The Fifth Commandment – Q&A #6

The Fifth Commandment
“Honour thy father and thy mother”

Question: Do we have to honor and obey our parents even after we have grown up and left home?

Answer: When you reach adulthood, you are free to make your own decisions, and you should do so. But, that does not mean we stop treating our parents with gratitude and respect.
Originally, the Fifth Commandment was given to warn adult children not to abandon their
elderly parents, but to take care of them in their old age. Although many senior citizens can take care of themselves for a long time, we all need to make sure that they have food, shelter, and other necessities, if, and when, they become unable to manage on their own.

In one of her Messages, Mary Baker Eddy spoke about how some people were selfish in their treatment of reformers, and she compared them to ungrateful grown children:

“They are like children that go out from the parents who nurtured them, toiled for them, and enabled them to be grand coworkers for mankind, children who forget their parents’ increasing years and needs, and whenever they return to the old home go not to help mother but to recruit themselves.” (’01 29)

She ends that section with this nod to the Fifth Commandment: “All honor and success to those who honor their father and mother.” (’01 29)

Even while Jesus was suffering on the cross, he took notice of his mother, Mary, and arranged for his disciple John to take care of her. (See John 19:25-27)

Practice: Do you have any elderly relatives who would appreciate visits from you? It is not too early to learn how to care about the needs of the elderly.

* * *
(Excerpted from “First Lessons in Christian Science, Volume One: The Ten Commandments”
Copyright 2001)

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