10 Commandments for Social Media (Commandment # 5)

As we turn our focus from the commandments related to God and start to focus on the last six focusing on our relationships with others, we should see how the first four work their way into everyday occurrences in life. How do we “love our neighbors as ourselves?” These next six will definitely put some handles on that issue for us. This first one of course establishes one of the foundational principles of God’s protection & plan for our lives. That is, that we learn to see authorities through His eyes. As our society continues to break down and forsake the Word of God, is it any wonder that many of us have such a hard time seeing our parents from God’s viewpoint. Then we have to ask ourselves the question … how do we honor our parents through the avenue of Social Media? I think it will show up in words, in attitudes we display, in counsel we give to others about their relationship with their parents, etc.. For some it may be areas that no one else besides us and our immediate family can pick up on … like posting things that we know our parents would not approve of, or things that reflect negatively on our family heritage. When someone still struggles with particulars about their family, it tends to show up in little things shared with others in a public setting (like Facebook) but with a hidden message to our parents. I am asking God to quietly “put handles on this one” for us, as we see this principle from His perspective.

 #5) Honor your parents – deliberately, intentionally, proactively – so that God may honor you.

 Exo 20:12  Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

You will notice of course in my “contemporary” translation of the verse above that I expanded a bit on the word “honor.” The simple reason for that is to identify what exactly the word honor means. Honor is not merely an attitude, though it is that. Honor is a verb, meaning there are tangible avenues through which honor is demonstrated.  One thing you will notice in scripture about honor is this: “blessing” (honor) is ALWAYS deliberate, conscious and proactive … whereas “cursing” (to dishonor) can be either deliberate, conscious and active … or it can be unintentional, unconscious and inactive. In other words, what you discover is this: the absence of blessing actually warrants the presence of cursing.

You may say, but my parents do not deserve being blessed or honored for that matter. There are decisions they’ve made, there are lifestyle choices they’ve lived that I cannot respect. How can you expect me to honor someone I do not respect? Actually, you can do just that. There is a difference between honor and respect. Honor is something we are commanded to do (I know this generation does not like the word “command” but nonetheless it is a good word and in this case, it is the RIGHT word, as far as God & Jesus are concerned … Ex.20:6; 24:12; 34:28; Mt.22:40; Mk.10:19; Lk.18:20; Jn. 14:15,21; 15:10; Eph.6:2). So, yes we are indeed commanded by God to honor our parents, but respect may indeed in some cases fit into another category. If you will, honor is required by God (for our own benefit) and respect may be something that has to be “earned” by the recipient. Respect may come “naturally” when the character of the recipient is worthy of being followed, listened to, and patterned after. Honor on the other hand is “required by God” because He chose to place this person in your life or in this case, actually used this person to bring you into the world! When one refuses to honor their parents, it actually reveals an attitude problem with God (because ultimately He is the one Who chose to use them in your life)! [It is my own opinion that in most cases, even when it comes to the matter of honor, if we look long enough, we can also find reasons for “esteeming” this person “highly because of the position God has given them” … if we stop to look long enough! I know … not always, but sometimes we just need to take the time to look beyond our own hurt & anger to get a clear picture of the subject involved.] But, what about a situation in which the parents do something that is not worthy of honor … perhaps they even sinned, perhaps they even hurt us in that sin … what do we do then?

There is a story in Gen.9 that perhaps gives us some insight into how to respond to a parent when they disappoint us intentionally or unintentionally through the choices they make that directly affect us. This incident takes place after Noah and his family have survived the flood, come out of the ark and now find themselves reestablishing life on the purified planet earth. The scriptures tell us that Noah planted a vineyard and once the grapes have grown, he picks them, makes wine with them and through partaking of the fruit of the vine (and obviously too much) he becomes drunken from the wine. Not only is the “preacher of righteousness” (II Pet.2:5) passed out in a drunken stupor, but is also unclothed and lying naked in his tent. Ham (the second born), walks into the tent, sees his father, drunk & sprawled out naked and leaves the tent to tell the other brothers all that he saw. We don’t know exactly how he reported it, either with a lighthearted, mocking spirit of dishonor, or just wanting to tell something negative & slanderous about his father that he knew and others did not. “Hey guys come look at Dad, he’s drunk as a hoot owl and laying in his tent without a stitch of clothes on!” It is interesting to me that as of the time in history when this event occurs, it had not yet been written that “you are not to look on the nakedness of thy father” (Lev.18:7), nor had it been written that “you are to honor your father & mother” (Ex.20:12) … but it is very obvious that these things were ingrained in the heart.

When Shem & Japheth hear the report from Ham, they immediately take action to remedy the situation and refuse to enter into the mocking of Ham. The scriptures report that those two brothers quickly pick up a large garment (a clothing item in some form), they wrap it around both their shoulders and then walk backwards into the tent, until they can sense that they are in the presence of their father, with “their faces backward,” so that they “saw not their fathers nakedness” and “covered the nakedness of their father” and left the tent.  In other words they refused to look on their father’s nakedness … even though he was “in sin” as this event took place. The Bible does not tell us how, but in some way, when “Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his younger son had done.” The story goes on to tell us that because of what Ham had done there was a curse placed on Canaan (the youngest son of Ham & believed by most theologians to have been his favorite as the “baby” of the family). Many theologians also believe the curse was placed upon him because in some form he was a participant in the mockery of Noah in the tent. What is the principle application of this story to our lives today? My take on it is this. None of us are “perfect parents” and none of us have “perfect parents,” but it is still possible for us to honor – deliberately, intentionally and proactively those imperfect parents that God has given us. There could be situations in life in which you need to “cover” your parents – refuse to look on their fault (maybe even their sin) in order to “cover them with honor.” Remember, in the long run, you are the one who suffers most by not honoring those whom God Himself has placed in your life for His own eternal purposes. 

As Solomon reminds us in his writings, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Pro. 18:21), and so it is with honor, one of the primary means of showing honor is in the words we use when speaking of and to our parents.  And of course, whenever we “write” something on the internet, it is the same as “speaking it” from our mouth.  If you long to honor your parents in social communications you must remember … it could be words, it could be attitudes (even mocking), it could be in your “counsel” to friends on FB, it could be by displaying a lifestyle you know dishonors the heritage you were raised with, or “flaunting your independence” from your upbringing (“I’m so glad I’m out of that house” mentality).

So, how can I honor my parents & my heritage through the social media? You will first have to enter a mindset something like this:

You must:

* Be convinced that this is your“duty as a child.

* Take time to contemplate the basis of your blessing.

* Be selective of your wording.

* Make a conscious effort to write or express in some form the blessings.

* See yourself as a messenger of God.

Be proactive in the tribute or blessing.

Keep it up!  Do not stop blessing!

A number of years ago, I found myself counseling a young lady, now out of her home, serving the Lord in full time ministry … yet hindered by some very difficult home situations, especially with her mother. I challenged her with some “projects” to take care of when she went home that year for Christmas. Things like …

  • spend special time with just her,
  • show special interest in her world,
  • hug her,
  • fix her favorite meal one night,
  • verbally express thanks for little things she does for you,
  • clear your conscience in areas where you rebelled against her,
  • talk about good memories of times when you were living there with her,
  • tell her you love her,
  • clean up after yourself – without being asked,
  • tell her special things you learned from watching her life,
  • think of other ways you can invest in her.

It was life changing for that daughter! When she returned after the holidays, she was a changed girl herself! About six months later, she sent me a book in the mail called “The Gift of The Blessing” coauthored by Gary Smalley & John Trent. She wrote to me in the introduction page, “I thought you might like to see in written form the life changing principles you shared with me when we talked!” Truth will indeed set people free!

Perhaps you will want to take the time to write a “tribute” to honor and bless your parents. A number of years ago, Dennis Rainey wrote a book called “The Tribute.” He & others within a worldwide ministry had discovered that there was a whole generation of Christians actively involved in serving the Lord in ministry around the world, that somewhere in their pilgrimage, had walked away from the privilege and responsibility of honoring their parents, and now years later found it was hindering their own family relationships and ministry. So, the book was written to give them some “handles” on how to remedy that situation. You can still probably find the book through an internet search and read it for yourself. When my wife and I read it, we determined that it would be good for us to write a “tribute” to our own folks.

Even though my own father was already in heaven at that point, when I wrote one to my Mom, I also found ways to include Dad in the tribute. The scriptures tell us, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” In other words, if you want to develop a mindset of honor, begin by taking an active role in blessing your parents. For those who may want to investigate this further, I’ve attached in another blog the tributes that Nancy and I wrote to our folks if it might help you to see how you could do this as well. You can find those through this site: http://aaarm.org/2012/04/honoring-your-parents-through-a-tribute/.

In my own study of principles of scripture I have found that you never reach an age where you can dishonor your parents and be honored by God. Might be good to proactively … honor your father and your mother!

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