The Shorter Catechism, 19
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Q63: Which is the fifth commandment?
A: The fifth commandment is, "Honour thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."
See Exodus 20:12. See also in Deut. 5:16: "Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee."
Q64: What is required in the fifth commandment?
A: The fifth commandment requireth the preserving the honour, and performing the duties, belonging to every one in their several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors, or equals.
The command says, "Honour thy father and thy mother". If we should honour our fathers and our mothers, then also our other relations. We should honour all our relations, whether they are superiors, or inferiors, or equals.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ. Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men. Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him. Ephesians 6:1-9.
Give always thanks to the Lord, "submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it." Ephesians 5:21-25.
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same. For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For, for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are Godís ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Romans 13:1-7.
Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another. Romans 12:10.
Q65: What is forbidden in the fifth commandment?
A: The fifth commandment forbiddeth the neglecting of, or doing any thing against, the honour and duty which belongeth to every one in their several places and relations.
"Honour your father and your mother". That forbids the neglecting thereof. We should do all to honour them. If we are able to honour them by some duty, but we neglect that, then we transgress this commandment. So, not-honouring is forbidden. The more is forbidden to dishonour them. And not only our fathers and mothers, but also our other relations. There, where God has given us our tasks or places, there we should honour the relations, and perform our duties towards them. Paul wrote: "Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another", Romans 13:7,8.
Q66: What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment?
A: The reason annexed to the fifth commandment, is a promise of long life and prosperity [as far as it shall serve for Godís glory and their own good] to all such as keep this commandment.
We have the command. But there is a promise annexed to it. Honour thy father and thy mother. And if we do that, what will be the result: "that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." Of course, this is not always the case. If God decided otherwise, or if a long life will hurt us because of coming evils, then God might take us away from this earth. Or if Godís glory requires our shorter life (think of martyrs, for example), then He may decide to do so. Honour your father and your mother, for the promise of a long life is connected to that. And let we leave it to God to decide over our lives. The apostle wrote: "Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth." Ephesians 6:2,3. And in another place he wrote that "godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come", 1 Timothy 4:8.