A StubbornThings Symposium 12/22/14
Introduction • In order to fully comprehend a society’s commitment to its institutions and virtues, one need only reflect on the consequences reaped for holding them in contempt. The West, having declined in its grasp of moral certitude, and through its own example, displays the tragic axiom that degenerate regimes require a multiplicity of laws to restrain an equally degenerate population. Indeed, the rotten imagination of popular culture inoculates society with its condescending scorn for: the ancient world, the book of nature, wisdom, and the unwavering fundamentals of divine law. In return for this contempt, we are bequeathed from our new father — The State — only the grim eventualities that accompany men and states in terminal decline. For such a multitude, the national pendulum swings first from anarchy and then unto tyranny, all in the terrible fullness of time.
Winding back to Republican Rome, a society who in its vigor had yet to succumb to existential self-doubt, the roles of father and mother were personages held in the highest esteem. The power of the father “paterfamilias” was near absolute from a time antedating the 12 Tables, and his power extended even over the life and death of his children. A man in his fifties might still be subject to the will of his father by customary law, and the penalty for the ultimate dishonor — parricide — was as they say, a teachable moment.
It is recorded that Poena Cullei: the punishment for parricide in Republican Rome was
The person was first whipped, or beaten, with virgis sanguinis (“blood-colored rods”, probably), and his head was clad/covered in a bag made of a wolf’s hide. On his feet were placed clogs, or wooden shoes, and he was then put into the poena cullei, a sack made of ox-leather. Placed along with him into the sack was also an assortment of live animals, arguably the most famous combination being that of a serpent, a cock, a monkey and a dog. The sack was put on a cart, and the cart driven by black oxen to a running stream or to the sea. Then, the sack with its inhabitants was thrown into the water.
A thousand years prior and a world away from this gruesome justice, a desert prophet led a ragtag nation of liberated slaves from the fleshpots of Egypt on a forty year pilgrimage that should have consumed a dozen days. Having beheld the physical glory of God, Moses’ founding incorporated into the human moral vocabulary an enlightened lexicon of laws — laws that would for a time utterly sanitize the moral landscape of savage Canaan. Indeed, the Mosaic hierarchy of commandments is an architectural blueprint delineating the proper object of human desire and love – a prelude to the great examination of conscience that had been awakened by virtue of the Judeo-Christian Deity’s loving concern.
It is, once again, a pleasure to introduce our StubbornThings’ symposium on the Decalogue. The 5th commandment pleads with us to honor those who have given us life. The deep things of life are understood according to the measure with which we respond to wisdom, our Fathers love, and the first things of being. Such reverence, or the deficiency thereof, reflexively determines the world we will one day inherit.
There are so many fine writers here, I hope you will enjoy the fruit of these fertile minds. Merry Christmas, friends.
— Glenn Fairman
Number 5: “Honor thy father and mother.”
I think the reasoning behind this commandment is pretty straightforward. On the most fundamental level this commandment is about social order. The family is the basic social unit on earth. To function properly, in fact to survive, a family requires a hierarchical structure. Someone must be able to make decisions which carry authority. For that authority to hold requires members to accept the validity of the structure. All of organized society flows from this model. Human existence is dynamic and precarious, thus survival requires important decisions be made, sometimes very quickly, but always without complete information. Authority and responsibility for such decisions must be held by those who are wiser and more experienced. And this rule starts with the parents of a family. If children do not honor their parents, chaos will follow.
— Kung Fu Zu is a conservative prognosticator who has traveled widely and lived outside the United States.
Exodus 20:12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
Growing up in the south, my parents (and everyone else’s parents) repeated the verse it seemed on a daily basis. I am not sure if they were trying to teach us or scare us. In the wake of the events in Ferguson that has played out before the world, the discussion of this commandment is appropriate. In the case of both Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, you have teenagers physically attacking adults and authority figures without hesitation. It was reported that Trayvon Martin frequently found himself in trouble with authority figures and once bragged in a tweet that he physically assaulted a bus driver. Video footage captured Michael Brown grabbing a much older man by the throat while leaving the store with stolen cigars. Another video has surfaced on youtube of Michael Brown beating and stomping another older man. This kind of disrespectful behavior from these teenagers did not just pop up once they reached age seventeen and eighteen. In both cases, it was evident that neither had been taught to respect authority. There is no wonder both Martin and Brown lost their lives at such a young age. Poor black teenagers are not alone in showing disrespect for authority figures. Some spoiled rich white teenagers behave in a manner that shows disrespect for authority figures as well. Respect for authority is taught and learned in the home by and from parents (the child’s first authority figures).
Does this scripture still apply if a child does not receive proper parenting from his or her parents? With over 70 percent of black children in the US born to single mothers as well as a divorce rate of over 50 percent of all marriages, is it even possible for children to learn to honor his or her parents? Parents have a responsibility to conduct themselves in a manner to be worthy of honor:
Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord.
So, what was God’s purpose for giving Moses this commandment? First, I must acknowledge that God intended for every child to be raised in a home with both a mother and father. He instructed Joseph not to put away Mary when he (Joseph) learned that she was pregnant before the two of them had been officially married. God made sure that Jesus, His only son, was born into a household with both a father and mother. As believers, we are part of the family of God. I believe that it was God’s intent that parents teach their children to respect and honor them so that it would lead to children honoring Him. God’s purpose for this commandment is spiritual just as all of His commandments. God is our ultimate parent. Every commandment preceding this one emphasize the importance of man’s relationship with God (our creator and spiritual father).
Honor is a powerful word that means to revere, venerate, regard with deep respect or reverence. The Hebrew word for honor is kabad or kabed: to be heavy or weighty. We use honor in our military when addressing noncommissioned and commissioned officers. While serving in the military, I witnessed the difference in how kids readily adjust to respecting authority. The difference is both regional and cultural. In other words, kids from southern states were more likely to automatically (without being told or trained) to address their leaders with sir or ma’am. However, kids from the north and northeast had to be disciplined regularly for disrespect until it was programmed into them. Culturally, kids from two parent homes were quick to fall in line and obey commands from leadership. On the other hand, kids from one-parent homes were often defiant, would question authority, and showed more distrust.
I have also witness a difference in individuals when attempting to win people to the Christian faith. Individuals raised in homes without a father (especially males) have a difficult time trusting God as their heavenly father because he or she cannot relate to a father figure. Fatherless individuals often are hung up when it comes to believing that God, our heavenly father, loves them. How can these individuals leap to believing that God is their heavenly father and loves them when he or she has never experienced a father’s love? How can one honor God when he or she has not had the opportunity to learn to honor his or her mother and father?
Parents are ultimately to blame for children’s refusal to show respect for authority and in turn not honoring God, our heavenly father. God commanded parents to bring up children in the fear and respect of the Lord:
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your [mind and] heart and with your entire being and with all your might.
And these words which I am commanding you this day shall be [first] in your [own] minds and hearts; [then]
You shall whet and sharpen them so as to make them penetrate, and teach and impress them diligently upon the [minds and] hearts of your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up.
The world is at a breaking point. The breakdown of the family is the root cause of all the mayhem that we are witnessing daily. God’s original plan for man and woman to first marry, (stay married) and then be fruitful and multiply has been supplanted by feminist and every other demonic entity (including the US government). Until this ungodly world turns to God, we will continue to see this commandment along with all the other commandments broken. We will also continue to see young lives lost because of disobedience and disrespect for authority.
That You Shall Live Long…
Honor your father and your mother — the first commandment that involves other human beings; the first to address any relationship outside of our connection to God.
Our relationship with God is much like a father-child relationship – so much so that most of the hard-core atheists I know are people who had dysfunctional families, troublesome, distant, toxic fathers. We need to treat our fathers with respect because fatherhood is a picture of our connection to God. But where does the mother come into that picture? There must be something else going on here.
If we go back to the idea that the Decalogue is a blueprint for freedom, for national success, we can gain some more insight. It’s not just parents who are being supported here. It’s families. This commandment insulates and protects that family unit. The implication is that a nation cannot be a success without successful families, and those can’t happen without a functioning table of organization.
God is at the top of this hierarchy because He is sovereign, omnipotent, and most important, He is the creator – we are just the creatures. Under God, for us at this point in history, is the humanity of Jesus Christ. Under Christ? Fathers and mothers. Not kings, not presidents, not bosses, not police – parents.
But, what about those in positions of authority over us all? We do have to follow the instructions of those in authority over us; Michael Brown and Eric Garner learned that the hard way. It’s best if we can learn that valuable lesson in the privacy of our own homes under the guidance and discipline of those who love us. It’s best if we can learn that at an early age so it becomes automatic.
It’s true that not all parents earn that rank, but this commandment gives us a clear message that parents are not required to earn it: children are to respect their parents’ position in the family even if they can’t find a way to respect them as people. That’s a tall order. How is a child to do that?
God is ahead of us here – we’re programmed to recognize the alpha dog and roll over for a tummy-rub. That natural response carries us, not counting a rough patch when we’re two, for most of our childhood. It is later that the issue becomes a matter of self-discipline – when we start realizing the imperfections of our parental units. A society that trains its children, “raising them up in the way they should go,” will have to its credit a generation that can move smoothly through that rocky no-man’s-land of doubt and rebellion, coming out on the other side where they start to see the world from their parents’ viewpoint.
By then the well-trained generation will also slip easily into the existing society because respecting their parents also teaches them to venerate their teachers, their bosses, their commanding officers. It prepares them to respect their pastors, and more importantly, to be awed by Almighty God.
Honoring our parents comes with it a reward – “that you may live long in the land God is giving you.” Why would our attitude toward our parents produce long life? How is that?
Long life is much more likely in a stable society – I return here to Brown and Garner for obvious reasons. Stable societies are prosperous and provide opportunities for its members to acquire adequate healthful food, effective medical care, comfortable housing and safe transportation. These things tend to produce long-lived individuals. But it all starts with rock solid families.
But isn’t that a matter of loving each other? Parents and children all love and care for one another – isn’t that what it’s all about? It’s interesting that the commandment doesn’t tell us to love our parents – just to respect them, which I think takes into account that parents who are effective in raising children aren’t always lovable. If we are strict enough to teach our children how to deal with this world, then those children won’t always love us. In the end they will, but not at the moment that we send them stomping off to their rooms in teenage hissy-fits. In fact, if we do that when we need to (and only when we need to), they will find respecting us much easier than if we don’t.
They will also find it easier to respect us if we respect them – not just love them like they are some kind of exotic pet, but truly honor their existence as evidence of the will of God. This is something every parent needs to remember, but we see the abuse of that principle all the time. I’ll never forget reading an essay written by one of my high school students and having to set it aside for a while – I was crying too hard to read. He was telling the story of the night his father tried to strangle him and about how he feared having to testify at the trial. It wasn’t the child here who failed to respect his father; it was quite the other way around and that kid will never be able to honor either the parent who slammed him up against a wall and tried to break his neck, or the parent that stood by and let it happen.
So the 5th Commandment is not just instruction for the child, but instruction for the parents as well. It is at the bottom of all our interactions with each other. People who respect each other don’t break the other Thou-shalt-nots. If we instill honor and respect deep in the building blocks of the nation, everything else will go smoothly.
Obviously, much of America is now doing that badly and we are paying the price.
— Deana Chadwell blogs at ASingleWindow.com.