towards, and honoring with words and actions. 

This commandment is not just about one’s parents or the person or persons raising a child, but it also extends to one’s superiors.  It extends to teachers, bosses, our government, civil authorities, and those that work to keep us safe and healthy. We are to respect, obey, and honor them for their hard work which can never really truly be repaid.  Without their nurturing, care, support, education, and love we would never survive in life.  When we honor them we are blessed with bread, clothes, education, and sustenance.  They act as God’s agents in our lives and should be treated and honored as such.

This does not mean that parents and those in position of authority can act and treat people any way they want.  With such a great position and great power comes great responsibility.  Those in authority must “keep in mind that they owe obedience to God, and that, above all, they should earnestly and faithfully discharge the duties of their office, not only to provide for the material support of their children, servants, subjects, etc., but especially to bring them up to the praise and honor of God”.  It is the duty of people to bring up children with the fear and knowledge of God and school them so that they are educated and able to be of service wherever they are needed.

If those in authority execute that authority fairly, justly and in a way that honors God and all those under them honored them, then the world would be a better place.  We all must strive to live this way, but also know full well that sin abounds and we all will mess up and fall short of the glory of God.  Parents and those in authority are expected to teach and discipline those under their control.  We should admit our mistakes and continue to strive to act in a way that honors and respects one another.  We are, after all, children of God who are both sinners and saints. We should strive to act in a manner befitting God.

Next newsletter we will look at the fifth commandment about not killing and will see how it extends to more than physically killing someone with a gun, or knife or by some other violent action.


1Kolb and Wengert, “Luther’s Large Catechism”, Book of Concord  Fifth Edition, 2000., page 409