What does it look like for a believing adult to honor their father and mother? Essentially, it’s an underlying attitude of respect toward the parent’s divinely ordained role of giving human life. This attitude of respect is given not because of any merit on the part of the parent, but rather it’s based on the parent’s position as the human agent of procreation. Honoring our parents with respect in this way honors God, because our parents are His instruments for giving us life. However, intrinsic respect for this parental position does not mean carte blanche approval of parental behavior! Through our dependence upon the Spirit, and through our cooperation with the Spirit, which enables Jesus-like honesty and civility, we can and should confront attitudes and actions that are clearly wrong. We can do that when it’s necessary, and we can do it when we’re prompted by the Spirit. And when we do this, we are in no way negating the attitude of respect toward our parents that God desires and commands.
Also along these lines, it seems to me, that if we’ve had a difficult relationship with our earthly father, and yet have been spiritually adopted into the family of God by virtue of our trust in the finished redemptive work of Messiah, we have basically two options for how we view and relate to the reality of God as Father: A) consciously or unconsciously allow our negative family history to emotionally obscure the truth of God’s unconditional acceptance of us and unwavering commitment to His glory and our ultimate and eternal good B) continually remind ourselves that the eternal joy of one day experiencing family life as it was intended to be is infinitely greater than the present temporary pain of dysfunctional and even destructive family dynamics caused by sin. Obviously, it’s only the second option that enables us to fully embrace and benefit from the life-changing truth that in the fullest sense God is indeed our Father!
Lastly, we’ve all heard the phrase, “blood is thicker than water.” That expression is often used to imply that family ties (blood) are always more important (thicker) than the ties you make among friends (water). But if your blood family isn’t “under the blood,” in the sense of being redeemed, and if your water friends are under the blood in that redemptive sense, then the reverse of that saying is actually true. Since you are now spiritually related to your redeemed water friends, they become the ones that really get you at the deepest most meaningful level. And that relational dynamic somewhat eases the pain of comparatively only being superficially understood by members of your own physical family.